Is your spoon long enough?

I wrote a few weeks ago about my Dutch IM friend, Gerard Welling. Gerard has just returned from the open at Bad Wiessee, in Germany. This charming Bavarian spa town, alongside Lake Tegernsee, is actually the place where Hitler and the other top Nazis went to stay on the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, when Ernst Roehm and the Blackshirt leaders were murdered – not a lot of people know that, as Mr Caine would say.

Anyway, I digress. Gerard adopted his customary approach to the event – no laptops, no specific opening preparation. he just spent each morning walking around the lake and enjoying the marvellous scenery, and then turned up and played his usual brand of original, tactically alert, fighting chess. The result was another fine score of 6.5 / 9, albeit against much weaker opposition than in Oslo.

But he had one hilarious game, in which a young opponent, armed to the teeth with preparation, tried to surprise him in the opening. Trying to catch Gerard with an offbeat opening is rather like trying to shock Russell Brand, by behaving outrageously.  The result was hysterical. I pass you over to Gerard himself, who explains the full story.
White: Christophe Ramme
 Black: Gerard Welling
 Bad Wiessee 2011

“The young German player Ramme, whose IM friend helped him to prepare for each game, intended to surprise me. So the game started

1. b4

“and after about 5 minutes of pondering, trying to think of some independent reply, I remembered Stefan Bücker’s recommendation of 30 years ago, and played


The game proceeded

2. b5

(2. a3 c5!)

2… Nc5 3. d4 Ne4!?

Stefan’s line went 3..Ne6 but I was reminded of Dick van Geet’s suggestion at the time to play 3..Ne4.

4. e3

4. f3 Nd6 5. e4 f5 (or 5… g6) was Dick’s line, which he may even have played in the 1960s against J J Lindner, a 1.b4 specialist.

4… b6 5. Bd3 Bb7 6. f3 Nd6 7. e4 e6

Bringing 8.e5 Qh4+xd4 into the position, and also preparing an eventual hypermodern pincer move..f5.

8. Ne2 f5 9. e5 Nf7 10. Be3


Kingside space and preparing an eventual softening up by means of ..h5-..g4.

11. Nd2 Ne7 12. h4?


12…gxh4 13. Rxh4?? Nd5 14. Bf2 

and White is dead. He resisted for quite a few moves after 15. Bxe3 Qxh4+ but in the end it was futile.. Stefan Bücker was delighted to see this practical try of his provocative idea 1..Na6!”

It is 24 hours since I first saw this, but I still can’t stop laughing. As the old saying has it, “He who would sup with the Devil needs a long spoon!”.

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