Sat.17th Aug. at the Hub.
I got home from UK after only 4 weeks, instead of the expected 7, and met Peter, Branko, David C and Ilan for the usual Saturday afternoon. Lovely to see you again. Ilan didn't stay to play, as business called him off to Hobart. David wanted to play Branko again, but by that time Peter and Branko had had 2 games and Branko was ready to say goodbye. Not much chess was played, in fact! We sat about talking, having soup, drinking coffee and smoking on the balcony. We had good chats, but we were SLACK! and it was fun.
The second game particularly had some interesting things in it, and I would be interested to hear if you find you can spare the time to consider the following position:
I saw their game just after they reached this position. I asked Peter why he had put his bishop on d6, and how he planned to develop his white-squared one. I asked Branko why he had moved so many pawns. In particular, his moves a3 and h3 are wasted moves, I think, resulting in a situation in which black actually has more pieces developed (3 minor pieces and castling) than white (only 2 minor pieces) - with black having also a move to play! The result is that black is actually winning at this very early stage.
This is interesting, and not just because it is evident to all of us, I think, that the wily Branko is a better chess-player than Peter is. Black's position is objectively better than white's because Peter has followed (roughly speaking) the guidelines for beginning a game in an orderly fashion - knights and bishops first, then castling, followed by finding a good square for the queen and centering of rooks. However, he has followed these guidelines without, I suspect, an understanding of WHY, or of the benefits which can follow. White's position is worse because Branko has a justifiable confidence in his ability to make good use of the space which his pawns are laying claim to. However, when Branko plays someone who has a little more knowledge and/or a little more confidence in his/her abilities, then the weakness of white's claim to space may become evident. I say "may" quite deliberately, because it's never easy to gain from a theoretical advantage against a clever player.
But here is the crunch: classical opening theory (which is roughly what Peter has been using) says that a better-developed player can benefit by opening up the game. How could black do that, do you think? Peter continued with a good move, Re8. Branko continued with another dubious one, f4. Do you think that Peter could have opened up the game? Perhaps getting his rook to bear on Branko's king?