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I know all the opening principals and I've been using some openings lately, however people have been saying that my openings are too positional and locked down for my level (class C), and that they are stunting my growth.
As white, I haven't been playing e4.
I've been playing the London System and the English.
Both openings I don't like that much. But, I don't want to play e4 because then they always play Sicilian.
I prefer to now have some sharp tactical openings as white rather than positional ones.
For Black it's less of a problem. I currently use the Caro-Kann against e4 and I'm now very familiar with it as I've been playing it for a week constantly so I'm used to lots of moves opponents will throw at me. I'm thinking about switching over to Sicilian, however the problem with that is that there are just so many variations and also anti-sicilian lines that white can throw at you. Against d4, I've been using the Benko Gambit from the Benoni Defense, and I like that opening. I think I'll keep that one.
White is the main problem. I used to like playing the Scotch Game as White, but they will probably play Sicillian, so I don't know what to do. Should I study up on the Sicillian since I'm thinking about using it for Black as well? Should I use Queen's Gambit?
White is the main problem here.
Don't tell me I don't need to be looking at openings because I already know the basic principles, and I just want a couple fixed openings for each side as my regular ones. After that I promise you, I'm going back to other stuff that's important. I'm studying tactics side by side as well.
Get some tactical games in. Rotating your pieces with the London is no good for tactics.
Wait is this good?
If Sicilian Defense, then Alapin Variation.
If 1...e5, then Scotch Game or Ruy Lopez.
If 1...d5, then Blackmardiemer Gambit
Maybe sometimes Queen's Gambit, but I'm probably going to stop playing 1...d4.
Against 1.e4, Sicilian Dragon.
Against 1.d4 Benoni Defense ---> Benko Gambit
Are these openings sound for a C player?
The alapin sicilian is a quick route to an isolated queen's pawn. It's a fantastic and fun opening, but it's one that if you're going to play often you should probably spend some time studying.
At your rating the open sicilian is the way to go. To get started all you need is the idea of centralizing your pieces (sometimes with 0-0-0), then opening the center with e5. If your opponent plays e5 first then you bare down on the backwards pawn to immobalize him then start a king side pawn storm (if 0-0-0). If you keep your pieces well centralized you will usually have some sort of advantage since black is cramped and his pieces can not be as well placed.
With black I encourage you to play e4/e5 and d4/d5. Classical chess is essential for growing as a player and avoiding it now will only make holes in your understanding you'll have to patch up later.
The benoni and the benko are unbalanced openings designed to create additional complexity to make it harder to draw. They do this at the cost of conceding controll over the center. While there are tactics that allow them to compensate for their lack of direct center control, this is the type of thing that will require you to start studying openings more then you should. Below maybe A class this is just not necessary as your opponent's mistakes will provide enough winning chances already.
I don't want to play e5 or d5 because they just have too much crap they can throw at you. Ruy Lopez, Scotch, Guioco Piano, Queen's Gambit, King's Gambit, Danish Gambit, Blackmar Diemer Gambit, etc.
I don't want to face all that.
That's why I'm thinking about playing Benko as black, and Sicillian as well. At least there's not as much junk being thrown at you....
Besides, I've been using the Benko Gambit for a while now, and I know it pretty well...
And in the Benko Gambit, you do have some control of the center... along with HARRASSMENT ON THE QUEENSIDE FOR YOUR OPPONENT!
whats c class
since you are used to the London, I would play mainline Queens gambit, the position will make a bit more sense to you and you can avoid the sharp theory in the siclian while building up your black repertiore.
Benko is fine but,... i would try out the tarrasch since its sound and pretty much playable against anything white throws at you after 1d4
Instead of the Blackmar Diemer Gambit against 1...d5, I'll just face the Scandanavian honestly. However I might start responding with e5 if I'm black. I hesitate a little bit to because white always as all these great openings like the Scotch Gambit and all that that he can throw at you, so more than likely, I'll probably just stick to Sicillian.
