Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Is 1 d4 not good for those who want to learn tactics?

Craig Evans left an interesting post over at Chesspub. This bit struck my eye:
I would never recommend 1.d4 for beginners or aspiring players. A lot of club players around 1500-1800 have played 1.d4 or 1.Nf3 religiously and are very solid players... with absolutely no tactical awareness or imagination. Closed openings will stifle players who are learning the game, and I am a huge advocate of playing open positions and gambits with both colours whilst improving.Positional understanding and mastery of closed positions will come with experience, but if one is completely unable to string together any sort of tactics, then positional players will not be able to convert their advantages. Playing 1.e4, or at worst the BDG, will make white players acutely aware of the value of the initiative, provide them with the skills to counterpunch or even "swindle" should their positions not be great, to search out and successfully navigate tactics where they are favourably there. Once this is learnt, or at least the player reaches a fair proficiency with tactics, then they can ally this with positional development and mastery of closed positions, and we have a good player on our hands. I think there was an element of jest in Schaakhamster's comment about giving a novice a book on tactics and a BDG opening manual... but there is more than some truth as well. If you can get a beginner to quickly improve his/her tactics and attacking play, then this will stand him/her in good stead in the short-term, and as long as he/she then works on his or her other parts of their game in due course, they can become a good player. I do not know of many people who've made 2200+ without gaining experience in open and tactical positions before graduating into positional understanding.
I think perhaps he needs to watch some d4 games between amateurs. Because they are both off book so soon, and don't have the positional skills he speaks of to create a slow positional battle, the games typically become tactical fairly fast.

I don't think it's an either-or proposition (tactical versus positional). At the patzer level where I reside, the question is how many moves before the tactical fireworks begin, not whether there will be sharp clashes. Indeed, playing d4 against rank patzers like myself may be a good thing. We are likely to get impatient and prematurely attack. Games between patzers in d4 lines are not going to generate the kind of slow positional masterpieces you'd find in a strategy book written by a GM. Someone will make a mistake, and tactics will follow.

Don't get me wrong, I've had a lot of fun with my kooky gambit e4 lines, especially the Danish/Goring. But I also am starting to appreciate games where it takes longer for the fireworks to begin.

35 Comments:

Blogger Tommyg said...

I had an almost instant affinity for the closed slow games that 1. d4 is supposed to create. I LOVE playing through Petrosian's games even though I don't totally get them. I love the cat and mouse that Karpov plays as well!

So of course when I eventually decided to pick openings, I went with 1. d4 (the Colle really) for white and the French (your favorite!) as black. And oddly enough the King's Indian against 1. d4. (it just looked cool)

As I have said before, I have scored slightly better as black so I think there is some validity to the point that 1. e4 might be better for beginners. I don't think it is just tactics. I think the broadness of pawn formations that can come out of 1. e4 also cause the beginning player to become more familiar with a wider variety of positions.

For that reason I have switched to 1. e4. I want to understand chess better and I think 1. e4 does that more efficiently at the early stages. Obviously I am just guessing at this but I believe there is some truth to it. I am going all out and making the King's Gambit my opening as white (if black complies). I will stick with the French and the King's Indian as black for a long time as I am really beginning to understand both of them and they both have very different pawn structures and objectives which is (hopefully) increasing my overall awareness at the board.

Plus I have always been afraid of the open games so the King's Gambit is going to force me to play a few! I figure if I like the attacking nature of the King's Indian I just might end up liking the open games! :)

5/20/2009 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tommyg: interesting. I was the opposite. I have always hated d4, had a gut reaction against it, so played almost exclusively e4 for my first four years of chess. One thing that comes up frequently in d4 openings, which it is useful to deal with, is isolated pawns.

Frankly I think for beginners it doesn't matter. Clearly for calculation training a super-sharp opening like Blackmar Diemer, or King's Gambit, or Danish, is very good. I got sick of the mangled pawn structures with such openings though. Then I found the Bird, which is pretty cool. Neither d4 nor e4!

5/20/2009 04:52:00 PM  
OpenID chessmasterorbust said...

Well, you've had your share of 1. e4 so i guess you need not worry about switching to a so-called closed opening then. But it hink it is also very important to plat something that feels right to you.

5/20/2009 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger chesstiger said...

Like you said in your post it doesn't matter which opening you play since nobody at our level know all openings book moves and so the game will drift early out of book which is good since it let us think for us own soon. And therefor let us learn how pieces work together.

5/20/2009 06:56:00 PM  
Blogger Tommyg said...

Hey BDK,

I know what you mean by a gut reaction. That is how I have always felt about the open games. They scare me when I play against them. That is why I am forcing myself to play the King's Gambit. I must face the fear! :)

In all seriousness though I know there is always talk about each person gravitating to a certain style of play and I do believe that is true. But as with music I think to be a more complete player we must at least experience what which makes us uncomfortable, which for me is the open games. I have had to do that with music as well. I never dug Frank Zappa but I made myself listen to him anyway and I know I am a better musician because of this, and I eventually found a record of his that I really really liked.

So off I go into the wild blue yonder of the open game willingly giving away my f pawn so that I may grow!!

I can't wait to see some of your games in the Bird openings!

5/21/2009 12:39:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tommyg: I started playing Caro and Slav precisely because I was uncomfortable with slow quiet developing games. It's forced me to actually come to like those types of games. I'm glad I did a lot of e4, and gambit, lines. I think it taught me about initiate and such, the usual bumper sticker.

5/21/2009 01:18:00 AM  
Blogger Glenn Wilson said...

My general advice to anyone under 1800 is to start the game with 1. e4.

Why 1. e4?

There is, of course, the issue of "tactics," but that understates the issue. It is also the issue of learning how to play open positions in general. Tempo, initiative, open lines, attack, sacrifice, king safety are brought into sharper focus in open positions.

Play over the games of Morphy. That plus a study of tactics and endgames will get you a long way down the road to chess mastery.

True, in closed positions with "patzers" there will be frequent accidental tactics. But accidental tactics do not have the same value to chess development that tactics that follow from the game plan.

"Games between patzers in d4 lines are not going to generate the kind of slow positional masterpieces you'd find in a strategy book written by a GM. Someone will make a mistake, and tactics will follow."Some of the best positional chess every played was by Paul Morphy in open games. But they tend to be fast positional masterpieces with beautiful tactical finishes. Understanding those is, IMHO, necessary before one can ever appreciate the "slow positional masterpieces."

5/21/2009 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger wang said...

Funny you have a picture of Starting Out: d-Pawn Attacks. I think this may be what he was reffereing to.

I also think that beginner to him and what you and I would consider beginner are probably a bit different.

Craig mentions 1500-1800 range. While I'm rated 1500 and consider myself to be a beginner in many respects, I wouldn't call someone 1800 a beginner.

I think that for an 1800 rated player that would play the Colle, it would be dificult to get into tactical melee's with similarly ranked folks.

When I play against the Colle now, win or lose it's never an exciting game.

But I think for the vast majority of us that will never reach 2000 regardless of our opening choices, it doesn't much matter.

5/21/2009 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Glenn: isn't attacking always part of the plan? It's a matter of how long before it begins. If I play d4, it isn't like I do it because I want to reach an endgame. I may like positional maneuvering, I may like having to think about how I will orchestrate the attack, really build up to that point rather than have it forced from move six or whatever.

It seems someone could argue you'd get a more complete chess education by playing something that takes some time to build. It's not tactics from move one, but positional considerations plus tactics plus attacks, and having to figure out which is appropriate at what point in time.

OTOH, I understand your point. It's like de la Maza versus the world again. Should you focus all your energy on tactics and attack, or should your training be balanced with some strategy and opening study and such? You can ask the same thing about your opening. For instance, Blackmar Diemer Gambit will be an exercise in attack, tactics, initiative, piece activity.

