Saturday, February 23, 2013

Now That I Have Some Time....

....I can do all those chess things that I always wanted to do. What exactly do I mean by this? Well as a tournament player I always felt obliged to be studying the game in the hope of excelling in my games. Of course I still would like to do well when I play, but as I only play online at the moment, and have no future tournament ambitions, I don't feel that "training" is so important. Instead I can look at what I want, study whatever I feel like, and play whatever opening takes my fancy at the time.

Funny really, as that doesn't sound like too bad a plan for training for a serious tournament player. For instance, I've started looking at some games in the King's Gambit, not that I have any intention of playing this venerable opening in my games. But it has made me think about concepts such as dynamic compensation for material loss, tactical implementation of strategic goals, identifying correct targets in a position, which are concepts relevant in chess generally rather than being specific to the King's Gambit. I have always tended to be a rather materialistic player, but I recently reviewed a book on the Catalan where I noticed that white often sacrificed his c-pawn for excellent piece play. In essence, this isn't really too different from what white is trying to do in the King's Gambit even though the Catalan is considered a quiet positional opening while the King's Gambit has always been considered as a mad hack.

The term dynamic compensation is a really mysterious one for most players. It is an intangible quality to a position which makes chess so amazing. For a player to be material behind but to have a superior position is one of the great battles in chess. Will the materialist hang on, or will the gambiteer destroy them? The majority of chess players tend to love sacrificial play and will therefore side with the gambiteer. However, it is no less risky to grab material and try to hold on and I've always been attracted to this side of the game.

So when looking at the King's Gambit who will I be supporting? Actually, to be honest, I'm just enjoying learning the names of all the Gambits and seeing some crazy games in actions! If you don't believe me, download the latest issue of The Week In Chess (TWIC) and go through the King's Gambits (ECO C30-C39) and have some fun. Here are the games from the last TWIC where the players were rated at least 2000:

Game 1 Pham-Pijuan is a crazy King's Gambit Declined with the mad (or bad) 5.Na4. The game descends into thrust and counterthrust with black looking good until white throws in the unexpected 15.Bf6 which black blunders to, and we then find black's king hunted to white's end of the board!

Game 2 Fier-Radulov sees quality GM Alexander Fier playing the Bishop's Gambit. The game takes a much quieter course, and ends with Fier forcing positional concessions in his opponent's pawn structure and winning a knight ending.

Game 3 Ustiyanovich-Melnichuk sees the centre completely open and black's superior development triumph in a bizarre miniature (I say bizarre because I can't really understand how anyone can play like this in a serious tournament game! Not surprisingly, the white player finished last in this round robin!)

Game 4 Gargatagli-Queralto sees the modern ..d5 and ..exf4 variation, which is the one that I chose as a tournament player. It is fairly easy to play and avoids a plethora of white tricks in the accepted variations of the King's Gambits. Quite instructively, black makes too many pawn moves early in the game and white sacrifices a knight to ensure that black's king will be a target for the remainder of the game.

Enjoy!! You'll be seeing a lot more of the King's Gambit on this blog!

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