Preparations of an amateur IV: The National Championship
In seven days, the most important tournament of the year takes place in Trondheim, Norway. It's the national championship, with nine rounds of chess to be played over eight days.
This blog is a way for me to collect my thoughts and preparations. If anyone finds it interesting, that's an added bonus. I'll review and update as I work on my preparations in the next few days.
It seems I will be rated among the top 10 in my group, so based on that I should be able to collect a few points - but it will take hard work at the board, not getting carried away and playing logical, sound chess - aggressive, not passive!
Opening repetoir with White: 1. d4
I will definitely play 1. d4 in every game as White. As game collections at my level are sparse, I suppose I can meet most of these four possible variations:
- 1. d4 f5 - The Dutch defence, where my main point will be to fianchetto and fight for e4.
- 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Bf4 Nc6 6. e3 - my main Slav variation
- 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 - King's Indian
- 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. a3!? Bxc3 5. bxc3 - Nimzo-Indian
The Dutch Defence
I played an OTB recently where I got a good position out of the opening:
Black spent a little too much time building up his position, giving White a nice lead in development.
I don't really know too much theory vs the Dutch, but I do know White is supposed to fianchetto with g3 and Bg2. Also, in a previous game I misplayed the opening and have hopefully learned long term from those mistakes.
A few moves later we reached a very interesting position, from White's perspective:
Now, I did unfortunately not see the right continuation at that point, I only played c5 a cople of moves later, but I still got a great position and went on to win the game. Of course, I do not know all lines in the Dutch, but the general idea of playing a well supported e4 should be a basic concept that could work in several variations.
My team mate @gressli suggests 2. Bg5, which probably should be followed by exchanging if Black plays 2...Nf6 - otherwise it pins e7. However; Black could easily play g6/Bg7/and then exchange on e4 if White plays that; Black would gain from opening up the position, having the bishop pair.
The Slav defence
I play a line where I take on d5 immediately, which basically forces us into a line where Black ends up with a few options after my 6. e3.
Black can reply in numerous ways here, 6...a6, 6...e6 or 6...Bf5 all are much played. White has interesting possibilities on the c file, but there are also some chances of a kingside attack, depending on what Black chooses to do.
The King's Indian
Here my main aim will be to grab space in the centre with an early e4, possibly followed by Bd3 and Nd2, then 0-0 and f4 if Black is passive. More likely is a scenario where Black challenges in the centre with ...e5 or ...c5
Here, White should castle before playing e5 and then redirect the knight via e1 to d3 - which supports c5 at the right moment.
This is an opening where I will play the provocative 4. a3!? which leads to a position that does not really have great statistics for White:
White will have a weak pawn on c4 and c3 and a broken pawn structure, but the idea is a kingside attack after building up in order to play e4, giving me the chance to play Bg5, pinning the knight (usually Black prevents Bg5 by Ne8), which again can me met with f4 - giving White a huge space advantage and several good ingrediences for an attack after 0-0.
Opening repetoir with Black
With four or five games as Black, I am bound to meet a few different variations.
1. e4 e6 - French defence: There are many different variations here, from the advanced, via exchanged, the Tarrasch (3. Nd2) and the Paulsen/Steinitz variation (3. Nc3) as the most typical ones.
1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3 Nc3 Bb4 - Nimzo-Indian: I need to choose one line as a reply to d4/c4. The alternative is the King's Indian Defence, but I prefer this line; though as I know from playing it with White, it can be played quite aggressively by White.
1. c4 e5 - English: I need to work on this, quite simply. I played 1. c4 for a while last year, so I know it briefly. 1...e5 seems a sound reply. One option is to play 2...Bb4 and 3...Bxc3, creating quite an imbalanced position early on:
This would possibly disrupt the plans of most c4 players, though giving up the bishop pair on move 3 is a serious decision, so I would need to know what to do.
A possible line is: 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. g3 Bxc3 4. bxc3 d6 5. Bg2 Nc6 6. d3 f5 7. Nf3 Nf6 8. O-O O-O 9. Rb1 Qe8
...which brings us to this position:
1. Nf3 Nf6 - which can transpose to almost anything
1. f4? - One of the top seeds seems to prefer this opening, playing a sort of reversed Dutch with Nf3 and e3.
I haven't really played against this, and I think I will have to find the solutions over the board, in the knowledge that White has terrible statistics (32 %), and where Black seems to break open the centre with ...e5 followed by ...Qe7
Opening preparations will only get me so far: A breakdown of my most common mistakes in recent games tells me that I need to work on calculation, visualisation and tactics. But better opening knowledge will hopefully give me a better start, a higher awareness of which plan to choose - and more initiative early on. Still, each position has to be worked on, and hopefully at the end of the tournament I can look back on lots of exciting, good chess!