As white, I'm going to STOP PLAYING D4 and start playing e4. It's great because if he plays e5, like I said before, I can start throwing LOTS OF CRAP AT HIM! Things like Scotch Gambit, Guioco Piano, Ruy Lopez, etc. will be coming at him. He's going to be given a hard time which is why I don't play e5.
The Scandanavian is 'ok' for white. Anand played it in a match so it cannt be bad. The best approaches seem to be not to go crazy and try to trick your opponent but grab space with d4 and c4 and just develop normally and pressure the center. Blacks "ok" but white has an edge and black has to be careful, cannt expect much more out of any opening really.
While there are many variations, a good understanding of chess fundamentals covers 99% of what you need to know. You fight to maintain control in the center, you put your pieces on active squares, you attack when you can. There are only a few specific traps you'll need to worry about and you'll figure them out quickly. The idea that you need to be prepared for all these variations is a misconception.
I started off with the London system. I realized I needed something a little more powerful and spent hours and hours building a repertoire for queen's gambit. Now I have dozens of hours of study dedicated to the opening and know it inside and out.
A few days ago I started an experiment. I started an account on chesscube and have only played e4 as white and e4/e5 as black. I don't know any theory in the Ruy, the sicilian, or any of that. Naturally I can play against a french or scandinavian as they are in my real repertoire, but in general I'm completely new to these games. I'm now past 1800 there and still climbing. I think only maybe twice in all the games I've played have I lost because of a complete lack of opening understanding.
Opening preperation is over-rated. To go car analagy: It's like putting a fancy muffler on your car. It adds some flash, it adds a little power, but if you're driving a Geo you're not going to win that many more races because of it.
ok First let go of the idea that you know any opening "inside and out" Just a fact other wise you would be world champion. for instance do you have a total understanding of IQP positions for white and black? Minority attack? central attack with f3 and kingside castling or castling long. Do you know slav structures? hanging pawns? Positions where Black plays the light squared bishop outside the pawn chain and keeps it behind the pawns? what about Bb4 lines? Thats just few things off the top of my head that my class level understanding can rattle off. Each of these has its own set of material as well that constitute books.
After the game check out what you played compared to master games. see what is considered best or at least close to mainline and how well you followed it. Examine the mainline and see why you didnt play that move, choice? lack of knowledge? Didnt consider it? didnt trust it? etc
Opening preperation is hmm well varied in its level of importance, it helps guide your plans and moves which is very helpful but as you said if you have basic understanding of principles you can play reasonable moves. If a player memorizes moves with out understanding the give and take of each move then they will drift aimlessly and might win in a bad position only because their opponent understands less.
I strongly approve of playing systems from both sides in training games. It helps with understanding greatly.
I do know all of those things. My opening preperation is strong enough that I generally expect to hold an advantage as white well into the middle game for my section (U2200), and the section above me (masters and lesser IMs). Granted there is always room for improvement, but I think it's good enough to say "inside and out".
The trouble that I've had with effective opening prep is that I've had to (still have to) cover a lot of ground to be able to play effective middlegames and endgames against masters. My opening prep dragged my rating up considerably because it does extend well into the middle game, but this means that even in my section I often feel like I'm punching above my weight class. Everybody makes mistakes, even masters. I might make 10% more mistakes then a master, but start with a solid +=. It's a weird way to play.
Anyway, having top notch opening prep won't make you a SGM. To get there you need top notch everything. My belief now is that it's better to develop your class level tactics, maneuver, and endgame abilities while you're still at class level. Hence, don't do opening prep until the only hole in your game is opening prep.
I also believe that players must be cautious about looking up theory after their games and studying openings that way. If they analyze their own games and understand their own mistakes their opening play will improve as will everything else. They will realize eventually that the thing they didn't like about their position stemmed from Ne2 instead of Nf3, or whatever, and will fully understand why they play what they play. If they start copying GMs because they are GMs they may never fully understand the differences between the two moves.
Learning to your own level is pretty much what I have concluded as well. I teach my students that way and try to rein in their desires to learn something 'advanced' while they are lagging behind in other areas.
