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Understanding Opening Ideas and Blitz Chess

  • GM arunabi
  • | Sep 26, 2011
  • | 20232 views
  • | 42 comments

Dear Grandmasters Arun Prasad/Magesh Panchanathan:

I have questions and I hope you may answer them. I have not played over the board chess for a year and have mainly played blitz or rapid chess online. Before I took a break I managed to achieve expert category (2000-2199). Last night, I joined an over the board blitz tournament and I was top seed. I cannot believe I made obvious mistakes (i.e. blunder of queen!, allowing my opponent to achieve positional advantage, etc) and how my moves are only based on tactical sequence (i.e. one/two moves threat!) or my feelings.

My questions:

(a) Do you think blitz/rapid chess reflect on a player's chess strength? Even though I WAS a expert, after the blitz tournament I felt like I am more like class 'C' or lower.

(b) Does playing blitz/rapid chess benefit or detrimental to a chess player? Some players tell me that blitz/rapid chess benefit them as it is a way to train for tactics and new openings. However, after the blitz tournament, I totally lost my feeling of playing good chess games until I read GM Prasad's article on recovering a loss.

(c) How should a stronger player play against lower-rated players? In the blitz tournament, I made my moves very quickly and forgot to double check whether my moves allow my opponent to check/threat. Also, I tried to play sharp openings (i.e. Sicilian Defence, King Indian Defence, e4) instead of my usual quiet openings (i.e. French Defence, Nimzo Indian, d4).  Do you think playing sharp openings is a good idea to play against lower-rated players?

(d) I think there are many players out there who will share my experience of trying to beat lower-rated players as quickly as possible. This is when I tend to go 'all-out' (i.e. unsound tactics). Sometime it works..sometime not. I know I need more patience...Can you give any advices?

(e) The opening seems to be a weakness to me as I tend to remember the first few sequences of my main opening repertoire (i.e. Sicilian, French, Nimzo, KID, etc) and I understand the reason for their moves. However, when I played against lower-rated players they tend to play the sidelines. I try to book up on these sidelines and memorize it. However, my memory is not as good as I forget what I memorize after a week or so. How to study for sidelines? How to play a good opening as white and remain to have advantage due to having the first move?

(f) After the blitz tournament, I have a bad feelings about my playing strength. What are some of the ways for players to gain back their confidence?

Sorry for the numerous questions. Thanks in advance, grandmasters, for your help!

David Zheng

 

Dear David Zheng,

Well I somehow feel the blitz games played online and blitz games played over the board are very different. I personally play much better when I play over the board and I know players who play extremely well over the internet and over the board they are not as good. In your case it is simply because you don’t have the feel to play over the board. But I am sure this is just a temporary set-back. Just play more games, and you will find yourself getting back to your actual strength.

A)   Not exactly, I know a player who is about 2450 rated and he manages to beat 2650+ rated GM’s quite often in a blitz game. But in a tournament game he is struggling even against 2500 and almost never gets to defeat a 2600 player. If you are good at blitz, it means that you are alert, good in tactics and you are able to calculate fast. In a blitz game these skills are of vital importance, but in a long game it is more your overall understanding of the game that matters. Your opponent will have enough time to calculate your tactics and if his chess strength is better than you, he will utilize your small mistakes and beat you. 

B) Definitely Blitz/Rapid games are useful; as your friends said, when you prepare a new opening, you can’t just go and play in a tournament game. You won’t have the feel of the position, and finding the correct plans will be difficult. You can play rapid games with both colors and understand where the exact problem arises. Blitz games will help you improve your alertness level and keep yourself good in tactics. Never mind about blundering in one blitz tournament-- even GM’s blunder in regular tournament games. It is in fact good that now you know there is a problem which needs to be sorted out before the tournament game.

C)  I think when you play a game you should not think about your opponent's strength. Whether he is stronger than you or weaker than you doesnt matter. If you think you are playing a weaker player then you might underestimate his chess strength and you might make weaker moves thinking it is good enough to defeat him. If you think you are playing a strong player, you will be scared to go into complications and end up in a bad position. So both are wrong. In a blitz game, it is good to play sharp positions against weaker opposition but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should play something out of your book to achieve such complications. If you have the option of choosing between a sharp opening and a solid opening, it is good to play the sharp opening against weaker opposition and solid lines against stronger opposition. This idea can be used in a regular tournament game also.

D)      Once a 2700+ GM told me not to play chess differently against weaker players. Simply it is not correct, whether you play a master or an amateur, you need to play the same chess that you know. When you think that your opponent is weak and play unsound moves, you run the risk of losing if he manages to find the right moves. When you play a chess game, it is important to win but winning quickly or slowly doesn’t matter. Trying to win fast by playing unsound moves ultimately is just making way for developing a false pride which you will have to pay for sometime or other. So focus more on playing a good game rather than winning quickly.

E)  Well that is a problem with modern chess players-- we try to memorize opening moves without understanding them. Let us take an example of an elite GM. Obviously he will have more than 100 pages of analysis (in a chessbase board window if you keep hitting page down it goes more than 100 times) in all the openings he play. He understands the crux of the position very well. He will have played several practice games before he plays an opening in a tournament game. He understands the meaning behind every move and knows the correct plan that has to be executed in the opening to middle phase and in the middle game.

