I have been putting a great deal of time into studying, even more so than usual. The way I learned my opening priciples was through Josh Waitzkin's method. Using a standard King's pawn opening, development of the Knights and Bishops, central square control early on, castling early,etc. I also studied a number of simple opening variations. Here's where the problem came in. Too much clutter towards the center and in front of the Queen. I have since worked hard to eliminate this problem and get better pawn structure in the openings, etc. I started work of an article which I hope to finish after I get some good advice from you folks.
I first noticed my problem when I looked at my games at say the seventh or eighth move. I would compare my position to that of my opponent. When playing really good opponents I noticed that much of their control of the central squares came from a combination of pawn placement (not simply placing their pawns on two of the four central squares) and minor piece placement that was aimed at the central squares but not right on top of them. I studied opening variation and have gotten a bit better but still have a thousand miles to go in order to play like some of my extremely talented opponents. Let's face it, I by no means a chess genius, or even a decent player (Yes, I have improved my rating quite a bit but it's inconsistent and I usually have to come back after a a large point loss or I catch an opponent's blunder - or my opponent thinks my lower rating makes me an easy win), but I've gotten better. I am playing upwards of 5 to 6 hours daily (except when I have to prepare for band shows and recording sessions, when I carry around a chess set and laptop with about 260 chess books in pdf format and literally play chess between songs and during set up/soundchecks).
So the question for my article is this: How can a beginner follow the guidelines of the basic principles of the opening game and not end up with a traffic jam of pieces that make the Los Angeles Freeways at rush hour look like a country road. Any thoughts. Note: I'd like to keep it in as simple terms as possible, letting people learning these principles explore the many varieties of openings after they get comfortable with the basic principles.
If you notice any sentence structure problems, spelling issues, etc note that at the moment I am very sick due to complications from radiation treatment for cancer that I had a while back. It has caused some problems with coordination (now limiting my ability to play guitar as well as walk and my ability to write as smoothly as I used to) due to severe pain, nerve damage and a few other things. I have an editor for the article so it will not be as sloppy (I also don't know when I have problems with writing since it comes and goes. Thank God for the cure to this). Thank you very much for the help on this. It will help many chess players!
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post a couple games or lines you've been having trouble with.
I probably can't contribute much knowledge to the subject, but wouldn't the clutter of your formation depend on which opening you chose? I mean if you prefer open, tactical positions, stick with e4. What opening do you play usually? a little more specific than King's pawn openings would be helpful)
Hi Hugh. 1stly it's great that you are still posting and trying to gain more knowledge despite all you have been going through, so I'll try and help you with this sort of thing whenever I can.
"When playing really good opponents I noticed that much of their control of the central squares came from a combination of pawn placement (not simply placing their pawns on two of the four central squares) and minor piece placement that was aimed at the central squares but not right on top of them." What I think you are describing here is a more "Hyper-Modern" way of playing as oppose to the purely classical way. The basic general Principals of Hyper-Modern play is where one side instead of occupying the centre mainly with pawns supported by minor pieces, will willingly allow the other to move their pawns into the centre and instead contest for control of the centre with long range pieces (usually Bishops via fianchetto) instead of pawns. The side using the classical method in such a game will usually have to play aggressively and dynamically or his 'big' centre can become more a weakness for the other side to exploit (usually by pawn breaks e.g. c5, c4 and/or f5, f4) than a strength. On the other hand the side choosing to play in the "Hyper-Modern" way will have to be careful not to let his position become too cramped and subject to strong pressure. Of course most of the time strong players will go for a kind of mixture of the two ways of playing, but these are the "typical" contrasting set-ups. The position is unrealistic, but it's just to make a point:
It just so happens that I annotated one such exteme case on my blog. The analysis is not too deep, but you may find it worth a look anyhow: game
I have to go now, but I will try my best to address your other points when I'm online again.
"How can a beginner follow the guidelines of the basic principles of the opening game and not end up with a traffic jam of pieces that make the Los Angeles Freeways at rush hour look like a country road."
Actually like others in order to answer this I'll need to really see a few examples of what you mean. I don't think I've heard anyone mention this exact problem before, or at least I've not heard anyone phrase it quite like that.
This reminds me of similiar posts I made several months ago. At the time I could spot some blunders my opponents made, but my planning wasn't where I wanted it to be. It still isn't, but I'm improving it. You will too. Just remember your right where your supposed to be....
I would recommend that you study gambits and countergambits. You'll lose a lot of games at first, but you'll gain a lot of insight into the importance of development and initiative. Playing gambits will almost force your chess thinking out of the beginner's curse of materialism, and slowly you'll start to consider the other elements of a chess game, things like space and piece coordination. Try some gambits out for awhile and tell me how it goes.
Generally speaking, the chessboard is cluttered; when it isn't they call it an endgame.
You can't expect all of your pieces to be star performers in the position; your opponent will see to it that where ever you go you'll wish you went the other way. But hey! everything is vice versa here, your opponent has the same headache. Just make your active pieces stronger, more dynamic, co-ordinated and threatening than the loser.
One thing nobody seems to have mentioned is that many openings focus their control in the centre on one square, not just the whole centre.
The Queens Indian and Nimzo-Indian for example focus specifically on controlling e4.
Most sicilians early on focus on d4 for black and d5 for white. For example after 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6. You see?
Typically the player who prevails is the player who can best hamper his opponents control of his focal point while increasing the control of his own. The opening is a juggling act of quick development, central control and the prevention of the opponents plan.
Perhaps if you learn where the focal point of your opening systems are and gear your development towards it you'll find your peices are stepping on each others toes much less.
I hope this helps.