Aug 07, 2010
Napoleon Opening
Author: admin2

This article isn’t a deep theoretical research. You shouldn’t take it too serious – this is rather a funny tale, though about a real game. Things like this don’t occur too often in a player’s career and usually stick to his memory very well.

Men’s European Individual Championship is a tough tournament. The one in 2008 was no exception. The situation after 7 rounds (of 11) wasn’t too optimistic for me: my score was very mediocre as well as the quality of my games. I felt that something had to be changed.

During brief preparation to the next round I suddenly found out that after 1.e4 e5 my opponent, an International master from Bulgaria, liked 2.Qf3. Well, I thought; the intention is rather clear – 3.Bc4 and mate next move! Maybe a little impudent, but still curious plan. Even if Black doesn’t blunder the mate, White gets pretty decent play; for example, his queen can go to g3, in order to support f2-f4 after Ne2, and so on.

Still, I somehow decided that it was exactly what I needed. My opponent’s creativity would mean an excellent chance to play an inspiring game and to change the course of events.

After the search in the Megabase I realized that this “novelty” was in fact 200 years old and had been played first by no other than Napoleon Bonaparte! While conquering Europe, the Emperor of the French decided also to make a contribution to the theory of chess openings and moved his queen to f3 in the game against The Turk, a well-known prototype of modern chess cheaters. Napoleon was crushed terribly; however, as the analysis showed, through no fault of his second move. There was a rest day before the next round, so I had enough time for thorough preparation. The improvement was eventually found as early as on move 3!

P. Dimitrov – V. Belov

Plovdiv 2008

1.e4 e5 2.Qf3
The plan begins to work.
2…Nc6 3.Bc4
White shows his trump: the f7-point is obviously weak, the Black king is in danger…

It was real pleasure for me to make this move over the board. By the way, it is a novelty, good from both chess and psychological points of view!
The most principled continuation; White wins a pawn. Now Black can simply take the g8-bishop with good compensation, but he has a more spectacular decision.
4…Nd4! 5.Qd1 Qg5!

I played this instantly. The reason was simply that it had been prepared at home. Well, this is modern chess – one can’t escape from computer preparation even in Napoleon Opening!
The position is rather bizarre. You can often see odd things like this in games of complete beginners (who even may confuse the rules of chess), or in films (usually in a moment when the principal character makes some abstract move and says “Checkmate!” solemnly). But, as you remember, it was the European Championship, and nobody could help smiling while looking at our game.
6…Rxg8 7.c3 Ne6 8.gxf5 Nf4
The forced sequence is over, and now it’s clear that Black got a very good play as a result of the opening. White’s extra pawn is of little significance, opposite to his weakened light squares and exposed king.

The Bulgarian immediately makes a serious mistake. The f3-square had to be better left for the knight – 9.Nf3.
The arising endgame is very difficult for White.
10.h4 dxe4 11.hxg5 exf3 12.Nxf3 Nd3+ 13.Ke2 Bxf5 14.Nh4 Nf4+ 15.Kf3 Bd3

White’s queenside has been locked and wished a good night!
16.b3 0-0-0 17.Na3 Ne6 18.Kg4
The king decided to fight alone, tired of waiting for his sleepy army…

However, the further march was considered too dangerous: 19.Kxh5 Be2+ 20.f3 Bxf3+ 21.Nxf3 Rh8+ and 22…Rxh1.
19…Nxg5 20.Nc4 Nf7 21.Nf3 e4 22.Nd4 Rd5 23.Bb2 Be7 24.Ne3 h4+ 25.Kh3 Rh5 26.Rag1 g6 27.c4 Ng5+ 28.Rxg5 Bxg5 29.Ne6 Bxe3 30.dxe3 Rf5
The outcome is already clear, but White is still optimistic.
31.Nf4 g5 32.Nxd3 exd3 33.Kg2 Rgf8 34.f4 gxf4 35.e4 Rg5+ 36.Kf2 f3 37.Ke3 f2 38.Rf1 Rg3+ 39.Kd2 Rg1

I overlooked this brilliant resourse, but somehow was lucky to find a refutation.
40…Rxf1 0-1

This amusing game indeed gave me a positive impact: I managed to win also next two games (against Grandmasters) and to finish the tournament decently, even despite the loss in the final round vs Ilya Smirin.


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