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Some Tricks of the Trade

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In todays CC tournaments many people think there are too many drawn games. In some OTB events it happens the same. A matter of openings?.  What I am going to say may be seen as too speculative.

Breyer wrote that after 1. e4 White´s game was in his last throes. He was a hypermodernist and favoured hypermodernist ideas. The problem is that today it seems the prophecy is about to be fulfilled. Winning with 1. e4 seems more and more difficult (in CC games). I have been a 1. e4 player for nearly 30 years. But today I have felt myself struggling for an advantage in many lines in the Ruy Lopez, the French and even the Sicilian. So in my last tournaments I have shifted to closed openings.  At the same time, against 1.d4 you can safely play the Grünfeld, for instance, and achieve some very decent positions.

In today’s CC games -as White-  you will have to achieve very decent positions if you want to win your games. And to do that the first thing in today’s CC is to have a good opening repertoire and have confidence in the openings you are going to use. Some players use the same opening one time after another. I prefer shifting from time to time to refresh my ideas and stop playing as by inertia. To change my openings implies facing new positions, and this is refreshing for my mind. But it takes two to play a Chess game. The second important thing is to end the opening if not with an advantage at least with a position rich in possibilities. A “position” in Chess is something “static”. Its dynamism depends on the number of possibilities at hand. To have an advantage is good, but remember that Chess implies “I move-s/he moves”, and so on. How many apparently advantageous positions ended up by petering out to a draw?. On the contrary: levelled positions can be deceiving and both players must play carefully so as not to slip and fall in a disadvantageous one. So to “have an advantage” is a static assessment: now you have to be able to impose it. To have a position more or less levelled but full of plans and possibilities may be as good. Remember that in Chess absolutely everything is relative, and is connected to many factors which are not always apparent. With the present state of theory and the analytical possibilities offered by engines, CC is a highly specialized game, and the openings -sometimes from the very first move- is the first battleground where the game starts to be lost or won.

Bear in mind too that transpositions may play a very important role in your opening decisions. In general , 1.e4-players and Queen Gambit-ones has little concern (or not…) But beware if you play the English because if you try to avoid some lines you may fall in positions you do not know well. (If you do not like 1. c4 , e5 you may try to start with 1. Nf3, but then after 1… d5/ 2.c4 you must be ready for 2…, d4/ and perhaps this is not the type of English you had in your mind when opted for 1. Nf3…). (In the case of 1. e4, today’s theory shows too many instances of drawish lines even in well-know robust positions for White -remember the Berlin against the Ruy Lopez and all the mess around it these days… But -and this is only an example- you play 1. e4 and after 1…, e5 / 2.Nf3 your opponent plays 2…, Nf6/ Now 3. d4/Nxe5 is a normal Petrov. So normal that a Karpov , able to extract water from a stone, would be required. After testing this and that you decide to make your opponent bit the dust: 3. Nc3. All right!. But now you must try to prove that the ensuing lines are less drawish -and boring!- than the Petrov’s ones…) . In the fifties (past century) a player like Petrosian used to say that he played normal (be that what it may) moves in the openings so as to leave all the fight for the middlegame. Today it would be useless if not suicidal, and more in CC. Today the battle starts with the very first move, and a filigree fencing technique starts too, with both players trying to reach their aims with every weapon at hand. and bear in mind that ,again, transpositions are very strong weapons.

(For those interested in this important matter, here is a book by a leading Chess writer: Andrew Soltis: “Transpo Tricks in Chess”) .

Now time to train:


Wieck, 1859. Mate in three moves.

And for those who prefer something different, here a study which will require a few more moves to be solved (I will give the solution though):

Nechayev 1935:


White to move wins:

1. g7 Bd8 2. g4 Kh6 3. c6 Bc6 4. Be7 Be7 5. g8N Kg6  6. Ne7 Kf6 7. Nc6 winning



Written by QChess

December 28, 2015 at 7:08 am

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