Tuesday 4 January 2022

When does this become a trap?

 In my chess library are a number of books dealing with opening traps. The earlier ones were produced by authors such as Reinfeld, Chernev and Horowitz, and predated the development of chess databases. I assume instead they had a vast collection of scoresheets and index cards, gathering information from tournament bulletins, chess magazines and reader submissions.

As most of the traps presented did not have the players names attached to them, I wonder what the criteria for a 'trap' was. Was it simply a quick game where the mistake wasn't too egregious, or did it have to have been played a certain number of times to qualify? And, in some cases, was it just interesting analysis from the authors themselves, based on things that did not actually happen?

Below is a modern example of a short game, which may or may not be an actual trap. Certainly Black attempted to throw his opponent off by playing the Bb4+ line against the Scotch. And on move 7 Qh4 by Black is a 'trappy' move. It isn't until move 10 does White really go wrong, when the check on the e file is deadly. Possibly they assumed that Be2 would be OK, and then realised that Ba6 is going to hurt a lot. So if this game was to appear in a modern book of traps, it would probably say 'the tempting Bf4 is unsound here because of ...', but unless more people reached this position (and played this move) it might be of little utility for Black to know this.

Sandhya Goli (1865) - Defromont,Benjamin (2250) [C45]
8th Sunway Sitges 2021 Sitges ESP (4.76), 16.12.2021

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