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gibo 24 ( +1 | -1 )
1.e4 1...a6!? Has anyone ever seen a game of this opening played. I think i might look into it, it was once played by english gm tony miles in a top tournament. Looks interesting certainly would startle your opponent.
soikins 121 ( +1 | -1 )
It won't give anything except taht you know that your opponent is a dogmatic. Such people have psychological problems when playing against such moves, they don't think about the game, when they should, but tell themselves -- "it's not the way chess is played, my opponent is stupid, I'm winning already, I'm winning whatever I do." Then tehy stop looking for the best moves and happen to lose. The way Karpov did against Miles in the game you mentioned.
Move 1. ... a6!? doesn't give anything for black, if white plays an opening where a6 is an unnecesarry move, then it will apear as a waste of time and cause problems for black, but if white doesn,t play such an opening then the move a6 is ok, cause it comes as a shocker an your opponent will lose psychological stability.
Befor playing a6 you should know what openings your opponent plays, if a6 is a common black move later in the game in those openings, go ahaid play it already on the first move. If your opponent will try to play openings where a6 is unnecessary he himself will get into an unknown terrain and will play worse than he usually does.
brobishkin 16 ( +1 | -1 )
1.e4 a6... Karpov simply said this was the incorrect move... He was playing Mr. Miles when this opening was played... Unfortunately Karpov lost the game in the end...
caldazar 86 ( +1 | -1 )
When confronted with weird moves like 1. e4 a6, a good player will usually just accept it for what it is and treat it like any other move, a move with benefits and drawbacks. The benefits are pretty clear; it controls b5, prepares a possible ..b5 (potentially threatening a knight on c3), and perhaps ...Bb7. The drawbacks are equally obvious; it doesn't control the center and does nothing to further piece development. So a proper response should seek to exploit the defects of the move while avoiding the strengths of the move. Logical responses would be things like 2. f4 intending Nf3 (furthering central control) 2. d4 (furthering central control and speeding development) or 2. Nf3 (increasing central control and developiing). There's no need to try to "refute" the poor move outright; just play reasonable, logical responses and continue to exploit your advantages.
gibo 27 ( +1 | -1 )
definately a nice unsettler though, I'll think ill try it out some time. You made a good point soikins it shoudl only be done in openings that involve a latter a6 at some stage such as a sicilian. So i could just usew 1....a6 to transfer to a sicilian.
keiserpaul 45 ( +1 | -1 )
caldazar There is much more than that. Moves such as a6 and b5 have an effect on the middle squares, as they help to safeguard the position of a black knight arriving at d5 by restraining the advance c4 by White. Take the position after 1.e4 a6 2.d4 e6 3.Nf3 b5 4.Bd3 c5 5.c3 Bb7 6.0-0 Nf6. The black knight on f6 feels much more at home, because the move e5 would no longer presage a pawn avalanche down the central files, driving Black's pieces back to base.
caldazar 48 ( +1 | -1 )
True enough, keiserpaul Except that Black runs a very real risk of falling behind in development even against rather modest play by White. For instance, consider something like 1. e4 a6 2. d4 e6 3. Nf3 b5 4. a4 (probably a bit premature, but just for the sake of argument...) Bb7 5. axb5 axb5 6. Rxa8 Bxa8 7. Bxb5 Bxe4 8. O-O. Black is going to lose further time with his bishop and while Black's position is indeed playable, he has some work to do to get his pieces into play.
keiserpaul 55 ( +1 | -1 )
caldazar Black has played more dynamicaly in this position : 5. .. Bxe4! 6.bxa6 Bb7! and won ( Scheltens-Timmerman, cr 1990, 0-1(26)) . But you have a point ! I have studied the St. George thoroughfully, and tried it several times to finally find out it is not my taste. It indeed takes a lot of time to put the pieces on a good spot, which I don't like because I want to attack from the very first move. But, on the other hand, black has no weaknesses. Are the pieces better in play in a Caro Kann (also not my taste ) which is considered as a very good opening ? I don't believe so.

caldazar 46 ( +1 | -1 )
Ah. That is a very interesting gambit indeed. I'm not sure White should even accept it, although I've never been much for opening theory study to being with, so I can't be certain.

But you bring up a good point; Black's structure is fundamentally sound, even if his piece development is rather slow. If White plays too slowly and allows Black to catch up in development, Black does appear like he will get an excellent game.
peppe_l 67 ( +1 | -1 )
But If we go back to the sample line 1.e4 a6 2.d4 e6 3.Nf3 b5 4.Bd3 c5 5.c3 Bb7 6.0-0 Nf6, to me it looks like black is worse here...?

Also for the sake of discussion, since after 4.a4 Bb7 5.axb5 black has interesting 5...Bxe4! what happens if we wait one more move before playing a4, 4.Bd3 c5 5.a4

Here white has occupied the centre (1.e4 2.d4) and developed two pieces (3.Nf3 4.Bd3) while black has made 4 pawn moves, and I cant help the feeling that the black queenside expansion has been premature - white has the centre and development advantage, black has queenside pawns that look more like weakness than strength. To me it looks like white will have small but stable advantage. Or am I wrong?
peppe_l 141 ( +1 | -1 )
Actually After the game (after losing!) vs Miles, Karpov called 1...a6 "an insult" :-)

The funny thing is in his book "my best games" from 1978 he tells the readers how Korchnoi considered his 1...b5 (Polish defense or reversed Sokolsky) an insult - and lost!

