The Beast from the East Opening

So the “Beast from the East” arctic blast has struck the UK and in typical British fashion everything has ground to a halt, including the 71st Bristol Chess Championship Congress this weekend (we will reschedule).  With a lot of chess players in the South West (and across the country) suddenly finding themselves with some spare time I thought I would write an article trying to find an opening worthy of the name “The Beast from the East”.  An opening that slows everything down, is boring and generally leaves you feeling cold.  But then I thought I have written enough articles about the London System lately (ba-dum tush!) so lets actually try to find something new!

A quick search online reveals a number of openings with suitable frosty titles such as “The Baltic Defence” (1.d4 d5 2. c4 Bf5), “The Finnish Variation of the Caro Kann” (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 h6), The Icelandic Gambit (1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.c4 e6!?), multiple Moscow variations and my personal favourite the so called “Siberian Trap” in the Smith Morra Gambit” (1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bc4 Qc7 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Qe2 Ng4! 9.h3?? (or 9.Bb3??) Nd4!)


The Siberian Trap variation of the Smith Morra Gambit is just plain nasty!

Finally after digging a little deeper I did actually find the “Arctic Defence” to the Reti which starts with the dubious 1. Nf3 f6?!


The Arctic Defence does indeed leave me feeling cold towards Black’s chances.

I found one humorous game in the forums (thank you for posting ZBicyclist in 2010) between two amateur players that highlights some flaws with this approach and ends with Black being checkmated with a pawn on move 11, hmmm.


The Arctic was quickly conquered in this game. Ouch!

Unimpressed with the “Arctic Defence” what can we do to find an opening suitable for the title The Beast from the East?  I started to think that it would have the following characteristics:

  • It would ruin everyones plans.
  • It would be very slow.
  • It would land and then just sit there.

With my criteria set, I started looking for something remotely playable that adhered to the above rules and had some reasonable statistics with it.  Ladies and Gentlemen! I give you my candidate for “The Beast from the East” Opening:

1.d4 a6 2. e4 d6 3. Nf3 h6 (frosty!) 4. Nc3 Nd7 5. Bc4 e6 6. 0-0


The Beast from the East Opening

‘The Beast from the East” creeps in with little opportunity for fast travel but white must be careful not to skid on the Black Ice (see what i did there?!) of the incoming 6…b5 and 7…c5 as the cold Queenside front pushes forward.

Is this opening as good as its powerful name suggests?  Or is it just a minor inconvenience that will be forgotten by the end of the weekend?  I leave it up to you to decide.

In the mean time.  Wrap up warm, chuck another log on the fire and lets get the boards up.


Jon Fisher

Jon is the Editor of The Bristol Chess Times and Publicity and Recruitment Officer for The Bristol & District Chess League. He plays for Horfield Chess Club and has been known to play 1. b3 on occasion.

Christmas Blitz at the Cross Hands Pub, 10th December

Fresh off the back of running the successful Bristol Winter Congress (full report to follow) at the weekend, Igor Doklestic is pleased to announce a fun evening of blitz chess at the Cross Hands pub in Fishponds (not far from Downend & Fishponds CC).


The idea is to be an informal evening of festive chess and drinks that will be finished in a couple of hours but will include some small prizes.  Details below:

  • Five rounds of Blitz starting at 19:00
  • The time controls are 3 minutes + 2 seconds increment.
  • £3 entry fee and entrances are accepted from 18:30 onwards
  • Places are limited to 32 places so first come first serve.

It should be a lovely night of festive cheer and an opportunity to play with your league mates in a more informal manner.  I will also take this opportunity to highlight that if you enjoy a pint and a bit of Blitz then register yourself and two friend for the Bristol Pub Blitz Chess League. Our new initiative to help promote and grow the league.


Jon Fisher

Jon is the Editor of The Bristol Chess Times and Publicity and Recruitment Officer for The Bristol & District Chess League. He plays for Horfield Chess Club and has been known to play 1. b3 on occasion.

