The Saragossa Opening is a chess opening defined by the opening move:
|Parent||Irregular chess opening|
- 1. c3
|This article uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.|
This opening became popular in the Saragossa chess club (Zaragoza, Spain) in 1919. The next year club member José Juncosa analyzed the opening in Revista del Club Argentino. In 1922 a theme tournament requiring the players to open with 1.c3 was arranged in Mannheim with three participants, Siegbert Tarrasch, Paul Leonhardt and Jacques Mieses, which Tarrasch won.
The opening of 1.c3 seems at first to be an unambitious move. It opens a diagonal for the queen, but it makes only a timid claim to the center. It prepares to play d4, but White could simply have played that move immediately. Also, the pawn on c3 has the apparent disadvantage of taking the c3-square away from the knight.
It is not a terrible move, however, because it is likely to transpose into many solid systems, including a reversed Caro-Kann Defence or Slav Defense (but with an extra tempo for White); the Exchange Variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined, after 1.c3 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.cxd4 d5; to a solid but passive type of Queen's Pawn Game after 1.c3 Nf6 2.d4 or 1.c3 d5 2.d4; or to a reversed Scandinavian Defense after 1.c3 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Qxd4!? Nc6 4.Qa4; as well as the Ponziani and Center Game openings, to name just a few.
Black has a number of responses, the most common (and effective) being 1...d5, 1...e5, and 1...Nf6. After 1...d5, White can essay the Plano Gambit, 2.e4?!, in effect an unusual response to the Scandinavian Defense. After 2...dxe4, 3.Qa4+ recovers the pawn, but Black gets quick development with 3...Nc6 4.Qxe4 Nf6 5.Qc2 e5. Also reasonable is 1...f5, when 2.d4 transposes into a Dutch Defense where White has played the passive move c3.
The reply 1...c5 is also playable, but gives White more opportunity than other moves to transpose into standard openings where he may have a small advantage. The move 1...c5 2.e4 transposes into the Alapin Variation of the Sicilian Defence. The sequence 1...c5 2.d4 is also possible, when 2...cxd4 (2...e6 3.e4 d5, transposing into a French Defence after 4.e5 or 4.exd5, is also possible) 3.cxd4 d5 transposes into a regular Exchange Variation of the Slav Defense (usually reached by 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.cxd5 cxd5), which gives White a slight advantage.
The move 1...Nc6 is also possible, as it transposes into the 1.Nc3 system (with colors reversed), where Black embarks on a rather dubious plan with c6 and d5. After 2.d4 d5, Black seems to be holding the admittedly unusual position without particular difficulties.
- Hooper & Whyld 1992, p. 354
- Dunnington, Angus (2000). Winning Unorthodox Openings. Everyman Chess. ISBN 978-1-85744-285-4.
- Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992). The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 354. ISBN 0-19-280049-3.
- Schiller, Eric (2002). Unorthodox Chess Openings (Second ed.). Cardoza Publishing. p. 329. ISBN 1-58042-072-9.
|The Wikibook Chess Opening Theory has a page on the topic of: Saragossa Opening|