I'll admit perhaps the hippopotamus wouldn't be the best for someone starting out. :)

5/21/2009 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Incidentally, as for the original question of the post, whether d4 is not good for those that want to learn tactics, I think the answer is no. But Glenn (and Evans at chesspub) do mention more than that--the importance of learning to comfortably navigate open positions, which tends to make you better at thinking like an attacker. I agree with that point.

5/21/2009 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger katar said...

FWIW, i agree 100% with CraigEvans and GlennWilson. But i'm not out to make an argument because the main points have been already made. Other players will do as they will. People have different goals in chess-- not all involve ratings.

5/21/2009 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Katar: I thought of you when I saw this post. Evans-Wilson make great points, I agree.

I wonder what openings Kramnik played when he was starting out in chess.

5/21/2009 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger ChargingKing said...

I agree completely that you should play more open positions as a player 1500 or less. It seems every GM has the same advice but time and again class C and D players want to argue it and come up with reasoning to the contrary.

With White play 1.e4 and have fun with some gambit lines. With Black play 1...e5 against e4. Play the King's Indian against d4. Etc. Stay away from the Caro Kahn, Dan Heisman has talked many times about how he can't stand beginner's playing the Caro-Kanh because its not good for chess growth. But you will find lower-rated players attempting to justify it as they stay under 1500 USCF

5/21/2009 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

It also depends on your goals. If you are chill, and want to just have fun, and only like the Caro, then fuck it.

Also, it isn't like there is universal agreement here. My old coach said it doesn't matter what opening I play, that I should play lots of different openings (d4, e4, f4) to increase my exposure to different pawn structures. Many GMs also say it doesn't matter what opening you play until you reach 2000. Or they say you should start with good openings because you want to have a repertoire you should stick with (so, no BDG).

This just isn't that important a decision for those starting out. You can't say on one hand that openings don't matter below 2000, on one hand, but that it is a grave mistake to play any of the solid openings!

Also, this discussion is driven by intuition, anecdote, and hunch. Where are the data to support any of the views about openings?

I frankly got bored with the Goring Gambit. The same few lines each time. I scored well with it, but it was just boring and the resulting positions had an aesthetic defect that rubbed me the wrong way.

There is nothing wrong with novices caring about having a good pawn structure, or not wanting to give up a pawn in the opening :)

5/21/2009 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger ChargingKing said...

The people that are best at chess time and time again recommend the open games for beginners. Instead of trying to prove them wrong why don't you try to prove them right. Its hardly a chess conspiracy. Many of those recommending open games are avid d4 players themselves but want to help you learn chess!

Play 1e4 till you get to 1800-1900 and stay away from the Caro-Kahn. It may be solid but there is less to learn from it than any opening against e4. Heisman has been giving the same advise for years, think he's doing it just to hate on the Caro?

5/21/2009 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger Chess Student said...

1.d4 not tactical? One word: Grunfeld.

Look at any of Karpov's and Kasparov's games in this opening... wow!

5/21/2009 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Tommyg said...

So speaking of tactics and such, I had a great lesson with my chess coach today and he blasted me for the way I was studying tactics(I just posted on it) AND he definitely liked the fact that I was going to use the King's Gambit to overcome my debilitating fear of the open games....

To sum up my post and my coaches lesson plan today: Chessimo is out and to use your term, Rowsonalysis is IN.

My coach did not have a heavy opinion over open or closed games for beginners he just believed that since I fear the openness I must confront it. :)

5/21/2009 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Chargingking: There is room for reasonable disagreement here.

I have plenty of open tactical games with the Caro, given that my opponents don't know what they are doing against it.

Appeals to authority don't hold much for me, especially when the authorities don't have a consensus.

As I said, there is disagreement at high levels about this. Most people say start with a central pawn. A subset of those really prefer e4. So, I could cite an IM coach I had who wanted me to play d4, and ask you "Why are you trying to prove him wrong rather than prove him right?"

