How do you handle it when your chess opponent copies your moves? Imitation may be a form or flattery, but you cannot both win the same game! If moves are copied to checkmate, White will win first. One idea is to make it risky for your opponent to keep copying your moves. Usually threats, captures and checks will create a needed imbalance.
Before he won the World Championship, Jose Raul Capablanca played a humorous game in 1918 where his opponent started copying his moves once they reached the Four Knights Game. I'm guessing the game was played in a simultaneous exhibition. At any rate, the great "chess machine", as Capa was called, had no trouble finding a quick a suitable finish.
I continue my games played at a Borders bookstore in Orlando, Florida. My opponent this time was one Marty Martinez. Not only does he copy my moves. Marty was playing my own favorite Black defence against me when I had White. He copies me for the first couple moves, but then goes his own way. I take this opportunity to comment a little on the opening theory of this line in the Queens Knight Defence and French Defence.
Sawyer-Martinez, Orlando,FL, 08.01.2004 begins 1.Nc3 [1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Bb4 5.0-0 0-0 6.d3 d6 7.Bg5 Bg4 8.Nd5 Nd4 9.Nxb4 Nxb5 10.Nd5 Nd4 11.Qd2 Qd7 12.Bxf6 Bxf3 13.Ne7+ Kh8 14.Bxg7+ Kxg7 15.Qg5+ Kh8 16.Qf6# 1-0 Capablanca,J-NN/New York 1918] 1...Nc6 Being a copy cat has some value. You have to watch out for tactics. Any winning combination or checkmate will favor White. 2.d4 d5 3.e4 e6 [The French Defence and the Nimzowitsch Defence both meet here. Black has three reasonable alternatives. It is risky but possible to continue copying for one more move with 3...e5!? 4.dxe5 d4! (4...dxe4 5.Qxd8++/- and the copy cat moves end here.) 5.Nd5 f5 6.exf6 Nxf6 7.Bg5 Be6 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.Bc4 Ne5 10.Qxd4 c6 11.Nc7+ Qxc7 12.Bxe6 Rd8 White seems to be okay, but his king is still in the center, and Black has open lines and active pieces.; 3...dxe4 4.d5 when Black must choose between 4...Ne5 (or 4...Nb8 ) ; 3...Nf6 4.e5 Nd7 5.Nxd5 Ndb8 6.Ne3 Qxd4 and both sides have to decide what to do about the pawn on e5.] 4.Nf3 [4.e5+/= is the alternative move.] 4...dxe4 [4...Nf6 5.e5 Ne4 6.Bd3 f5 is recommended in the 2007 repertoire book "Play 1...Nc6! Christoph Wisnewski (now Scheerer). ] 5.Nxe4 Bb4+ 6.c3 Ba5 7.a4 Here comes a little deception. A strong player would immediately see the danger to his Ba5. My opponent is a more mid-level player. When I was at that level, I missed more things than I do now. 7...Nge7 8.b4 Bb6 9.a5 Bxd4 10.Nxd4 Nxd4 11.Qxd4 Qxd4 12.cxd4 Black has only one extra pawn for his lost bishop. It is just a matter of time. 12...0-0 13.Be3 Nf5 14.Ng3 Nxe3 15.fxe3 e5 16.Bc4 exd4 17.exd4 Bg4 18.0-0 Rad8 19.d5 Rde8 20.Rae1 Rxe1 21.Rxe1 Bd7 22.Ne4 [22.Re7!+-] 22...c6 23.dxc6 Bxc6 24.Nd6 h6 25.Nxf7 Black is on the ropes and does not block the final flurry of punches. 25...a6 26.Ne5+ Kh7 27.Nxc6 Rc8 28.Bd3+ g6 29.Ne7 Re8 30.Bxg6+ 1-0
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