The Monkeys Bum, though not one of the most popular chess openings, has intrigued chess players for quite some time due to its unusual and unexpected sequence of moves. Beginning with 1. e4 g6 2. Bc4 Bg7 3. Qf3 e6 4. d4 Bxd4, it sets the scene for a game filled with sharp tactics and strategic complexities.
Though it may seem at first glance that this opening is relatively harmless and even awkward, with practice and understanding, one can capitalize on its intricacies and trap unsuspecting opponents in difficult positions. This guide is intended to provide a comprehensive breakdown of this intriguing opening, its tactical and strategic ideas, potential responses from opponents, and possible continuations.
ECO: B06 Modern Defense: Bishop Attack, Monkey’s Bum Variation
1. e4 g6 2. Bc4 Bg7 3. Qf3 e6 4. d4 Bxd4
Origin and History
The chess world is renowned for its wide variety of opening strategies, each with its distinct identity and style. One such intriguing strategy is the Monkey’s Bum variation of the Modern Defense opening. This peculiarly named variation, which incorporates a rapid assault on the f7 square, has a fascinating backstory that traces its origins back to the 1970s.
To give a little context first on the parent opening, the Robatsch Defense (1…g6) is known to have roots back to the late 19th century, and was used sporadically in high-level competitive chess in the 20th century. Players like Grandmaster (GM) Bent Larsen and World Champion GM Anatoly Karpov have used it in their games. However, the specific Monkeys Bum variation does not seem to have been frequently employed by top-level players in classical games, and thus, lacks a prominent historical record.
The Monkey’s Bum variation was discovered and championed by International Master (IM) Nigel Povah during a time when the Modern Defense was gaining popularity among chess enthusiasts. In 1972, the Modern Defense was further popularized by a book of the same name, written by Raymond Keene and George Steven Botterill. Povah, intrigued by the strategies outlined in the book, started looking for a response to this opening.
His inspiration came from a match between Ljubomir Ljubojević and Raymond Keene that took place in Palma de Mallorca in 1971. The game opened with 1.e4 g6 2.d4 d6 3.Bc4 Bg7 4.f4 Nf6 and eventually concluded in a draw. Povah was particularly intrigued by Ljubojević’s early move of Bc4 (Bishop to c4), which set the wheels in motion for the development of the Monkey’s Bum variation.
The essence of the Monkey’s Bum lies in a rapid assault on the f7 square with the move 3.Qf3 (Queen to f3). Upon sharing this sequence of moves with his friend, Ken Coates, at Leeds, Povah received a humorous response. Coates declared, “If that works then I’m a monkey’s bum!” This statement not only gave the variation its unique name but also became a memorable part of chess folklore.
The Monkey’s Bum variation first appeared in print five years later in the British Chess Magazine. In his article, Povah detailed the theory behind this peculiar variation. Despite its unusual name and approach, Povah had found success with the Monkey’s Bum. He claimed that he had never lost a game using this variation, though he acknowledged that it was still in its infancy.
Thus, the Monkey’s Bum variation, born out of a search for a counter to the Modern Defense, has become an intriguing part of chess history. Its quirky name, originating from a friend’s jest, and its aggressive strategy reflect the creativity and diversity that the game of chess offers to its players1.
gressive strategy reflect the creativity and diversity that the game of chess offers to its players1.
Overview and Key Concepts
In this section, we will delve into the core ideas and principles of the Monkeys Bum opening. Here, you will get an understanding of the key goals of this opening and the basic structures and pieces placement that players aim for.
This opening is a unique and offbeat choice. It opens with a symmetrical pawn move, 1.e4, to control the center. Black responds with 1…g6, preparing to fianchetto the bishop, an unusual decision that is often seen in hypermodern defenses like the Robatsch (or Modern) defense.
The opening aims to disrupt the typical development plans of the opponent and lead the game into less-explored territories. It’s noteworthy that this opening gives rise to complex positions with both positional and tactical opportunities.
Here are the key concepts to keep in mind for this opening.
Disturbance of the natural flow of the opponent’s opening game.
Rapid and unusual piece development, primarily focused on the kingside.
Tactics revolving around the center control and pressure on the f7 square.
Step-by-Step Analysis of the Opening Moves
This section will dissect the opening sequence of the Monkeys Bum, analyzing the purpose behind each move, and how it contributes to the overall goals of the opening. We will discuss the logic and strategy behind each move, enabling you to understand not just what moves are made, but why they are made.
1.e4: The opening move for White aims at controlling the center quickly and preparing for the development of the bishop and queen.
1…g6: Black responds with a less common move, preparing to fianchetto the bishop to g7, which will exert pressure on the center.
2.Bc4: White develops the bishop, targeting the weak f7 pawn and setting up a direct attack.
2…Bg7: Black completes the fianchetto, increasing control over the dark squares in the center.
3.Qf3: This is an unusual square for the queen in the opening stage, with direct threats to the f7 pawn, and indirectly supporting the d4 advance.
3…e6: Black makes a cautious move to cover the f7 square and free the dark square bishop.
4.d4: White gains more central control, opens lines for the dark square bishop and the queen’s knight.
4…Bxd4: Black grabs a central pawn but at the cost of time and potentially exposing the bishop.
White opens with the King’s Pawn Opening, which is the most common chess opening. It aims for the control of the center and the preparation for quick development of the king’s bishop and queen.
Black responds with a hypermodern approach, preparing to fianchetto the bishop on g7. This move, while it doesn’t immediately contest the center, aims to influence it indirectly. The bishop on g7 will exert pressure on the d4 square and prepare for potential counter-attacks.
