Petroff Gone Bad & Training

Petroff Gone Bad & Training

| 16 | Opening Theory

Basheer Unneenkutty asked:

Today I had a game in which my opponent played 3…Nxe4? in the Petroff Defense: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nxe4. I played 4.Qe2 (aiming Nc6+ to get black’s Queen). He responded with 4…d6 and after 5.Nxf7 Kxf7 6.Qxe4 I had an extra Pawn and had displaced the black King – I won the game soon. Was this the best way to meet his 3…Nxe4 or did I miss some crushing sequence of tactics?

Dear Mr. Unneenkutty:

You played very well! Let's take a closer look (don't forget to click on MOVE LIST to see all the text and moves):





Again, the Petroff is a very sound opening IF it's played properly. That means 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 2.Nxe5 d6 3.Nf3 Nxe4 4.d4 d5 is the main starting position when a huge body of theory exists (as it does in every popular opening). For those that want to study this system in great detail, I'll suggest THE PETROFF DEFENCE by Artur Yusupov (Olms Edition, 1999 – 434 analysis crammed pages!). Other books on the Petroff (that are a bit easier to handle):

PETROFF DEFENCE by Raetsky & Chetverik (Everyman, 2005 – 191 pages)

BEATING THE PETROFF by Kotronias & Tzermiadianos (Batsford, 2004 – 240 pages)

THE PETROFF DEFENSE by Forintos & Haag (Macmillan, 1991 – 254 pages) 


Stefan asks:

How exactly do you get better without a coach or person at home that is in any way good at chess? I know there are millions of great chess books out there yet I believe that someone should have guidance from someone who is experienced like yourself. The number 8 player in the state is coming next Saturday to play me but only for a half an hour. Is there anyone in M.A who is good, or is there a good chess club? People play in Harvard Square but I live about 40 miles away from there. The computer is programmed and doesn't have it's own style of thinking. I am at a total loss in finding guidance besides books. Are books good enough to get you into the scholastic state championships? Also, how do you get into the tournaments that lead into the state championships? My mom says you have to get in by being in a school team or chess club. I don't think I am ready for state though. With black, how do you stop the advantage of white getting into the center first? Let's say there was 1.d4 d5 2.c4.

PS: My mom thought I should tell you my age, I don't know why. I am twelve years old and I am in sixth grade in seventh grade classes. Thanks a lot!

Dear Stefan:

That’s a lot of stuff to cover! The problem with books is that most players don’t know what they need, what their weaknesses are, and what books would be best to help fix these problems. Thus, hiring a teacher to set up a personal, tailor made study program would be ideal. The other problem you pose about finding opponents to play is also a big one.

These are both huge concerns since proper guidance is critical, as is playing superior players and getting your head knocked off over and over again. When I was 12 and 13, I played two kids that were clearly stronger than I was. They came over several times a week and played me 5 minute chess for money: whoever wins the most out of 10 games gets a quarter. And I never won the majority of games. In fact, they butchered me and laughed as they did so. However, I quietly took my lumps, forked over my quarter, and “stole” their knowledge – one game at a time!

If you want to get better, you have to look for guys that can beat you and force you to pay your dues. So how does one find these superior players? Also, how does one find a good teacher? In the old days you were more or less out of luck if you didn't live near a good chess club (though you could resort to postal chess, which now has been simplified with e-mail chess). Now you can simply join any number of great chess websites (like!

Many sites like these offer live games, but they also offer an endless amount of strong teachers, online lessons for very reasonable fees, articles, videos, and much more. It doesn't get better than that!






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