Thursday, February 16, 2006

Idiots and Openings

I have begun reading Wolff's Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess (hat tip to Pawn Sensei for suggesting it). It is a great book. I think I'll read through it twice. I really needed a text-heavy book rather than just another list of puzzles right away. This fits the bill perfectly. If there is something I need to work on, such as R+K vs K endings, I just fire it up in Chessmaster and practice until I'm really good at it. If I were starting over, I think I would start with this book before the Chess Tutor.

I have played 1...b6 long enough. I hate it. To illustrate why, here's a typical position from one of my games (note it is on book, according to Bauer's Play 1...b6), with black to move:

This is a typical line. There are two features that consistently are a pain in the butt. First and worst, white has two beautiful diagonals that are basically a highway for him to bring in supplies to attack me kingside. That is, the d1-h5 and c1-h6 diagonals are begging to be exploited. It it is really tricky to defend against an early attack kingside, and there is no obvious compensation black gets for this weakness. It often ends up forcing me to castle queenside, and I just all-around don't like it.

Second, what am I to do with the Queen's Knight? Bauer, in the book promoting this opening, says, "As practice will show you, playing 1...b6 does have a recurrent drawback in many cases: in the form of the black queen's knight placement" (p. 6). And how. That dam knight takes forever to find a good home, so development is slowed.

I have decided to do what I have previously said I should do as black: play according to classical principles. Nothing sexy.

Oh, and no more chess books for me for two months.


Blogger funkyfantom said...

Just get your pawn to d6 and get your queen knight to d7. Try to get c4 in, Sicilian/Nimzo style.

The d6 pawn prevents white from going e5 and the d7 knight protects your f6 knight.

Black looks OK to me.

2/16/2006 05:23:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I'm sure it's salvagable, as it is played by GM's regularly.

I just don't like it. I'm going to become an e5/d5 man. It just feels more right. Plus, it will make Chernev and just about every other beginner book more helpful, as they assume you are opening with a center pawn.

2/16/2006 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...

I totally hear you. Different openings are going to feel right for different people at different times.

You have to follow your instinct on that.

2/17/2006 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...

One thing I wonder about the setup in the diagram is, why does the bishop belong on b4? I mean, it ain't stopping e4, since that was probably white's first move ( compare with Nimzoindian). Trading it for the knight just strengthens white's center and gives him a half-open file, which outweighs the pawn weakness IMHO.

Once White castles, the pin is gone, too. My point is that the pin is much better in the nimzo than here.

Why not just fianchetto both bishops? Then you are playing the Hippopatumas, of course.

2/17/2006 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger katar said...

Eric, you rock!

2 approaches to studying openings.
1) Learn moves/variations, and then learn the themes and strategies that the moves are supposed to further.
2) Learn general principles and themes, and find the moves that give effect to those.

#2 is more logical but everyone does #1! (Including me just a few months ago.) I switched to #2 recently. My motto is, "I don't have to win in the opening. I will win later." The opponent will not convert +.40 into a victory until i'm rated like 2100+.

2/18/2006 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger Pawnsensei said...

Hey BD,

Glad you like the book. I've read it a few time already and I still plan on going over it again in the future. His advice really is solid and useful for us beginners.


3/13/2006 11:26:00 PM  

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