20 Minute Training Lesson: Calculating in the Opening

NM linlaoda
May 17, 2015, 11:43 PM |

Training tip: Start Calculating as early as possible.


A lesson I work with my students from the very beginning is to be playing the opening as if it is the "opening game," similar to the middlegame and endgame. Many players view the opening as not as phase where one needs to think but instead as one where one can simply bring the pieces out or play memorized or familiar moves.


While this approach allows for "safe" chess, it certainly does not harness one's full potential. Let me put it this way, when your opponent makes a mistake in the opening, you have an opportunity right then and there to get an advantage and thus have great chances to win the game - so why not seize this chance?


Let's see what I'm talking about in an instructive example:


So you probably have not played or even seen this opening before, but my assertion is that this should not prevent you from playing the best moves here, even as early as move 3! The moves in chess always can be found with logical thinking - do not get mistaken into believing that lines must be memorized!


So in the current position, the question is what is Black's best move?

Up to now, these are all "mainline" moves of the Nimzowitsch defense, which have been more or less quite logical. Now let's continue the game:


White has just played their bishop to d3, offering a trade of bishops. Whether or not you are familiar with this position, the next few moves should be played on principle, let's see if you can figure it out

Note: The previous diagrams were more to get us to this starting point for the lesson, please take your time through this puzzle and try to find the best moves before looking at the solution! (~20-30 minutes)


How was it? I certainly do not hope for anyone to be memorizing these opening moves - the idea was to teach you to how to think logically in the opening.


Just a recap:

1) If your opponent offers free material and you see no reason not to take it, then take it!

2) If there are several ways to capture a piece and one clearly is making concessions, then do not play that one! Chess isn't a game where you have to "play easily"

3) Be greedy. Chess isn't a morality contest - that is, as long as you are playing the game by the rules!


 Please leave your comments below - good or bad, they are all welcome!

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