The Danvers Opening, also known as the Wayward Queen Attack, is a unique and unorthodox chess opening out of the King’s Pawn Opening, Open Game that has been a topic of much discussion and debate among chess enthusiasts.
Danver’s opening is also known as the Kentucky Opening, Queen’s Attack, Queen’s Excursion, Wayward Queen Attack, Patzer Opening, and Parham Attack.
This opening strategy is characterized by the early development of the queen, making it an interesting subject to delve into.
Move Order of the Danvers Opening
The Danvers Opening begins with two initial moves:
- e4 e5
This signifies an early deployment of the queen in the game, which is often considered unconventional in chess strategy.
It is worth noting that this particular opening is not restricted to one name, and is referred to by several different names globally.
Theory, Strategy, and Purpose of the Danvers Opening
The Danvers Opening is unique due to the violation of a conventional opening principle by developing the queen too early, thereby subjecting it to potential attack and loss of tempo.
Despite this, the opening presents several problems for Black.
The strategy involves forcing Black to defend the e-pawn, followed by moving the white bishop to C4, which compels Black to defend against a mate threat.
This effectively obstructs Black’s natural development and presents unique strategic challenges.
Variations of the Danvers Opening
A number of variations exist in response to the Danvers Opening.
Black’s worst possible responses are 2…Ke7 and 2…g6, both of which leave Black in a losing position.
The most frequently played move is 2…Nc6, but 2…Nf6, 2…d6, and 2…Qe7 are also occasionally seen.
Continuations to the Danvers Opening
In response to the Danvers Opening, there are multiple potential continuations that Black can utilize.
Each offers unique strategic implications that can drastically change the trajectory of the game.
The most frequently played move in response to the Danvers Opening is 2…Nc6.
In this scenario, Black defends the e-pawn and prepares to counter 3.Bc4 with either 3…Qe7 or 3…g6.
The latter move is more common, and after 4.Qf3 Nf6 5.Ne2, the main position is reached. At this stage, White holds no discernible advantage.
Black can adopt different plans, one of the most popular being 5…Bg7.
In response to this, 6.0-0 is White’s best attempt for dynamic play.
Other lines such as 6.d3 d5 can lead to an even position with limited attacking opportunities, while 6.Nbc3 Nb4 offers intrigue but doesn’t promise much for White.
Notably, Grandmasters Krishnan Sasikiran and Nikola Mitkov played this move against Hikaru Nakamura in 2005.
The 2…d6 move allows Black to defend the central pawn while simultaneously opening a diagonal for the queen’s bishop.
However, this move also obstructs the development of the king’s bishop, potentially limiting Black’s strategic options as the game progresses.
Nonetheless, 2…d6 is generally considered the strongest continuation to Danvers Opening.
Another interesting choice for Black is 2…Nf6, a speculative gambit often referred to as the Kiddie Countergambit.
In this line, Black risks a pawn for accelerated development, betting on the fact that the White queen will lose tempo eventually.
FIDE Master Dennis Monokroussos advocates this move, dubbing it the “psychologically correct” response.
Another defensive move, 2…Qe7, allows Black to protect the center pawn and simultaneously guard the f7-pawn.
However, just like with 2…d6, this move blocks the king’s bishop, potentially compromising the ease of development in the game’s early stages.
It’s important to note that Black’s worst responses are 2…Ke7 and 2…g6.
The former leads to the fastest possible checkmate by White, while the latter loses a rook and pawn after 3.Qxe5+.
Understanding the potential continuations to the Danvers Opening is crucial for strategic planning and adapting to the evolving dynamics of the chess game.
Evaluation of the Danvers Opening
The Danvers Opening is generally evaluated at around -0.20 to -0.40 for white.
Theory & Continuation Lines of the Danvers Opening
Below we have some common theory and continuation lines from the Danvers Opening starting move order 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 that you would see at the highest level of play.
2… Nc6 3. Bc4 g6 4. Qf3 Nf6 5. Ne2 d6 6. h3 Bg7 7. d3 Nb4 8. Bb3 Be6 9. Na3 d5 10. Bg5 h6 11. exd5 Nbxd5 12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. Nc3 c6 14. Nxd5 Bxd5 15. Bxd5 cxd5 16. O-O
2… d6 3. Bc4 g6 4. Qd1 Nf6 5. d3 Bg7 6. Nf3 c6 7. a4 O-O 8. Ba2 d5 9. Nc3 Re8 10. O-O h6 11. h3 a5 12. exd5 cxd5 13. Re1 Nc6 14. Nb5 g5
2… d6 3. Bc4 g6 4. Qe2 Bg7 5. Nf3 Ne7 6. O-O O-O 7. d3 h6 8. a4 c5 9. Nc3 Nbc6 10. Nd5 Nxd5 11. Bxd5 Kh7 12. c3 a5
2… d6 3. Bc4 g6 4. Qd1 Bg7 5. d3 Nf6 6. Nf3 c6 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1 b5 9. Bb3 Nbd7 10. a4 Nc5 11. axb5 Nxb3 12. cxb3 cxb5 13. b4 Bb7 14. Qb3 h6 15. Nc3 a6 16. h3 g5 17. Be3 Rc8
2… d6 3. Bc4 g6 4. Qd1 Nf6 5. d3 Bg7 6. Nf3 c6 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1 b5 9. Bb3 Nbd7 10. c3 Nc5 11. Bc2 Ne6 12. a4 a5 13. axb5 cxb5 14. Bb3 a4 15. Ba2 Re8 16. Be3 d5
2… d6 3. Bc4 g6 4. Qe2 Bg7 5. Nf3 Ne7 6. d3 h6 7. O-O c6 8. a4 O-O 9. h3 d5 10. Ba2 Re8 11. Re1 Na6 12. c3 g5 13. Nbd2 Ng6 14. Nf1 Nc5
2… d6 3. Bc4 g6 4. Qe2 Bg7 5. Nf3 Ne7 6. a4 h6 7. d3 O-O 8. O-O c6 9. a5 g5 10. h4 d5 11. Bb3 g4 12. Nh2 f5 13. exf5 Nxf5
Magnus Carlsen plays an outrageous but not entirely terrible chess opening very early on Move two!
