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PLAYING LIKE YOUR CHESS IDOL

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SPASSKY2

(Please remember my main aim is not to teach or preach, but to entice the reader into thinking on his/her own. Sometimes we read something which acts as a trigger, making us realize that a change in our point of view may help to throw new light into an unsolved -so far- problem.- The author: QChess.-)

When we started playing Chess I guess all of us had our Chess idol. Even when many years have passed, players still have their beloved admired predecessors. It is well-known that even the greatest chessplayers have had their admired ones. I have written that Karpov liked Capablanca, Kasparov and Spassky ,Alekhine, Fischer mentioned Steinitz and Capablanca… Others cite Tal or Petrosian or Keres, or Botvinnik,or Lasker or Nimzowitsch and so on “ad infinitum”. Most players try to “play like them” adopting his/her idol’s set of openings.

The problem is: given the quick development of Chess theory ,can one still try to play with the same weapons Fischer, Botvinnik etc. used? And what about trying to use Capablanca’s openings or Nimzo’s lines?. I have tried to do so simply to see how many of the opening variations used by those genius are today surpassed by new opening discoveries (please remember that my field is that of Correspondence Chess, where engines are used). So, perhaps in OTB Chess you can still use opening variations used by Tal, Fischer etc. and win. But not in CC. Today’s Chess books on openings are dangerous weapons because they can become out of fashion in a matter of weeks… Of course, this did not happen in the past. 

Some (important) people say that “today everything can be played”, and that “if this or that opening had been played by Karpov or Kasparov it would have become absolutely fashionable”. As a declaration of intentions this is a good try… My experience is quite the opposite: Kasparov and Karpov did not play this or that opening because for one reason or another it was too weak (to say the least.) One can accept it or not, but in my opinion there are the following types (approx.) of openings:

1.- Good, sound, time honoured openings (Most lines in the Ruy Lopez, Sicilian, Queen’s Gambit, etc)

2.- Good openings out of fashion today (let’s mention the Italian, for instance)

3.- Dangerous openings to play (The Budapest , Latvian or the Albin countergambits)

4.- Unsound openings. (I will not mention any of them to avoid hurting some of the  readers…)

(Please bear in mind groups 3 and 4 do not mean that if you play those openings you are going to lose automatically…).

In my case, and due to my own defects as a chessplayer, I have realized that it is much better for me to remain in groups 1 or 2… (One of my last experiments out of these groups was playing the following in an official ICCF Master class event. I was Black and wanted to “surprise” my opponent: 1. e4 , c5 2. Nf3, Nc6  3. d4, cxd4  4. Nxd4,  d5 (one of Nimzo’s ideas!). My opponent played following the scarce theory available , avoiding Nimzo’s games ,playing in a rather classical way and making the position explode on my face : 1-0. (You may say, “Alas QChess, perhaps the opening had nothing to do with your loss, etc.” : Believe me: that was not the first time I tried to make such experiments: nearly all of them sent my Chess laboratory in flames. It did have to do with the opening…)

Well, if it were so, why do we continue buying and studying books with the games played by the geniuses of Chess?. I suppose because we do not buy them to serve as opening manuals… In fact what we try to do is to learn HOW THEY THOUGHT, how they played the middlegame, how they set up middle/endgame problems and how they managed to solve those posed by their opponents. And this is how, sometimes rather subconsciously, we train our brains for Chess. Once this is established, we may attempt to play like our idols, though perhaps we will not be able to exactly use their opening lines as our main lines today. Nevertheless, I understand that the more we admire a chessplayer, the more we prefer playing his/her favourite openings because one will always try to reach positions similar to those reached by the player one has studied.

And this has to do with a concept I have written about in another post: that of the “possible playable positions”. It is not necessary to go back much: If you compare the end of the sixties and the seventies (20th century, Fischer´s time + the beginning of Karpov´s one) with today, you will see that the number of possible playable positions has expanded like the exponentially. It is easy: take an opening book written in 1975 and another written in 2013 or a database!- and compare the new possible variations and subvariations that have appeared since then… In some cases, the game may have been main line there and today may have disappeared or considered as an inferior subvariation…

The conclusion is that you can play your favourite’s chessplayer openings, but do not expect playing all of them as mainlines because new moves are being introduced constantly. As I have written above, apart from this, the most important idea is that of trying to understand your favourite’s player style and way of thinking. This is also  an important part of what we know as “Chess training”. Good luck and persevere, persevere,persevere.

Now have a look at the following game.Shirov had already played this line and you can find the game in his books:

White: M. Sion (0)

Black: A. Shirov (1)

Leon   ( Spain) . Master T. (Cat. 14), 1995

1. e4 , c5 / 2. Nf3 , d6 / 3. d4 , cxd4 /4. Nxd4, Nc6 / 5. Nc3, Nf6 / 6. Bc4, e6 /7. Be3, Be / 8. Qe2, a6 / 9. Bb3, Qc7 / 10. 0-0-0, 0-0 / 11. Rhg1, Nd7 / 12. g4, Nc5 / 13. Nf5, b5 / 14. Bd5, Bb7 15. g5, Rfc8!? 16. Rg3, Ne5 / 17. Bxb7 (better seems 17. f4), Nxb7/ 18. Nxe7, Qxe7 19.Bd4, b4 / 20. Na4, Nc4/ 21. b3, Na3/ 22. c4, bxc3/ 23. Nb6, Nb5/  24. Bf6, Qc7/ 25. Nxc8, Rxc8/ 26. a4, e5/ 27. Qa2, c2/ 28. Rd-d3, Qa5/ 29. Reg3, Nc5/ 30. Rd5, Nc3/ 31. Qxc2, Nxd5/ 32. exd5, Nxb3 33. Rxb3, Qe1/  White resigns.

(This event was won by GMs Michael Adams (Eng) and Evgeni Bareev (Rus)

QChess.

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Written by QChess

August 4, 2013 at 7:46 am

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