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A Zen idea is that of that to do nothing is already to be doing something. And this is what I have been doing for so long a lapse of time: thinking about Chess,  thinking about  Chess programs and how to counter them at CC, winning games and some events, losing games and ending bordering disaster, drawing games too. I have also set up a new opening repertoire that is working well but which still needs several adjustments . The idea is to win as many games as possible avoiding drawish lines  and turn losses into draws as much as possible. Of course, easier said than done.

(The red threat is that at CC draws have increased by the ton. So many opening lines that are excellent for OTB Chess, are completely drawish at CC, where the element of  error is near to zero -always bearing in mind the “ceteris paribus” clause.)

The first step is to decide -as White- if you are going to play the same first move against any opponent (mine range between 2000 and over 2300 -remember I only play Correspondence Chess), or if you decide your opening according to your opponents’ strength. I exchanged a lot of ideas with other CC colleagues and took a decision.

The second step concerns my play with the Black pieces. I had played too many Sicilian Najdorf, Taimanov, Kan, variations etc. I have played excessively too many QID , Nimzoindian even Benoni and Grünfeld lines. I began to lose and draw excessively (by exhaustion of ideas ?!)

Some people use the “draw with the strong and beat the weak” approach. So they play different openings according to the opponent’s strength. This is a good idea and, correctly applied, works. But I began to wonder if there would be a good repertoire that included safety and active play at the same time.  And I found it for Black.  So I began to play a Sicilian variation I had never played before and a new line valid against 1.d4 /c4/Nf3. And it worked.

Now the White pieces. At first, I decided I would play 1. e4 against “the weak” and 1. d4/c4 against “the strong” -taking the ELO rating as reference. Why, because at CC only the Sicilian offers possibilities of a fight. All the rest are drawish -again the “ceteris paribus” clause, except if you are ready to take very risky paths and make experiments with your own ELO rating at stake. (By the way, this was one of my friends’ ideas). In my case, it did not work… All right, I managed to draw against ratings higher or much higher than mine, but with 1.e4 I was unable to get anything but draws against ELO ratings lower than mine. Then I realized that it would be better to change the plan: play 1. e4 against the strong -leaving them the task of taking risk to force positions, – and 1. c4 against  weaker players leaving them the task of understanding complex strategical positions. And this is working well so far. (By the way, in case of similar ratings or doubts I tend to play 1. c4 or 1. d4).

These days I am facing a curious challenge: I am playing my country (13th edition)  CC Cup Final: 13 games against a terrific field: I am the lowest ELO (2199)  and  it includes  players with 2311 , 2289, 2351, 2382 , 2398(IM) , 2349, or 2422 (IM). So I am clearly their lamb to slaughter, and feel myself as a small kitten surrounded by hungry wolves and  hyenas ready to kill me so as not to lose a single ELO point in their games with me. 

Will this be a correct approach?. Would it be better to play the same openings without looking at your opponents?. One thing is clear: today’s CC is a highly specialised task and we must learn to live with computers and Chess programs. I do not see it as a problem but as a challenge. It makes me think about different things, possibilities, stratagems and ideas. So, all is well that ends well…

(The following problems are for you to solve. I hope they are right. If not, drop me a line. Thank you so much.)

QChess.

 clausen-1932

Clausen 1931. Mate in 3  . “Tricky” according to my notes.

behting

Behting 1888. Mate in 3.

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Written by QChess

January 14, 2017 at 4:41 pm

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