It was interesting to read that the strong Russian player, Andrei Deviatkin, was planning to give playing chess up. It seems that the turning point was one particular game in which a pet line of his against the Sicilian ran into some very serious computer based opening preparation. and he felt that this wasn’t the same game that he learned as a child.
Here is the game that led to his decision, the powerful new move being 8…b5.
Yet much about this decision seems very strange to me. First of all he is only 32, so computers were already around when he started playing. And secondly White loses a lot of time with his queen in this line, going first to d4, then e4 and then back to e2, and all within the first 8 moves. Is it really that surprising when something bad happens?
Despite the influence of computers I think it’s important to bear in mind opening principles and have faith that they still apply. There are plenty of sound openings which place the emphasis of the struggle more on middle game play and offer a way to go for players who don’t want to bother about opening preparation. Of course you need to cultivate good core skills to do this kind of thing, but when you’ve got them a minimal amount of maintenance will mean they’re yours for life.