Friday, November 10, 2006

Compare and contrast two books

I got the Aagaard book today 'Meeting 1d4', which I thought was going to be a good general repertoire book for black. Such books on how to respond to 1.d4 are very hard to come by for the patzer.

Unfortunately, Aagaard's book is simply awful for beginners. Over a hundred pages on what to do after move five in the Tarrasch. At my level, I don't even want to go much past move five in my repertoire (in focusing on tactics, I build a broad and superficial repertoire that I refine over time as I see variations in actual games).

This book should be called 'Metting 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. cxd exd 5. Nf3 Nc6', not 'Meeting 1 d4'. There is woefully inadequate coverage of what to do if white doesn't play 2. c4. Plus, it is a worst-case kind of opening book: annotated game dump that doesn't even include an index of variations. This leaves you the fun of searching through games for variations you want to find. Screw that.

Contrast this with James Rizzitano's simply amazing book How to beat 1d4 (reviewed very favorably at Chesscafe here). Over half the book is about what to do when white doesn't play 2. c4. The coverage for when white does play c4 is so packed with information that it feels like Rizzitano could have been greedy and gotten two books out of this.

While I have superficially played the QGA and gotten my rump roasted, I think that because Rizzitano's book is so far superior to any beginner 1. d4 response book I've seen, I'm gonna learn that one. I just don't have the time to pull together different responses from different sources. This seems to be a reliable and sound reference.

OK, hopefully I've made up my mind.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you ever get bored, you should try out the Leningrad Dutch 1. d4 f5. 8)

11/10/2006 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Sancho Pawnza said...

All of the Aagaard material I own (Books and DVDs) are strategy based.
He's not a big theory fan and tends to focus more on how to play the various structures that arise from a given opening. The so-called "annotated game dump" is your best friend for learning how to play openings in general. As you get to learn the purpose behind the moves.
(Give me this approach anyday versus a 1,000 variations Informant styled chess book with minimal text.)
They are excellent books; it is just a different mindset. It may feel like it is slightly over your head at the moment, but you owe to yourself to read & play through at least one chapter. Maybe ping pong between the Aagaard and Rizzitano books. Once you figure out why certain moves are played it makes formulating plans and learning other openings even easier.

I found out the hard way that the ideas will do more for your game than learning a bunch of lines.

11/10/2006 09:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Rizz book is a great choice and will serve you very well! QGA is completely sound and will annoy most white players.
Besides, the fact of making a decision is perhaps more important than the content of the decision.

It's a tough business publishing one's thoughts for all the world to second-guess.

11/10/2006 11:18:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Rizzitano isn't just a variation tree (those are incredibly annoying too: I have a couple of opening books from the 1970s and they are awful: just pages and pages of variations followed by =, +/=, etc with no explanation!). It is more in the style of Chess openings for X, Explained.

Patrick is right about the big step being picking an opening. Once I realized how much I liked the Grand Prix Attack, it was liberating. The important thing is to not keep switching around openings, to not blame a solid opening for one's middle- and endgame shortcomings.

More important for me now is getting to the middlegame safely in the QP openings as black. I've started to really take a beating and I just want to know general plans and some specific moves to get me to a reasonable middle game.

My overall plan once I've finally settled on an opening is reading through the analysis in my beginner opening books (Fine, Collins, Basman) to get a sense for the overall strategies (e.g., in the QGA, work in ...c5 early, fianchetto the queen's bishop, and launch a queenside attack).

At this patzer stage that, coupled with knowing tricky moves a few ply deep, will be enough to go on until I really need to start studying openings seriously. Then I'll work through more detailed annotated games. There exist plenty such game dumps for the QGA.

After all, my priority right now: the circles!!!

11/11/2006 01:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's very difficult to find a tactical answer to 1.d4. In most openings you have to play e6 as black at some moment which leaves you with a temporary hole at e5 and you are cut off from the white king. That's why it's called a (semi-)closed game. If you can't reach the kingside, it's very difficult to come any further by tactics alone. So you are forced to play at the queenside which makes the game more strategically. If a black opening is recommended as "a tactical answer to d4" they mean that there is piece play at the side of the board where the white king isn't. Which isn't strategical but not very effective either. I always have resolved this by sacrificing a pawn at e5 (Fajarowicz variant of the Budapest gambit). That is a rather rude and not very solid solution, but at least my pieces come in the neighborhood of the white king.
I tried the Dutch, but that's an extremely slow opening. I tried the KID, but that leaves you often with a very cramped position. I tried the Benko, but that's very strategical by nature. A tried the Benoni. Often very cramped. A lot of openings start indeed at move 5, at least in the opening books. Which is very frustrating when you haven't the skill to punish your opponents for early deviations yet.

