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Taking Advantage of Mistakes in 1. e4 e5: Part 3

Continuing the subject of the previous two parts of this article series, we are going to talk about more ways to take advantage of our opponent’s opening mistakes in the 1.e4 e5 openings.

One of the main things that you must understand in any opening that you play, is the type of mistakes that your opponent can make in the opening. This can involve small mistakes, such as letting you develop a piece with tempo, or big mistakes ,such as tactics that allow you to win a lot of material. In this three part series of articles we are going to examine a few of the tactical mistakes that Black can make after the moves 1.e4 e5.

In this third part we are going to focus on a sacrificial checkmate attack.

Opening Mistake 5The start of this game began with the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.d3 0-0 6.Bg5 h6 7.h4, offering a piece sacrifice that could have terrible consequences if captured, as we’ll see.

7…hxg5 8.hxg5 Now White has the open h-file to work with. Yes, he is down a piece, but being down a piece will not matter if he gets checkmate soon! 8…Ng4 Threatening to take the f2-pawn.

9.g6 Adding heat to the fire around Black’s king. 9…Nxf2 and now we can look at the position to the right.

Here, White is down a piece and his queen and rook are forked. He looks like he’s going to at least lose the h1-rook and then his attack will dry up. But with the shocking move 10.Nxe5! White opens up his queen’s line to the h5-square and adds an attacker to f7 as well.

I learned a lot about how to punish mistakes in the opening by watching the “Winning Chess Games in the Opening” DVD by GM Rafael Leitao and would highly recommend it if you want to learn more about the topic!

All of Black’s defenses fail here. For example, 10…Nxd1 capturing the white queen leads to 11.gxf7+ Rxf7 12.Bxf7+ Kf8 13.Rh8+ Ke7 14.Nd5+ Kd6 15.Nc4#. And if Black instead captures the h1-rook, then White’s queen penetrates to h5 with devastating effect: 10…Nxh1 11.Qh5 Re8 12.gxf7+ Kf8 13.Ng6#.

Opening Mistake 6This same tactical idea can be seen from Black’s perspective as well. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.d3 d6 6.0-0 Bg4 7.h3 h5 8.hxg4 hxg4 9.Ng5 g3 10.Nxf7 and we reach the position to the right.

This is pretty much a mirror image of the previous position, only with the colors swapped. In this case, Black is the attacker! 10…Nxe4! 11.Nxd8 gxf2+ 12.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 13. Kf1 Rh1+ 14. Ke2 Nd4#

So what did the losers of each game do wrong?

Well, both sides played very risky moves, but the loser was the one who also played greedily as well. After winning the bishop on g4 or g5, they continued to move their knight forward to f2 or f7, intending to win more material through the fork. In both examples though, the greedy side ends up being crushed swiftly.

This also helps us to appreciate that greediness in the opening phase of the game can sometimes end up backfiring on us. There is no point in being ahead material when your king ends up getting checkmated at the end of the game. We’d rather be equal in material and safe, than ahead material and getting checkmated!

“The Secrets to Mastering the Chess Opening” – GM Damian Lemos
“Winning Chess Games in the Opening” – GM Rafael Leitao

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