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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Basman Defense

     That’s what I’m calling Black’s defense in this game in honor of IM Michael Basman of Great Britain. Basman (born 16 March 1946 in London) is an International Master and author who has made many contributions to opening theory. He is particularly known for frequently choosing bizarre or rarely played openings, including the St. George Defense, the Grob (for Black and White) and also The Creepy Crawly (a3, then h3 followed by a quick c4).
     There’s an amusing story about this game. I stopped in at the local coffee shop and was watching a couple of players doing a post mortem of a game they had just played. I knew one of them from way back and he used to be rated somewhere around 1800, I think. His opponent asked him a question about a move and my friend replied, “You have a master standing behind you, ask him.” Master?! Either he was being generous or age has dimmed his memory.  I ended up playing the other guy and he advised me he had been rated circa 1700 as a result of a few tournaments he had played in back during the Fischer Boom. I had to question that rating when he played his first move, 1…h6, but later I discovered that it’s a defense Basman has played on occasion so I had to take back my condescending thoughts.
     I see openings like this quite often on the internet and the people playing them almost always make the same mistake.  Their play is way too passive and they allow me to build up the center; at some point you have to challenge your opponent in the center or his space advantage will confer an overwhelming position. My sacrifice on move 11, while not unsound, was objectively not the best, but it made things difficult for Black’s defense.

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