Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chess Symmetry

It's getting near the end of the school year in Australia, so I've been showing my students a light hearted idea this week. A casual game by Capablanca, had the great World Champion being copied for most of the game. In the end Capablanca broke the copying with a deadly check which lead to either winning his opponent's queen or checkmate.

Funnily enough, this "absurd" line has some theory about it. Capablanca's 11.Qd2 was a novelty, and in fact the game Forgacs-Teichmann San Sebastian 1912 saw 11.Kh1 Kh8 to retain the symmetry. This game ended a draw a bit later, after white had spoiled the fun by attacking one of black's minor pieces which was moved. However, they "transposed" to the symmetrical line, a little later and the game finished in a completely symmetrical position!

Final position of Forgacs-Teichmann San Sebastian 1912. Perfect symmetry!

This got me thinking about various symmetrical systems, and generally about openings.  And I've come to a conclusion based on my own personal feelings. And that is that the opening which I dislike the most is....

Actually, before answering the above statement, this is something that pretty much all chess players go through. I have had fun times with openings that I've grown to distrust. I've had serious misgivings about some openings which I now play. There are certain variations which make me laugh or make me cringe but there may be others in the same opening which have a complete opposite effect (how can Karpov's Be2/Be3 and Polugaevsky's ..b5 in the Najdorf be compared?). There are even major opening systems that I've had to just take my hat off to and say that I have little clue about what is going on, and little feel for the positions (the Grunfeld is one such opening for me, and watching the Tal Memorial recently did nothing to build my confidence about understanding this opening).

So, the opening which I dislike the most and I would love to see refuted and taken off the tournament shelves? The Petroff! I am not playing 1.e4 at the moment, and will not play the Petroff as black, so I won't be encountering it anytime soon over the board. So watch out for some subjective commentary against the Petroff in posts to come. :D

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