Introducing the Bristol Pub Blitz Chess League

The (re) establishment of the Bristol Chess Times was the first action I took as the new Publicity and Recruitment Officer for the Bristol & District Chess League.  Today I would like to unveil a second initiative aimed at helping grow our great historic league. Introducing the Bristol Pub Blitz Chess League.  Or BPBCL for short…

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One way for us to create greater visibility of the historic clubs that live in our great South West city is to to be seen playing more. Whenever myself, Mike Harris and Rob Attar kibbitz in our local pub we are almost always observed or even approached by keen amateurs or ex-club players who wistfully gaze at the board or say things like “Im not very good but I wish I could play more“.   Lets make it clear to these players that the league exists and that it caters for all standards of play.

Therefore, I am proposing today the formation of a friendly blitz chess competition whose aim is twofold:

  1. To promote and attract more players of all ability, ages, sex, and ethnicity to the league;
  2. To create a fun, informal competition that encourages participation and sociability across the league.

Rules of the Bristol Pub Blitz Chess League

The following are the rules of the competition.  Any problems or questions then give me a shout but as editor of the Bristol Chess Times I reserve the right to adjust and amend them as required:

  1. There are no teams in the BPBCL.  Instead we use squads.  Small fast moving groups of woodpushers who can spring up in any drinking hole across the city;
  2. Squads consist of three players drawn from any mixture of clubs in the league.  There are no traditional club alliances in the BPBCL.
  3. The average ECF longplay grade of the three squad members cannot exceed 175. I have chosen longplay because the majority of league players have one of these.
  4. A match consists of two squads playing 18 blitz games.  Each squad member plays two games against each member of the opposing squad – one with black and one with white. Thus each player gets 6 blitz games a match.
  5. The time control for all games is 3 minutes + 2 seconds.  This ensures that all matches should be complete within 2 hrs. It doesn’t matter what is used for the clocks.  Actual digital clocks or simply Apps on a smartphone will do.  What ever is easiest for the squad.
  6. All matches must be played in a pub of your choosing.
  7. When playing a match, the squads must somehow display a call to action to passing members of the public that advertises the Bristol & District Chess League. For example, a small chalk board at the foot of the table you are sat at.  The more creative advertising the better!
  8. Organisation of matches is left up to squads.  Challenges can be issued at any time and there is no formal number, time or location that a match can occur.  However, active participation will result in more points for a squad, irrespective of their match results.
  9. In its inaugural season the BPBCL will run until June when prizes (to be determined) will be awarded.
  10. Squads should not be named after conventional chess clubs within Bristol. Squad names should be inventive, funny, creative or just plain stupid.
  11. Match results should be emailed to  All results must be submitted with atleast one photo of the match and pub.  Ridiculous poses are encouraged.  Failure to submit a photo will lose match points.
  12. The BPBCL league table will be hosted from the Bristol Chess Times website.

So there are my initial set of rules.  Hopefully readers can tell that the primary purpose of this initiative is to get chess visible across the city in the eyes of the general public whilst ensuring we have some fun at the same time.  It might work, it might not.  Lets see!

I will be producing some business cards that all squads can carry with them them and hand out to any interested members of the public.

Scoring for the Bristol Pub Blitz Chess League

The following scoring will apply:

  1. A team gets 200pts for playing a match
  2. They gain 10pts for every blitz game they win in the match.
  3. They lose 10pts for every blitz game they lose in the match.
  4. Therefore, there is a minimum of 20pts and a maximum of 380pts on offer per match
  5. Failure to submit a photo with your match report loses your squad 50pts
  6. For every three different pubs (or part of) that a squad plays in they gain a bonus 100pts.
  7. Breaching the 175 ECF longplay average rating loses your team 200pts

How can I enter?

Easy!  Form your squad and then email me at  Once I have a suitable number of entries then I will announce that the BPBCL is officially open and I will get things like business cards and chalk boards set up.

I hope everyone see’s what a fun initiative this could be. Ive felt for a while that it would be nice to have an easy going, informal blitz initiative that we can also use to advertise the league.

Right!  Im off to find some recruits for my squad…


Jon Fisher

Jon is the Editor of The Bristol Chess Times and Publicity and Recruitment Officer for The Bristol & District Chess League. He plays for Horfield Chess Club and has been known to play 1. b3 on occasion.