In this 10|0 live blitz game, I have the White pieces. My opponent plays the so-called Rat Defense, or Small Center Defense. It transposes into a Hippo-looking setup, with a ton of early pawn moves and slow development by Black. In contrast to the previous game, where the position stayed closed for almost the whole game, this game opens up in the early middle game.
In an old video from Chess.com titled “How to Destroy the Hippo,” GM Roman Dzindzichashvili made a funny comment that you should not play openings named after animals (e.g., Hippo, Orangatang, Rat), as they are usually bad. I will have to rewatch that video again so that I can better take advantage of these structures.
Anyway, in this game, I make one of the more ridiculous blunders I can remember making in a while, but the game is still interesting and instructive, as key pawn levers are needed to fight against this opening (or to defend properly, if you want to play it as Black). If you do play this as Black, you have to be extremely careful and precise, because you are ceding White all the space, you give him the center, you allow him to develop more quickly, and you somewhat weaken your King no matter which side you castle on. If you’re going to do all these things, you have to be very careful to time your pawn breaks (especially central breaks) carefully, or you can just be either cramped and squeezed to death or blown open before you are ready.