In light of the recent game Nakamura vs Anand, the second time, in the recent candidate's tournament, Anand fell into Nakamura's opening preparation trap out of the reversed sicilian.

If he [Anand] had realized that he was falling into an opening trap, or opening preparation, is there any possible thing that he could have done to avoid his loss?

I ask this question to better understand how to respond to obvious opening traps out of really obscure lines, and even traps out of reasonable looking lines.

  • 1
    If the prep is sophisticated enough, and your opponent has prepared it well with computer analysis, it can be hard to do much to directly counter it. However, carefulness can take you a long way, especially if your opponent makes a strange looking move.
    – Scounged
    Apr 17, 2016 at 0:49
  • At a strength of about ELO 1500, I find opening traps interesting, though I lose to them more often than win with them. The advice has been given to players at my level just to play sound chess rather than to rely on traps. I usually follow such advice but, nevertheless, it seems to me that the occasional trap is just part of the game -- a part without which the game would be the poorer. The OP's question interests me for this reason.
    – thb
    Apr 17, 2016 at 19:32

1 Answer 1


As I see it, at that level they have two options, if they suspect their opponent prepared a trap:

  • They trust their preparation, and their knowledge, go on as usual, and just make the best moves, and hope for the best. In the Sinquefield cup last year, or the year before, there was a game MVL-Carlsen, when this happened exactly, Carlsen was caught by MVL-s preparation, and after few moves, he found an intresting, very human move, that the engine weren't suggesting, and now MVL was fighting for survival. It was a scotch game I think, it ended in a draw, but worth to watch.

  • They decide to not take risk, and just chose a sideline, where maybe the other one has an edge, but they can outplay him. Tal writes in 'The life and games of M.T.' about a lot of situations like that, when he choose a sideline, because he was suspecting for some reason that his opponent prepared a suprise.

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