Dubious Therefore Playable

In these days of computer based preparation and constant yearning after so-called ‘edges’ or ‘equality’ it’s easy to forget these wise words of Savielly Tartakover. Given that there are only three outcomes to a chess game (win for White, draw or win for Black) does an edge for one side mean a win or a draw? Lev Alburt in his Test And Improve Your Chess defines advantages in terms of the expected outcome from a particular position between Grandmasters of equal strength. Yet this definition is fraught with practical difficulties and anomalies, for example a player who likes a particular kind of position can play it far better and more effectively than his GM colleagues.

As you move down the rating scale an ever greater range of positions become ‘playable’ and some positions which would produce certain results at GM level would produce a totally different outcome at club level. For example positions with an ‘initiative’ for one side (versus structural or material factors) will be more favourable in at club level because tactics tend to dominate at this level.

So club players in particular are free to play all sorts of openings, even if they aren’t considered completely respectable by the World’s chess elite. And one should also note that even some of the best players have very liberal views as to what is really playable.

Here’s the remarkable Alexander Morozevich playing an unfashionable and supposedly dubious defence to 1.d4, the Chigorin Defence:


Author: NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Nigel has written a number of chess books that are available at Amazon: