Pawndering Openings

Feb 17, 2015, 3:38 AM |

Greetings once again. This post comes a little late and is a narrative of this week's class rather than last week's. I didn't write about last week since there were only three students in attendance and all we did was play games and write them down. Though, the one interesting thing that happened last week was that one of my students was a little apprehensive about playing a classmate of his. On asking him a reason for this apprehension, he replied saying that he believed his opponent was the more skilled of the two and will beat him easily hence there was no point playing him. Hearing this, I told him never to adopt a defeatist attitude like that again, even good players have bad days and this complex of being inferior shouldn't prevent him for playing a good game. Buoyed(perhaps) he went ahead and played the game and guess what happened? The apprehensive kid ended up defeating the 'skilled' one on an illegal move(I only permitted them to make one illegal move as many of the local tournaments have rules of rapid play)! The look of surprise on both their faces was priceless, especially so on the one who believed he couldn't defeat his opponent.

After letting the class teacher know of the students' absence from chess lessons last week, it was hardly surprising to find all students present today. Moreover, I also found another enthusiastic kid who wanted to join the lesson but couldn't because of space constraints. I discovered this kid when he was thrashing one of my student in a game they were playing as we set up the classroom. He convincingly led my student into an overkill mate with a queen, rook and knight. I don't know if I should feel happy that I discovered another extremely eager-to-learn player or should I feel dismayed that one of my student got a beating from someone who hadn't received formal chess instruction before. Quickly, I sought permission to include him in my class which was granted immediately. Thankfully, I didn't have to go over all the basics as this kid knew his stuff well and caught up quickly. 

Since I was planning on teaching opening's today, I thought of showing them one of my own games where I had followed some of the principles I was going to introduce them to. Below is the game from a recent tournament I played.


They found the game to be very interesting, especially how the simple knight move to g5 changed the shape of the game. With a tone set for the rest of the class, I started the next activity in line.

My plan today was to start off with teaching them the Max Lange Attack as played from the white side. A key reason to choose this opening was that it focussed on the key principals of development, castle and attack, the theory was relatively less and easier to digest and lastly it would give them a surprise weapon in their arsenal as most tournament players here are rather unaware of this old opening. Just as I was about to start off, a student asked me "Sir, can you defeat computers at chess?", I very honestly told him that after a certain level, I can't. This also sparked the interest of other students who asked me can the best chess player in the world beat computers? I then told them that with the likes of advanced chess software such as Komodo, Stockfish even Magnus Carlsen can't defeat them. The reason behind that being that the computers are cruel, calculating machines which aren't influenced by any sort of physical environment or emotions. Also, they can calculate quite a few variations in seconds. I then went on to tell them about Kasparov's match with Deep Blue. The students were quite evidently enamoured by this piece of trivia.

Back to the task at hand, we started off with the first opening I had planned for them, Max Lange Attack. Note to readers: Some variations may be classified under Hungarian Defence and Guicco Piannissimo.

The wasn't completed as it was time for the kids to leave, but they sure enjoyed whatever was taught. They requested me to show me more of my games and I readily accepted to. However, I am going to see them after two weeks or so now thanks to my exams.

This ends my this week's narrative of teaching chess. Please leave any ideas, criticisms, suggestions in the comments below.