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witchman 139 ( +1 | -1 )
More about "Hippo"/"Feustel" or "hedgehog" system? Having played chess for 35 years now (27 of which in chess clubs), there are still openings I have not known until recently ... A fellow in our club even played this successfully in recent tournament games (though against weaker opponents), and I often come across this now in online blitz games. I am talking about what seems to be called the "Hippopotamus" system (in Germany sometimes also referred to as "Feustel" system), where black replies to whatever white moves with a flexible and at first seemingly passive system g6, Bg7, d6, a6, e6, Nd7, b6, Bb7, Ne7 and possibly h6. In some other places, similarities to a so-called "hedgehog" system are mentioned.

I have not researched a lot so far, but it seems there is very little source material to be found on this opening system at all, at least on the web. The only major book on this seems to be "The Hippopotamus Rises: The Re-Emergence of a Chess Opening" by IM Andrew Martin.

What I would like to know if any of you have more experience with this system or can tell me where I possibly find some more information on it in the internet.

Is it really a serious opening system to be played up to the highest levels? What would be the typical plans for black? What would be the best strategy for the opponent? Can it also be played with the white pieces? Looking forward to getting some more insights ...
ganstaman 136 ( +1 | -1 )
I don't really have experience with the hippo, but I have researched and studied it briefly in the past. Here are two hopefully helpful links: -> (review of the book and somewhat the opening), -> (review of some games).

It's definitely an interesting opening, one which I actually thought about giving a better try soon. As long as the other player doesn't try too hard to crush this deceptively resistant opening, I think it ends up terribly for the hippo player. Your position is awkward, pieces everywhere and pawns that are difficult to defend. Once the other guy finds his break through, it's too dificult to reorganize a good defense.

You're not going to be playing GMs everyday, so I think it's fine to learn it. I guess as long as all your little maneuvering moves behind your little pawn wall actually serve a purpose, you'll likely come out of it fine. It's when you stop knowing what to do and aimlesslessy shuffle pieces back and forth that your opponent can find his break.

However, you've been playing chess for longer than I've been alive, so perhaps my ramblings are simply ramblings. Good luck.
ganstaman 42 ( +1 | -1 )
hmmmm I just read your profile and saw your rating. Maybe you will be playing GMs somewhat regularly...

Now it feels even more awkward that I tried to give you advice. I know I played the hippo (as white) against a computer (not the strongest) to test it out. I'll try to find those games, though they may be incomplete as I usually got bored in the middlegame while testing openings against that computer.
witchman 129 ( +1 | -1 )
Good links, thanks Just had a look at the links - really good stuff, thanks! I did not know those web sites (but who knows even a little part of all chess-related pages on the web ...). Some very interesting games, especially the weird Nezhmetdinov – Ujtelky game, where all black pawns stand on the 6th rank at one time ... I think I will take some time to look deeper into the subject, and in fact, I plan to open a thematic mini-tourney with that opening very soon (though it is hard to choose a move order to start with, since it is a system rather than a fixed setup of initial moves) - I thought of using 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d6 and asking people to continue with the usual moves g6, Bg7, d6, a6, e6, Nd7, b6, Bb7, Ne7 etc.

And I can assure you, I appreciate your advice - I am 99.9 % certain I will never play a GM, at least in live chess. Here on GK, you actually never know, I have had opponents who played flawless like GMs indeed ... I think ratings here on GK are somewhat deceptive and cannot be compared to real chess ratings - e.g. in my case, having enough time to avoid any big mistakes makes all the difference. At the real board, I often spoil good positions due to time trouble, or draw against weaker opponents who I usually defeat here on GK.
ionadowman 23 ( +1 | -1 )
Hippopotamus, etc... ... If you can unearth a copy of Keene and Botterill's "Modern Defence" (Batsford, 1972), you might want to look at its final chapter "The Avant-Garde". Your man, Max Ujtelky emerges as something of a hero in this chapter...
sualksnh 56 ( +1 | -1 )
Hippo More than half of Bernd Feustel's "Eröffnungen abseits aller Theorie" deals with the Hippo. He calls it Robatsch Defence, tough. The book still might be available in second hand book stores.

