One player who has always appreciated the value of slightly dubious play is Tony Miles. It was he, after all, who beat Anatoly Karpov after meeting the world champion's 1.e4 with 1...a6?!
After becoming Britain's first grandmaster in 1976, Miles beat several of the world's top players by ruffling their dignity with such moves. The trick is to have a fine grasp of punctuation - to sense the delicate boundary between a ?! (dubious) move and an outright ? (bad) one.
After a miserable patch of results in the late 1980s, Miles has been coming back into form recently. Each good result adds to his confidence, and each boost in confidence enhances his willingness to take risks. Last week, he scored one of his best results, first place in the 30th Capablanca Memorial Tournament in Cuba. Here's a sample of his high-risk strategy reaping rewards.
White: Gildardo Garcia
Black: Anthony Miles
Currently Miles's favourite defence. It cannot be worse than 1...a6.
2.d4 e5 3.dxe5 Nxe5 4.Nf3 Bb4+ 5.Nbd2 Nxf3+ 6.Qxf3 Ne7 7.a3 Ba5 8.b4 Bb6 9.Bb2 0-0 10.Bc4 Nc6 11.Nb3
The powerful-looking 11.Qg3 would have been met by 11...Bd4. Now Qg3 is a real threat.
11...Qh4! 12.g3? Qh6 13.Rd1 d6 14.Rd5? Be6 15.Rh5 Qg6 16.Be2 f5!
Believing that he was attacking, White has fallen behind in development, stuck his rook offside and weakened the defences of his king. His game is already falling apart.
17.exf5 Bxf5 18.0-0 Rae8 19.Bd1 Be4 20.Qc3
Preventing Qxh5 by threatening mate on g7, but the solution is temporary.
20...Ne5 21.Nd4 Bxd4! 22.Qxd4 Bf3!
The double threat of Bxh5 and Bxd1 followed by Nf3+ decided matters.
23.Rxe5 dxe5 24.Qc3 Bxd1 25.Rxd1 Qf7 26.Qe3 Qf3 and Black won at move 41.