Understanding your opening (Part II)

Mar 12, 2009, 12:55 PM |

I had not planned on making this a series, but I am still getting questions on what to do in various positions.  So let's start at the top. We will cover general ideas that you can apply to any opening.

It has come to my attention that the casual player might not be aware that every opening has an objective.  These objectives can be as simple as to control a square, or as complex as attacking a pawn chain.

Whichever opening you choose, you need to be aware of what the objective is for that opening.  Beginners are taught to (A.) Activate their pieces, (B.) Be safe with their King and (C.) Centralize their pieces.  These are good opening principles to keep in mind. However, doing them while ignoring your opponents move will lead to problems and even advantages for your opponent.

Advance players keep the above principles in mind while they are optimizing their piece placement.  Sometimes your opponent will make a mistake, and if you are moving based on memorized sequences you will miss the mistake.

I often observe 1600-1800 rated players making moves without really understanding why they are making that move.  They are just making the move because they saw it in the book or saw a strong player make the same move in a similar position.

If you ever have the opportunity to observe Grandmaster play you will observe that they do not blitz through the opening or the first ten moves of the game.  These are the same people who write books on the same openings.  They are taking their time in these positions for a reason.  Sometimes you can win the game in the first 10 moves, but technique may make the game stretch for another 15-20 moves.

This game demonstrates what happens to you when you just play memorized moves and ignore your opponent.