So that's my first point: appeals to authority are silly when there isn't a consensus among the authorities.

Is there a danger that if someone tries out d4 for a while they will somehow be permanently crippled in their chess development? Why the emotion here?

As I have said before, "What is it about openings that turns grown men into know-it-all bitches?"

The most important things, in order, for a patzer in choosing an opening are:
1) Do I like it and am I comfortable playing it?
2) Does it have fatal flaws that people at my level are able to exploit in practice?
3) Are there other things I should focus on that will help my game more than opening study?
4) If the answer to 3 is no, then what opening should I focus on?

You are making a couple of mistakes. First, you are flipping around your priorities. Number 1 is most important, while you are acting like number 4 is. Second, you are assuming a one-size-fits-all answer to number 4; that is, you are assuming that e4 is the optimal way for all players below 1800 (no matter what they have done before, no matter how long they have been playing chess) to optimize their chess improvement. This is presumptuous at best.

People who want to genuflect at the alter of the GMs need to reconcile two pieces of scripture that the GMs often hand down to the patzers:
1) Openings don't matter much at the patzer levels.
2) Patzers should open with e4.

(Frankly, I have seen 1 much more than 2: more often I see the high-level players (and note Heisman is not a high-level player) say to open with a center pawn, not necessarily the e pawn)--they don't give a shit if you play the English, d4, e4, or the Bird. At low levels, it don't matter.)

That said, I posted this because I find the topic interesting, Craig Evans actually provided reasons for what he said (he didn't just appeal to authority), he put it about as well as it can be put. That said, while his opinion is strong, and interesting, I disagree with him and have given reasons why. Perhaps someone can find problems with my logic, but please no more appeals to authority. That's not how I roll.

Also, I would offer the BDG versus the Exchange French if you want a contrast in crazy open tactical (d4) and rather boring. I think a more important criterion for people who want attacks and fun in their openings is the idea of symmetry. Namely, pick openings that immediately inject assymmetry into the position. This is easy to do with d4 openings, and is easy to not do with e4 openings.

What is more interesting to me is once the players begin the clashes (as I've already argued and it has not been addressed, even "closed" games eventually lead to tactics and attacks at the patzer level), will the position have dynamic imbalances, a lack of symmetry that will make things unclear and interesting.

5/21/2009 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tommyg: good to hear I'll check out your post. I agree about the fear (it's another point already mentioned that has gone unaddressed). Indeed,as I said above I actually switched to more closed games as black because of my fear of them, my fear of playing defense. I was addicted to chess crack, the crazy-ass gambit lines.

Your coach sounds good.

Here's something I've been doing for Rowsonalysis: I got a bunch of games in my opening from my database, searched based on material patterns (i.e., picked all games when black goes down by a piece or more). Then I go through those games, find the move when the tactic is there, and enter it into my database.

That way I have some nice complicated positions from real games with my pawn structure, my opening, with tactics. I am still collecting the positions into my database, so am not sure how well it will work, but many of the positions are quite complicated.

5/21/2009 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Principles of the opening for patzers usually include the following:
a) Knights before Bishops.
b) Castle soon.
c) Move central pawns first.
d) Don't move the same piece twice.

While I have never seen a list that says "Open with e4 as white or else you will severely retard your growth as a chess player", "rule" b bears most directly on our discussion. Playing e4 lets you castle in fewer moves. Ironically, this points to the importance of closing ranks around the King early in the game.

5/22/2009 12:10:00 AM  
Blogger Tommyg said...

To show how little my coach cared about what opening I play, he even said that once I get over my fear of the open games, I can switch to the King's Indian Attack if I wanted and not even start out with a center pawn. His point being that it doesn't matter as long as I am making tactically sound decisions and understand the basic tenets of the opening in question.

He was also very happy that once I picked my opening's as black (the french and KID) I have stuck with them. He said that was important. He didn't really care what openings they were, just that I am sticking with them.