Of course its impossible to say was the opening the most important reason for these losses because in both games white had very good position. Of course there is psychological effect and all that, but how can we know how much the opening choice affected Karpov & Korchnoi?

For some reason many players like to blame the opening for their losses and thank themselves for their wins, but when its about rare openings, it tends to be vice versa!

IMO caldazar made a great point in his post,

"When confronted with weird moves like 1. e4 a6, a good player will usually just accept it for what it is and treat it like any other move, a move with benefits and drawbacks."

If one just continues routine development, almost overlooking "obviously bad" moves, very easily one ends up to a position where "obviously bad" moves turn out to be useful moves! Like 1...a6, transpose to a position where a6 is a useful move, and black is no worse than in any other opening. And after Karpov - Miles example, I dont think I have to tell what happens if one sees rare move as an insult :-)
keiserpaul 109 ( +1 | -1 )
peppe_l The main line of the St George goes 1.e4 a6 2.d4 e6 3.Nf3 b5 4.Bd3 c5 5.c3 Bb7 6.0-0 Nf6. I agree, White's development is so beautifully economical and harmonious in this line that Black can bother to fight against it. But it is one thing to set up a position and it is another to maintain and advance it. Black's position takes longer to set up, but because of this he can choose more carefully his plans, knowing already that a certain, fixed configuration opposes him.
Black has pressure against both Whites' centre pawns : e4 by Nf6, Bb7 ; d4 by c5, Nc6, Qb6 and the black pieces also come to good developing squares. Black must be careful to develop his queen's knight at the right time, otherwise in some positions the move d5 by White is very strong. Black must also be flexible about his king, and not castle it kingside too early, otherwise he may run in a Greek gift sacrifice on h7.
The St George is an easy opening to understand and it can be played with either colour. Miles played it against a worldchampion and won. Baker played it in Londen 1868 against another worldchampion (Steinitz) and won. If you can beat world champions with this opening, you can not claim it is inferior.
peppe_l 76 ( +1 | -1 )
Thanks For an explanation. Indeed, it is not easy to maintain (or gain!) a small advantage. It seems white only has to play a bit too slowly and black has a nice position. Only two games hardly prove an opening equal or inferior compared to say, 1...e5 or 1...c5, even if they were played by champions. And of course "inferior" is a relative concept, small theoretical advantage doesnt mean that white wins automatically, not even on highest level. That propably means 1...a6 is not so bad try for a positional player who hates studying theory of Caro-Kann or French.

Im wondering...if Karpov considered 1...a6 an insult, Steinitz must have been furious :-)

BTW, you know what is the theoretical verdict (and best line for white) about St George main line, after 6...Nf6?
keiserpaul 79 ( +1 | -1 )
Main line St george After the sixth move, White has 3 obvious ways to support his attacked pawn at e4.
7.Re1 7.Qe2 7.Nbd2 He may also play 7.Bg5 and 7.e5 which are probably not so dangerous as Bg5 implies the exchange of a useful bishop and e5 is too direct and simplifies Black's defensive task.
A key game is van der Sterren - Basman in which White plays the manoeuver Nbd2, e5, dxc5 and Ne4. Because he had not prefaced it with Re1, his pawn at e5 proved an easier target and Black gained the initiative. In the later stages of the game Black becomes too ambitious and his rook lands up in a tangle at g4. A better plan was 18. .. Qe8-g6 retaining the rook for back rank defence.

Van der Sterren,P (2400) - Basman,M (2405) [C00]
Regency Masters B (3), 1979

1.e4 e6 2.d4 a6 3.Nf3 b5 4.Bd3 c5 5.c3 Bb7 6.0-0 Nf6 7.Nbd2 Nc6 8.dxc5 Bxc5 9.e5 Nd5 10.Ne4 Be7 11.a4 Qb8 12.axb5 axb5 13.Rxa8 Bxa8 14.Nd6+ Bxd6 15.exd6 0-0 16.b3 f5 17.Bb2 Nf4 18.Re1 Rf6 19.Bf1 Rg6 20.g3 Qb6 21.Qd2 Rg4 22.Ra1 Qb7 23.h3 Na7 24.Rxa7 Qxa7 25.hxg4 Ng6 26.gxf5 Qb7 27.Bg2 Ne5 28.Qg5 1-0

gibo 14 ( +1 | -1 )
Who plays in otb tournaments? I play quiet regularly about once a month, prize money is reasonable if its just a normal tournament its usually $600aud
peppe_l 71 ( +1 | -1 )
Keiserpaul Thanks for the info...I had a look at my ECO book and found the following lines

1.e4 a6 2.d4 b5

A) 3. Bd3 Bb7 4.Nf3 e6 5.Qe2 Nf6 6.a4 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Nbd2 b4 9.e5 Nd5 10.Ne4 Be7 11.Bg5! 0-0 12.Nd6 Bc6 13.h4!? +/=

B) 3.Nd2 Bb7 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.Bd3 e6 6.0-0 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.e5 Nd5 9.Ne4 Be7 10.a4 b4 11.c4 bxc3 12.bxc3 0-0 13.c4 Nb4 14.Bb1 +/=

Overall I have to say I kinda like the type of position 1...a6 leads to (not playing b5 in such an early stage though), but like you pointed out the king safety is a big issue here - both white bishops eye towards black king position, e5 has taken f6 from knight etc. Then again leaving king to the centre exposes it after white opens lines and diagonals for his active pieces. Queenside castling being pretty much out of the question thanks to early pawn advances. He who plays black defitenitely has to know how to defend :-)