Feustel played the Hippo frequently, sometimes even with White.

You can find many of his games on when you search for Black player = Feustel,B (Don't forget to look in the historical archive, too!).

Warning: The Hippo is not good against the Austrian Attack (e4, d4, f4, Nc3) also against e4, d4, Nc3, Be3, Qd2, O-O-O it's not advisable to do all the Hippo-moves.

witchman 148 ( +1 | -1 )
Thanks, sualksnh ... ... for the additional information you shared with me:

(sualksnh) "The 'hippo' cannot be too bad actually. At least, it even appeared twice in the first World Championship between Petrosian and Spasski. Both games ended in a draw, one of which was very spectacular. As far as I know, there is agreement that it is really a valid system against small setups with block f or c pawns.

Opinions are split as regards the setup of e4, d4, c4 and Sf3. Danny King gives the meaningful comment, " takes skill to avoid being squashed." (English Defence, on the variation 1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6 3.a3 g6). Christian Bauer thinks that white has the better position, but, of course, does not stand to win. Michail Gurevic even thinks that white is supposed to win, but this was a spontaneous spoken statement.

I think that 'hippo' is a good complementary opening for players who like opening with 1...g6 or 1...b6. Tony Miles and Luke McShane have used it successfully every now and then. To my knowledge, Feustel is the strongest player who played this system regularly (even if he did not do so against the 3 pawn attack). The opening should match your personal style. The 16 pawns often stay on the board for a long time!

Whether it is a good choice to use it to win against weaker opponents, is a different story. I have tried this 3 or 4 times and never exceeded a draw. Probably I would have had more success with normal openings. IMHO, the system is rather something to counter an attack."
witchman 27 ( +1 | -1 )
The "hippo" mini-tourney is up ... I have done it ... I created a "hippo" mini-tourney -> for all interested players who would give it a try and explore this system in practice - and enhance the Gameknot opening database on it!
alberlie 43 ( +1 | -1 )
Larry Christiansen... ... plays this a lot as white on the ICC when he's playing handicapped blitz against the average patzer. Of course, there the idea is to keep pieces on the board as long as possible, thereby increasing the probability for the Patzer to go wrong. And since I don't think he would play something that's principally unsound, I guess it's ok. Seems to be a "learn more (of your opponents plans) by doing less (yourself)"- type of thing... :o)
alberlie 310 ( +1 | -1 )
btw: Megabase (+ TWIC-updates) turns up over 2000 games with this system. If you're interested, I can mail them to you - would be too big to post.

The higest rated decisive games are:

[Event "Hastings 0102 77th"]
[Site "Hastings"]
[Date "2002.01.05"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Harikrishna, Penteala"]
[Black "Zhang Zhong"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B00"]
[WhiteElo "2502"]
[BlackElo "2657"]
[Annotator "Dautov"]
[PlyCount "81"]
[EventDate "2001.12.29"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "ENG"]
[EventCategory "11"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2002.03.21"]

1. d4 e6 2. e4 b6 3. Nf3 Bb7 4. Bd3 d6 5. O-O Nd7 {Dieses Doppelfiancchetto
darf nicht unterschätzt werden. Zwar genießt Weiß ein kräftiges Zentrum, doch
verfügt Schwarz über alle (!) Möglichkeiten eines zentralen Bauernvortoßes,
von c7-c5 bis f7-f5.} 6. Nc3 ({Mehr verspricht Weiß der Aufbau mit c2-c4,} 6.
c4 g6 7. Nc3 Bg7 8. Be3 $14) 6... g6 7. Bg5 Ne7 8. e5 $6 {Diese Pseudoaktivität
kommt nur Schwarz zugute, bereits im nächsten Zug muß Weiß auf d6 tauschen und
vergibt damit seinen Zentrumsvorteil.} ({
Logischer und besser ist die Belagerung des Punktes h6:} 8. Qd2 h6 9. Be3 {><h6
} Bg7 10. Rfe1 Kf8 11. h3 Kg8 12. Nh2 a6 13. f4 c5 14. Bf1 d5 15. exd5 Nxd5 16.
Nxd5 Bxd5 17. c4 Bb7 18. Rad1 $14 {
Kovalevskaya,E-Gaprindashvili,N/Kishinev 1998}) 8... Bg7 9. exd6 (9. Be4 Bxe4
10. Nxe4 d5 $11) 9... cxd6 10. Ne4 Qc7 $11 11. Re1 a6 ({
Schwarz steht nicht schlechter, was er mit} 11... h6 {betonen konnte:} 12. Bxe7
(12. Bh4 Nf5) (12. Bd2 Nf5 $11) 12... Kxe7 $11) 12. c3 f6 $5 {Dieses scharfe
Vorgehen im Zentrum ohne Absicherung der Königsstellung birgt ernsthafte
Gefahren in sich.} (12... h6 $11) 13. Bf4 e5 14. dxe5 fxe5 (14... dxe5 $2 15.
Nd6+ Qxd6 16. Bxg6+ Nxg6 17. Qxd6 Nxf4 18. Rad1 Rd8 19. Nh4 $40) 15. Bg5 d5 16.
Ng3 Nc6 (16... Nc5 $2 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 18. Nxe5 Bxe5 19. f4 $16) 17. Be2 Na5 {
Wie kann Weiß die unsichere Königsstellung des Gegners ausnutzen?} 18. Nd4 $1 {
/\Ne6} {Schwarz gibt die Qualität und kann danach die Partie nicht retten.} O-O
$2 (18... exd4 $2 19. Bxa6+ Kf8 20. Qf3+ Kg8 21. Bxb7 Qxb7 22. Re7 Rf8 23. Qg4
$16) (18... Qd6 $2 19. Ngf5 $1 gxf5 20. Nxf5 $18) ({Richtig war} 18... Kf7 $1 {
, und Weiß muß die Kraft seines Angriffes noch beweisen, z.B,} 19. Ngf5 (19.
Bg4 Rhe8) 19... Bf8 20. Nh6+ Bxh6 21. Bxh6 exd4 $17) 19. Ne6 $18 Qc6 20. Nxf8
Rxf8 21. Bd3 Nc4 22. Bxc4 Qxc4 23. Qd2 Rf7 24. Bh6 Bf6 25. Rad1 Qh4 26. Be3 Nc5
27. Bxc5 bxc5 28. Qe3 c4 29. Qc5 Qf4 30. Qe3 Qh4 31. b3 Kg7 32. Qe2 Rc7 33.
bxc4 Qxc4 34. Qxc4 Rxc4 35. Ne4 $1 Be7 36. Nd2 Rc7 37. Rxe5 Bf6 38. Re2 a5 39.
h3 Rxc3 40. Ne4 $1 Rc7 41. Nd6 1-0

[Event "FIDE World Cup-B"]
[Site "Shenyang"]
[Date "2000.09.04"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Xu Jun"]
[Black "Short, Nigel D"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A40"]
[WhiteElo "2668"]
[BlackElo "2677"]
[PlyCount "104"]
[EventDate "2000.08.01"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "5"]
[EventCountry "CHN"]
[EventCategory "17"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2000.11.21"]

