Monday, August 12, 2013

Hennig Schara Time Again

I'm not sure whether I'm more excited by seeing the Petroff or Caro Kann getting smashed, or by the Hennig Schara or Evans Gambits being used successfully. I must say that I found the first round of the current World Cup a bit tedious. I started watching, but it held the same sort of fascination as watching the first week of a Grand Slam Tennis tournament. You are hoping for some big upsets, but at the same time you want the top players to go through so there are some great battles towards the end of the event. While I'll look at the matches, and the games and follow the event closely, I don't think I'll be getting into it in a big way until some players have been whittles away and there are maybe 16 left. Trying to find the excitement in 64 games is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. Still, the results showed a couple of good upsets, so some players will have to come out fighting tonight to take the games into tiebreaks, especially Morozevich and Judit Polgar who both lost in game 1.

In the latest issue of TWIC, there was a game in the Hennig Schara which was quite remarkable. It was played between 2 lower rated players (2100-1900 ish) but it still showed some interesting points. First, the positions are so random that it only takes a smallish error for one side or the other to go wrong. This is a great way for a lower rated player to unsettle a higher rated opponent, which is what happened in this game. Second, Black fights aggressively for the initiative and is often attacking which is much the easier position to be in below master level.

Here's a couple of highlights from this game:

White just played 10.Qa4 and he must have had a bit of a surprise when his opponent played 10..Bc5!?. Of course, taking on g4 is bad 11.Qxg4 Qxf2+ followed by regaining the piece on f1.

Black had castled long into a dangerous looking situation, but white's king doesn't look too hot either. White decided on 17.Bb5? seeing black's knight has nowhere to go! Black launched the knight into the fray with 17..Nd4!! utilising the pin on the e-file. After 18.Ba4 Black won an exchange with 18..Nxf3+ 19.gxf3 Bd4! utilising the same pin to unleash this nice skewer.
What a great position with black's dark squared bishop being the star of the show! Black maintained his material advantage until the following position was reached.
Continuing in his inspired form, black finished the game with the excellent 27..Rxe3+!! completely smashing away white's defences. 28.fxe3 Qxe3+ 29.Kf1 Qxf3+ 30.Kg1 Qe3+ 31.Kf1 Rc1+ 32.Kg2
There are many ways to win this, like taking the queen 32..Rxa1, or checking with 32..Qe4+, but the quickest is the one black played, 32..Rc2+! and black resigned as it's mate next move.

A great game, and a great advertisement for the Hennig Schara. White played a move that theory regards poorly in the opening, 7.Nxd5?!, instead of the more usual 7.Qxd5. This was a move introduced into practice by ex World Champion Euwe in 1920. To be honest, it gives black an easy game after 7..Nf6, as black will always be ahead in development. In fact, after 7..Nf6 white scores a miserable 36% from 15 games in Big Database 2013. An exchange on f6 usually follows with 8.Nxf6+ Qxf6 when white normally avoids a check on b4 by playing 9.a3, but as we saw in the main game, black has all the play. One of my favourite players who regularly played the Hennig Schara is Pavel Cech and there is a game of his where 9.e4?! was played. There followed 9..Bb4+ 10.Bd2
Here black played a move we know from the previous game. 10..Bg4!! It really is a great opening where moves like this can be played!

Once again, I urge players to take a few risks, find some interesting openings that will scare those higher rated players, and mix it up. If you lose, well it would probably have also happened if you played safe. But there's always that chance that your strong opponent will lose the thread, or miss a trick and that could very well be game over!


  1. Hi Carl,

    I'll give you $10 if you write a third blog post on the Hennig-Schara and in this post point out the refutation of the H-S and why the refutation works. Fwiw I am 99% sure of my analyses.

    Of course, claiming $10 from an anonymous account could prove difficult.

  2. Yep, I'm happy to post your refutation and I was going to keep writing posts about the Hennig Schara, so you'll be saving everybody else from my constant going on about this risky gambit.

    If you refute it, then don't worry about the $10. In fact, I'll give you $10, though of course, it might be difficult claiming that you actually sent the above comment as it was an anonymous account.