Saturday, 3 July 2010

The Hammerschlag

In Texas Holdem Poker, 7-2 off suit is statistically the worst starting hand you can have. Known as "The Hammer" it's main function is to kick off a series of table jokes after the flop comes down 7-7-2.
In chess 1.f3 followed by 2.Kf2 may well be the worst opening for White (excluding 1.f3 e5 2.g4??). Funnily enough it is known as "The Hammerschlag", a name that I'm assuming predates the poker expression. Certainly I had seen it in print in the mid 1980's.
It's normal use is to tease a weaker opponent, although this doesn't always turn out as planned. On my second or third ever visit to a chess club, a multiple ACT champion decided to play it against me in a blitz game, hoping to amuse the spectators. The game was over fairly quickly as I managed to conjure up a Legal's style sacrifice (from the black side of the board) and mated him. (Sadly I can no longer remember the exact moves of the game).
However at Street Chess today the opposite occurred, with a lower rated player using it as a surprise weapon against their stronger opponent. In this case the strategy paid off, as the game ended in a draw, after a large amount of (good natured) muttering from the rating favourite.

1 comment: said...

Bringing the King to f2 on move two is very bad chess. The junior players of Australia deserve better chess instruction than that.