How many times do we lose a game or get a clearly worse position right out of the opening because we don’t know the secrets and hidden traps in it? As a beginner, it happens many times over the board and it seems like this the only way we had to learn them; the hard way, so to speak. Of course, this is always a difficult blow to digest; it’s a very bad feeling when we lose a game in only a few moves due to lack of theoretical knowledge or lack of awareness. Openings were a very tricky thing 20 years ago; now, thanks to the amount of information that is available to anyone, things are different. Not to mention that we now have a much better place to lose than in a tournament game – the online play.
In this article, we have compiled a few popular tricks and traps that are obvious for the experienced player, but not so simple for beginners.
Let’s start with some very easy ones:
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.c3 Nf6 4.Be2!?
Or instead of 4.Be2, 4.h3!?
This is often seen in kids’ games who are prepared in the main lines of the Dragon or the Najdorf variations but have never seen 3.c3. The e4 pawn is poisoned because of the queen check on a4 picking up the knight on e4 later. This is easy to realize so let’s say you play 4…Nc6; white reacts with 5.d4 and now black can take on d4: 5…cxd4 6.cxd4 and grab the pawn on e4 6…Nxe4! 7.d5!
And now black must play Qa5+ to stop the white queen check on a4.
This is a tricky line even at the advanced level of 2100-2300 and we could call it a somewhat mix of the Rossolimo variation [recommend in the Best Opening Systems for White].
After the moves: 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5 naturally black’s main move is 3…Nd4 and now white continues with 4.Bc4:
Here black has a number of moves, but 4…g6 is very popular among aficionados. The fianchetto is usually a good idea against the closed systems but beware 5.Nf3 – Bg7 5.Nxd4 – cxd4 6.Qf3!? Here comes the trap 6…e6? 7.Nb5! threatening an ugly check on d6 so black plays 7…d6 and now 8.Qa3! we can conclude that black is close to being lost out of the opening. There are several games in which white caught black unprepared with this line.
The only move is 7…Nh6! After which black is OK.
This was a game winner in the club a long time ago, not anymore.
1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3!? 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bc4 Qc7 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Qe2 Ng4!?
The next move in the Morra plan should be 9.Rd1.
However, it’s easy to realize that 9.Rd1 Bc5 can be awkward, so why not play 9.h3 (??) In this case black plays 9…Nd4! And white can resign. This line is quite unpopular nowadays because white has found more sophisticated ways to play against it.
The Spanish opening is one of the most solid openings for both sides and yet there are several lines that can be tricky for the beginner. These 2 traps are quite effective among club players.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 White avoids the endgame variation that arises after the principal line 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4
Now black plays 4…Ne7!? A surprising move; is that even possible? The idea is Ng6 so why not take on e5? After 5.Nxe5? black has 5…c6, winning a piece. There are a fair number of victims of this trick and in some games white even continued to fight and eventually win but right now, black is much better.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6
It is natural now to play 5.d4 but after 5…b5 6.Bb3 Nxd4 7.Nxd4 exd4 White should be aware that 8.Qxd4 loses a piece after 8…c5! Followed by 9…c4. This is quite an effective trick that even players above 2300 rating have fallen into. The right move is 8.c3 with more than enough compensation if black takes the pawn.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this little article on opening tricks, there are plenty more but we keep them for a future sequel. Thank you for reading!