an ordinary chessplayer wrote
on 04/25/23 at 13:03:10:
3.h3 is not terrible. I've done this sort of thing myself, the idea is to get both players thinking as early as possible. On the other hand, it also gives black a free choice. I would be inclined to choose 3...e5 with a reversed Center Game. That should be equal already, and black can try to find a variation where the extra h2-h3 is a weakness.
3.. e5 actually seems to be much
harder to play than you'd guess (as per a quick look with SF14 anyway!).
4 Nc3 then Qa5 5 Bc4 isn't remotely ideal.
4 Nc3 Qd6 5 Nf3 Nc6 6 Bc4 Bf5 7 d3 etc seems to be a niggle
SF actually prefers 4 .. Qe6 and then 5 Nf3 Bd7 (to dodge Nc6 Bb5) 6 Be2 Nc6 7 d4 ed 8 Nxd4 Nxd4 9 Qxd4
That's still a slightly tricky position - 9.. Ne7 is near equal, everything else seems to be getting on for +1.5 for white.
Presumably having the extra h3 in to prevent Bg4 is making e5 more vulnerable than usual or something.
3.... c5 seems very much safer - and might well be be an objective deterrent - I do find it rather amusing that SF takes 4 a4 in response halfway seriously!