Game Spotlight: Homebrewing

Since chess is a mental game, many players like to put their own stamp on it.  It’s not just winning, it’s winning with their opening.  To some extent this is misguided, in that proven opening variations are popular for a reason.  But the game is big enough that there’s still plenty to be discovered.  What’s most important is that if you’re going to develop your own variations, you have to put in the work.

The most recent example was at last year’s Nairobi Chess Club Open Championship, when a number of players had some success with a Colle System modified with a kingside fianchetto.  I don’t have the details about their preparation, but the fact that multiple players were using this system implies there was quite a bit of work done on it, either in a study group or another of Nairobi’s chess clubs.

The most famous example is the game below, in which a lawyer from Philadelphia beat the world champion during a simultaneous exhibition.  John McCutcheon workshopped an unusually aggressive variation of the French Defence for years before getting to use it in this high profile event, and the work definitely paid off.

A strong enough debut that the variation continues to be played today (though with considerably more theory worked out).

The Kenya National Chess League is back this weekend.  Good luck to those participating.

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