Monday, 24 December 2012

My favourite move in chess

by Junta

We all have our favourite things - favourite song, favourite colour, favourite food, favourite sport. It is natural for chess players to also hold such affections in the world of chess - favourite player, favourite opening, favourite combination, favourite tournament to play in. But one relation not many may have discovered is their favourite move to play in a game.

Of course, we are all fond of aesthetic moves - most of us would love to sacrifice our queen in attack, unveil a counter-intuitive passive piece sacrifice for an unstoppable pawn breakthrough in the endgame, or showcase an awesome novelty in a hot line even elite players have not discovered. But here I'm talking about playing the same piece to the same square (with colours reversed also) regularly in games, not just a one-hit wonder (or the chess equivalent thereof).

I've held a fondness for flank (pawn) attacks since my early years in chess, but looking over my games from the two recent tournaments in India, I realised a certain little guy in my army had had his fair share of deployment, and he has probably earned a number of medals and commendations through my years of playing by now.

Maybe this phenomenon of a favourite move is like a guy who comes up with suggestive jokes all the time in conversation: in the appropriate context, it can be highly effective; it can be utilised in practically any stage of the game; sometimes, it fails miserably; it can hold surprise value; and the opponent feels the need to react; along with any other half-decent metaphorical/metaphysical relations.

Anyway, here are the positions from my 22 games where the move was played:
(my rating is 2304)

#1: Nov 23 - Ikeda-Sai (1654), Commonwealth Championships, Round 1.50

The position after 16.g2-g4. The game finished 16...f5 17.gxf5 Nf6 18.Qc2 Ng4 19.Qb3 Nxf2 20.Qxe6+ Kh8 21.Qxh6+ 1–0

#2: Nov 24 - Ikeda-Raghunandan (2042), Commonwealth Championships, Round 3.38

After 7.g2-g4 - the Shirov-Shabalov Gambit which I loved from first sight in childhood.

#3: Nov 25 - Ikeda-Seshadri (1990), Commonwealth Championships, Round 5.37
After 5.g2-g4 - objectively its not nearly as good as the SSG above, but it is playable. I was amazed to find in the database later that Mamedyarov had essayed it against Ponomariov in Dortmund 2010 (the result was a draw)!
#4: Nov 27 - Ikeda-Deepan (2500), Commonwealth Championships, Round 7.16
After 28.g3-g4 - I was able to open lines up on the kingide favourably and gain the advantage soon after.

#5: Nov 28 - Himanshu (2417)-Ikeda, Commonwealth Championships, Round 8.14
After 29...g6-g5, the game was kept in balance.

#6: Dec 1 - Ikeda-Narayanan (2438), Commonwealth Championships, Round 11.20
After 21.g2-g4 - objectively it may be a bit dubious, but practically I felt that I had to play it here. I was able to free my knights and gain equality.

#7: Dec 3 - Ikeda-Vaibhav (2494), Rose Valley Open, Round 1.25
After 17.g3-g4 - although I didn't follow up in the best way, I'm happy with my position here.

#8: Dec 7 - Karavade (2385)-Ikeda, Rose Valley Open, Round 5.33
After 15...g6-g5 - sadly, I had neglected castling after the opening, and my position was already difficult.

#9: Dec 8 - Ikeda-Rishi (2185), Rose Valley Open, Round 6.44
After 9.g2-g4 - a nice line I had wanted to play in a tournament game since learning it.

#10: Dec 12 - Ikeda-Thejkumar (2442), Rose Valley Open, Round 10.26
After 27.g3-g4 - a decent move - 27.f4 and 27.h4 also looked good, but perhaps my favouritism dictated matters here.

#11: Dec 13 - Rathnakaran (2435)-Ikeda, Rose Valley Open, Round 11.25
After 15...g7-g5 - although White would have been better after 16.Nb3 or 16.b4, after the game continuation 16.fxg5 Nxe5 I was very happy with my position.

So, overall, I pushed my g-pawn to g4 as White or g5 as Black in half of my 22 games I played recently in India! The results in these 11 games was pretty good (of course, it helps that I was White in the majority of these games), with 5 wins, 4 draws and 2 losses against opponents of average rating 2271, for a performance rating of 2432. I'll wait and see if this trend of touching the g-pawn continues.


  1. Junta,

    Thanks for the post. Very interesting.
    Re g2-g4, noticed you like the Shabalov Gambit in the Semi-Slav. Have you ever essayed the Shirov's other twin, the g4 against the Phillidor? And isn't there a g4 variation against the Caro-Kann? Have you tried it?

    But the ultimate g2-g4 move which I came across in the collected games of the sublime Canadian GM, Duncan Suttles, which I think truly test your understanding of chess: It is called the Portland Attack ECO B23/26 and the moves are, 1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 d3 g6 4 g4 or 1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 g4 (less precise according to FM Bruce Harper). Ever tried it?

    Re Flank Openings, Duncan Suttles is a very interesting chessplayer who made a career playing the Rat and the Reversed Rat and also what Bruce Harper calls the Suttles System. But I should not recommend him as he is widely regarded as "unorthodox" similar to GM Bent Larsen. Having said that, GM Yasser Seirawan is a fan of Suttles.

    I too have a predilection for flank openings but of course, I am not a strong player like yourself, only a novice. Just wondering whether you have played the Rat as Black? And do you like Ulf Andersson's way of playing the double fianchetto?

  2. Thanks for your comment. I haven't had the chance to play the 5.g4 line against the Pirc with 3...e5, but I hope to in the near future. Yes, there are some lines with g4 against the Caro-Kann but I haven't studied any in particular.

    The lines by Suttles look interesting, I haven't come across them before. I haven't really played the Rat before. Yes, Ulf Andersson is a very good double fianchetto player to learn from.


  3. Glad you like Suttles' games. I hope I can learn enough chess to play like him. FM Bruce Harper with GM Yasser Seirawan's assistance edited Suttles' games in 3 volumes. Worth getting as the annotations esp Vol 1 is fantastic. Otherwise you can download the games collection (w/o annotations of course) at the website:

    Main webiste is:

    If you ever do play the Portland Attack (I think it is playable for blitz or rapid games), I hope you will blog it or let me know of it.

  4. You might need to find a new favourite move, as the Dutch International Master Willy Hendriks has elucidated the virtues of meeting g4 with ...g5.