The Cochrane Variation: Marching to the Offbeat of a Different Drummer

Anthony Acosta 1731 vs Kevin Sun 1622
Mechanic’s Institute Sep-Oct 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon Rd 6
B20 Sicilian defence, Cochrane variation

  1. e4 c5 2. b3 g6 3. Bb2 Nf6 4. Nc3 d6 5. Qe2 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. h3 Nd4 8. Qd3 Bxf3 9. gxf3 Bg7 10. O-O-O a6 11. f4 b5 12. Bg2 Nh5 13. Qe3 Bh6 14. Ne2 Nxe2+ 15. Qxe2 Nxf4 16. Qf3 e5 17. h4 b4 18. Bh3 a5 19. Bg4 a4 20. h5 axb3 21. Qxb3 g5 22. Kb1 Qb6 23. Qc4 Qa6 24. Qb3 c4 25. Qxb4 Qxa2+ 26. Kc1 O-O 27. Qxd6 Bg7 28. d3 cxd3 29. Rxd3 Nxd3+ 30. Qxd3 Rab8 31. Qc3 Qa6 32. Re1 Qf6 33. Bf5 g4 34. Kd1 Qb6 35. h6 Rfd8+ 36. Kc1 Bxh6+ 37. Kb1 Bd2 38. Bxh7+ Kxh7 39. Rh1+ Kg8 40. Qxe5 f6 41. Rh8+ Kxh8 42. Qh5+ Kg7 43. Qxg4+ Kf8 0-1!tuesday-night-marathon-september-october-2021/1689717820

1.e4 c5 2. b3

(Now there’s a move not seen every day, or week, or month; come to think of it, every year! Makes me wonder why I didn’t think of playing it ‘back in the day’…Not to give anything away but if I make it through the pandemic there may be a new not so now secret weapon for my next Senior tournament! Maybe it should be used with discretion, though, and held back if my opponent contains a pace-maker…This move sent me to the ChessBaseDataBase ( whereupon I learned the move was played by Russian GM Maksim Chigaev, rated 2958 (Look out Magnus!) vs Polish GM Gajewski Frzegorz (2691) at the 7th Titled Tuesday intern open, with the game ending in a draw. The folks at Chessbase should look into that astronomical rating, at least for a human. If a computer program cannot break 3000 it is worthless…Russian GM Alexander Morozevich (2659), no surprise, played the move against Ukraine GM Anton Korobov (2688). Moro was checkmated on move 53. The game was also played at the Titled Tuesday intern open, but the number is absent. Frzegorz played 2…Nc6; Korobov played 2…Nf6) 2…g6 (StockFish 13 @depth 49 plays this move, but SF 14 @depth 46 prefers 2…d6. Against the latter White has scored 53% over 539 games; against the move played in the game White has only scored an astoundingly low 37%! I kid you not. This is from 239 games. 2…Nc6 has been the most often played move with 962 games in the CBDB, and White has scored 52%) 3. Bb2 Nf6 4. Nc3 (To illustrate how rare is this opening, 4 Nc3 is not shown at the Big Database at and that contains games played by players of all levels, from GM to patzer) 4…d6 (SF 14 plays 4…Bg7) 5. Qe2 (This is a Theoretical Novelty. Two different SF programs play 5 Bb5+, and so should you. There are times when playing Qe2 in the opening is not a good idea and this is an example)

Listen Up,! ( This is the game in which 2 b3 versus the Sicilian Defense first appeared, hence, the “B20 Sicilian Defense: Cochrane variation.”

John Cochrane vs Howard Staunton
Event: London m2
Site: London Date: 1842
B20 Sicilian defence
1.e4 c5 2.b3 e5 3.Bb2 (Bc4 SF) Nc6 4.Nf3 (4 Bb5 SF) d6 5.Bc4 Be6 (5…Be7 SF) 6.d3 (6 0-0 SF) Bxc4 7.bxc4 Nge7 8.Nc3 Ng6 9.Nd5 Be7 10.g3 a6 11.a4 Rb8 12.O-O Qd7 13.Ne3 O-O 14.c3 b5 15.cxb5 axb5 16.axb5 Rxb5 17.Bc1 Rfb8 18.Nf5 Bd8 19.h4 Nge7 20.Nxe7+ Bxe7 21.Kg2 f5 22.exf5 Qxf5 23.Qe2 d5 24.Re1 Bf6 25.Ra6 R5b6 26.Rxb6 Rxb6 27.Ba3 Rb3 28.Bb2 e4 29.dxe4 dxe4 30.Qc4+ Kf8 31.Qxb3 Qxf3+ 32.Kg1 Bd4 33.Qc2 Qxg3+ 34.Kf1 Qh3+ 35.Kg1 Ne5 0-1

Another reason to admire Nazi, not that one is needed…She often prefers, shall we say, “offbeat” openings. We obviously march to the offbeat of a different drummer…

Nazi Paikidze (2374) vs Julia Alboredo (2183)
Event: Online Olympiad Top DivD 2021
Site: INT Date: 09/08/2021
Round: 2.2
ECO: B20 Sicilian defence
1.e4 c5 2.b3 Nc6 3.Bb2 e5 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Nge2 Be7 7.O-O O-O 8.d3 a6 9.a4 Nd4 10.Nxd4 cxd4 11.Nd5 Nxd5 12.Bxd5 Qc7 13.f4 Bd7 14.Rf2 Bc6 15.Bxc6 Qxc6 16.Qg4 b5 17.a5 Qc8 18.f5 Bf6 19.Raf1 Ra7 20.Re2 Rc7 21.Rff2 Qd7 22.Bc1 Rfc8 23.h4 Kh8 24.g3 Rc6 25.Qf3 Qd8 26.b4 R8c7 27.Rh2 Kg8 28.g4 Qc8 29.Qf2 Be7 30.g5 Bf8 31.Rg2 g6 32.h5 Rc3 33.Bb2 R3c6 34.Rh2 Qd8 35.Bc1 Rc3 36.Qg3 Qc8 37.Qf2 R3c6 38.hxg6 fxg6 39.Qh4 gxf5 40.exf5 Qxf5 41.g6 Rg7 42.Reg2 Be7 43.gxh7+ Kh8 44.Qxe7 Rxg2+ 45.Rxg2 Rc8 46.Qg7# 1-0

