Opening catastrophes

by Jonathan Speelman
10/16/2022 – Leinier Dominguez won his round-7 game in the U.S. Championship after only ten moves. The opening debacle prompted Jon Speelman to locate similar examples both in a book by Yakov Neishtadt and in the database of his own games. And he also remembered to give the solution of the proof game from last week!

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Quick and dirty

[Note that Jon Speelman also looks at the content of the article in video format, here embedded at the end of the article.]

Yakov NeishtadtThe opening debacle in the U.S. Championship last week put me in mind of more of the same. When I was a kid, I had a small hardback book of opening traps with a lightish blue cover by Al Horowicz which I tried to find on my shelves but without success. I did locate it fairly quickly though on a site called And in fact it’s called New Traps in the Chess Opening (Faber & Faber 1966) and the dust cover is a slightly darker blue than it was in my mind’s eye. 

I’m sure it’ll turn up eventually, but I did in my search find another rather more serious book of opening disasters, which I’ve been browsing through for today’s column: Win in the Opening by Yakov Neishtadt. It seemed churlish to use too much of his material, so I had a glance at my database of my own games and added a few of them too.

I put them all in the .pgn and have got them as diagrams to solve here (with the numbers corresponding to the games in the database). Of course, I did also remember to give the solution of the proof game I left you with last week. Well done for anybody who solved it or held out until now for the solution. It’s in the .pgn too, and if you’d like a fuller solution then please turn to column 128


Select an entry from the list to switch between games

A Black Repertoire against Offbeat Openings

Many club players have their favourite pet opening variations which aren’t necessarily main lines. It’s important to know how to handle these variations as your opponent will likely know his systems well. In this DVD, GM Nicholas Pert provides a detailed Black repertoire against many of these Offbeat Opening choices.


Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.


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