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:
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
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!