Learning the Spanish: Adventures in the Chigorin
Exploring the Spanish: The Chigorin Part 1
The Spanish (Ruy Lopez) has always fascinated players. In a recent Q&A (via the Facebook page for his app) Carlsen recommended that players in the intermediate stages of their chess learn the Closed Spanish in order to improve their game, particularly if they desire a solid and interesting middlegame. IM ChessExplained on YouTube also recommended 1...e5 as a response to the king pawn opening.
Like a lot of beginning players I started as a French Defense player, an opening that I still strongly believe in as an opening repertoire for beginning players. It has the advantage of being relatively simple for beginners to learn and consistent pawn structures, breaks and themes (particularly considering most beginners tend to play the advanced or exchanged structures with the occasional KIA)
However, I eventually grew tired of playing certain French positions, particularly against the Tarrasch where I felt white maintained a slight but consistent edge with less counter-play than I would have liked. When I hit around 1500 USCF I began playing e5 as my response to the king pawn and I haven't looked back. These are a few of my adventures in the Chigorin variation. I don't promise the moves will be the best but I will try my best to give you a sense of the opening positions, pawn structures and thematic ideas. I will also throw in a few master games and resources.
As an intermediate player, I know learning from the masters is important but I like seeing some games as my level or just slightly higher sometimes. Some Class B, A and Master level players are sometimes nice to see such as those in Dan Heisman's book on instructional amateur games. Each post I will try to bring in at least one high level amateur or master tier game in the line we are exploring rather than facing GM after GM game where the moves are sometimes much more subtle and harder to understand. These games won't be perfect but the basic plans and structures should be apparent as well as what not to do in these positions.
To start us off I have a game played between two 1700-1800 players from a local club game. A few people at the club play the Spanish from black's side and after looking at this line with me a few of them played the variation we will be exploring in a classical game (90 min + 30 sec). White had consistently played the Spanish as a mainstay of his repertoire while black was a former French Defense player who was playing the Spanish, Breyer Variation before learning the Chigorin.