Two days ago we looked at the Sicilian Defense, which is one of the most popular openings at all levels of play. Today it is time to start loving the alien.

Soon we will examine highlights from the worlds of both 1.e4 and 1.d4, which are the standard first moves for White.

However, today we are moving away from the mainstream and we must prepare to turn to face the strange.

Sometimes, a change is as good as a rest. It may just be a slight step to the side, with 1.c4 rather than 1.d4. Transpositional possibilities abound and one is only a step or two away from being reunited with the familiar pair of cosy slippers.

Not so with some of the other courses in today’s Valentine’s Sale.

How about the Jobava London System, which has disturbed a century of conventional London wisdom by voluntarily blocking the c-pawn with 1.d4 2.Nc3 and then 3.Bf4? Would that turn your head away from your faithful repertoire?

Perhaps some 1…g6 Modern love will reignite your passion for the unusual.

Or, if you are feeling extremely adventurous and daring as we head towards Valentine’s Day, then you need to consider putting the pride back into your attacking play by unleashing The Black Lion.

Unleash The Black Lion

The first few moves of The Black Lion are 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 and then Black has a choice. 3…g6 obviously leads to a Pirc Defense. 3…e5 allows White to exchange the queens and prevent Black from castling with 4.dxe5 dxe5 5.Qxd8+ Kxd8. This doesn’t look too good for Black, but in fact the queenless middlegame and subsequent ending are both fine for the second player. 

That is all well and good, but Valentine’s Day demands an element of the daring and the dangerous.

This brings us to the most aggressive member of the Black Lion family, which starts with 3…Nbd7.

Fast forward a few moves and the position appears to be heading into standard Philidor Defense territory, but there is a more adventurous option.

Black unleashes the Lion with 9…g5!?

There are several appealing factors for Black.

Note that the pawn on h3, deployed for prophylactic purposes, now offers Black an easy hook onto which a kingside attack can be hung. Additionally, the Black knight on d7 will reroute itself to f4, via f8 and g6. The rook will join the fun by taking a small step to g8, lining up against the white king.

Black’s own king is remarkably safe in the centre. It can slip to the queenside in times of danger.

Naturally, the Chessable course on The Black Lion is presented by the attacking maestro himself, Grandmaster Simon Williams. Consequently, The Black Lion has received significant attention of late.

The Black Lion: A Little History

Yet the opening has been around for a very long time. One of the first games I ever saw with The Black Lion was this one.

Paul Lipke – Henry Blackburne
Vienna, 1898

Here, Blackburne seized the moment with 22…Bc5 23 Rb3 g3, winning material and, eventually the game (0-1, 56).

We may have evolved from The Black Death to The Ginger GM but the path hasn’t been as linear as one perhaps may think.

My interest in the Opening led me to this dedicated Lion website. From there, I discovered the book written by Jerry van Rekom and Leo Jansen. The latter gentleman, the original expert in the system, inspired the naming of the beast. I brought The Lion into my own repertoire and wrote about it too.

Then my great friend Kevin Winter, one of the most active and enthusiastic of all amateur English players, used The Black Lion as his main weapon for a number of years – with great success. It was Kevin who brought the variation to Simon’s attention – which brings the story fully up to date.

Loving the Alien

Well, dear readers, perhaps you are now ready to put aside your cosy repertoire and chance your arm on something a little more unusual. It could be the start of a life-long relationship. If you are prepared to try something new, you might even end up…

Believing the strangest things
Loving the alien.

The Valentine’s Sale Continues

Head here for the Chessable Valentine’s Sale, which has new titles added today.

These titles will not be a part of the Valentine’s Sale for very long. It is not quite a case of ‘Love You Till Tuesday’, as we ‘might be able to stretch it till‘… well, Thursday.

More bargains will be added soon, so stay tuned.


Chess Mentor

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