And I have seen it written where Kasparov says that basically all the major openings that we know are completely sound.

Oh and I definitely agree with you about genuflecting at the alter of authority. As a music instructor I have found plenty of drum set instructional manuals written by music "GMs" that are not very pedagogically sound at all.

The masters of any art form don't always know how to show other people what they know.

5/22/2009 01:07:00 AM  
Blogger Hank said...

I just have to say, hats off to BDK for getting another lively and entertaining conversation going! I love it when he gets fired up, like when he defended the Knights Errant a year ago on Elizabeth Vicary's blog...

Anyway I've enjoyed the discussion here and found it to be quite interesting, with a lot of good points made by a lot of people.

But I wanted to speak up briefly, as a big fan of Dan Heisman's instructional writings for beginners and class players, because he's been cited here in a way that makes him sound dogmatic about playing 1.e4, which I don't recall from his writings or his ICC "radio" show.

For example, he doesn't make a specific repertoire suggestion in his Everyone's 2nd Chess Book and here is the closest he comes to a recommendation about openings in his Novice Nook column called An Improvement Plan:
==
Step 3: Tactics are not the Only Thing in Chess (1400-1500; 18 months).
At this point you should learn more about positional play, endgames, opening principles, etc. ... At this point you can also start to learn some opening lines. I would start by picking some lines that are either tactical or suit your style. As a reference you can use "Nunn’s Chess Openings" by - you guessed it – John Nunn, or "Modern Chess Openings 14" by Nick deFirmian. Take a few minutes to learn the "tabiyas" (standard table-setting moves) of the main lines in your opening. One or two main lines are enough to start. Then every time you play a game, slow or fast, look up the game and find what you would do differently if your opponent played the same move. This deepens your tree slowly but very surely. Most of my students do not do this, but they would learn a lot more if they did! ... Doing a lot of work on specific opening lines before your rating gets to 1300-1400 USCF is likely counterproductive, except perhaps to learn to 1) avoid traps, 2) learn the first 4-5 moves of an opening, or 3) to get examples of good general opening principles.==

He does say on his Chess Guidelines page on his web site that "Low rated players should play tactical openings to improve their tactics" and that "It is good for most developing players to play the King's Indian Defense and the French Defense for a while, since you cannot avoid their pawn structures in many irregular openings anyway." He also often recommends playing gambits to beginning players, since you get an automatic attack, learn the importance of developing quickly and using the initiative, and at that level if your attack fizzles your opponent's technique often won't be good enough to convert the win with an extra pawn, anyway.

But he never, as far as I can recall, suggests that there is only one way to proceed with regard to openings, and in fact he likes to cite himself, as quoted in Lev Alburt's Chess Rules of Thumb, saying something like "any opening that you know well is a good opening"...

But above all, Heisman writes in his Novice Nook column called Chess, Learning and Fun, that "I don’t think nearly enough is made about the fun factor in chess. I am not referring to the fact that people play chess for fun, as they surely do, but rather the important effect fun has on how easily you can improve, how good you are likely to become, what openings you should play, what style to adopt, and even what moves to play."

I guess, in the end, its also the "fun factor" that motivates grown men to act like "know-it-all bitches" about openings.. :)

So thanks to everyone for all the fun!

-- Hank

5/22/2009 02:32:00 AM  
Blogger Glenn Wilson said...

Another reason for playing open games instead of closed games is that open games can be far easier to understand. You can learn from your own games with the aid of computer analysis and self-study.

If you are playing closed games you are likely flailing about in the dark and computer analysis probably won't be much help. In fact, computer analysis may lead you astray. One is likely to develop bad habits and "learn" incorrect ideas based on playing subtle positions without an understanding or even an awareness of what is really happening in the position.

It is not absolute and my description above may be too extreme, but in my experience, club players are better able to understand and learn more chess from open positions and more likely to develop confused chess ideas playing closed positions.

5/22/2009 05:22:00 AM  
Blogger chesstiger said...