GM Alexander Morozevich 2676 RUS vs Vladislav Artemiev 2692 RUS
2017 RUS-ch blitz
B20 Sicilian defence
1.e4 c5 2.b3 d6 3.Bb2 Nf6 4.Nc3 g6 5.Bb5+ Bd7 6.Bxd7+ Qxd7 7.Nd5 Bg7 8.Nxf6+ exf6 9.Qf3 Qe7 10.O-O-O Nc6 11.Ne2 O-O 12.Nf4 f5 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.Rhe1 Qe5 15.c3 Rae8 16.exf5 Qxf5 17.Re3 Ne5 18.Qg3 Ng4 19.Rf3 Ne5 20.Re3 Ng4 21.Rf3 Ne5 1/2-1/2

The World Champ

has been known to experiment with offbeat openings:

Magnus Carlsen (2881) vs Rafael Leitao (2645)
Event: Four Player Festa da Uva 2014
Site: Caxias do Sul BRA Date: 03/06/2014
Round: 4.1
ECO: B20 Sicilian defence
1.e4 c5 2.b3 Nc6 3.Bb2 d6 4.Bb5 Bd7 5.f4 a6 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Qe2 e6 9.Nf3 Be7 10.O-O-O Qc7 11.d4 cxd4 12.Nxd4 Rc8 13.g4 O-O 14.g5 Nd7 15.h4 b5 16.Rhe1 Rfe8 17.a3 Nc5 18.f5 Bf8 19.f6 a5 20.Ndxb5 Bxb5 21.Nxb5 Qb8 22.Kb1 Nxe4 23.fxg7 Be7 24.Qxe4 Qxb5 25.a4 Qc6 26.Qd3 e5 27.Rf1 Kxg7 28.Qf5 Rf8 29.h5 Rc7 30.Rd2 Qd7 31.Bxe5+ Kg8 32.Qxd7 Rxd7 33.Rf5 Re8 34.Bc3 1-0

Levon Aronian (2752) vs Alexander Morozevich (2721)
Event: Amber-blind 15th
Site: Monte Carlo Date: 03/25/2006
Round: 7
ECO: B20 Sicilian defence
1.e4 c5 2.b3 d6 3.Bb2 Nf6 4.Bb5+ Bd7 5.Bxd7+ Qxd7 6.d3 g6 7.f4 Bg7 8.Nf3 O-O 9.O-O Nc6 10.Qe1 Rac8 11.Nbd2 Nb4 12.Qc1 b5 13.a3 Nc6 14.Kh1 d5 15.e5 Ng4 16.Qe1 f6 17.h3 Nh6 18.g4 Nd8 19.Qg3 f5 20.g5 Nhf7 21.h4 Ne6 22.Rf2 c4 23.bxc4 dxc4 24.dxc4 bxc4 25.Bc3 Nd6 26.h5 Ne4 27.Nxe4 fxe4 28.Nh2 Nd4 29.Rd1 Nf5 30.Rxd7 Nxg3+ 31.Kg2 Nxh5 32.Bd2 Rcd8 33.Rxe7 Rxd2 34.Rxd2 Nxf4+ 35.Kh1 e3 36.Rdd7 Ne6 37.Rd1 e2 38.Re1 Nd4 39.e6 h5 40.Rxa7 Be5 41.e7 Re8 42.c3 Bg3 43.Nf3 Bxe1 44.Nxe1 Nb5 45.Ra6 Kg7 46.Re6 Nxc3 47.Kg2 Nd5 48.Re5 Nxe7 49.Rxe2 Kf7 50.Nf3 Nf5 51.Rxe8 Kxe8 52.Kf2 h4 53.a4 Kd8 54.Ke2 h3 55.Kd2 Nd6 56.Kc3 Ne4+ 57.Kd4 c3 58.Kd3 Nxg5 59.Nh2 Ne4 60.a5 Kc7 0-1

WGM Eva Repkova 2359 SVK vs WGM Ekaterina Kovalevskaya 2443 RUS
2003 CRO-chT (Women)

1.e4 c5 2.b3 d6 3.Bb2 Nf6 4.Nc3 g6 5.Bb5+ Nbd7 6.f4 Bg7 7.Qf3 O-O 8.Nge2 Nb6 9.h3 a6 10.Bd3 e5 11.fxe5 dxe5 12.O-O Be6 13.Ba3 Qc7 14.Qe3 Nbd7 15.Na4 b6 16.c4 Rfd8 17.Nac3 Nh5 18.Nd5 Bxd5 19.cxd5 Nf4 20.g3 Nxd3 21.Qxd3 Nf6 22.Rac1 Rac8 23.Qe3 Qd7 24.g4 h5 25.g5 Ne8 26.Qg3 Nd6 27.d3 Qe7 28.Rf2 Rf8 29.Rcf1 b5 30.Qe3 b4 31.Bb2 Ne8 32.Ng3 a5 33.Kh1 Nd6 34.Rf6 Rfe8 35.Kh2 a4 36.R6f2 Nb7 1/2-1/2

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