I would but a small note that it is irrelevent if you like or dislike something at the class level. You play what the position demands. If its a slow grind or a fast attack or anything in between you play that. too many class players think that they are brilliant at attacking or endgames and there by avoid the positions they are not good at, consciously or unconsciously, they usually drift into worse positions. One thing that i have found in talking to strong players is that even if they are strong attackers or endgame players they are willing to accept that some positions require an approach different than their personal strengths. Emory Tate and Kamran Sharazi are two that comes to mind. Both are brillant attacking players but would flounder in slow positions (based on his level) so GMs and IM's would just go for a slow maneuvering position and he would drift and lose to them time and time again. They finally buckled down and learned the maneuvering quiet positions and gained the IM title but still struggle to gain the GM title
When looking up games if you see a position that strong players played Ne2 and Nf3 it doesnt matter if a player doesnt the positions that arise out of them. THey should be able to play both equally well up to their level of play. I see positions that a player doesnt like as a weakness in understanding and something to work on. Once someone is comfortable in a position I think they should switch out to one they are weaker in
Take what you are playing as Black (Caro-Kann) and play it from the white side. At your rating level you are not losing because of the openings you play. Get good with the black pieces first. Build that repetoire first.
You can always play a simple "formation" from the white side (like a Reversed Schlecter Grunfeld) until you get your rating up higher.
As for the Reversed Schlecter, it's pawns on c3 and d4, Kingside fianchetto, and Nf3. Simple and safe.
You have to start getting your games to go 40-60 moves with equality, and without losing material or getting bad positions. You haven't reached 40 moves in any of your past 35 games. That's your "big problem," and you need to fix it.
Studying generic tactics and generic endgames, playing at Quick Chess speeds, or slower, and using Rybka for post game analysis will make you stronger over time. Or using a coach, if you feel you need one.
But endless talk about "which openings" to play is just that, talk. Openings don't win games.
All you really want from an opening is a level position after about 20 moves. Then the game gets harder. That's where you should be focusing your studies at the present time.
Only 10 percent of active tournament players in the USCF break 1800. Get yourself over that level before you start worrying about "openings," writ large.
I agree with you I just want to nit-pick a little since I was perhaps unclear before.
I'm no coach but I've analyzed games for players in the clubs I play at many times. I've seen class c players play a move like Nbd2 in the Ruy with no understanding of how the game will develop, then proceed to get taken apart on the queen-side after their knight winds up somewhere weird like b3. If you start asking questions about every move they made you will quickly start hearing answers like 'thats how it's supposed to be played' and 'that's what GMs do'. While there's clearly nothing wrong with the move, it was the wrong move for them because they didn't understand why they were playing it. Even as they advance and start successfully bringing the knight all the way to the king side they still get in trouble in the center. Answers become things like 'it's there to help with the attack'. There is still no concrete understanding of the position.
There is a kid I analyzed a few games for. He put his knights on f3 and c3 to control the center. His understanding of chess was something like first get control of the 4 center squares, then the squares around those. It is a simple concept but he developed his pieces with a purpose he could understand. He quickly started altering his plan as he found more and more effective ways to control the center, and I imagine he plays Nbd2 now. It's the same move, but in a way it's completely different because the intent is different. He didn't take long to reach class b.
tbh if you're only class C you don't need to worry much about openings, other areas of the game are more important at that level
Ill back up the final part of your statement . I taught a kid who is now 1970 uscf .The opening focus was develop, develop , develop and attack the center like a boss. Once your developed attack the center. If you cannt attack the center,... attack the center.
She would tell me after the games people would look at the games with her and show her a lot of lines. your supposed to do this then that and this is the 'book move' Her moves were always active and centralizing if not the best . the result? she often won and they would be upset because she didnt play the 'right' move. OK that said I realized that at 1800 she needed to start to learn the right moves so she could continue on her path and needed stronger coaches for that so she has moved on . I have zero doubt she will be WIM or WGM before she graduates highschool.
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