Little Maggie

So I’m playing the black pieces in a training game against Little Maggie.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Nc3

Play the Four Knights if you want, Maggie, but I keep on showing you games with Bb5 and Bc4. Either of those moves or 3. d4 will give you a much more interesting game.

3.. Nf6
4. a4

What’s this move supposed to be? If you play Ra3 at any point I’m just going to take it. Every week I tell you not to play useless pawn moves, but you never listen do you, Maggie?

4.. Bb4
5. Bd3

And why are you putting the bishop on such a poor square, Maggie? You’re just blocking your d-pawn so you won’t be able to develop the other bishop. Bb5 or Bc4 would be more active, or if you want a safe move you could play Be2 instead.

Just the sort of low level opening play you’d expect with a young beginner playing White, isn’t it?

Except that it wasn’t Little Maggie with the white pieces, but Big Magnus. The first word of this article will, cunningly, identify his opponent.

What’s it all about, Maggie?

One idea of Bd3 would be to follow up with O-O, Re1 and Bf1, with either d3 or d4, depending on circumstances, to follow. 4.. Bd6 has become quite popular – and quite successful – in the Spanish Four Knights in recent years. Throwing in a4 provides another idea: to play Nd5 and then trap the bishop with c3, b4 and a5. After c3 you also have Bc2 followed by d4, which you’ll see if you play through the rest of the game.

5.. d6
6. O-O O-O
7. Nd5 Bc5
8. c3 a5
9. Bc2 Nxd5
10. exd5 Ne7
11. Ng5 h6
12. d4 Bb6
13. Nh7 Re8
14. Nf6+! gxf6
15. Qh5 e4
16. Re1! f5?

Very natural, but it’s the losing move. Stockfish claims equality after Bf5, c5 or Ng6.

17. Bxh6 Nxd5
18. Bg5 f6
19. Bb3 c6
20. Re3! Kf8
21. Qg6 f4
22. Bh6+ Ke7
23. Qh7+ and after 23.. Ke6, Rxe4 is mate.

Mostly home preparation, I’d imagine. Black’s moves were all fairly obvious, but he lost to an impressive attack.

Here we have one of the world’s best players losing a miniature by playing simple, natural moves against what looked like a very artificial opening plan.

It just demonstrates once again, both the beauty and the complexity of chess.

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 ( or 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, and writing coaching materials for children (and adults) who want to start playing serious competitive chess, through View all posts by Richard James

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