There was just time before the lesson started at Richmond Junior Club for me to play a quick friendly game against a boy who, the previous weekend, had shared first place in the Under 8 section of our qualifying tournament for the London Junior Championships. My opponent generously allowed me to play White. Here are the first few moves.
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
I decided to test him on the Spanish. He looked slightly puzzled as he was expecting Nc3 or Bc4, but eventually played…
4. O-O Nf6
The most popular move here is c3, but I decided to show him the Fork Trick, which is also fine in this position.
5. Nxe5 Nxe5
6. d4 Bxd4
Very natural if you don’t know the theory, but not best. The recommended moves here are a6 and c6, but, as this level, these moves are not easy to find. There are 33 games with this move on my database with White scoring 92.4%.
7. Qxd4 Qe7
8. Nc3 O-O
9. Bg5 d6
If you’ve read my previous two articles you might think Black should have played c6 here, to keep the knight out of d5. A good idea, but it’s well met by 10. f4 (which I probably wouldn’t have found as I was playing quickly).
Now I can play the familiar (again from my last two articles) attack on the pinned knight, again gaining a tempo because the queen is on e7.
10. Nd5 Qd8
11. Nxf6+ gxf6
12. Bh6 Re8
As it happens I’m winning the exchange here because my bishop is on b5 rather than c4.
13. Bxe8 Qxe8
I wanted to keep the black knight out of g4. The engines consider this the best move.
“Ah!”, I thought, being reminded of my private pupil’s games in the Under 10 section of the same event. “Another junior who plays random piece sacrifices in front of his opponent’s king.” So, hoping for a quick finish, I took the piece off without stopping to think or look at the rest of the board.
Instead, 15. f4 is winning. After 15.. Ng4, hxg4 is strong and Rf3 even stronger. The next thing I knew, my young opponent’s knight landed on the f3 square and he announced ‘check’! He’d looked ahead and seen the fork coming – which is pretty impressive for an inexperienced player at this level.
15. gxh3 Nf3+
I can still draw here: 16. Kh1 Nxe4 17. Bg7+ with a perpetual check, but instead I played Kg2 and eventually lost.
There are two lessons for my opponent to learn from this game, though. Two very familiar tactical ideas which should be part of every junior’s armoury. You have to know the Fork Trick: when you should play it, when you could play it, and when you shouldn’t play it. You also have to know, repeating last week’s article, the idea of Bg5, pinning the knight on f6 in front of the castled king, followed by Nd5 and doubling the f-pawns.
Of course, Chess Openings for Heroes features sections on both these ideas.