And now, the Newb presents... Game Explorer (pt 2)
You may still be staring at that fantastic treasure of 1.5 million master level games in the Game Explorer. It is beautiful, isn't it? But, there's a catch. The catch is that you're not a master.
Oh, it seems simple enough. Just follow the most popular moves until you win the game. Those master guys surely know what they're doing.
We don't. They will happily lead us into theoretical quandries that they only escaped from with great difficulty. Their giant godlike heads will peer down at us from the edge of the precipice and grin as they say, "Now what, newbie?" We ask them if it's OK to castle. They laugh as they turn away.
Happens to me every day. Someone commented during a chat today that I must've seen the "Volga Gambit" before. Huh? Volga Gambit? That's not even in my "Chess for Children" book. Oh, I see. I was using the Game Explorer for my moves and they thought I knew what I was doing. Ha! The joke's on them. Wait a minute, they're an expert on the Volga Gambit and I don't even know what it is? Oops.
Game Explorer is great for teaching you standard openings. It's great for making sure that you're playing a standard opening. But at some point you have to take ownership of the game. It's not going to play the game for you. Don't let it take you into positions that don't make sense to you. You won't know what to do. You will lose. You will be sad.
For instance, according to Game Explorer, 1..c5 is the most popular response to 1.e4. I lost 6 games in a row trying to make 1..c5 work. It's the Sicilian Defense. I hear it's very popular. It's not popular with me. I don't get it. And I obviously don't have the necessary knowledge, experience, or playing style to make it work.
Yes. Playing style. You have a playing style. Are you a stickler for developing Knights before Bishops? Do you like bringing your Queen out early? Do you like pushing your pawns into interesting patterns? That is your style. That's how you like to play. Don't let Game Explorer cramp your style.
Now. If you and Game Explorer disagree about something - here's an opportunity to learn something new. Figure out why Game Explorer doesn't like your move. Follow the line. Maybe G.E. has a valid point. Maybe your style should change a bit.
But what if your opponent deviates from the Game Explorer? Aha! Now we've got them - provided that we didn't get in over our heads and we still understand what's going on in the game. So, now what? We know what they should've done but they didn't make that move so there's no suggested Game Explorer move for us either.
Look closer. Look at the moves that your opponent didn't make. Hmmm? Look at each one. Ask yourself why that's a good move. What threat does it make? What threat of yours does it counter? Now, look again at the move that your opponent actually played. Was it a mistake? Then you know what to do. Don't see that they did anything wrong? Maybe you've reached a plateau that requires further study or playing experience.
Or it's the Volga Gambit.