A Half-Warmed Fish

I have a half-warmed fish in my breast …
– Dean William Archibald Spooner

A concept half-formed, perhaps now fully formed, emerges in my Chess:

The 20th century view of White initiative turns out to be a subtle form of lunging.

Last night in the fifth round of a tournament which saw me gain 82 rating points, I lost the White side of a Leningrad Dutch, putting me out of equal first to fourth place. I won’t trouble you with the game score, in which unlovable position I managed brilliantly to maintain drawing chances until very late in the time scramble, leaving many moves unrecorded.

The game arose from 1. g3 f5 2. d4.

In the midgame, I reached a mainline position where the only way forward was to push on the Black queen knight with d4-d5. I looked “down the well” and realized with a certain clarity that this led to a position where Black got his anticipated counterplay. I rebelled at the concept, and achieved an utterly passive position by playing instead b2-b3.

Of course, ’twere better to bite bullet and go into the prescribed complications. Having faced this conundrum before, I was aware of the alternative handling from which I had veered on my second move.  feeling compelled one last time to follow down the classical d4 path.

I was wrong to do so.

The elegant and 21st-century way to handle such positions is not attempting to block the center with 2. d4 and give meaning to Black’s thrusts, but to pursue the middle way with 2. Bg2 anticipating Black e7-e5 and planning d3 with a likely formation of c4/Nc3/e3/Nge2, among other possible okay-Black-you-commit-first formations.

The pursuit of 20th-century-style White initiative in the opening and early midgame assures that with proper play, Black emerges from the midgame with a slight initiative.

It is said that Spooner not only mixed up words but entire concepts on occasion … According to sources, Spooner once remarked of a widow that “her husband was eaten by missionaries”. – Wikipedia

Jacques Delaguerre