In the Fritz Variation of the Two Knights Defence - made famous by the correspondence game Estrin v Berliner 5th World Correspondence Final (1965 -1968) - I have been a lucky beneficiary of 5 or 6 quick wins as my opponents have chosen to play a refuted line. This has set me wondering as to how such lines come about, given the easy availability of opening knowledge, although all these games were played at 1 n/a time limits, so my opponents may not have bothered looking.
In which case what follows is a salutary lesson to show that if you play chess without learning some opening theory you will lose too many games to those who do.
[Event "Open invite"]
[Black "Mister Meaner"]
1. e4 e5
2. Ng1f3 Nb8c6
3. Bf1c4 Ng8f6
4. Nf3g5 d5 This whole line is a pawn sacrifice for Black who hopes his piece activity will win it back in 10-15 moves time.
5. exd5 Nc6d4 more common here is Nc6-a5. A known error is 5....Nxd5 regaining the pawn but losing to the attack beginning 6. d4. (Barden-Adams, Hastings 1951/2)
6. d6 - This move is the focus of this rant. It is a losing move. White returns the pawn to reopen the diagonal to f7 to win the exchange (Nxf7xh8) - but Black has a counterattack - using his centralised pieces after white gallops off into the corner. Anyone who has a book would play 6.c3 here but 6. d6 begins to appear in correspondence databases from the 1990's in games between lower rated players. There are a number of quick wins for Black! - But stupidly there are some also some for white??
Numerical Piece Values are not relevant to the position as the Black counter attacks against c2 and g2 are worth more in than the h8 rook. It is interesting to see how people can be seduced by the lure of material without being able to see the compensation, and how the stronger players pay more attention to the function of the pieces in a given position more accurately. Even computer engines take several minutes to discard 6.d6 here.
So what is this about? Are database compilers not quality assuring the content of their databases? Are more weak players games available worldwide following the advent of electronic transmission/servers. Are they more likely to buy databases if their games are on them? Is there a desire by chess organisations to show their popularity by quantity of games produced rather than quality?
6.... Qd8xd6 allows a knight fork but seems to be winning.
Zagorovsky in Romantic Chess Openings (Batsford 1981) dismisses the whole 6. d6 line with 7. Bxf7 (Nxf7? Qc6!) Ke7 8. Bb3 Nxb3 9. axb3 h6 10. Nf3 e4 11. Ng1 (oh dear) Kf7 -/+ Bogoljubov Rubinstein, Stokholm 1919.
In four games my opponents play 7. Nxf7
Game 2214926 Game 2219325 Game 2270732 Game 2321727
and fall vicitim to the counter attack against g2, which also has tactical motifs against the white king and queen.
In the fifth game, learning the lesson of the first game, white spends a move protecting g2, but this time c2 is vulnerable. Game 2215361
It is not possible to play sharp openings like the Two Knights Defence, particularly over the board, without some basic preparation. When I bought the Zagorovsky Book 20 odd years ago I had to work out the 7...Qc6 refutation by hand, and it still nets me the odd win in Blitz games down the club even now. I was just surprised to see it so many times in games on RHP.