So I would recommend you to understand the meaning behind each and every move in what ever opening you play. Also focus more on improving your overall chess strength rather than spending time on preparing and memorizing opening moves. Once your middle game and endgame strength improves then when you include opening preparation you will become extremely strong. I would also recommend books like Mastering Chess Openings by Watson, and Dynamic of Chess Strategy by Jansa. They deal with understanding the pawn structures and ideas of openings rather than computer-analyzed variations, which is what is useful for you.

f)  Don’t take one bad performance seriously. It has nothing to do with your overall chess strength. In regular games you will have a lot of time to calculate properly and avoid blunders. I personally feel confident whenever I worked well. So work on some tactical problems, study some games of legendary players and continue to play more blitz games, as I feel you will be able to get back to your actual strength when you give yourself more chances.

_____________________________________________________

Do you have a chess question? Email it to yourquestionsanswered@chess.com and perhaps Magesh and Arun will answer it in a future article!

Comments


  • 11 months ago

    BoyBawang

    quote "Once a 2700+ GM told me not to play chess differently against weaker players."

    I have to disagree. Say you have a far weaker opponent in a position where the best move is to accept draw by repetition. But there's a 2nd best move that is slightly inferior but avoids the draw.

    BTW that 2700+ GM fits Bobby Fischer perfectly who once said "Play against the board and not the player" :)

  • 14 months ago

    KingBavaro

    Very useful article. Thanks.

  • 14 months ago

    lemonlace

    I appreciated reading both the questions and the answers.

  • 2 years ago

    Rodgie

    very nice explanation by GM Prasad...well said very motivating!Coolhats off.

  • 3 years ago

    FatTails

    Now this is helpful. Thank you.
  • 3 years ago

    werdnabd1

    Geat article

  • 3 years ago

    patzercim

    Surprisednice article

  • 3 years ago

    GrandmasterAdam

    wesely sonain, those are your strats, as for me i try to play less complicated games in blitz ex, the caro kann youll find you wont have to really ever calculate, which is a good thing in blitz, but terrible for your long games

  • 3 years ago

    crossbow

    The basic principles of blitz chess as I know:

    1. Blitz is tactics.

    2. Attack.

    3. In blitz, all sacrifices are correct .

    4. You need to check attacking responses of your opponent. (What are the forcing moves that my opponent can play in my territory?)

    5. Your opening repertoire should be aggressive and should not be well-known.

    6. Plan your time-spending before a game.

    7. Be in a good physical and psychological condition. 

        Each principle stated above has corresponding explanations and illustrations which is too long to expound here. Perhaps the chessdotcom GMs could discuss this further in some other days.

        Blitz is important because it is mostly used in official tournaments for tie-breaking.

    (Thanks to GM Igor Smirnov...these are his ideas.)

  • 3 years ago

    Elubas

    @SpaceOddity: I could imagine there being some exceptions, but not many. You shouldn't need to put yourself at risk just to win quickly against lower rated players.

    A very insightful, well written article. Thanks!

  • 3 years ago

    SpaceOddity

    GM arunabi wrote:  "Once a 2700+ GM told me not to play chess differently against weaker players. Simply it is not correct, whether you play a master or an amateur, you need to play the same chess that you know."

    This is true in general, but there are many exceptions to this where it's just wrong.  Suppose you are playing a much weaker opponent prone to miss tactics and you are down on time.  You can force a draw and possibly lose on time if you play the best possible chess you can, but you know you can also go for some tactics that your opponent is likely to blunder, thus giving you a quick win.  You need to assess the probabilities of the various outcomes, and on some occasions, it will make sense to go for the win. 

  • 3 years ago

    aramm3691

    thankssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss very gud article...i have the watson's mastering chess openings, it's time to seriously read and understand my openings...regardssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

  • 3 years ago

    HristoProtos

    My believe is that blitz is harmful for begginer-intermediate players - it does indeed take away your capability to think, analyse, I only believe it benefits v.strong players who are testing openings, plans, styles, etc. - but overall playing fast games will not make you a better player - on the contrary!

  • 3 years ago

    magnifico822002

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  • 3 years ago

    GM arunabi

    @ elindauer: In your level try to focus more on middle game and endgame. It doesnt mean that you should not study opening at all. Try to learn openings by studying its pawn structures, piece placements, exchange plans, pawn expansion plan, etc. Learning this way will help you get a basic understanding of the opening on what to do and what not to do. So dont think of serious opening preparation like analysing each and every variations, looking for novelties, etc till you reach atleast 2300. Its because even if you prepare your openings well and get good positions if you dont have the skill to accelarate it to a win then what is the point of preparing openings?

  • 3 years ago

    shy_sun

    The tips of playing with weaker player is very useful one. Thanks for the article.

  • 3 years ago

    markronilodevera

    Cool

  • 3 years ago

    nhojs

    i'm very inspire tnx.

  • 3 years ago

    elindauer

    In your opinion, at what playing strength should a player start to seriously study openings?  I'm a class A player now (rated about 1925 uscf) and have spent very little time studying opening theory.  Is it time to take it up more seriously, or should I wait until I am a stronger player?  Thanks for your time.

  • 3 years ago

    hkmuralidhar

       thak you very much ,article well written i'm learnig to grow,thank you

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