I love chess openings, I do. Not really a good story to tell on a Saturday evening in a bar when a nice lady asks you: ‘And, what are your hobbies?’ (Although one can question the likeability of someone who asks that question on a Saturday evening in the first place, but that’s another story)

My chess openings hobby is rather serious. I make lists of alternative definitions of openings – like if they weren’t chess openings. I hope you understand. You have to do something in your spare time, right?

Just try to understand. I will let you into my world for a moment. We chess players often do not know that a lot of names of openings also have a different, alternative meaning in the real world.

A few examples from my dictionary:

Polar Bear System – A system in which an innocent-looking animal is used for an higher purpose or ideology. Named after the polar bear who has become the symbol of the melting icecaps.

Von Hennig Schara Gambit – An attacking plan invented by general Dittrich von Hennig during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. Von Hennig sacrificed a lot of Wehrmacht soldiers in the Northern parts of the Ardennes to penetrate the South part. Mastermind of this plan presumably was the wife of Von Hennig, Sara Schara, who is said to have had great influence on her husband, both in the house and on the battle field.

Tjech Benoni – An original pasta dish from central Italy, which became popular among Italian emigrants in Prague, containing both elements of Italian and Czech cuisine. Key ingredients are ragout and parsley.

Snake Benoni
 – An original pasta dish from central Italy. During times of shortage the beef meat was replaced by snake meat.
Orang-utan Opening – A secret opening or tunnel in monkey houses in all zoos in the U.S. The monkeys have the opportunity to try to escape zoo life and mingle with human society. If they were to be discovered, they would have to go back to the zoo for the rest of their lives. Orang-utans have the best escape rate among the apes.

Creepy Crawly Formation – A punk band from New Zealand which was mainly popular in the year 1973 when they scored their hit ‘Andersons Spike.’

French Defence – A defence technique against the so-called French Kiss. The victim to be burps loudly when the possible perpetrator approaches the face with his or her mouth.

Spanish Siesta Variation – A proposal by a Spanish minister in the Nineties. He proposed to hold two siestas a day instead of one. The idea was rejected in parliament because it was thought to damage the economy too much.

Two Knights Caro-Kann – The legendary defence of the Persians against an army of Alexander the Great in the year 313 BC. The Persian prince Charo Khann successfully defended himself and his people with only a few soldiers and two horses.
Giraffe Attack in the Vienna Game – A massive prison break by giraffes from the Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna in May 1972. The animals demanded the same right as the monkeys. Long negotiations resulted in the attack by the giraffes, causing one death among the negotiators. Finally, the demands were accepted and the giraffes got more food and drinks and longer abodes.

Wild Bull Defence –A best-selling book about how to defend against the attack of a wild bull. Several techniques are mentioned (e.g. to stand still, to whistle, to point at a cow, to wave a green flag, and to undress oneself). Finally, the author concluded that running away as hard as one can is the best way to defend oneself against a wild bull.

Noah’s Trap by Ruy Lopez – An alternative explanation for the story of the Arch of Noah by the Spanish bishop Ruy Lopez in the 16th century. According to Lopez there were not two of every animal specie at the arch, but only one. The theory of Lopez takes into matter that the eyewitness was drunk and saw everything double.

Richter-Rauzer Attack of the Sicilian – A counteroffensive out of despair by the German Wehrmacht during the attack by the Allied Forces on Sicily in 1943, better known as Operation Husky. During this fight – where the Germans were outnumbered and didn’t stand a chance- Hitler fired general Richter and replaced him with General Rauzer.

Try to make up one yourself. It’s fun, really. You can hand in your best alternative definition of existing chess openings at the tournament organisation. The winner will be rewarded with a drink of choice in bar Proeflokaal Hooghoudt. Good luck!

Benno de Jongh

Benno de Jongh writes daily columns during the Chess Festival, published around 3 pm on playing days. De Jongh is a journalist and a chess player, who has never reached the rating of 2000, and probably never will. Despite that fact he is one of the worlds leading experts on the Elephant Gambit and working on a book on the subject, (working title: The Elephant Gambit, A Rare Black Beast with a Proboscis on the Board, publication expected in 2032). De Jongh’s opinions on several chess- and non-chess-related items do not in any way reflect the policy of the organisation of the festival.