Driving Without Directions

Driving Without Directions

spassky
Nov 6, 2009, 12:00 AM |
9 | Opening Theory

When you have to drive somewhere you have never been before, there are two types of people.  One type gets a map and plots a route to the destination, prints out driving directions from the computer, or uses a GPS navigator.  The other type relies on a few verbal directions from someone who went near there a few years ago or maybe even says "I have a good sense of direction.  I'll find it", and relies solely on the fact that the destination "is North of here".  When it comes to chess openings, I'm the first type.  I always read a book before I play a new line or if my memory needs refreshing about a line I haven't played in a while.  In this game, I had looked at the map, while my opponent just followed his nose.

When I say "read a book", I don't mean I memorize every line, cover to cover.  I get out a chess set and start to play over the line, and at certain points I stop and ask myself, "What am I going to play if he plays this move, because that looks pretty obvious, so I had better have something ready against that."  The motivation is to not waste time on the clock trying to reinvent the wheel if my opponent plays the main line or some other reasonable move.  I can just look it up in a book at home and save lots of time, look smarter to my opponent, and even learn something about the general ideas of the opening.  I pick the openings I like, I buy books about them, select the lines or variations that I choose or my opponent may choose, and I try to find a line with which I am comfortable.  You don't have to know every side street like a cabdriver, but you have to at least know the main streets of your openings.  It helps your game, saves time on the clock, and boosts your confidence right at the beginning of the game. 

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