I believe the 3 golden opening rules for patzers as we are:

1. One pawn in the centre, not more then two.

2. Develop your pieces

3. King safety

Atleast that is how i heard it.

5/22/2009 05:28:00 AM  
Blogger Hank said...

"Speak of the devil..."Just overheard on Dan Heisman's ICC radio show, Ask the Renaissance Man:

Question from Speedskater: "How would you suggest young kids, 7-8 years old, evolve their play from piece play to positional play and from king pawn openings to queen pawn openings, and other kids in the 800-1000 range" [sic].

Answer from Heisman: "Well I would suggest they would not - generally you don't want to try to play positionally on purpose till you get about 1700, not 800-1000, because that's the point where you're really starting to play Real Chess. Now that doesn't mean people under 1700 shouldn't play d4. Just because you're playing d4 doesn't mean you're trying to play positionally. ... A lot of my students read so many advanced chess books, they're so concentrating on the positional ideas and strategical ideas that they lose material."

5/22/2009 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Hank: Very useful comments defending Heisman. I've always liked him so it would have surprised me if he were particularly dogmatic about this.

The Heisman quote from his show expresses what I said better than me: basically identifying e4 with "open games" and d4 with "closed games" is a mistake. e4 can lead to quite closed, symmetrical games, while d4 can lead to the opposite. This is my main bone with the original quote.

Tommyg: Exactly.

Glenn: That is an excellent point. I think without a coach or something it might be less helpful. Positional ideas aren't particularly complicated or hard to understand especially when a good player explains them, but computers are horrible at explaining them. Computers are good at "explaining" moves where the best explanation is a variation tree. :)

Chesstiger: Each author has their own set of opening principles, but they are pretty much variations on a theme.

5/22/2009 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Chessaholic said...

I never play e4 (ok, maybe in some random blitz games but not in long time controls). Yet I've had plenty of very tactical, sharp games with d4. It's a fallacy to believe 1.d4 always leads to slow/closed/positional games. [case in point - check out some of the fun games in the Trompowsky (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5) played by GM's Julian Hodgson and Antoaneta Stefanova]

Many at my club have tried to convince me to take on 1.e4, but I just prefer the positions and pawn structures I get out of 1.d4.

5/22/2009 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Md. Alimuzzaman said...

I am playing chess for two years now and my current FIDE rating is around 1900 but, from the begining (when I didn't have any idea of what tactics and strategy were) 1.d4 just suited me. I played lots of games which finished before 20 moves and were full of flurries and tactics. For example one of my favorite line agianst semi-slav is Shabalov-shirov's 7.g4 and you can see immidiately the game is converted into a tactical one.
I have nothing against 1.e4. Infact I want to expand my play with the inclusion of 1.e4 only after I reach 2000. Quite opposite the way many of you are recommending.
To me choice in the opening is more about your personal taste rather than tactics or strategies ... just because I like 1.d4 doesn't mean it is better or worse, or tactical of positional ... it just suits me and by the way I like sacrifices.
Just one example for you to consider: 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 e6 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. g4 Nxg4 8. Rg1 h5 9. h3 Ngf6 10. Rxg7 Bb4 11. Ng5 Rf8 12. Nxe6 fxe6 13. Qg6+ and Black resigned here.

Alimuzzaman

5/23/2009 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger David Rudel said...

Hello Blue Devil Knight,
I'm the author of "Zuke 'Em: The Colle-Zukertort Revolutionized," and I noticed your comment on Squirrel's review of my book.

You may also have found reviews at Knight's Skewer or Greg's Chess Progress.

If you have not already bought a copy of Zuke 'Em, I was wondering if you were interested in my sending you a review copy.

You can find excerpts and links to other reviews at Zukertort.comIf you are interested, you can email me at David at Zukertort... with your address.

With regard to the present discussion. The Colle-Koltanowski has more examples of Bishop sacrifices than any other opening on the planet, so to suggest that Colle players are totally positional is a bit odd. Indeed, that sacrifice is known in some places as "The Colle Bishop Sacrifice."

