A High Level Opening Trap

Many players love opening traps, largely because of the promise of a quick and painless victory. Yet very few traps have much chance of success.

Why is this? Well first of all a lot of them just tend to be known, so it’s very hard to find hapless victims except amongst the very young or very weak.

One trap which falls into this category is the Fried Liver Attack, brought about by the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf4 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 and now 6.Nxf7 is preferred to the stronger move, 6.d4. This is taught widely in schools and junior chess clubs, and up to a certain level can claim victims. Lots of games are then lost after 6…Kxf7 7.Qf3+ Kg8?? and now 8.Bxd5+, leading to mate.

Yet as the level of the opposition rises, nobody falls for it any more. The simplest answer for Black is 5…Na5!, after which many White players cave in totally! There are other interesting antidotes for Black as well, for example 5…Nd4!?.

At higher levels there are very few traps that work, yet now and then you come across a real gem. Can an International Grandmaster get caught in a trap and lose in just 5 moves? Well take a look at the following game:

When you consider the fact that Ivan Farago was for many years one of Hungary’s top players, he’s really quite a victim. And this wasn’t a one off either. Searching Megabase 2013 for victims, it turns out to be quite a galaxy of stars with just one unrated player. Here they are in chronological order:

Ivan Farago (2515)
Borhen Bouaziz (unrated)
Alexander Lesiege (2521)
Hermann Brameyer (2286)
Laszlo Liptay (2372)
Maksim Kotov (2312)
Natalia Pogonina (2402)
Andreas Landgren (2198)
Klaus De Francesco (2245)
Zoltan Zambo (2219)
Thomas Koch (2417)
Abhijit Kunte (2536)
Lilit Galojan (2364)

With a rating average of this level it really looks like it needs a good player to lose the knight on g5 in this way. There are probably several reasons for this, first of all in that the opening is quite sophisticated. There’s also a very thematic idea in 5.Ng5, which would be the right thing to do in similar situations with a Black bishop on e6.

How come they all missed the queen check? Well first of all some of the games were played at fast time limits, and secondly this kind of momentary inattention can happen to anyone.

Nigel Davies


Author: NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Nigel has written a number of chess books that are available at Amazon: