The first time I learned of chess I was home from school sick and was watching an old movie where two guys were playing chess in prison. That prompted me to get down an encyclopedia and look up the game. Intrigued by what I read, I drew the outline of the pieces as shown in the encyclopedia on the backs of some old Monopoly cards, cut them out and stuck gobs of modeling clay on the bottom then used an old red and black checkerboard. The rules were learned from the encyclopedia.
Not long after that I discovered a schoolmate, named Dave, knew how to play and come summer I went to his house almost every day. We played Whiffle ball. We each had three ‘invisible’ men and a complex set of ground rules. e.g a ball that hit the old barn was a double, triple or home run depending on how high up it hit. When we weren’t doing that, we played chess. Dave had what I thought was a really beautiful set…an E.S. Lowe Renaissance set like this one, except his were red and white.
On my twelfth or thirteenth birthday (can't remember which) we were on vacation and visiting my brother, who was in the military, in Puerto Rico and he got me a set just like Dave’s…it was so cool. But I’m digressing.
It was around that time I discovered there were chess books and chess openings. I kept a notebook with openings in it...the first ones being the Evan’s Gambit and a couple of others I found in Hoyles Rules.
I also began ‘inventing’ my own openings. The first was what I called The Cross Opening because it resembled a cross. I used to win a lot of games from Dave playing it!
1.d4 d5 2.e3 Nf6 3.Bd3 e6 4.Bd2
4.Ne2 Bd6 5.Ng3 b6 6.0–0 Bb7 7.f4 Nc6 8.c3 Qe7 9.a4 h5 10.Qf3 h4 11.Ne2 h3 12.g4 Rh4 13.g5 Ng4 14.Qg3 Qxg5 15.fxg5 Bxg3 16.hxg3 Rh8 17.Rf4 f5 18.gxf6 Nxf6 Amzorov,A (2146)-Vorobyova,A (1890) Novokuznetsk 2008 1–0
4...Be7 5.Nf3 0–0 6.0–0 Bd7 7.Nc3 Bc6 8.Qe2 Ne4 9.Bxe4 dxe4 10.Ne5 Bd5 11.h3 h6 12.Rfe1 Bd6 13.Nxd5 exd5 14.a3 Qe7 15.Bc3 Nc6 16.Nxc6 bxc6 17.Qa6 Qd7 18.Bd2 Rfb8 19.c4 Plej,T (1500)-Pozonec,M (1500) Rogaska Slatina 2009 1–0 (31)
White’s position is not that bad. He can play 6.f4 with a kind of Stonewall or 6.Nf3 with a kind of Colle. Of course I didn’t know any of that.
1.e4 e5 2.Ne2 Nf6 3.d4?!
This is how I usually played it.
3.Ng3 Bc5 4.Bc4 d6 5.c3 Qe7 6.0–0 Nc6 7.d3 0–0 8.Nd2 Bb6 9.Nf3 Nd8 10.Nh4 g6 11.Bg5 Ne6 12.Qd2 Nxg5 13.Qxg5 Nd5 14.Qh6 Nf4 15.Ngf5 gxf5 16.exf5 Rd8 17.Rae1 Rd7 Taubenhaus,J-Hanham,J New York 1893 ½–½ (52)
3.Nbc3 Nc6 (3...Bb4 4.g3 d6 5.Bg2 0–0 6.0–0 b6 7.f4 Nbd7 8.d4 Bb7 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.a3 Bc5+ 11.Kh1 Ng4 12.Qe1 Ne3 13.Bxe3 Bxe3 14.Rd1 Re8 15.Bh3 Re7 16.fxe5 Qe8 17.Bxd7 Rxd7 18.Rxd7 Wasserman,L (1111)-Cheyne,A (1373) Winnipeg 2005 0–1 (39); 3...Bc5 4.d4 exd4 5.Na4 Bb4+ 6.c3 dxc3 7.bxc3 Be7 8.Ng3 d6 9.Bd3 Nc6 10.0–0 0–0 11.f4 Re8 12.Bb2 Bf8 13.Qd2 Ng4 14.Rf3 Bd7 15.c4 Ne7 16.Nc3 Ng6 17.Nd5 c6 18.h3 Nicolas-Pomar Salamanca,A Madrid 1943 0–1 (47)) 4.f4 d5 (4...exf4 5.d4 Bb4 6.d5 Nxe4 7.Bxf4 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 Ne7 9.Qd4 Nf6 10.c4 d6 11.Ng3 Nf5 12.Nxf5 Bxf5 13.Be2 0–0 14.0–0 Qd7 15.Bd3 Bxd3 16.cxd3 Rfe8 17.h3 Nh5 18.g4 Nxf4 19.Rxf4 Alapin,S-Chigorin,M Vienna 1898 0–1 (43)) 5.fxe5 Nxe4 6.d4 Be7 7.Nxe4 dxe4 8.c3 f6 9.Nf4 Bf5 10.exf6 Bxf6 11.Qb3 Qd6 12.Qxb7 Rb8 13.Qa6 e3 14.Bxe3 0–0 15.Bc4+ Kh8 16.0–0 Rxb2 17.Bd5 Rb6 Kornev,A (2565)-Bakalarz,M (2408) Warsaw 2005 1–0
3...exd4 4.Nxd4 Nxe4 5.Qe2 Qe7 6.Nf5 Qe6 7.Nd4 Qe7 (0.00/12;)
3...Qe7 4.dxe5 Qxe5 5.Nbc3 Nxe4 6.Qd5 Qxd5 7.Nxd5 Na6 8.Nd4 c6 9.Bxa6 cxd5 10.Bd3 Bc5 11.c3 d6 12.f3 Nf6 13.0–0 0–0 14.Re1 Bxd4+ 15.cxd4 Bd7 (0.07/12)
3...d6 4.Nbc3 Be7 5.dxe5 dxe5 6.Qxd8+ Bxd8 7.Be3 Ng4 8.Bd2 Nc6 9.f3 Nf6 10.0–0–0 Be6 11.Be3 h6 12.Kb1 0–0 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.exd5 (0.15/13)
4.f3 Nd6 5.dxe5 Nf5 6.Qd3 d6 7.exd6 Bxd6 8.Qe4+ Be7 9.Ng3 Nd6 10.Qf4 Nc6 11.Nc3 0–0 12.Bd3 g5 13.Qe3 Re8 14.Nd5 (-0.22/16)
4.Nec3 Nxc3 5.Nxc3 exd4 6.Qxd4 Nc6 7.Qe4+ Qe7 8.Bd3 Qxe4+ 9.Bxe4 Bd6 10.Nb5 Be5 11.0–0 a6 12.Re1 0–0 13.Bxc6 dxc6 14.Rxe5 cxb5 15.Be3 (-0.28/16)
Several years ago there was a kid on a forum that kept posting his new opening discoveries…they were pretty bad and everybody held him in derision, but I didn’t. I remember the thrill of inventing the Cross Opening and discovering Alapin’s Opening.