Click to follow
NEVER OVERESTIMATE the power of surprise. While a startling move may disconcert an opponent, one ought not to forget that any bad move has surprise value. The knack is to select moves that are sufficiently surprising to catch the opponent off balance, yet not bad enough to damage the player who adopts them.

Today's game, from the German League, is a good example. White lays the foundations for his victory with his third move - by any rational consideration an extremely poor choice, but on this occasion surprising enough to knock Black sideways.

White: Matthew Sadler

Black: Igor Stohl

Bundesliga 1998

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nd2?

Such nonsense as this has but one justification: that Black is a dyed- in-the-wool Grunfeld Defence merchant, ready to play 3...d5 against anything.


The only bad move in this position. Any of c5, c6,d6 or Bg7 would be perfectly good.

4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Ngf3 Bg7 6.e4 Nb6 7.Nb3

Black must have reasoned that a simi- lar position, with the white knight on c3, is almost playable. However, a little bit better than "almost playable" may still not be good.

7...0-0 8.Be3 Bg4

Has Black forgotten that the knight is on b3, not c3? The move Bg4 makes sense only to increase pressure against d4, but when that square has an extra defender on b3, it is nonsense. The patient 8...c6 was best.

9.Qd2 Nc6 10.Rc1 f5

Dubious when the bishop is still on c8, this advance is positively reckless after Bg4.

11.d5 Bxf3

11...fxe4 12.dxc6 exf3 13.cxb7 is very bad for Black.

12.gxf3 Ne5 13.Be2 fxe4 14.fxe4 e6?

A bad move in a bad position.

15.dxe6 Qh6 16.Rxc7 Qxe4 17.0-0 Rad8 (See diagram.)

Black thinks he is counterattacking. He is about to die.

18.Rxg7+ Kxg7 19.Bh6+ Kg8 20.e7

Black must now lose both his rooks since 20...Rxd2 21.exf8(Q) is mate. Even 20...Nf3+ 21.Bxf3 Qxe7 loses to 22.Bxf8.

Black resigned.