One of my favourite chess commentators, GM Maurice Ashley, packs an amazing amount of insight into this 2 minute Youtube clip. I’m not sure I’d have run through the moves of a Berlin Defence while doing so, though I’ve also run through some Ruy Lopez moves when interviewed for television.
I finally made my first tentative step back into competitive chess by playing the Rhyl Open last weekend. It made sense to choose this one as the scene for my comeback, it promised to be a nerve wracking experience and I wanted a tournament where I felt there wouldn’t be too much shadenfreude if I did as badly as I feared.
Having taken a half point bye on the Friday evening I managed to get a win and a draw on the Saturday. On the Sunday I was already feeling more confident and managed to win both games to finish first equal.
The key game was my Sunday morning encounter with Mike Surtees, a highly original player who does well in North West UK events. I had prepared for him the night before and I felt that his line against the Sicilian left Black with a promising position, similar to those White obtains against a dubious line of the Nimzo-Indian Defence. And in fact he found himself in a difficult position early on:
So where do things go from here? Well as my son Sam was good with us both playing (he did well with a win and three draws in the Major) I’ll be entering some more events where he’s playing. As for international events and stuff, they’re going to have to wait.
If chess has analogies with any physical sport it would probably be tennis. Serving can be likened to playing White and the return of serve is like playing Black. Serve and volley players are similar to those with sharp openings who rush out at their opponents whereas others prefer to win games from the baseline.
The following effort is an example of winning from the baseline as I barely moved a piece beyond the fourth rank, despite being White. But at the end of the game Black’s position was absolutely hopeless:
This was ‘only’ a blitz game but it was interesting to see how far Garry Kasparov prepared. His 10.Ba3 is rare and Wesley So’s answer, 10…c5, is a whole lot rarer. Even so Kasparov played 11.g3 very quickly, and it had a distinct look of having been prepared.
It’s interesting that even blitz games feature heavy preparation now. It makes you wonder what could be in store with a full 30 minutes on the clock…
There are many little known players who have played some wonderful games. Among them is Bela Perenyi, a Hungarian International Master who also came up with many creative ideas in the opening. Tragically he died in a car accident in 1988.
It’s well worth checking out his games if you want some inspiration. Here’s a dramatic example of his play:
Chess parents will find this interesting, many of the players featured gave up long ago. There are also some quite a few famous faces there too, most notably Judit Polgar:
In previous articles in this series I’ve discussed different opening choices and judging their suitability. Assuming one has made some prospective choices what is the next stage?
There’s certainly a temptation to rush out (or perhaps rush online) to buy a specialist opening book on the opening in question. But instead of this I’d recommend trying it out first, perhaps in some internet games.
This will provide a lot of new information. Do you like the positions you get? How do your opponents typically reply? Do they tend to know what they’re doing or is there a serious surprise value?
This initial testing period can be combined with looking at some master games and watching some Youtube videos, assuming they are available. See this process as being something akin to dating, there’s no need to get married until you’ve got a clear idea of what you’re letting yourself in for.
Here’s a video that introduces the Semi-Slav, which is certainly something worth looking at if you’re interested in this opening. If you like what you see and then enjoy playing it, it might be worth introducing it into your repertoire:
For those who haven’t seen this coverage earlier, here’s the last in a great series of videos on the US Championships. This has now taken over from the Russian Championships as the most important national championship in the World. And this is largely due to the trio of giants, Wesley So, Fabiana Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura.
“If your looking for a solid defence to d4 which doesn’t require too much learning then this book is for you.”
I recently saw this comment on Amazon about a particular opening book. I then did some research and noted that once you play this opening there are something like 14 possible lines for White on the very next move, all featuring diverse themes and lots of tactical lines.
The author had probably put a lot of work into this book but might not have done enough teaching to understand what the intended readership would be able to manage. As for the reviewer, he might have been associated with the publisher or been a friend of the author. This kind of thing happens a lot.
Meanwhile the selection of overly complicated openings is actually a very common problem that I might revisit at some point. As for anyone wanting an ECONOMICAL defence against 1.d4, find something in which there are a fairly limited number of themes and relatively few sharp variations. And a good example of such an opening is the Old Indian Defence.
Here’s a 2600+ using it to beat a 2400+ in the Moscow Open a couple of years back, so it’s not that bad:
With the United States being the Olympic Champions their national championship is one of the most interesting events on the calendar. And it’s especially fun to follow it using the internet commentary. Here’s the latest edition: