Amateur Opening Analysis

Jun 15, 2009, 9:53 PM |

Chess instructors often say that amateurs spend too much time on opening preparation. This may be true, but I wonder if the problem is not more that their opening preparation methods are mistaken. They try to learn long variations that they will probably not see in practice instead of concentrating on the lines they are likely to face in an amateur game. (See my blog entry on my training regime for more on this: For example, in the following game--round three of the tournament I played in last weekend--my opponent playing black was clueless about my opening. He told me that he was booked up on the Najdorf, but knew next to nothing about Bb5 Sicilians. Kasparov may play the Najdorf, but how many under 1800 players are going to wander into it? Not me, that is for sure. I played a Bb5 Sicilian gambit in which white gets pressure down the e-file for a pawn. Black, oblivious to the line, simply thought that I had blundered. Unfortunately, I did not know the opening as well as I should, missed a key move, and failed to take advantage of his opening error. Before this tournament, very few of my opponents had played Sicilians. E5 has been their overwhelming response to my E4. Consequently, I have not put much effort into mastering a repertoire against the different Sicilians. Facing two Sicilians in five games last weekend and scoring only 0.5 out of 2 against them, it is time for me to hit the opening books and database.

Beyond messing up the opening, I believe I generally played well in this game. My solid endgame defense resulted in a well-earned draw.