Pawn structures

Here are a couple of interesting games that I played recently that revolve around the pawn structure. I noticed Tommy was looking at the Alekhine, so here that one first:
Alekhine
Pirc
In the second game, I have to admit that 14.Na4 was hardly necessary as I had dxe followed by Bxa7 winning a pawn, but it made the game more interesting. šŸ˜‰

My plan now is actually to stop playing on FICS and study openings or games or endings instead. I have the “Big Book of Busts” and just studied Owen’s Defense, so I’m ready to take that down next time I face it, although I really studied simply out of interest.

I have MCO13 and Chess Assistant, but it doesn’t do me much good. MCO is a little too, “Okay, here’s how crazy Joe handled this opening in a correspondence game, is down material but is unclear.” Well, that is a fun way to learn tactics, but studying that is almost of negative value to my rating. The super GM’s games on CA, the opening book part, remind me of lines where people are simply trying to deviate from the main-line and mix it up, really not helpful on the class level.

At our level, I think a concise explanation of an opening from a Master is best. For example, Soltis book on opening analysis for Advanced player is concise and hits the major themes of what can happen (not just boring stuff of “okay here is the main-line – yawn”). I actually gave away Alburt’s book on the Alekhine many years ago because I found it so boring, the main lines with sideline games in the notes(with not much explanation). Big Book of Busts is rather incisive as well.

But here’s my point. I used to go over this stuff and was not tactically adept enough to figure out why +- was +-, but I can figure that stuff out now. I spent a long time with Crafty going over my games afterwards, even blitz games (yes, TONS of blunders no one notices in blitz games, as you might expect). Anyhow, at G/90, if I really want to have fun winning vs. just playing and losing, I really have to look at some of these openings because there is not time to figure them out OTB, RollingPawns is right about that. At G/2hrs. at my old club, there was time and it was fun, but at G/90 I simply don’t see such a possibility, or I would have to play it quickly in any event.

Incidentally, in the second game Black stopped me from playing 24.Qc1, a useful device which is known as “Alekhine’s Gun”. Sierawan once wrote a book ‘Take my Rooks’ that covered games using this technique, but it also had something to do with a ‘double-rook sacrifice’.

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6 thoughts on “Pawn structures

  1. Hey Linux Guy!

    How is Colorado??

    I agree that good explanations can help when learning an opening but they seem far and few between. I am trying to learn openings by checking out the games in a database and then asking myself the question: Why is that the most popular or 2nd most popular move? Then I check my answers with an engine and then if I have a book I go and read the explanations. I am figuring that if I spend some time looking at the opening and trying to figure it out myself, then the explanations in a book will mean even more to me! Sort of a reverse order thing.

    But I have found that annotations in a book (opening or game collection) always seem to mean more after I have spend some time mulling over the game or position on my own, even if my answers were incorrect. Because I spent some time with the position or opening or whatever my mind has a reference point.

    The only problem is that so far I have only found a few opening books authors that are really good at explanations. Joe Gallagher being one of them!!

  2. Colorado is beautiful! I used to think the skies were pretty in CA, but they are moreso here. Real estate, you can find really good deals here, of course the general job market is not so hot in the CO Springs/Fountain area, where I live, but I guess that depends on what you do for a living.

    Denver is not too far, only thing is that in the winter (and even through April) it can snow and rain a lot on the road in between here and there. The people here as a rule are very friendly and extroverted and even quite trusting. I like the snow, but it also means that it comes down when driving sometimes. The weather can change here ridiculously fast, it’s unbelievable, in terms of from clear sky to rain and snow and then back again.

    I haven’t studied my Chess Assistant DB well enough to be checking my games against it, was only using Crafty, so that is an area where you will have a leg up on my studies!

    There was a Joe G. book where it was supposed to be ‘the’ book to have on some opening, but I’ve never owned one of his books.

    Most books are too ponderous IMHO, so I have to agree with your assessment that good books are hard to find and I also usually agree with your occasional “put downs” of books you didn’t like for the exact same reasons you give.

    The big difference for me now is that if an author shows a bust of a line, I can follow it now to where they give me enough that I can tactically find the rest on my own to follow their reasoning. After all, if I can’t conclusively determine the outcome of many opening positions, then it makes just as much sense to study endings, because I am also to where, If I manage my clock well, I can also get to the endings(!)

