The side effects of studying the openings wrong (part 2)

NM linlaoda
Aug 25, 2014, 11:33 PM |

This is the continuation of my opening series - the first blog can be found here:

In this issue I would like to discuss the consequences of studying openings with computers instead of by concept.

I used to be a big fan of the King's Indian Attack, but only because I did not have to think for the first ten moves, as long as I reached the following position:

I spent hours (I'd estimate the equivalent of several days) studying opening books on the King's Indian Attack and tried to memorize lines deep into the 30th(!) move. It did not help that I was winning many of my games at this time, but this was not because of my "deep" understanding of the opening - at the 1600 level my opponents were blundering material frequently enough to offset my deficiencies.




This kind of opening "preparation" hinders one's development:

1) We stop thinking in the opening. As IM David Pruess has said before, the chess is made up of three elements: opening, middlegame, and endgame. Many of us play the middlegame and endgame creatively and thoughtfully - why shouldn't we do the same with the opening?

2)Preparing these kinds of "one size fits all" kinds of openings restricts the kinds of positions one learns. This is why the opening moves 1.e4 or 1.d4 are more instructive: the White player learns how to face a variety of different pawn structures - in the King's Indian Attack, we learn only one!

The following game is an example of "shutting off" the mind during the opening and how this can quickly lead to trouble. Coincidentally, this example features a King's Indian Attack

I failed to sense the critical moments at move 5 (d4!), 10 (N2f3!), 14 (cxd4!) and 17(Bf4!).

How did this happen? As I started playing the game "automatically," my mind never turned on and I never managed to start "really playing" chess.

And now, a quick loss where it all came together for me: my opponent took advantage of my (many) blunders to mate me in a mere 15 moves(!).

I do not know if I have ever given such a high percentage of my moves (?) marks, but after this game I unfortunately still did not learn my lesson. Instead of realizing that I needed to start calculating especially in the opening, I still left with the impression that I simply needed to study the c3 Sicilian opening a lot...

Next time we will see more examples of how playing the openings "blindly" leads to trouble, but maybe even an example of how opening preparation actually came in handy.

Until next time~




Looking for a Coach? I am currently accepting new students. If you are interested, please fill out an application:
or visit my coach profile,


Thank you for visiting :)