5/25/2009 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

David: very tempting but I likely wouldn't have time to write up a proper review. It looks interesting, as does the sequel.

5/26/2009 12:29:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

An interesting discussion here. I began playing chess as a member of a scholastic team, I remember initially playing 1. e4 exclusively until somewhere around 1400 rating or so I found myself unable to compete with some of the other team members reliably.

Adverse to losing, and not really caring at that time about long term improvement I found immediate solace in switching to 1. d4 openings. I quickly evened out my score against my teammates and things seemed great throughout my scholastic career.

However, looking at it now I see that many of my old friends who continued playing Ruy Lopez and Sicilians are 1800-2000 rated players, and I still hang out around 1600 with QGD and French Defense.

5/27/2009 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Jeff: do you honestly think it's because you play d4? If so, perhaps you should switch back to e4!

That's one thing I don't like about the original post. While it is well written, it ignores that it is easy enough to switch when you reach a plateau. And it suggests people who reach such plateau's are too blind to know it is because of their opening. By the time someone reaches 1700 or so, they should be able to assess such things. And if Evans is right, after switching you should improve at tactics while having that core positional knowledge. Note I said if it is right.

It's not like by the time you plateau as a d4 player you can't then improve more with e4. To act as if there is this permanent birth defect from playing d4 would be funny. :)

"Oh that kid is really good, but he'll never be a GM. He started with d4. Poor thing."

5/27/2009 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I'm not drawing any conclusions really, just commenting that the discussion has me concidering elements of my own development (LOL openings discussion/development). My honest assessment of my own lack of progression is a lack of continued dedication to improvement. I pick up the urge and obsess about it for a year or two, then drop chess like a bad habit for a year or two.

Still, this post did have me concidering how I might have improved or learned differently if I played more "open" games and less "closed" games.

5/27/2009 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Jeff I too find it very interesting. Frankly, I think there has to be some truth to the post, but it is a bit too dogmatic and inflexible for my tastes. For instance, I played e4 for four years. I'm ready for a change. I'm not close to 1600. Does that mean I should keep at e4 even if I am bored with it?

That's why I listed the priorities for chess players, the first being do I like it, am I comfortable with it? If not, why bother with the game?!

5/27/2009 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger drunknknite said...

I was an e4 player when I was in scholastic chess and then I bought a book called Winning Chess Openings by Seirawan. In this book in one paragraph it said 1.e4 was more dangerous and a mistake in the opening can cost you the game. Then it said 1.d4 was safer and there was less risk to your opponent knowing more than you. At this point in my chess career I was probably about 13 years old maybe. My rating was under 1300.

I began playing 1.d4 immediately and my rating went over 1600 playing 1.d4 every opportunity. I would also like to distinguish at this point between playing 1.d4 2.c4 and playing any other White system which begins with 1.d4. The Colle to me should not be included in the e4 v. d4 discussion. I liked the fact that I never had to study openings at all and just played my normal system every game and went from there. When I was around 1580 I switched back to 1.e4 and never looked back. Now I pride myself on knowing the long variations that I used to be afraid of. I used to think it was silly to play the Open Sicilian because of all the theory now I'm usually comfortable for at least 15 moves with positions from home. So I followed Seirawan's book, d4 is simple play that worry about winning endings and then when I moved to e4 I was already ready to build a repertoire and I think that the openings I have selected can go a long way (no BDG). I have never steered away from the main line (most popular and current at the top level) and although there are a lot of games you must look over the positions make a lot of sense and are great. Anyways I guess my point is that I would recommend 1.d4 to a beginning player after they have played 1.e4 but before they are over 1800 just because I think that it rounds a player out really well.

To add to this discussion my little brother (rated 1680 now but up 100 points recently) has just taken up tournament chess again. I told him to play King's Indian every single game for both colors. What do you think about that guys?

5/27/2009 07:52:00 PM  

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