I'm glad I'm finally good enough tactically that I can focus on strategical play without getting my ass handed. I use the games of Karpov as a base to find my answer to d4 now. He likes to play the QID.

I realize that all this is of very little help for you. Besides the knowledge that you aren't alone.

11/11/2006 02:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It probably is a good choice for you to pick up QGA again. From what i understand, it really is one of the best choices for those struggling with what to do against 1...d4. But the point is to stick with it. For atleast a year. Recommended period of time by ChessVille. I quote;

The important thing is to choose a repertoire and STICK WITH IT! Expect to lose a lot at first, but eventually the wins will begin to pile up as you become more experienced with playing your openings. Later, you can begin to learn new openings and defenses and add them to your repertoire. The only way to ever become a good opening player is to find an opening and defensive system, learn them thoroughly, and then play them for at least a year. Because it sounds to me like you're switching too much and too fast. That way you'll never get anything out of an opening. Not that it is easy to choose from so many openings/defenses...

Let me quote some more about the QGA; The concept of this opening is relatively simple: first take on c4, then attack White's other central pawn with c5 or e5.

The Queen's Gambit Accepted is a postmodern opening, for it combines and reinforces classical and hypermodern ideas of positional play. Black is not afraid of giving up the center (hypermodern) and has no weaknesses (classical).

The QGA offers a wealth of possibilities. In contrast to the Queen's Gambit Declined, Black is able to develop his bishop from c8 to b7 or g4, and counterblows with e7-e5 or c7-c5 are possible without losing a tempo as in the Slav Defence. However, White also has various options at his disposal.

Another typical feature of the Queen's Gambit Accepted should be mentioned as well: if you want to win, you often need good tactical skills for the positions arising from the QGA are full of tactical possibilities and beautiful sacrifices.

Famous exponents of the Queen's Gambit Accepted are Anand, Kasparov, Kortschnoj, Baburin, Ibragimov, Ivanchuk, Hübner, Lautier, Yakovich, etc. The Grandmasters Fominyh and Makarov from Novosibirsk are ardent supporters of this opening as well. A lot of the ideas for White and Black were conceived by players like Steinitz, Aljechin, Rubinstein, Botvinnik, Euwe, Smyslov, Petrosian, Spassky, Karpov, Kramnik and many others

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Well, i hope my comment was of any help. Take care!

11/11/2006 02:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Btw, thank's for bringing the book to my attention. I'll add it to my list of books to buy. And anytime soon i'll be posting a post which includes a QGA game played by Bronstein. So be on the lookout ;-)

11/11/2006 04:32:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tempo: it's good to know that I'm not the only one struggling with a good response to d4 (or, in my case, any response to d4: I've just tried to play on 'principle' and end up with my butt smacked lately).

Edwin: excellent quote and advice. Thanks.

I think I've found my repertoire. I don't feel the anxiety I do once I've picked one that isn't right for me (either because the guidebook I'm using is wrong (Aagaard) or the style of the opening is wrong (like when I tried the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit)). For my style, the two are key. A comfortable game, and a trusted guide.

While my stylistic constraints are somewhat meagre (mainly I prefer classical chess to hypermodern nuttiness), it tends to be very hard to find a really solid repertoire book that I trust. Once I do, it's like a marriage. I stay committed to the repertoire and tweak things a little here and there to keep it fresh.

I think I'm done with the dating scene for d4. I'm ready to settle down with QGA...

11/11/2006 10:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awww, this is so romantic, i thought i was watching a Meg Ryan movie.


This post should have been titled, "Taking out the Tarrasch"


11/12/2006 03:11:00 AM  
Blogger King of the Spill said...

...>"hopefully I've made up my mind."

Don't say that!

11/12/2006 03:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thnx for pointing this great book out; good luck with your new defence and let us know how it works out. will probably browse thro' this book at some point but not use it since i have settled on the dutch

11/12/2006 03:47:00 AM  
Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said...

Oh man. No Budapest Gambit? How can you deny yourself such daring-do as 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ng4!

Seriously though, the advice to pick an opening and stick with it is the best I could recommend as well. I have my opening repertoire in Bookup, an opening trainer program. I review it periodically, and whenever there is a variation not in it, I analyze with Fritz and master games to find the best continuation. Don't get to hung up on the openings. I think you'll find it gets pretty damn tedious after awhile.

11/13/2006 06:17:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home