The Goldsmith Defense, an Opening Secret

    Many lower rated players concentrate their study on openings, but the late National Master James Schroeder advised against studying openings until you are at least an Expert (2000-2199). 

    He also advised not to use opening encyclopedias; they are nothing more than selective data. These days databases have taken over books, but the idea is the same. 

    According to Schroeder, only after you become completely knowledgeable of how to checkmate and thoroughly understand the endgame and have played through at least a thousand master games are you are ready to study the openings. 

    Openings based on cheap traps are appealing, but you are wasting your time because if you cannot refute a bad move over the board you will never be a good player, said Schroeder. 

    The late Senior Master Kenneth Smith gave the same advice. He emphasized tactics, making the point that tactics will overcome a bad opening, a poor middlegame and lack of endgame knowledge. Smith’s advice was similar to Schroeder’s: only when you reach Expert can you stop devouring everything on tactics. 

     The following Blitz game is proof of their advice. I played the horrible 1…h5 and won against a player that appears to have been of at least average (say 1600) strength. It just emphasizes the point that for we non-Masters openings don’t matter. 

    The Goldsmith Defense (1…h4) is a weak response to whatever first move white plays. It’s a rather useless move that does nothing to control the center and it does not aid in development. It also seriously weakens the K-side. Also. bringing the R into play via h6 is pointless and weakening. 


A game that I liked (Fritz 17)

[Event “Chess Hotel”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2024.??.??”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Guest”]
[Black “Tartajubow”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “B00”]
[Annotator “Stockfish 16”]
[PlyCount “65”]
[EventDate “2024.??.??”]

{Goldsmith Defense} 1. e4 {[%mdl 32]} h5 {This is the dubious Golsmith Defense.
} 2. Bc4 Rh6 {Let’s call this the Tartajubow Variation.} (2… d6 3. Nf3 Bg4 4.
h3 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 e6 6. O-O {White has no more than hig usual opening advantahe
here.} g5 7. d3 Nd7 8. Qg3 Bh6 9. f4 h4 10. Qf2 Rh7 11. fxg5 Bxg5 12. Bxg5 Qxg5
13. Nc3 a6 14. d4 Rg7 15. Ne2 Ne7 16. Nf4 Ng6 {Now, after 17.Nxg6 the game
would be even. Instead white makes an unsound sacrifice.} 17. Nxe6 {Black has
a decisive advantage. Horina,M-Srebro,M Bjelovar 2008}) 3. d4 Rf6 {Giving up a
P, but there is more to come.} 4. Qxh5 Rxf2 {This is a losing move, but it
sometimes gains psychological and time advantages, especially in blitz games
where white often uses extra time looking for an immediate win.} 5. Kxf2 e6 6.
e5 {My first thought was that this is a waste of time and he should have
played a developing move. But…surprise! It’s Stockfish’s top choice.} d5 7.
Bb5+ {[%mdl 32] Better was 7.Bd3} c6 8. Ba4 {Not really bad, but d3 was still
a better square for the B.} b5 9. Bb3 a5 10. c3 c5 {Hoping to open up a file
on the Q-side.} 11. Bg5 {A better plan might have been Nh3-g5, but after this
white still has what should amount to a winning advantage.} Qb6 12. Nf3 Nc6 13.
Rd1 {White has successfully defended the attack on d4 and there is little that
black can do now, but a move must be made, so…} Bb7 14. Qh8 {After this
white is still winning,m but the engine found a clever continuation.} ({
A surprising move.} 14. Bxd5 exd5 15. e6 {The K will escape the clutches of
white’s pieces, but black will still be a R down with nothing to show for it.}
Nh6 16. Bxh6 O-O-O (16… gxh6 17. Qxf7+ Kd8 18. Qd7#) 17. Bf4 fxe6) 14… cxd4
15. cxd4 (15. Qxg8 {also works.} dxc3+ 16. Be3 Qxe3+ 17. Kxe3 cxb2 18. Nc3
bxa1=Q 19. Rxa1 {White is a Q ahead.}) 15… Nge7 16. Bxe7 Nxe7 17. Nc3 a4 18.
Bc2 a3 19. b3 Rc8 {White can ignore this attack on his N and win in a couyple
of ways, but with little time to think he played a natural move defending the
attacked N and B. That said, inbly an engine can calculate the alternatives
quickly and accurately, so white is not to be faulted for playing 20.Rd3} 20.
Rd3 (20. Ng5 Rxc3 21. Bh7 Qd8 22. h4 Nc6 23. Bg8 Ke7 24. Kg1 Qb6 25. Qh5 Nd8
26. Bxf7 Kd7 27. Qh8 Bb4 28. Qe8+ Kc7 29. Nxe6+ Nxe6 30. Bxe6) (20. Bh7 Rxc3
21. Ng5 Qd8 22. h4 Nc6 23. Bg8 Kd7 24. Bxf7 Be7 25. Bxe6+ Kc7 26. Qxd8+ Nxd8
27. Bf5 Kb6 28. Rac1 b4 29. Nf3 Nc6 30. g4 Ka5 31. h5 Bf8 32. e6 {White is
winning.}) 20… b4 {Black regains a piece.} 21. Na4 {This move puts the N out
of play and must be considered a blunder because now black equalizes. 21.Rad1
keeps the advantage.} Rxc2+ 22. Ke3 {[%mdl 8192] White probably thought the K
was safe here plus on e3 it defends the d-Pawn, but now it’s white who is lost.
Correct was 22.Kg1 after which the chances would have been equal.} Nf5+ 23. Kf4
{Suddenly white’s K has become fatally exposed.} Qb5 24. Rad1 Rxa2 {This is
mot nearly as good as 24…Rxg2, but only an engine can thread its way through
the complications. White now started using precious time trying to get out of
his jam.} 25. Nc5 Rxg2 26. Qh3 Rb2 27. Nxb7 Qxb7 28. Qf1 g6 {Brings the B into
play.} 29. Rb1 Bh6+ 30. Ng5 Bxg5+ 31. Kxg5 Qe7+ 32. Kf4 Qh4+ 33. Kf3 {White
resigned before black could play 33…Qe4#} 0-1

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