The Vulture

A vulture was hacking at my feet. It had already torn my boots and stockings to shreds, now it was hacking at the feet themselves. Again and again it struck at them, then circled several times restlessly round me, then returned to continue its work. A gentleman passed by, looked on for a while, then asked me why I suffered the vulture.

"I'm helpless," I said. "When it came and began to attack me, I of course tried to drive it away, even to strangle it, but these animals are very strong, it was about to spring at my face, but I preferred to sacrifice my feet. Now they are almost torn to bits."

"Fancy letting yourself be tortured like this!" said the gentleman. "One shot and that's the end of the vulture."

"Really ?" I said. "And would you do that?"

"With pleasure," said the gentleman, "I've only got to go home and get my gun. Could you wait another half hour?"

"I'm not sure about that," said I, and stood for a moment rigid with pain. Then I said: "Do try it in any case, please."

"Very well," said the gentleman, "I'll be as quick as I can."

During this conversation the vulture had been calmly listening, letting its eye rove between me and the gentleman. Now I realized that it had understood everything; it took wing, leaned far back to gain impetus, and then, like a javelin thrower, thrust its beak through my mouth, deep into me. Falling back, I was relieved to feel him drowning irretrievably in my blood, which was filling every depth, flooding every shore.

--Franz Kafka


The Vulture is an opening for Black devised and analyzed by IM Stefan Bucker, and seemingly designed to convince an insecure opponent that the laws and principles of chess with which he thought he was so familiar have been temporarily suspended.

The first moves are as follows:
1.d4 Nf6
2.c4 c5
2.d5 Ne4!?

| r  | n  | b  | q  | k  | b  |    | r  |
| p  | p  |    | p  | p  | p  | p  | p  |
|    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    | 
|    |    | p  | P  |    |    |    |    | 
|    |    | P  |    | n  |    |    |    | 
|    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    | 
| P  | P  |    |    | P  | P  | P  | P  | 
| R  | N  | B  | Q  | K  | B  | N  | R  |

The movement of the knight into the centre squares of the board gives the opening its name, with Bucker comparing it somewhat melodramatically to the flight of a vulture. This move violates one of the more important axioms of chess opening theory, namely that one should avoid moving the same piece more than once before development is completed. Not only that, but Black moves the knight into a position where it will almost certainly be attacked and have to move a third time, resulting in a further loss of time. Around about now, a White player of overly Euclidean or Aristotelian tendencies, and without a refined sense of chess humour, will be releasing dangerous stress chemicals into the electrolytic soup between his synapses.

Joking aside, the move is not as bad as it looks, and has brought me numerous sucesses in tournament play. The Black knight which has moved to e4 is preparing to transfer to the d6 square, where, although it will hinder the development of black's queenside pieces for a few moves, it is actually placed far more strongly that it was on f6, and controls several of the key squares on the board (particulary f5 and b5, where black will be hoping to make pawn breakthroughs). Bucker also defends the move on theoretical grounds, stating that White has weakened his position by advancing his pawns in the centre so early, and particularly that he has weakened the long black diagonal from a1 to h8, which Black will exploit by fianchettoing his bishop on g7 without the hindrance of a knight on f6 blocking its firepower. He also makes the valid point that the loss of time involved in repositioning the knight is not as serious as it seems, because the position in the centre is closed.

Bucker's analysis in his book The Vulture And Related Systems is not always rigorous and objective, and I have gotten into trouble on one occasion through following his recommendations without performing my own analysis first. However, he gives many examples of tournament practice in this opening, and takes the role of an evangelist trying to spread the good word. In his opinion, the chess world does not take his opening seriously because, well, it looks silly. In my experience, the Vulture is quite playable, and gives a great psychological advantage right from the beginning, as no one ever expects it. However, Black must never forget that he is playing an experimental opening, and that he is liable to get crushed in short order if he makes even a minor mistake.

Also one of Spider Man's adversaries...

The Vulture made his first appearence in Spider Man #2 in May 1963.

The Vulture wears a green body suit and has a pair of mechanical wings which enable him to fly and increase his strength to peak human condition, even though Toomes is an old man.. He's mostly a petty thief and not some world destroying super-villian. Still he is a key villian in Spider-Man's rogues gallery.

During the 90's Marvel Comics tried to soup up the Vulture by teaming him up with someone who gave him a device that sucked the life force out of Spider-Man and made the Vulture young again. It also cured his fatal cancer as an added bonus.

This lasted for about a year until they made him old again, by having some villain named DK (decay) drain the life out of him. All very silly in the long run, but that was Marvel in the 90's. ______________________________________

Real Name: Adrian Toomes

Legal Status: Criminal record in the United States

Place of birth: Staten Island, New York

Marital Status: Widowed

Known Relatives: Malachi Toomes (nephew, deceased)

Known allies: Sinister Six I (Doctor Octopus, Electro, Kraven, Mysterio, Sandman), Sinister Six II (Doctor Octopus, Electro, Hobgoblin, Mysterio, Sandman)

Major Enemies: Spider-Man,

Usual base of operations: New York City

Extent of education: Master of Science degree in electrical engineering

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