History of the Danvers Opening
The earliest known appearance of the Danvers Opening in print was in the Dubuque Chess Journal in May 1875, where it was referred to as the Kentucky Opening.
It’s believed to be named after a game played in Danville, Kentucky.
The name Danvers Opening was coined by E. E. Southard, a well-known psychiatrist and amateur chess player, named after the hospital where he worked.
A few master-level players have advocated this line, the most prominent being Bernard Parham of Indianapolis.
Parham developed his own ideas around chess strategy, which he calls the “Matrix System”, and advocates early development of the queen in several positions.
Is the Danvers Opening Good for Beginners or Intermediates?
The Danvers Opening is often adopted by chess novices, given its simple and straightforward moves.
This opening strategy is an excellent teaching tool for beginners to learn about potential vulnerabilities of early queen development and the importance of defending pawns.
However, intermediate players might find it less advantageous due to the risk of early queen development and the loss of tempo that can be exploited by skilled opponents.
Stopping Early Queen Attacks In Chess
How Often Is the Danvers Opening Played at the Grandmaster Level?
The use of the Danvers Opening at the grandmaster level is rare, though it has been employed occasionally with varied results.
Notably, U.S. Champion Hikaru Nakamura played it in two tournament games in 2005.
Despite losing one game and drawing another, Nakamura believed that the move was playable and could lead to advantageous positions.
Exhibition games also occasionally feature this opening. For instance, actor Woody Harrelson played the Danvers Opening against Garry Kasparov in 1999 and achieved a draw.
FAQs – Danvers Opening
1. What is the Danvers Opening in Chess?
The Danvers Opening is a non-traditional chess opening characterized by the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5.
It is also known by several other names, including the Kentucky Opening, Queen’s Attack, Queen’s Excursion, Wayward Queen Attack, Patzer Opening, and Parham Attack.
The Danvers Opening, while violating conventional principles by developing the queen too early, can still pose problems for Black.
2. What is the history of the Danvers Opening?
The earliest known mention of the opening was in the Dubuque Chess Journal in May 1875, where it was called the Kentucky Opening.
This might refer to a game played in Danville, Kentucky, which was published in the same magazine’s August issue.
In 1905, the opening was referred to as the Danvers Opening in the American Chess Bulletin.
This name was given by E. E. Southard, a well-known psychiatrist and amateur chess player, after the hospital where he worked.
The Danvers Opening was popularized by Bernard Parham of Indianapolis, one of the few master level players who advocate this line.
3. Who are some notable players who have used the Danvers Opening?
One of the most notable uses of the Danvers Opening by a grandmaster was in 2005 when U.S. Champion Hikaru Nakamura played it in two tournament games.
Despite losing one of these games, Nakamura believed that 2.Qh5 is a playable move.
The opening has also been used by chess novices and in exhibition games.
Actor Woody Harrelson played it against Garry Kasparov in a 1999 exhibition game, and tennis star Boris Becker played it against Kasparov the following year.
4. What challenges does the Danvers Opening present for Black?
The Danvers Opening can be somewhat problematic for Black as it hinders their natural development.
The opening forces Black to defend the e-pawn (usually with 2…Nc6). Then, 3.Bc4 obliges Black to make a compromise to guard against a mate threat.
Options for Black include 3…g6, which commits Black to fianchettoing the king’s bishop, 3…Qe7, which blocks the bishop, and 3…Qf6, which occupies the knight’s optimal square.
5. How does the Danvers Opening differ from the Napoleon Opening?
Both the Danvers Opening (2.Qh5) and the Napoleon Opening (2.Qf3) involve an early queen move and are often played with the hope of delivering the Scholar’s Mate.
However, unlike 2.Qf3, the Danvers Opening presents obstacles to Black’s development.
While both openings are considered unorthodox, the Danvers Opening, with its unique queen placement, tends to surprise unsuspecting opponents.
6. What are the possible continuations after the Danvers Opening?
Black’s possible responses to the Danvers Opening include 2…Nc6, 2…Nf6, 2…d6, and 2…Qe7.
The move 2…Nc6 defends the e-pawn and prepares Black to meet 3.Bc4 with 3…Qe7 or 3…g6. 2…Nf6 is a speculative pawn sacrifice for development. 2…d6 defends the center pawn and opens a diagonal for the queen’s bishop but blocks the king’s bishop.
Finally, 2…Qe7 defends the center pawn and guards the f7-pawn but also blocks the king’s bishop.
7. How can I practice the Danvers Opening?
You can practice the Danvers Opening by studying the key lines and understanding the strategies associated with it.
Play games using this opening to familiarize yourself with typical middlegame positions.
Use chess databases, books, and online chess platforms to analyze and play games.
You can also use chess software to understand the nuances of this opening better. Regardless of the outcome, always review your games to learn from your mistakes and successes.
Despite being considered unorthodox and risky due to the early development of the queen, the Danvers Opening offers a unique and thought-provoking strategic approach to chess.
The understanding and analysis of this opening can provide insights into the evolution of chess strategies and the fascinating variations of the game.
Whether a chess novice or an experienced player, the Danvers Opening is a fascinating aspect of chess strategy to explore.