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Friday, July 8, 2016

Bogoljubow Opens With 1.h4!!

     I have done a couple of posts about 1.h4 and have had a lot of fun playing it in online games and even as black playing 1...h5. 
     Hugh Myers once covered this opening in Exploring the Chess Openings and of it he wrote: If there were an election for the worst first move, 1.h4 would have excellent winning chances. It weakens the K-side and does nothing for the center. Harding, in Irregular Openings, didn't think it was good for anything but Kriegspiel, laughing it off with a space wasting variation (1.h4 e5 2.h5, etc.) (Note: Wait a minute! That's how I've been playing it!) But just as a boy might be a delinquent only because of bad companions, I don't think that any move should be condemned without considering what moves go along with it. 1.h4 is surely not the best way to start a game but it is worth investigating.  
     Here's a game just for fun where Bogoljubow played it and lost to an unknown opponent. This tournament, the 3rd Südbadische Chess Congress 1949 in Haslach, was won easily by Bogoljubow who had won all his games and going into the last round is supposed to have asked Schuppler what opening he should play and Schuppler replied "1.h4." 
     The game was fairly well-played by Schuppler, but it seems to me that at move 22 the time he used to reposition his B allowed Bogoljubow to get some play, and somewhere around move 30 it seems possible that time pressure may have been a factor.  In what looks like a time scramble Bogojubow missed claiming a draw and both players made some pretty poor moves, but in the end Schuppler got a well-deserved point. 

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