Overemphasizing the importance of openings, part 1

Overemphasizing the importance of openings, part 1

NM linlaoda
Aug 23, 2014, 9:15 AM |

Openings just aren't as important as you or I probably make it out to be. At least the way I used to study it. Using a computer to come up with which openings have the best "score" is in my opinion not a very productive method of studying.


However, I used to think otherwise. When I was rated <2100 I improved very slowly due to this flawed thinking. I believed I have tracked the game which led to all this madness: in the following game, I try to play the Smith Morra Gambit but fail miserably. I was rated about 1580, but armed with computer analysis, that makes me 3100, right?


So after this game, I concluded: "The reason I lost was that I had not analyzed it deep enough with the computer! If I had prepared every possible response, then I would most definitely have won!"

I would play this same player several months later, and in the time between these two matches, I spent hours on end studying a variety of lines using Rybka (at the time, it was kind of a big thing). There was one line that I was studying (or more accurately, Rybka was studying...) and to my surprise, I got to play it in an actual tournament game, against the very same opponent who had beaten me so convincingly before!


After this game, I was very sure that I had just discovered the secret to chess. *Clearly* I had won this game due to my opening brilliance. All those hours spent studying this *exact* opening line had paid off!

Now, back to reality. This game was most definitely not won by the opening, in fact, all the "advantage" I had thought was present in my position were simply a misevaluation of the position by Rybka. The game was not won by the opening, but instead by a nice attack - however, blinded by this apparent "opening victory," I could not be convinced otherwise.

And thus began several years of wasted time spent on just.... openings.

Next week we will look at some more examples of "computer-induced opening blindness"

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