Find Your Own "Miracle" Opening!

Find Your Own "Miracle" Opening!

| 26 | Strategy

The year was 1985.  Garry Kasparov just became the world champion, and together with his mentor, ex-world champion Mikhail Botvinnik, he was running the first session of the famous Botvinnik-Kasparov school.

group of young aspiring chess players was sitting in a semi-circle trying to remember every single word of these two chess giants. We discussed a wide variety of chess topics, but personally I really liked Kasparov's stories about his last match vs. Karpov.

Of course, later Kasparov wrote volumes about his world chamionship marathon vs. Karpov, but reading a book is not the same as listening to the voice of a young lad from Baku: a voice full of excitement and happiness after becoming the youngest world champion in the history of chess!

It was a priceless experience! 

Kasparov in 1985 via wikipedia

I remember Kasparov was telling us that he was smiling when Karpov was playing the White side of the Sicilian Defense. There Karpov knew very well that he was supposed to push a pawn in front of his king (g2-g4), but this move was against his nature.  So, even though Karpov played the correct moves, he was essentially playing against his own chess beliefs.

Therefore no matter how good his position was, he couldn't reap the benefits.  The historical last game of their match is a good example:

This game has been analyzed for 30 years already and it was proven that by the timely break f4-f5 Karpov could get a serious advantage, but instead he kept maneuvering, playing typical "Karpovian" chess.  This way of playing would be great in the Queen's Gambit or any other closed opening, but not the Sicilian Defense!

The moral of this little story is simple: the openings you play should fit your chess style!

If, for example, you are a very aggressive player and like to attack, you might want to check my series "Openings for Tactical Players." But what if you are a positional player? While I am not planning to start the series "Openings for Positional Players," I can give you some ideas.

No matter how sharp and complicated an opening might look, there is almost always a way to steer the game to a quiet, positional road.

Say you are a 1.d4 player (just like a majority of positional players) and you really love the Queen's Gambit Accepted or the Slav Defense.

What really bothers you is the King's Indian Defense where Black dreams about attacking your king. Don't worry, you can borrow a very interesting variation from the opening repertoire of the legendary GM Ulf Andersson. If you never heard about him, then I guess you probably started playing chess relatively recently.

For us, the kids from the 1970s, GM Andersson (at that time one of the best players in the world) was practically a cult hero. We believed that if in the initial position of the game of chess both White and Black queens had been removed, then Ulf Andersson would have been the world champion. (By the way, if you want to seriously improve your endgame technique, you might want to study the games of GM Andersson.)

Ulf Andersson in 1971 via Wikipedia

So, here is how this ultra-positional chess player solved the problem of the King's Indian Defense:

Check any opening book and it will tell you that Black is going to easily equalize in this harmless variation.

Maybe so, but somehow most of Andersson's opponents couldn't hold this "drawish" endgame.  Judge for yourself:

It was getting ridiculous! One of the biggest experts of the King's Indian Defense -- Garry Kasparov -- avoided the dreaded "equal" endgame against the Swedish wizard:

By the way, this game clearly shows why GM Ulf Andersson never became a candidate for the world title. In the final position where he accepted Kasparov's draw offer, Andersson was really short of time (he had about five minutes or so). Yet his advantage was huge and he had to take some risks if he wanted to become the world champion.  

Unfortunately, he got a habit of slowly grinding down his opponents in long endgames without any risk, and felt uncomfortable in more dynamic situations...but I digress.

Andersson's games clearly demonstrate that you can turn even the most harmless opening line into a nuclear weapon as long as it fits your style.

Finally I want to mention that after the game that we discussed in the beginning of this article, Karpov learned that the Sicilian Defense was not "his" opening and never played 1.e4 against Kasparov again! Slowly he stopped playing 1.e4 altogether and it allowed him to remain one of the world's top players for another decade!

Find the openings that fit your chess style and they will do miracles for you!


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