A game to demonstrate opening fundamentals

| 10 | Opening Theory

Here's an annotation of a game I won a few weeks ago on MSN Gaming Zone. I present it here for any beginners to look at, as my opponent demonstrates exactly what NOT to do in the opening, and I demonstrate exactly why that is:

1. d4 d5

2. e3 Nf6

White resigns after my 14th move, so he has twelve left to play. Out of those twelve, a full TEN deserve a dubious ? after them. We should also note that e3 is rarely played at high level because even though it is sound, white has moves with clearer advantages.

3. f3?

f4 is playable, but after briefly looking it up I wouldn't recommend it for a beginner. f3 is just bad. White hasn't developed a single piece and has weakened his pawn structure for castling K side. What does this pawn do? Very little, in fact it ends up getting in white's way. Nf3 or Nc3 are both far better.

3. ... Bf5

Normally it's knights before bishops but when your opponent's opening is so weak you can get away with breaking this rule.

4. g4?

Oh look, he made a big smiley face on the board with his pawns. Awww, that's cute...BUT IT's WRONG!!! What does he think this achieves apart from opening up his defence for me to pound him into the ground? Does he really think I might go "Hmm, that pawn doesn't threaten anything, my bishop has an invisible shield and cannot be taken, muahahahaha!!!" Totally useless move.

4 . ... Bg6

5. g5??

Yes folks, you saw it, five moves, five pawn advances. Same comments as above still apply.

5. ... Nd7

6. Bh3 (?)

I was a mile ahead in development when I brought my Bishop out and could afford to break the rules of development. He is a mile behind, and it's not really the right square for the cleric in any case, he's just got visions of capturing my knight, which is pretty dumb as the bishop will get stronger as the game goes on while the knight becomes comparatively less strong as pieces are removed. I'm not even bothering to check with the PC, I am 100% sure white is far better off with Nc3 here.

6. ... e6

Even though this does block white's bishop from my knight, the primary reason is to free my dark bishop.

7. c3

Not best, but probably not bad enough for a ?. Still, white has no development and frankly if I were to lose this game I ought to be beaten over the head with a hammer, even at this early stage. Now castling on both sides for white is compromised.

7. ... c5

It's time to roll. When your opponent neglects his development, a well timed pawn advance can ruin his day.

8. Qa4?

This move forces me to make a move I was going to play at some point anyway. In other words it achieves nothing. It also brings the queen out early, which is a violation of basic opening law. As a rule of thumb, develop at least three minor pieces before your queen. Two is sometimes OK, but he has just one minor piece out, almost never correct.

8. ... Nc6

Obvious and best.

9. dxc5?

Taking a pawn out of centre where my best response is to capture it with a knight that will then attack his queen on its new square. Uh, no, not good.

9. ... Nxc5

10. Qb5?? (??????)

White has now lost his queen. Find black's move:

10. ... Bd3!

White has one response that prolongs the queen's life, but only for a single turn. It wouldn't be smart to play it.

11. c4??

I can see what he's thinking: "Rather than trade my queen for a minor piece, I'll trade my queen AND A PAWN TOO! That'll fox him." Yeah. I'm "foxed".

11. ... Bxc4

12. Qxc6+?

Clearly white is better off taking the bishop and splitting my centre pawns.

12. ... bxc6

13. Nc3?

Even though this allows me to crush him, we will spare him a double ??, as he's just lost his Q and is already beaten. The best move here is Bf1, i.e. bringing the bishop back to its home square to prevent Nd3 from being crippling, but it's just horrible for white. We'll forgive him this one, however, his next move is appalling.

13. ... Nd3+

14. Kd1?? (??)

Thank you and good 'knight'

14. ... Nf2+!

White resigns.

The objective of this is not to mock a beginner who should never have been paired with me. This game, more neatly than any other I've played or indeed seen with my own eyes, demonstrates why the fundamental opening principles are there to be followed. I appreciate white blunders his queen away, but look at the position after my 8th move:

Tell me, what has white got going for him here? Both knights still on the back rank, an isolated hanging g-pawn, huge gaps in his K-side pawns with an advanced c-pawn making castling Q-side more risky, his queen isolated and going nowhere and his bishop on the wrong square. He also has pawns occupying the best square of both his knights. It is as bad a position you could fear for after 8 moves. This position should be a guaranteed draw for black with winning chances. Even with better play, white is in trouble. This line came from Arasan on fixed depth 8 (I normally use 12 but that takes too long for my patience when the position is so skewed it hardly matters):

9. Qb3 Nb6 10. dxc5 Bxc5 11. Qb5 Bd6 12. e4 dxe4 13. Bg2 exf3 14. Nxf3 O-O 15. Nh4 Bh5 16. Be3 a6 17. Qxb6 Bc7 18. Qc5 (Arasan wants to resign here as white) Qd1+ 19. Kf2 Qe2+ 20. Kg1 b6 21. Qxf8+ Rxf8 22. Bf2 Qd1+ 23. Bf1 Be2 24. Kg2 Qd5+ 25. Kg1 Bxf1 26. Nd2 Qg5+ 27. Bg3 Bxg3 28. Hxg3 Bd3 29. Rh2 Qxg3+

It goes on for another 15 moves or so, but the final mate position was:


To summarise then:

1) Don't push pawns without a plan. If you've made more than 3 pawn moves in your first 5, you're either a master who knows what they're doing or a beginner. A bad piece move can be undone, but pawns are one way warriors until the end game. And making a smiley face does NOT constitute a plan.

2) Don't develop pieces to squares just to attack an opponent's piece, especially if the best counter is a natural and good move. (see 6. Bh3 in the game)

3) Don't advance your queen into enemy territory unsupported unless it poses a serious threat.

4) When outnumbered in the center, don't make capture moves that pull your pawns out of the center (there are exceptions but it's a 95% rule)

5) Don't "force" your opponent to make moves they wanted to make anyway.

6) Develop your knights to the center of the board. On the back rank they control 3 squares but in the centre it's 8. You do the math...

7) Don't put a pawn on f3 early. That is your knight's spiritual home.

8) Usually, knights before bishops.

9) Usually, three minor pieces before the queen.

10) Don't move the pawns on the side you plan to castle early. Moving just one can give your opponent the opening they need if the situation arises. Additionally, castle early most of the time.

10 rules of opening theory. I believe my opponent broke them all, and I hope that a beginner who reads this may find at least some of this useful, because this game shows beyond doubt why they are called RULES. Note how easy my win was? I didn't even move my queen before white resigned. Because his opening left him with no chance whatsoever.