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Changing One’s Openings

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Concerning the matter I am going to write about I think there are -at least two types of approaches and so of CC players since  I am mainly speaking  of CC – in relation to one’s opening repertoire: those who hardly ever change their openings and those who change them in search of new horizons , for the sake of experimenting after a painful defeat or due to an attack of sheer boredom with the line(s) they are using. All in all, some players may change their openings forever while others may change them for a time. After that period, they come back to the use of their favourite set-ups. Korchnoi said that when a player works to change his openings was because he was progressing. (Korchnoi’s opinion…)

Apart from this,I have mentioned two basic facts for which one may decide to go for a change. In general in CC you are playing several games at the same time, so you may have the same lines in many of them, especially as Black. It may happen that you get bored or that you start losing those games… It is normal that in the next tournament you try to play something different.Or not. But it may occur. Even OTB players do that: Karpov has played 1. e4 /1. d4 and 1.c4 as White. As Black he has tried the Sicilian (Kan or Taimanov), the Petroff,the Caro-Kann and 1…, e5/ in general. Of late, he has even played 1…,d5 against 1.e4 in blitz games. Spassky played 1.e4 and 1.d4 with he same degree of dexterity while as Black he opted for 1…e5 or the Sicilian against the KP and played different systems against the QP. Fischer nearly always played the Najdorf but had the Alekhine as a useful standby ,-OK, for a bunch of games :)-. He used more systems against the QP: the KID, the Grünfeld, the Benoni, the Nimzoindian and the Semi-Tarrasch. This is why GM Soltys wrote that “Fischer’s problem with his favourite Black lines was different: by the mid-1960’s he was too strong for some of them”.

Some lines are so much played that new ideas for and against are constantly appearing and if you want to play them you must keep abreast of the latest theory. Others become two tame, too drawish that are abandoned till someone discovers fresh new ideas. This is how opening theory developes in Chess. Years ago the Caro-Kann was one of my favourite defences. Then the 3. e5 variation (played already by Tal, for instance in his matches with Botvinnik) re-appeared and for a time many people had to put the black side in the freezer.. Najdorf players may remember the 6. Be3 craze and all the uproar around: a sideline suddenly became mainline… And so on.

And there is another small detail: why do you start losing with the line you know so deeply?. There is no clear answer: perhaps you “lose the grip”, start playing by inertia, stop updating it in the belief that with your knowledge nothing can happen to you,… If so, then it is high time for a change. Nevertheless our computerized age has provoked a curious effect: everybody seems to take statistics as a sort of Holy Writ. People label the openings accordingly and only play those with the best statistical ratings, despising the rest. So, only a few really try to breathe new life in old set-ups. This happens at GM level too, of course. So openings like the Pirc, the Alekhine, to mention only two of them are not played or analysed. But look: several years ago nearly nobody in the Chess elite played the Scotch until Kasparov arrived with new analysis and voilà, the Scotch became a sign of distinction. What would have happened if he had chosen  the Latvian Gambit or the Ponziani or…? Food for thought.

(I must insist that in this matter CC and OTB are poles apart: in OTB games the player must rely upon his/her memory. Mistakes are common in the opening and in the middlegame (the clock plays its role, pieces cannot be touched, etc. In the meanwhile, in CC today highly specialized at least in the ICCF- the players can consult any type of material and they can move the pieces and see the final positions of every line in their analysis. Even though, there are mistakes in CC too including clerical/transmission ones : you send the wrong move to the wrong opponent due to many reasons every CC player knows…, and games are lost and won either because your opponent knows more or better theory than you, you fall in positions with  no threats, different options and choose one which leads you to a worse position, etc. Sometimes I tend to think that in today’s CC you lose more games than your opponents win you, but this is a personal , psychologically biassed appreciation… More food for thought.) 



Written by QChess

December 10, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Posted in CHESS, Openings

Tagged with ,

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