1. d4 e6 2. c4 b6 3. a3 g6 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. e4 Ne7 6. Nf3 Bb7 7. Be3 d6 8. Qd2 h6
9. Bd3 Nd7 10. O-O g5 11. d5 Ng6 12. Bd4 O-O 13. Bxg7 Kxg7 14. Ne2 c5 15. dxc6
Bxc6 16. Bc2 Nde5 17. Nxe5 dxe5 18. Qxd8 Rfxd8 19. Rfd1 Kf6 20. f3 h5 21. Kf2
Nf4 22. g3 Nxe2 23. Kxe2 g4 24. Ke3 gxf3 25. Kxf3 Rd4 26. b3 a5 27. Rxd4 exd4
28. Ke2 e5 29. Rf1+ Kg6 30. Bd3 f6 31. Kd2 Bd7 32. Rc1 h4 33. c5 bxc5 34. Rxc5
hxg3 35. hxg3 Ra7 36. Bc4 Kg5 37. Ke2 Bg4+ 38. Kf2 Rh7 39. Rxa5 Rh2+ 40. Ke1
Bf3 41. Bd3 Kg4 42. Ra6 Rh6 43. Kf2 Rh2+ 44. Ke1 f5 45. Rg6+ Kh5 46. exf5 e4
47. Rg8 Ra2 48. Bxe4 Bxe4 49. g4+ Kh4 50. Rd8 d3 51. Rd4 Re2+ 52. Kd1 Kg5 0-1

[Event "EU-ch 2nd"]
[Site "Ohrid"]
[Date "2001.06.05"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Neverov, Valeriy"]
[Black "Georgiev, Kiril"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A40"]
[WhiteElo "2562"]
[BlackElo "2676"]
[Annotator "Hecht"]
[PlyCount "134"]
[EventDate "2001.06.01"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "13"]
[EventCountry "FRM"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2001.09.13"]

1. d4 e6 2. c4 b6 3. Nf3 Bb7 4. a3 g6 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. e4 d6 7. Bd3 Ne7 8. O-O Nd7
9. Re1 h6 10. Be3 g5 11. Rc1 Ng6 12. b4 O-O 13. Nd2 c5 14. dxc5 dxc5 15. Nb3
Qe7 16. bxc5 Nxc5 17. Nxc5 bxc5 18. Na4 Rac8 19. Rb1 Ba6 20. Qb3 Rfd8 21. Red1
Bd4 22. Be2 Qf6 23. Bxd4 cxd4 24. Nb2 Qe5 25. Qa4 Nf4 26. Bf1 Bb7 27. f3 a5 28.
g3 Ng6 29. Nd3 Qc7 30. Qb5 Ba8 31. Bg2 Rb8 32. Qa4 Bc6 33. Qc2 Ne5 34. Nxe5
Qxe5 35. Rxb8 Qxb8 36. Bf1 Qd6 37. c5 Qe5 38. Bd3 f5 39. Re1 fxe4 40. fxe4 Rf8
41. Rf1 Rxf1+ 42. Kxf1 Kf7 43. Ke1 Ke7 44. Kd2 h5 45. Kc1 Kd8 46. Kb1 Kc7 47.
Ka2 a4 48. Kb1 Kd8 49. Ka2 Ke7 50. Kb1 h4 51. gxh4 gxh4 52. Qf2 Qxc5 53. Qxh4+
Kd7 54. Qh7+ Kd6 55. Qg7 Qc3 56. Bc2 Qe1+ 57. Kb2 Qc3+ 58. Kb1 Qc4 59. Qg3+ Kd7
60. Qg7+ Kc8 61. Qg8+ Kb7 62. Qd8 Qc5 63. h4 e5 64. Qf6 Qxa3 65. Qxe5 d3 {
# Abwicklung in ein gewonnenes Läuferendspiel nach Einladung durch den Gegner.
} 66. Qb2+ $4 (66. Bd1 $1 d2 67. Qb2+ Qxb2+ 68. Kxb2 Bxe4 69. Kc3 a3 70. Kb3
$11) 66... Qxb2+ 67. Kxb2 a3+ $1 (67... a3+ 68. Kxa3 (68. Kb3 a2 $1 (68... Ba4+
$2 69. Kxa3 Bxc2 (69... dxc2 70. Kb2 Kc7 71. h5 $11) 70. Kb2 $11) 69. Kxa2 dxc2
70. Kb2 Bxe4 $19) (68. Kc1 a2 69. Kb2 dxc2 $19) 68... dxc2 69. Kb2 Bxe4 $19)