White develops the bishop to a strong square where it targets Black’s weakest point, the f7 square. At the same time, White prepares for the possibility of an early Queen sortie to f3 or g4, maintaining the pressure on the f7 square.
Black proceeds with the plan to fianchetto the bishop, strengthening control over the dark squares in the center of the board. The Bishop on g7 also supports the potential pawn thrust …d5, challenging White’s control of the center.
This is a relatively uncommon square for the queen in the early stages of the game, as it exposes the queen to potential attacks. However, the move has its merits. It continues to put pressure on the f7 pawn, and supports the pawn advance d2-d4 to dominate the center.
Black plays a cautious move to defend the vulnerable f7 square and opens up lines for the queen’s bishop. It’s a necessary move to ensure the safety of the king and prepare for a potential kingside castle.
White proceeds to expand control of the center and opens lines for the development of the bishop on c1 and the knight on b1. By doing so, White also allows the e4 pawn to be fully supported by the pawn on d4.
Black seizes the opportunity to eliminate White’s central pawn. This move takes Black’s bishop out of its strong diagonal and delays the knight’s development. However, it could be a provocative choice aiming to throw White off balance and exploit potential weaknesses in the opponent’s camp.
The Monkeys Bum opening, while not being mainline theory, presents an intriguing and unexpected opening sequence. The unconventional positions that arise from this opening require both players to think critically from an early stage, making for a challenging and exciting game.
Common Strategic Ideas in the Monkeys Bum
Every chess opening has a set of strategic ideas and plans that can be executed depending on the response of the opponent. Here, we will talk about common strategies, such as king safety, control of the center, piece development, and pawn structure, within the context of the Monkeys Bum.
King Safety: With Black’s unusual opening, it is crucial to ensure the safety of the king. Castling on the kingside might be ideal if the situation allows it.
Center Control: Maintain or counteract control of the center. The loss of the d4 pawn can be mitigated by rapid piece development and potential tactics.
Piece Activity: Rapid piece development and maintaining active pieces is crucial. With Black’s early bishop capture on d4, it’s essential to find the best squares for your pieces.
Targeting f7: The Monkeys Bum often includes early attacks on the f7 square. This should be considered throughout the early to mid-game.
Potential Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
No opening is without its dangers. In this section, we will discuss the potential pitfalls of the Monkeys Bum, including tactical threats that you need to be aware of and how you can best avoid or counteract them.
Over-exposing the Queen: Moving the queen to f3 on move 3 is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it supports the d4 pawn advance, but it can also become a target for opponent’s minor pieces.
Center Pawn Loss: With 4…Bxd4, Black captures the central pawn. White needs to ensure sufficient compensation for this, primarily in the form of piece activity and potential tactics.
King’s Safety: Due to the nature of this opening, the kingside often becomes an area of tactical battles. It’s crucial to keep the king’s safety in check.
Preparing Against Expected Responses
We will also explore the common responses that opponents may use against the Monkeys Bum. This section will help you to anticipate and prepare for these responses, including understanding when to deviate from standard lines in order to respond effectively to your opponent’s moves.
Defending f7: Black can defend the f7 pawn with the move …e6, preventing any early game tactics.
Counter-attacking the center: With the move …d5, Black can challenge White’s control of the center. This also has the added effect of threatening White’s light-squared bishop.
When deploying an opening like the Monkeys Bum, it’s essential to be aware of the most common and effective responses from your opponent. Here we will go through some typical moves Black might make and how to prepare for them.
When facing an early attack on f7, the most common and straightforward defensive move is 3…e6. This move not only guards f7 but also frees up the dark square bishop. As White, you could consider ways to take advantage of this cautious move, for example, by proceeding with the development of your knight to c3, or by reinforcing the center with a move like c3.
Counter-attacking the center:
A more aggressive move for Black would be to directly challenge the center with 3…d5. This move threatens the bishop on c4, and the player might hope to open up the center and unleash their pieces. One option for White here could be to take the pawn with 4.exd5, but it’s also reasonable to withdraw the bishop to a safer square or even protect it with a move like Qe2, preparing for a potential castle.
Development of Black’s Knight:
If Black decides to proceed with standard development by 3…Nc6, White should prepare to respond accordingly. There are several options in this situation. You might continue with normal development (e.g., 4. Ne2 or 4. Nc3) or reinforce the center with 4.c3, preparing for the pawn advance to d4.
Aggressive f-pawn advance:
A potentially surprising but aggressive choice from Black might be the advance of the f-pawn with 3…f5. The aim here is to undermine White’s central control and start a direct attack. In this situation, White could capture the pawn with 4.exf5, creating a doubled pawn structure for Black after 4…gxf5. Alternatively, White could maintain tension by ignoring the threat and continuing development with 4.Nc3 or 4.Ne2.
When preparing for potential responses from the opponent, it’s crucial to maintain flexibility in your game and be ready to adjust your strategy according to the situation. The key here is to maintain central control, ensure rapid and effective development of your pieces, and keep your king safe. As with any opening, practice and study are essential to understanding the intricacies and nuances of the positions that arise
The Monkeys Bum is a fascinating and uncommon opening that can lead to unique and challenging positions. Understanding the key concepts, common strategies, and potential pitfalls can help you navigate this opening and catch your opponents by surprise. It is not without its risks, but with good understanding and precise play, it can be a powerful weapon in your chess repertoire.
It’s important to practice and analyze this opening regularly to understand the complexities and opportunities it offers. Like all chess openings, understanding the key ideas is more important than memorizing specific lines. Happy learning and may your Monkeys Bum games be successful..
Learning chess openings can significantly improve your gameplay, giving you the edge in the early stages of the game. This guide aims to equip you with an understanding of the Monkeys Bum opening to enhance your strategic toolkit.