Trying Out New Openings
Some of you might be playing in the vote chess game against me at Chess.com. If so, then you probably know that the Opocensky variation of the Sicilian Najdorf goes the following way: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cd 4.Nd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2.
This is a quiet variation aimed at outmaneuvering one's opponents and accumulating small advantages step by step. It's hard to win quickly, but the game flows so logically and smoothly that some of the encounters are decided in White's favor "by hand", without much thinking.
I have employed this variation for the first time at the Chess Olympiad '08 in Dresden against a relatively weak opponent. The attempt proved successful:
This opening seemed quite nice to me, so I decided to use it more often. Here is another example: a last round win against IM Marina Romanko which secured me the 1st place at the Moscow Open '09 in the women's event. It was a bit more sophisticated due to the higher class of the opponent (in comparison to the 1st game):
As a reminder: one of the classic ways to study openings is to look at the moves first, then memorize how to place pieces in this opening (which one goes where, not "move-by-move" senseless threads) and the main plans for both sides. Then learn from masters by watching their games and trying to understand why they have played that way. Finally, here comes practice: blitz and rapid games against a partner of your strength (or higher) with extensive post-mortem analysis. You might lose a few games at home, but gain rating points at tournaments due to avoiding the mistakes you have made while training. However, sometimes we don't have the luxury of preparing that seriously, and have to play something from scratch.
And after Chess.com goes Qb7, we will be pushing that pawn. Understand, Mum?
My husband has expressed interest in the Pogonina vs Chess.com match and is following the game quite closely, mastering the opening along the way. He usually prefers other continuations in the Najdorf. However, when recently a young candidate master played 5...a6 in a classical time control FIDE tournament against him, he thought: "Why not 6.Be2?" Here's what happened next:
In my opinion, that is a good illustration of how one should learn from other masters' games.
P.S. Congratulations to all Bobby Fischer fans! We were born on the same day - March, 9th.