Friday, November 10, 2006

More Tarrasch talking

Due to some advice and excellent discussion on what beginners should play in response to d4, I've decided to stick with the classical stuff. If you are wondering about your response to d4, and are a beginner or a chess teacher, I highly recommend that discussion (it is at

I think I'm going to the Tarrasch. This, of course, leaves me having to figure out what to play if white doesn't play 2. c4. More will be forthcoming, I'm sure.

As a side-note, the discussions of opening theory at Chesspublishing are excellent. Many GMs are very generous with their knowledge of the opening, and often the authors of the opening books will come on and answer questions. A great resource.

Hat tip to Takchess for the Tarrasch pun.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, Tarrasch is even stronger when white doesn't play c4. If white eschews c4 (wusses) then black owns the center with pawns on c5 and d5. Most of your opponents will also not have the subtlety to play g3, Bg2. Black has an easy time in such variations.

Best part is, while setting out to learn the opening, you will "accidentally" learn a TON about the middlegame. I have played over some of the Kasparov games from the Aagaard Tarrasch book, and i felt it was highly productive time even though i dont even play that opening. (!)

You gotta stick with it to truly see the rewards, though. Definitely play Tarrasch against everything except 1.e4 from now on and it will reward you. :)

Tarrasch also comes equipped with a built-in gambit for special occasions-- the Hennig-Schara. ;)

11/10/2006 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Wow, Patrick, what a surprise that you like the complete game format when you study openings. :P

That's good to know about the Tarrasch, that I can play it even if she doesn't play 2c4! The Aagaard book is coming in the mail today, so perhaps I won't diss it until I have it (though a priori, I can diss it for not having a bloody index of variations: Everyman Chess, what the hell were you thinking).

11/10/2006 09:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been playing the Tarrasch for some time without even knowing it - I like the French Advance variation so much that I play c5 even when I face d4-e3. It's an awesome defense because I can take many of the ideas of the French which I alread knw and apply them with the Tarrasch.

11/10/2006 09:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw your posts at CP forum... I know you are a scientist, but try thinking like a liberal arts hippie just for once. If you had to gain familiarity with a city neighborhood, how would you go about it?
1) Memorize lists of directions from point A to B, A to C, A to D...G to W, etc. And then organize these "variations" into a whole "repertoire".
OR 2) Live in the city for a few weeks and get an idea of which streets follow which streets, and look out for recognizable landmarks (patterns).

Those Aagaard games will give you a general familiarity with the terrain that completely obviates the need to memorize specific variations. The games will give you the 'big picture' of the Tarrasch such that you can find your way if you are randomly dropped somewhere.

Who is a better tour guide of New York city-- a brainiac who memorized the Fodor's travel guide in a weekend or an illiterate cab driver who has lived there for 30 years?

I'm just saying the variations and move orders are not the point, and you are missing out on a great opening/education with the Tarrasch games. GL

11/10/2006 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Patrick: We have different approaches for getting to know a city. I am in the position of a tourist who just wants to get safely into the city and then start exploring. I don't want a guided tour from some cabbie whose speech I can barely understand, and who bores me to death with his variations on parts of the city I'll probably never see.

Hence, for openings, I prefer to just memorize the whole repertoire about five moves in, and then get out there and play to see how it feels. This gets me into the territory safely, and then I get to play around in it and explore, find out how much I like the overall feel of the opening, whether 'natural' seeming moves end me up in deep trouble or not, etc..

When I hit a snag, I go back to my reference and push ahead a few moves. Each time, I gain an appreciation for the previously unseen potential in the opening, and learn quite a bit. For this method it is key that I have a good guide that I trust. A cabbie who will tell me a good place to go and get a bite of Italian, and not expect anything else from me. Rizzatoni's book is the best I have found for my level and approach.

His book is a great guide. It is comprehensive, clear, explains transpositions, and takes the time to address what seem to the GM to be "stupid" moves by white. An all too rare quality in opening books. Key for the patzer.

This trust in an opening book lets me devote more of my energy to tactics, which still decides almost all of my games. I'll get a feel for the lay of the land by going there and exploring rather than reading about other people's explorations.

Obviously the latter approach can be very helpful and successful, but it mercilessly sucks the fun out of it for me. Not quite as excruciating as a book like 'Art of Checkmate', which forces you to sit through entire games just to teach you one mating attack, but on a similar level of anti-fun and seeming inefficiency.

When I finish my circles I'm going to get more balanced in my approach, reading a bunch of move-by-move books and learning some endgame. I actually like the move-by-move books that are more holistic, not focused on one topic.

Damned hippies. :P

11/10/2006 06:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see that your approach has merit too. And i agree that fun is more important than anything. The Rizz book is very good. I bought it but found it too solid for my taste. Hippies rule!!

11/10/2006 07:23:00 PM  

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