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Gerard Welling vs M Koevoets
Eindhoven, club (1995), Eindhoven NED
Portuguese Opening: General (C20)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
May-16-07  Knight13: Nice trap. Whoever plays the Portuguese Opening out there needs to know this one.
May-16-07  Chicago Chess Man: Can't black play a6?
Premium Chessgames Member
  sleepyirv: <Chicago Chess Man> Then White plays Ba4, and the knight is still pinned.
May-16-07  Knight13: 6...a6
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: Or 2...a6. Or even 1...a6, but then we'd have a St George, not a Portuguese Man o'war.

Tricky, these Iberians. If Black isn't careful he could accidentally transpose into the little-known Ruy Lopez or Spanish, aka Fischer's Fossil.

Apr-08-10  ounos: I don't care whether this opening even has a name - it's awful. :D 3. ...c6,
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: They laughed at Alekhine's Defense in the 1920s. Because, then and now, beginners were taught that chasing pieces with pawns was A Good Thing.

Some even go on believing it.

Apr-12-10  ounos: <Domdaniel>, 3. ...c6, your move. What's your rating by the way?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <ounos> I'd move the Bishop again, probably to a4, and play c3 soon to avoid Noah's Ark nonsense. After ...c6 I have some slight pressure on your king (enough to make a quick ...d5 risky) and your Nb8 doesn't have a good square. As long as I don't stupidly leave my ♗ hanging to a queen check, I'm OK.

My rating is or was 2100 going on 1700, as I lose too many games these days. Possibly as a result of *giving up* my previous addiction to offbeat openings. I've beaten FMs with them (if you count 1.e3 and 2.b3, which is actually quite sane) ... and I drew with a GM (Miles) as black using a very dubious line in the French (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 b6). Recently I lost to another GM, Baburin, who sprung a g-pawn gambit in the Nimzo-Indian that I hadn't seen before, and too timidly declined his pawn offer.

It's simple, really. I think elite GMs play a small range of openings between themselves: currently the Spanish and Slav are ascendant. I can recall periods where the French, King's Indian, Benoni, Caro-Kann, etc were in vogue. The repertoire of the current world champion influences a lot of people: trickle-down effect.

In the French *alone*, almost everyone from 1400 to 2400 seems to play 3.e5 against me these days. This used to be rare.

In the past, most strong players chose 3.Nc3 (Fischer & Spassky influence) or 3.Nd2 (Karpov's favorite). I rarely see either now.

Apart from a few suicidal moves, almost anything is playable. The old classical centre has weaknesses that become apparent later in the game. If you hold back key central pawns early on, they become useful weapons in the middlegame. As White, I like to play 1.Nf3 and 2.g3 -- sometimes the c and d-pawns will follow, transposing to a Catalan or Tarrasch, but sometimes I keep the pawns back and play a reversed KID or Benoni.

I agree with you that the Portuguese (1.e4 e5 2.Bb5) is eccentric, but that doesn't make it bad. Compare the anti-Dutch line 1.d4 f5 2.Bg5 which turns out to contain real danger for Black. I play the Dutch, but this move is the reason I prefer a move order like 1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5, when White doesn't have the option.

I don't know e4 openings well, and never play either side of the Ruy/Spanish -- but I suspect one idea is to transpose into a Spanish if black plays ...Nc6. People often transpose from offbeat openings into mainstream positions.

OK, your ...c6 kills that. I've seen it played a few times - examples in the database, which I can dig out. It's solid, but that's all. The critical phase of the game is still ahead.

That critical phase is where GMs win most games against the rest of us. Between themselves they play a small number of openings. But we don't have to copy their choices.

Maybe it's a temperament thing. I find mainstream openings boring. If I have to play 18 moves of theory - which I *can* do, if necessary - I feel like I've been cheated out of the most interesting part of the game.

BTW, at a recent tournament I was on board 2 in the crucial last round. The GM on board 1 played Alekhine's (1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 etc) and drew. My own opponent, a FM, beat me with a King's Indian Attack after 1.g3. The 2300 guys on board 3 started 1.d4 Nc6 2.c4 Nf6 ... and I think Black won in the end.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <ounos> As promised, I checked the database. There are at least 10 games with your 2...c6 line in the CG database. At least one White player, Aagard, is now a GM. Here are a few examples:

J Aagaard vs K Urban, 1998

G Welling vs M Chapman, 2000

J Bednarich vs J Borisek, 2008

BTW, in the last year I beat a 2150 player with an opening so 'weird' it doesn't have a name. It began, with me as White ...

1.Nf3 Nc6 2.a3 e5 3.d4 e4 4.d5

Which is ... what? Alekhine's reversed, with a3 added? Or a line in Santasiere's or Anderssen's, which usually start 1.a3 ...?

Black's 1...Nc6 is an attempt to transpose, maybe to Chigorin's variation of the Queen's Gambit. So 2.a3 is a counter-weapon I use sometimes. I think I've scored 3.5/4 with it.

