Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Patzer's Opening (1. e4 e5 2. Qh5)

This post isn't about a game, but about how to defend against an over-enthusiastic, over-eager opponent who decides that you look easy enough to beat quickly. The Patzer's Opening is played by White when he (or she) reckons that Black should be a pushover, and makes some extremely aggressive moves from the start. With precise play you can gain the advantage against this kind of opening.

The Patzer's Opening starts like this:

1. e4 e5
2. Qh5

This is a very aggressive move by White, and breaks the general principle of moving the queen early in the game. The main idea for White is to bring the bishop to c4 and then deliver checkmate on f7 with the queen. However, the more immediate threat is Qxe5, taking Black's pawn. Black must address this threat, and there are two main lines which can be played - either d6 or Nc6. I'll cover both, starting with Nc6.

2. ... Nc6
3. Bb4

White continues with the attempt to deliver a swift checkmate. My favourite response to this is g6, but it's also possible to defend the f7 square with Nh6. Playing d5 will not work, as white can capture the pawn with the bishop, Bxd5 and the threat continues. I like g6 because it develops the kingside defence, but especially because it gives White a good prod!

3. ... g6

White now has to move his queen, and the most likely square is f3, repeating the threat of capture on f7.

A note at this point - don't be concerned if, as Black, you're having to make a series of very defensive moves just to stay in the game. You're developing your pieces well, and they're all in good positions. White, if he plays Qf3, has prevented his knight on g1 from moving to its best square, and even on f3, his queen isn't ideally placed for later in the game. You'll come through the opening in a strong position, as White can't maintain a huge attack while you're beating his pieces back!

A natural response to Qf3 is Nf6, using the knight to block the queen's attack on f7.

4. Qf3 Nf6

White's attack is now running out of steam, and you're well on the way to developing a strong defence for your king. The moves g6, Nf6 and then Bg7 are known as 'building the house', providing a relatively safe place for your king when you castle kingside.

An alternative to playing 2... Nc6 is to play 2... d6 which has a similar effect (protecting the pawn on d5) and I'll cover that in a future post!

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