I was just looking at Korch’s blog from Wednesday, January 7, 2009:
See all of these tactical traps? I played the c3 Sicilian for a while and never remember seeing these traps. The other day I played a Najdorf as White. Going over the game I found all kinds of traps I hadn’t noticed before (with help from Crafty) right in the opening.
I think this is what the strong players (expert+) do, they evaluate these possibilities (or know them cold).
Typical 1700 level player is probably just playing some pattern they like in the opening, that they perhaps saw as an opening line from somewhere. Later, some really dumb mistake is decisive, and then a good portion of an hour is wasted making the other person verify their technique. For me, I think of this as blitz mentality because it is often played fast by this player. So when I play them, I get in lots of “grind” games, whose sole theoretical objective seems to be whether time-trouble will have it’s say, and most players seem satisfied by the result alone, if they win.
Anyway, my plan for my next game is to spend a little more time in the opening, but mainly not to avoid anything sharp, then less time in the middlegame, where I needlessly waste time when I already know my moves, then saving more time for the endgame so that result is not affected by the clock.
Also, I don’t plan on forcing wins out of drawn positions as someone just tried against me. I plan to write the move down after I make it, and to record accurately and legibly, not scribbling times all over it, etc.. In addition, I actually need the time to do these things, so I will not play G/60, if I can avoid it.
Sure, I can play fast but it quickly becomes a hack from the gut, where you basically only verify your trickiest threats, and your opponents mates. Oddly, I think this blitz behavior, for a lot of players, carries over into regular games, so it becomes a little bit of a blitz game played slowly. Sure, everyone scans the board correctly for the one-movers, but then sometimes miss the two-movers. And then, for some strange reason, players don’t generally seem to feel bad about it because, oh well, it was a time-pressure thing/result. Well, then play at a pace that makes sense for the game. Some people will even try and trick you into their time-pressure, following them there, probably sub-conscious, but then how often is the player satisfied by this course of action when a positive end-result comes out of it(?) No need to analyze, hurray! It’s as if they tricked the IRS or something. hehe. Shoot, I’ve probably many a game lead an opponent into time-trouble disaster. It has been played upon me as well, just not as often. But usually there are huge gaffes on my side and my opponents when this occurs, so why do it?
My original point is that if you simply memorized the openings, you wouldn’t be in a position to spring the traps resulting from the mis-steps. Really, it’s not even traps so much as understanding the different ideas between one subvariation of an opening and another. In Korch’s c3 Sicilian example, Black will often play e6, not because Black enjoys blocking in his/her light squared bishop, but rather because Bb4 pins the knight on c3 that is attacking the queen on d5.