The Grob Opening
The Grob was first played seriously by a chap named Henry Grob and was later taken up by Michael Basman. The opening begins 1. g4. It has a slightly dubious reputation, though there are a few loyal "Grobbers" who swear by it!. The main problem is that white has damaged his kingside on his first move. Specifically, the squares h4 and h3 have been weakened and can no longer be given white pawn cover, and also, the now advanced white g-pawn is a little vulnerable (for example 1. ... d5 by black threatens it straight away). Castling behind this kind of weakened pawn formation (f2-g4-h2) can sometimes be risky which means that the kingside is no longer a safe haven for the white king and consequently white's flexibility has already been somewhat reduced. The main advantage of the opening is psychological. Playing against such an opening is very difficult because of the expectation of an easy victory which often will not come.
Here is a sample line:
1. g4 d5, 2. Bg2 e5, (2. ... Bxg4, 3. c4! is what white is looking for, eyeing the weakened b7 pawn and threatening Qb3) 3. h3 c6, 4. d4 e4, 5. c4 Nf6, 6. Nc3 (Diagram)
when white threatens to kick the f6 knight with g5 or to pay Qb3 to increase the pressure on both d5 and b7. White is not doing too badly here.
An interesting way to play against the Grob is to play an early ... h5 which is a classic outflanking manoeuvre. Black must be careful however not to leave a rook loose on h5 after recapturing a pawn there. Thus after 1. g4 e5, 2. Bg2 black might try 2. ... h5!?. If white takes with 3. gh then after 3. ... RxP, and 4. ... Rh8, black will simply have a better pawn structure.
The most annoying way to play against the grob is to play 1. ... d5, 2. ... c6, and 3. ... e6 so that whites Grob bishop is stuffed. Thus play might go 1. g4 d5, 2. Bg2 c6, 3. h3 e6, 4. d3 Bc5!? (Diagram)
when black may try to pressure f2 with Qb6, Qf6, or Qh4 as appropriate. These ideas are crude but can be effective against such a weakened white kingside. Again the idea of h5 by black comes very much into consideration here. If 5. d4 then Bd6 changes tack and black now threatens e5 (possibly prepared by Nd7) or c5 with a standard set up with the advantage that white has done some very strange things on the kingside!