Monday, March 14, 2016

How Do You Beat a Hippopotamus?

How do you beat a Hippopotamus chess opening? You outrun it! Let me explain. But first things first. What is it? The Hippopotamus is when Black begins by moving many pawns just one square to the third rank very early in the game.

In the example of Ray Haines vs rafa47, we have a Hippo that began 1.d4 e6 2.e4. This looks like a French Defence, but Black avoids 2...d5. His first four moves were only with pawns. Black's next four moves had one with a knight and three with pawns.

The strategy of this defense is the opposite of Hungry Hippos. In this Hippo, Black has little interest in eating. He just hides behind his third rank pawns. Only the strongest Hippo players venture out, and then only when they are good and ready.

You outrun a Hippo using the "fast and blast" method. Develop pieces fast and blast open the center with pawns. Put your central pawns on the fourth rank. Bring out your pieces to support the advance of one of those pawns. Then push a pawn and force pawn exchanges. Crack Black's wall of pawns. You need open lines to favor your active army. Don't take too long! Black's problem is temporary. Given time, he will catch up. Open up the position before move 10 if possible.

This is a good illustration of a Hippo. Ray Haines handled it well. My main suggestions for him would be to add an early f4 or c4, and avoid playing the flank move 7.a4.

Haines - rafa47, chess24, 17.02.2016 begins 1.d4 e6 2.e4 c6 3.Nf3 h6 4.Bd3 d6 5.0-0 Ne7 6.Nc3 b5 7.a4 [Better would be 7.Be3!+/-] 7...b4 8.Ne2 a5 9.Ng3 Ba6 10.Qe2 Qb6 11.Be3 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 Qa6 13.Qd2 [13.c4+/-] 13...d5?! [13...Nd7 14.c3+/=] 14.e5 Nd7 15.h4 Nb6 16.b3 0-0-0? [16...Rc8 17.Rac1 Nd7 18.Rfd1+/=] 17.Rac1 Kb7 18.c3 Ng8 19.Ne1 Rc8 20.Nd3 Be7 21.h5 f6 [21...bxc3 22.Qxc3 Nd7 23.Bd2+-] 22.exf6 Nxf6 23.cxb4 Bxb4 24.Nxb4 axb4 25.Qxb4 Ka8 26.Qd6 [26.Rc5!+-] 26...Rhe8 27.a5 Nbd7 28.Bf4 Qb7 29.Qa3 Qa6 30.Rc2 Qd3 31.Rfc1 Qxd4 32.Be3 Qe5 33.Rxc6 Rxc6 34.Rxc6 Qb8 35.Ra6+ Kb7 36.Ra7+ Kc8 37.Bb6 Qe5 38.Qc1+ 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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