Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The cheapo as art form

In US English, "cheapo" is a mildly derogatory term for a cheapskate.  In chess circles, however, it means something different: a tactical trap that both players should be able to see through.

For example, "I was winning, but I fell into a cheapo." Setting a cheapo is not at all cheap: a strong player may set dozens of "simple" tactical traps during the game: miss one and you're dead.  We all feel silly when we fall for a cheapo, but there's nothing unsportsmanlike about setting up a cheapo.

Of course, if there's a much better move to be made, one should make the best move on the board.  But if one can set devious little traps for one's human opponent while making good moves, so much the better.

Here's an example from a game that finished just a few minutes ago.

GM Dmitry Gurevich of the Chicago Blaze had a dubious position against GM Hikaru Nakamura, and was down almost an hour on the clock to boot. But Dmitry fought back to equality. Then, with less than five minutes left on the clock against one of the world's best blitz players (and perhaps the world's best player of "bullet" chess), Dmitry fell for a cheapo....

 Nakamura (St. Louis) - Gurevich (Chicago)
October 6, 2010
1. How can White to play set a cheapo?
2. Why is the trap psychologically plausible?
3. What's Black's best reply?

P.S. Matt Pullin questioned my word choice. Is it fair to call a simple trap set by a good move (perhaps the best move on the board) a "cheapo"? Or should "cheapo" be reserved for traps set by inferior moves?


GreenCastle said...

Here are some move sequences that are very clearly based on cheap traps:

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Qe2?! setting up a well known smothered mate, but 5...Ndf6 White's Queen move is just awkward - Black is already equal, which is presumably all he wants from the opening if he plays 1...c6.

1.d4 g6 2.Bh6?? is an obvious blunder, but if this is an internet or postal game and Black has committed to playing 2...Bg7 it can be effective. Not the way I would prefer to win a chess game but it has been seen.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4?! is one everyone has heard of, hoping for 4.Nxe5 Qg5. I fell into this once more than a decade ago but avoided the splat line and somehow drew the game. After 4.Nxd4 exd4 5.O-O, on the other hand, White scores 64%.

Nakamura's 37.Ng5 is not a cheapo, it is the best way to defend the knight. Gurevich simply blundered.

Anonymous said...

Analysis of match

Gurevich blundered against the strongest player in the country...

Amanov was winning against Finegold and missed a couple of Good Knight moves I think it was Nd6 that was good followed by Nb5 something like that.

Felecan drew fair enough Brooks played a good game sacking the piece for many pawns.

I expected the fourth chicago board to win since she had a big rating advantage.

So I expected it to be 3-1 for Chicago in the end.

Oh well on to next week

Jon Burgess

Frederick Rhine said...

It's certainly debatable, but IMO Bill's usage is correct: one can (as Nakamura did) play a good move that happens to have a cheapo associated with it. One can also play a weak move whose only merit is to set a cheap trap (e.g. the examples cited by Matt). In the latter case, the move itself can be called a "cheapo" or it may be said to "set a cheapo."