A Plausible Trap

Here are the first few moves of an online blitz game I played the other day, in which I fell for a very plausible trap.

1. e4 c6

The Caro-Kann is an opening I hardly ever play, but, on the principle that you  should try everything once except incest and folk dancing, I decided to give it an outing in this game.

2. Nf3 d5
3. exd5 cxd5
4. d4

So we reach the Exchange Variation. The only thing I knew about this was that, after 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 White was supposed to play Bd3 to prevent Bf5. Therefore I played:

4… Bf5
5. Nc3 Nf6

It seemed natural to start on the kingside, but Stockfish prefers Nc6, thinking White should now play Ne5, with ideas of Bb5+ and/or g4.

6. Bg5 e6

This seemed obvious, although Stockfish is also happy with Nc6.

7. Bb5+

How should I get out of check? Nc6 or Nbd7? I wanted to support the knight on f6, so that I could perhaps follow up with Bd6 and Qc7, or maybe Bb4 and Qa5 depending on circumstances. I also didn’t want to give my opponent the chance to capture on c6 and leave me with a backward c-pawn. Nc6 would have been equal, but, after a few seconds thought, and neglecting to consider what forcing moves my opponent might have in reply, I chose the alternative knight move.

7… Nbd7??

Now my opponent found:

8. Ne5!

Suddenly my position is completely lost. The only way to avoid losing a piece is  8… Be7 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Nxd7 a6.

Here White has a pleasant choice between winning the exchange (11. Nb6+ axb5 12. Nxa8 Qxa8, or, probably better, winning a pawn and displacing Black’s king (11. Nxf6+ Kf8 12. Nfxd5 or 12. Bd3).

There are many examples of this trap on lichess.org. The position after White’s 7th move can arise from a variety of openings: there are examples from the Scandinavian and the Richter-Veresov, for example, as well as from the Caro-Kann. Similar ideas are also seen in similar positions from other openings. I’d seen this sort of thing many times before so I really shouldn’t have fallen for it.

Perhaps I should mention this trap when I write the next edition of Chess Heroes: Openings, about which much more in a week or two’s time.

Richard James

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Richard James

Author: Richard James

Richard James is a professional chess teacher and writer living in Twickenham, and working mostly with younger children and beginners. He was the co-founder of Richmond Junior Chess Club in 1975 and its director until 2005. He is the webmaster of chessKIDS academy (www.chesskids.org.uk or www.chesskids.me.uk) and, most recently, the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, both published by Right Way Books. Richard has been a member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966. Richard is a published author and his books can be found at Amazon. Richard is currently promoting minichess (games and puzzles using subsets of chess) for younger children through his website www.minichess.uk, and writing coaching materials for children (and adults) who want to start playing serious competitive chess, through www.chessheroes.uk. View all posts by Richard James

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