Apr-12-10  ounos: Good. I thought you could not be more than 1600-1700, judging by you not liking 3. ...c6 (note I said <3. ...c6>; <2. ...c6> is a different move), and offering the sole argument that "people laughed at Alekhine's defence too" (which is completely irrelevant). Heh, I could even respond back, in the same erroneous logic, that "in Trompowsky, 2. ...h6 is critical; see, it makes sense to chase pieces". Just judge the position at hand. So lets see the position here:

click for larger view

First of all, Black has the easiest (at least) equality by 4. ...Na6 - White has no time for 5. c3 and Bc2 since Black would get a very strong d5 in between. Certainly *not* what I call a successful opening for White. Or Black can simply develop by 4. ...Bc5, and just enjoy the fact that White lost a tempo (after an eventual c3) and effectively switched colors. 4. ...d5 looks fine too, with the more free game for Black.

The point is, Black gets so many good options to choose from, seeking an advantage from the first moves instead of merely equality. Perhaps the point is to confuse Black with all these options, and overpress for an advantage (as apparently happened in G Welling vs M Chapman, 2000 - in the other games White got nothing at all from the opening).

Apr-12-10  parisattack: You never know what will work.

I played 1. e4, e5; 2. Nf3, Nc6; 3. Bd3 a few times for kicks. The idea was to save a tempo or two over a closed Ruy Lopez with c3, Bc2...

I beat the state champion of Wyoming the first time I played it - he went right into the line - closed Lopez, two tempi down.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <ounos> Why d3 by white? Weak move: c3 is more urgent. As I said, I don't play *either* side of 1.e4 e5 games, so I have little urge to defend this particular experiment. It's experimentation in general that counts.

I like that idea of <ParisAttack> -- There are some analogies with Kopec's line in the Sicilian -- 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bd3 -- with c3 and Bc2 to follow. I like the idea but I've only played it in blitz.

Surely the analogy with Alekhine's is relevant? Multiple opening moves by one piece, breaking the Tarrasch-era norms: turns out viable.

You may find that ratings don't matter much. I can get a good post-opening game against anyone. Later I may fall apart, but I can't blame the opening.

You say <I thought you could not be more than 1600-1700, judging by you not liking 3. ...c6> -- if you follow that logic, how weak are players like Basman (1...g5) and Legky (French with ...h6, and others) ... not to mention Morozevich? All the *interesting* players, in fact?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: BTW, I'm happy to agree that your line equalizes for Black. But that's all. In practice - and I've played thousands of tournament games OTB - what happens next is psychological.

Some White players reach an equal position, and imagine that they've failed. They've lost the famous initiative, so they think they've done something wrong -- and they go downhill from there. But some of us are happy with equality and play 'black' openings reversed, etc. It's just temperament.

There are a few of my games in the CG database, but I'm not sure whether any work as examples of this. Maybe the Kangaroo (1.d4 e6 2.c4 Bb4+): although I only drew.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: Just a thought: a couple of years ago I was on the Black team for the first CG 'team white vs team black' game. It began 1.e4 a6 and ended in a draw.

This is the St George, made famous by Miles' win vs Karpov. But one could see it as an <Anti-Portuguese>. Does a fine job in preventing 2.Bb5, after all.

Apr-13-10  ounos: <Domdaniel>, I don't subscribe to your views on openings. Rules such as " multiple opening moves by one piece" are over-generalizations. Based on this minor similarity, one would categorize a huge (and diverse) set of chess openings together. Trying deriving a rule that applies to all such openings is just futile. Just judge the position itself, only the position is never going to lie.

Regarding <3. d3>, that's what White played here, it wasn't me suggesting it.

I think after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bd3, I would probably play 3. ...Bc5 (4. c3 makes d5 all too easy). Again, White struggles for equality.

By the way, where is Alekhine's defence in GMs' games? Any example of current GMs that actively use it? I can hardly remember any recent game featuring it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <ounos> The GM I know best is Alex Baburin, one of the few still playing Alekhine's. A coincidence.
Apr-14-10  parisattack: <I think after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bd3, I would probably play 3. ...Bc5 (4. c3 makes d5 all too easy). Again, White struggles for equality.>

I did OK against 3. ...Bc5 although from the opening equality is the best White can hope for, really. Although I only took up 3. Bd3 to get free tempi in a closed Lopez - and to see my opponents eyes bulge! - I gave up on it because of 3. ...f5.

Apr-14-10  ounos: Heh, Baburin, I couldn't anticipate that! I even own a book of his ("Winning pawn structures" if memory serves). I found over a hundred such games of his, good, I'll have a look! (I frequently play Alekhine's in blitz games too)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <ounos> When Carlsen used Alekhine's to beat Topalov (if I remember correctly) a couple of years ago, Baburin joked about expecting a flood of prospective pupils wanting to learn the opening. It never quite happened.
Apr-15-10  ounos: What?? Carlsen beat Topalov with Alekhine's? Damn I have to find that!
Apr-15-10  ounos: Topalov vs Carlsen, 2008

Oh boy, I don't seem to recall that one, nice! That must have been a *good* surprize for Topa.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <ounos> Makes it look easy, doesn't he? I remember watching part of the game live -- comment went from surprise that Black equalized so easily to shock that White was losing.

Anyway, I'm glad I don't have to defend that 1.e4 e5 2.Bb5 nonsense anymore. Just playing devil's advocate, you understand, out of some vague loyalty to irregular openings.

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