    I have to say that Chess Assistant has a big learning curve. I would prefer to own ChessBase, but I am on a Windows 2000 machine and the recent CA or CB won’t run on this OS. I reviewed my Bird’s opening game, only one game in the entire 1 million or so was relevant (big problem I have, lots of people avoid main lines), and oh this was on move 4 where the other “999,999” games, so to speak, deviated. In the one game that I found, Black played “around the edges” more passively than I played and lost. Incidentally, Crafty was agreeing with me, not him, so what does this tell me? It re-confirms that I need to study my own games more carefully to look for improvements I think.

    The thing that is losing me games mostly are openings and time-pressure, and one sort of leads to the other. I make middle-game blunders but am already under time-pressure by then. This “Bird Opening”, I can’t even say where it differs from the Reti opening as the two can become one and the same, apparently.

    Ah, it was the Reti/Neo-Catalan line, which gives b3 and Bb2 for white. If I had played Bg4 or Bf5 it would have been Reti/Barcza System. I probably need to go to my ECO to try tracking this one down.

    Well, I cracked open ECO, reading between the lines of A03-A08 is that his move c3 was simply bad, too passive. My setup was also hard to find because of it’s passiveness, but I had not made any mistake like c3, so I think that …d4 was the correct response, as Crafty confirms.

    Went through …d4 with Crafty. RollingPawns is right, (…e6 with)…d4 is not so hot but good enough for equality with right play. …Bf5 or even …Bg4 is more challenging, although I haven’t looked at those.

    One thing I could do is study the Fromme Gambit. It sacs a pawn as Black, but it would immediately take the game into tactical channels, where I take it he would prefer not to be or perhaps at least be less prepared than I.

    …Bf5 looks good. Wow, what a lot of work to track down a workable answer.

  3. Have you ever looked at SCID:

    http://scid.sourceforge.net/index.html

    It has a lot of the same features as Chessbase. (maybe even more?)

    I don’t know what OS it runs on though.

    The Joe Gallagher book on the King’s Indian Defense was one of the few really good opening books I have seen!

    As I explore Chessbase I am finding out how really useful it is to help one study and explore the game. The funny thing about chessbase is that one can be lazy with it and just have the engines check out lines OR one can dive into the position or opening and really study and compare it to other games!! Chessbase is really conducive to a lot of self-study which can then be checked with an engine or two to for further comparison. And even the engines can provoke one to checking out and studying the engine suggestions!! The amount of self-study and exploration is almost mind blowing.

  4. Tommy, I have the feeling that ChessBase is a lot easier to work with than Chess Assistant. I have more or less given up on Chess Assistant for now (simply requires quite a bit of know-how, IMHO). I did import my games into SCID once and eliminate the duplicates a while back. That was much easier to work with my own games through, and I greatly prefer it for that!

    Yes, the King’s Indian, that was the one/book. Reminds me of how long ago that I played it.

    The engines turn out to be the main thing, but I can’t buy the latest Fritz either because I am running Win2k OS. CA does have a good engine built in, though, if/when I ever use that program.

  5. It looks like both guys self-destructed :).
    Too bad you can’t buy Fritz, because it lets you to create a CB database and also use opening trees (I think you need CB to create them out of game collections). Is there any way to get a newer Windows?
    I mostly just read online stuff about openings and look in DB for best moves, also at some GM games. And of course play them blitz unless I start to feel it, like with Benko, Marshall, Fantasy, etc.

  6. Rollingpawns, you make an interesting point, I think that is how most FICS games goes, I or the other person self-destructs, figures at that time-control.

    I didn’t analyze those two games with Crafty but that is where I spend a bulk of my chess time. It seems like every game I am dropping a rook somewhere or other tactical device overlooked, but not picked up by either player.

    CB 7 was their last one that supported Win2k. I’ve tried to stay away from newer MS OSes since then, although Windows7 doesn’t seem like such a bad idea, but it just goes to show how unnecessary it was to make a better OS since Win2k!

    I’d rather spend more time in books now that I actually have a “chess den!” šŸ™‚ Plus, it doesn’t wear out my eyes as much as looking at a screen, plus there is some mentorship in some books.

    I may get those games into SCID someday as there are a lot of them, but it’s okay if they don’t get there, too.

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