Monday, 11 April 2011

The lure of the f pawn

One thing I've never understood is why chess beginners have a fatal attraction to moving the f pawn. While not all new players will do this, I've seen a number of games, either by new players, or by casual players in simuls, make an early move with the f pawn, only to get hacked by Qh5-f7. It is even move strange as one possible reason for moving the f pawn (to defend the e pawn), equally applies to pushing the d pawn instead.A similar phenomenon is that of the rook pawn push. Former ACT Champion (and Scientist) Ian Rout believed you tell whether a junior player was left handed or right handed by which rook pawn was pushed in the opening. He theorised that once a player had exhausted their 2 or 3 moves of opening theory, they simply moved the pawn that was (a) furthest away from the action and (b) closest to their dominant hand.
Here is an example of how an early f pawn move can go horribly wrong. It was from the first round of the Dubbo Open, but amazingly it wasn't the first game to finish. The story behind that game is for another time.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 f5 4.Nxe5 fxe4 5.Qh5+ Ke7 6.Qf7+ Kd6 7.Nc4# 1-0