Wednesday, October 27, 2010

MCC Openings Group

Tonight was the first meeting of the Melbourne Chess Club Opening's Group. There were quite a number of people around which made for quite a lively group. The session was split into 2 sections.

First part was a discussion of some general things to think about when studying openings. These are my own experiences and opinions and people may have different views.

1. Don't forget the basics: it is important to keep in mind general opening principles such as developing your pieces and making sure your king is safe, especially when playing openings which seem to flout some of these laws. It is even important to understand the general ideas behind the openings you play as some variations may stray a fair way from these.

2. Don't become dependent on your openings: we all know players who play better in certain openings, and other players who can easily be put off by a non theory move.

3. Openings don't win you games: it is better to think that knowing the traps and ideas in the openings you play will avoid you losing games and get you into playable positions

4. Don't become dogmatic: opening theory can move on pretty quickly in certain variations, whereas average players can become very set in our ways. Changing openings regularly can keep a player fresh and up to date.

5. It is easy to get confused between variations: this is especially so of those trying to memorise variations, as opposed to those trying to understand opening ideas. To avoid this it may be a good idea to regularly review your knowledge, try out different openings, learn openings 1 at time, analyse the games you play in depth, especially in those openings that you are studying.

6. Too much opening study will mean neglecting other areas of the game: tactics, middlegames, endgames, technique, planning all need time devoted to them, and are probably more important than openings to most players. Too much opening study may result in a relative weakness of other parts of your game.

After we had a brief discussion of these basic ideas concerning the dangers of studying openings, I just had to mention how some sharp openings can lead to fairly stale middlegames, while some supposedly quiet openings can lead to rich middlegame positions. Understanding openings and trying different ones out is the key to finding the right ones for you, and ultimately enjoying the kind of chess you play.

After this we looked at this position:

Here it is white to move and I asked the group for candidate moves. If I remember correctly, this is what we came up with:

Now obviously, some of these are simply bad moves, some are interesting and some are really decent tries. I think this is a natural sort of breakdown of a group of brainstormed ideas. However, even the bad moves listed above can tell us something about the position which will give us a better understanding of the position. The above position arose in the game Morozevich-Vachier Legrave Biel 2009, and Morozevich's move, 13.Nf4 was a move that no one in the group guessed at. We had a quick look at some typical follow up's but went back to play some practice games from the above position with the group's favourite move, 13.Bg2. We found a number of good ideas for white and seemed to think white was doing well after this move. The following game is an example of this move in action from GM practice earlier this year, except the moves 12.h4 d5 have not been played. A number of the same principles come into play:

From the original position if white plays 13.Bg2 it is very hard for black to play something constructive. White is threatening g5-g6, and if black tries to play Ne5/b6-c4, white can play b3 to prevent it. There is also the plan of 13.Bg2 e5 14.Nf5 d4, but white has a promising sacrifice, 15.Ned4 when it is not easy for black to organise his defence.

It was an interesting session and I thank all who came along to the MCC tonight and got involved.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting way of teaching openings. Puts things into a good practical perspective. Genius Carl!