Thursday, 31 May 2018

Project 30: 9th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament Openings (3)

Here are the final four openings which could be seen in action during the 9th Mike Closs Memorial tournament.

Modern Defence: 1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nc3 d6

Mike's latter-day favourite as Black. He sometimes liked to continue with a system based on the moves ...c6, ...Nd7, ...f6, ...Nh6 and ...Nf7.

French Defence Wing Gambit: 1 e4 e6 2 Nf3 d5 3 e5 c5 4 b4

He occasionally liked this gambit, which is similar to the Sicilian Wing Gambit in some respects. If Black accepts the gift with 4 ...cxb4 then White's centre will be strong and stable after 5 d4.

French Defence Milner-Barry Gambit: 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 4 c3 Nc6 5 Nf3 Qb6 6 Bd3

Mike had many ways of playing against the French (partly because I kept playing it against him and he wanted to keep me guessing). We had battles in many variations of the Tarrasch (3 Nd2), Rubinstein, Winawer and Classical (all reached after 3 Nc3) and regular Advance (3 e5 without the gambit) over the course of three decades. He saved the Milner-Barry Gambit for special occasions, perhaps thinking it wouldn't work too well against a well-booked opponent. Black can win a pawn (but not immediately, as 6 ...cxd4 7 cxd4 Nxd4 8 Nxd4 Qxd4 9 Bb5+ would win the queen) but does White enjoy enough space and attacking chances to make it a worthwhile sacrifice? Perhaps we will find out on Sunday.

Spanish Game: 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5

This was Mike's main 1 e4 opening (when he wasn't in the mood for a Danish Gambit). Both sides can play gambits from this moment on - or keep things very solid. I suspect the players at the memorial tournament will prefer the former approach in honour of the Mighty Mish.

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