Chess Openings

I have to credit RollingPawns interest in openings for my not chucking some of my openings monographs (even though they are quality ones). I’ve finally come up with a rule, one shelf for chess books, and they fit snug, so no new chess books – I have 32 books. The most books I’ve had at any given time was around 100 more than I have now.

For the C3 Sicilian, Sveshnikov is it’s sin-qua-non practitioner, but Murray Chandler (who beat Kasparov with it, not sure if it was the game during the World juniors or during the simul, as he’s 2-0 against Kasparov) was also a practitioner and includes games as far back as Alekhine-Podgorny. Oh my, there is actually a name for such a sideline “The Barmen Defense”. lol. Looks like just another sub-variation to me, but I guess someone took this opening seriously. Black does take this C3 opening seriously, that is what is so surprising about it.

Looking at this game again, I believ Alekhine’s 11.d5 is one of those double-exclam moves, but then again ..Bb4 is a highly irregular move (although Kasparov proved it could draw against Deep Blue, but not sure if it was in conjunction with ..Qa5). Typical 1900 player will have some safer system that they have worked out and will try to beat you with their positional play most likely.

In any case, I just looked at a Qa4 line, which supposedly has bad results, and doesn’t look great, but I looked at one sideline which the author give as a -+ from one game, and I found multiple improvements to where I would rather play White, and in a tournament game you will probably get a huge edge on the clock or Black will probably just blunder.

This is the power of opening-study which I never thought of before. On the one hand, it looks as if an author has covered thousands of sidelines, all from GM games, which must be air-tight. But OTH, you realize that if someone is looking at thousands of variations, and you are looking at just one, you can pick it apart and try different improvements. Plus, OTB you would already know what doesn’t work.

Hadn’t thought about this before, that you can play to catch someone in a very specific offbeat line. However, I feel as though my study has only just begun. The neat part is that you can use all of the ideas from the stem game that you would never have had the guts to play yourself, OTB, first time through, such as not castling. You sort of “borrow” the chess understanding of the original person who played it.

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7 thoughts on “Chess Openings

  1. Hey Linux Guy!

    Openings are fun!

    I enjoy studying the lines through a database and then practicing against an engine! The openings I know the best are the ones I have practiced against an engine or two after studying them in a database. I am still on my NO opening book kick! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I am trying to learn a little about rook endgames right now. I have also re-upped my styoko like studies. one position a day. I think these really help me to get better at really checking out a position and taking my time.

    They also help me to make better use of the tactics training. (I think)

  2. TommyG, thanks for the feedback!

    Consensus on the internet dumps on openings as far as study-time for non-Masters (OTH, I doubt you will find a 2100 kid publishing a game where they beat a Master where he/she doesn’t know something about the theory in their game). I think Masters mean that their games leave theory early and it doesn’t decide the game, but that doesn’t mean they don’t study it, simply means they talk bad about it because they are so PO’d where it doesn’t help them. Also, a person doesn’t typically give theory credit when their opponents deviate badly from it and it lose. They just say “See, he didn’t know theory anymore and messed up”, not realizing that it was partly because the person saying that did know theory for one move longer than their opponent.

    Having said that, I am no longer infatuated with my “repertoire” book BTS3 by Nunn, and spent some more time today on a couple of endgame studies.

    “They also help me to make better use of the tactics training. (I think)”

    I have this same feeling, as I go back to looking at a few combos, only to miss half of them, even though I am not trying too hard either, mostly going for the pattern-recognition (instant recognition) part of it.

    Best thing about pattern-recognition, and this applies to endgames as well, is being able to blitz out a win (or draw) in crazy time-pressure. I never cease to be amazed at how creatively (yet badly) most people play endgames. This is usually the worst part of everyone’s game, but you might not know that if you don’t get past the strong tactics part of their game.

  3. I think it’s good to have some “pet” lines, it can help you to get an important point or half. Also if you study the position long enough, it improves your understanding of the middlegame.
    Yes, the endgame as well as transition to it… i thought I was OK until encountered some strong opponents.

  4. I found it ironic that Rozentalis played in the Canadian Open. He and Sveshnikov are the two big experts on the Alapin Sicilian.

    Endgames do seem to turn out to be a big deal at the next level. I was going over the last part of this ending this morning, with Timman’s notes. This guy is a model of restraint in the endgame, doesn’t let a crumb of a chance go to waste (the opponent).
    http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1118499
    Move 45.. is Rc1, with the comment of zugzwang. Whoever entered it put his rook en-prise, incorrectly, with 45..Re1

    I want to make an observation here. Endgame study is about taking time to study the endgame from a game. Timman’s games in this book is back when they had adjournments and spent hours on these things.

    My friend Alex likes to bring in printouts or he hand-copies the score of famous games, then goes over them at a blitz pace. This may be a great way to learn openings, but this is exactly not the way to improve one’s finesse game, whether in middlegame or endgame, and finesse is mostly what that next level is about. Sometimes there is a strategy involved such as “use the bishop to stop his pawns while pushing own” or what to do with the knights. A lot of deep lines get worked out and refined. I find it interesting that most players will keep on playing the endgame at a fast pace out of inertia. People really love blitzing their endgames, even though that is where one wrong conception of the position should cost the game. It is quite remarkable. Of course, 1900+ level players, most will have enough sense to try and avoid doing such a thing, but below 1800 blitzing the endgame is nearly universal.

  5. Studied an endgame of Timman’s against Karpov this morning. I have to say that these endgames seem so much more relevant in a 6 hour game than in a 2 or 3 hour game.

    Read part of MDLM’s book that I hadn’t before. He shows there are around 12 moves in this position, but he makes the worst one, a pawn sac, because it fits into his style and is harder for people to play against. I got a belly laugh out of that one. At the World Open, one might think an opponent would spend enough time to fully defuse such a pawn sac. He would not match up well against me in a 6 hour game, if this were his credo, but it is fascinating to follow his thorough arguments. At our level, our “sacs” are just not as compelling as say Spielman’s or Shirov’s, whom he quoted.

    What I want to do next is get my dead Windows PC up for one, but also try and focus on gathering up my games and creating a DB of my games and opponent’s games. IOW, get more organized. I may face the same game as last week tonight, and don’t even have it on my PC to look at it, yet it is in the club’s monthly magazine, so I can grab it from there if so motivated. But I want to build a database.

  6. Hey LinuxGuy!

    I really want to get better at endgames. I have studied and practiced the basic pawn endgames and am now trying to learn the basic rook endgames.

    I have a nice endgame book that has endgame position puzzles all taken from real games. (manual of chess endings it is called)

    I am going to start mini-styoko one position from that book a day.

    And maybe even cull some positions to styoko from the chesstempo database where you can search the games by material. I could get some Rubistein rook endings to peruse! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. TommyG, yes theoretical endgames can be fascinating! Fruit doesn’t know how to win this ending from my game I was just looking at, same colored-bishops with one extra pawn. That is one I should look up myself, but I know it can come down to an obnoxiously long, and easily forgettable zugzwang procedure.

    But, these things hardly occur in our own games! I learned some neat stuff with rook and pawn ending as well, but it borders on arcane knowledge.

    Best way to study endgames is with a well annotated book. Forget about the game, go the diagram for move 32, set it up on a board, and try to work it out while reading the notes, that is if it looks like an endgame.

    Most people want to show off their sac-sac-sac endgames, not their technical endgames, which is why I appreciated Timman’s book so much. The technical ones come up all the time, the sac-sac-sac ones are the blue-moon games.

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