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In chess it's easy to take for granted the things you've known for a long time.
Sounds like you wasted a lot of time memorizing opening lines.
Take a player who only studied _____ and knows nothing about openings, and suddenly the openings don't seem so unimportant.
Hardly. I know 5 or 6 moves in some positions and that's it. And even then it has nothing to do with the result of the game.
How do you know ...Qxb2 is bad? Does it just look bad or is there proof? Did that proof come from intuition or was calculation actually necessary to prove that it's bad? What about ...Qxb2 in the Najdorf or the Trompowsky? Can you eye-ball those positions as well and come to a conclusion? Often times terrible looking moves work just fine. There were plenty of ugly moves that Black could have played in the game and interestingly they all required great calculation to prove they were not sufficient. Whether ...Qxb2 was justified or not, White needed to be able to calculate lots of potential lines in order to prove it. That's the point really. Knowing wasn't even half the battle in this case.
And finally, how relevant are Slav defense themes here if the position is not even a Slav anymore?
...Qb6–Qb6xb2 is nonsense because there's no follow up for Black, while White gets just about all his pieces well placed to counter against Black's King. It may look similar to the poisoned pawn line in the Najdorf, but that's all, "it looks similar" but it's not, as in the Najdorf Black has better piece coordination over the squares surrounding his King.
Furthermore, the name of the opening system is irrelevant. When studying systems there's no stop or importance in moves 15, 25 or 65. We study pawn structures and piece placement aiming for coordination and activity for both sides, that is, the basis and evolution of the available and logical plans from a position. In your example, Black aimed for activity on the queenside, but disregarding White's plans on the center and kingside, which was (or is) stronger as the King has more value than 2 pawns.
Eyeball? Indeed! That's what you "learn" when studying openings systems the way you should. An example from a sim exhibition:
This is all great in a vacuum but not in real games.
1.) Typical plans are great. Except when you blunder. Then they don't matter anymore.
2.) Knowing what to do is super helpful. Not so much when someone changes the nature of the position to something unrecognizable and then you blunder.
Why are players U2000? Because they don't know the typical plans of the opening? Because they play too many openings? No. It's tactics. When players get over that I can see these things being relevant but not before.
People blunder less when their comfortable in the position, which occurs when they have an idea of what both sides commonly try to achieve.
The difference between levels of players isn't their capability to understand the logic in the position, but their precision . . .
For the typical novice, chess can be complicated because they don't know what to look for, so they waste time analyzing more than they should, or moves they shouldn't.
Perhaps at higher levels it's not a matter of understanding, but a novice's lack of precision due to not understanding the position is the same as... simply not understanding the logic of the position
Hehe, sure indeed.
But my comment was in the context of opening study as a method to improve the precision of novices (or anyone for that matter) during a game because they're already familiar with the plans and evolution along the middlegame and ending.
As an example of not playing the best moves, the engine showing 0.00, but still having practical chances due to superior position requiring black to be more accurate than white:
I think if you are not able to see a simple pin as Ng3 and win the f5 knight a player is never able to find al the good moves after Rxc7 and win the game even as the computer gives an equal elval. This win is so much more difficult to find.
Great chess mate. But I think Rd8? is a very odd and bad move. I think e6 or o-o-o must be much better.
I totally agree with OP. There are way too many opening possibilities for a player of my caliber to get even a slight acquaintance with. It's a waste of time. I study tactics and that's about it. And I really suck at chess but I love to play. Good enough for me.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying ...Qxb2 is a great move. I'm only saying that sometimes bad moves require more than just knowing they're bad to take advantage of them. Take the position after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nxf7. As far as I know this isn't as dangerous as it was once thought to be. And yet one of the most famous games in this variation is Topalov - Kramnik, Linares 1999 which ended in a draw. It's not always easy to defeat such moves.
... I know 5 or 6 moves in some positions and that's it. ...
And anything about the ideas connected with those moves? Ever looked at any games with those moves?
... And even then it has nothing to do with the result of the game.
"... A remark like 'games are rarely decided in the opening' does not really do justice to the issue. ... even if an initial opening advantage gets spoiled by subsequent mistakes, this doesn't render it meaningless. In the long run, having the advantage out of the opening will bring you better results. Maybe this warning against the study of openings especially focuses on 'merely learning moves'. But almost all opening books and DVD's give ample attention to general plans and developing schemes, typical tactics, whole games, and so on. ..." - IM Willy Hendriks (2012)
Sure. But sooner or later the position will change into something unrecognizable and there will still be a middlegame to play. Opening ideas can have their uses sure. But games are not won and lost simply due to a lack of them at least for amateurs.
... sooner or later the position will change into something unrecognizable and there will still be a middlegame to play. Opening ideas can have their uses sure. ...
Will one learn those ideas while studying tactics?
... But games are not won and lost simply due to a lack of them at least for amateurs.
It's important to understand why this is so. It's simply that blundering may be more difficult in better positions. And yet it is also said that if you were to pit a player with grandmaster positional play but poor tactics against a player with grandmaster tactics and poor positional play, the tactical player would win most of those games. Why? Because you can't actually win a game without tactics.
Say you do get in advantageous positions. That's great. But what if the only way to actually convert them is to go into calculations that would actually increase the chances of blunders despite the fact that your position is better? Look at Petrosian's game. Do you really think he was going to have an easier time simply because he was better? It didn't look like that to me at all. I saw all kinds of complicated sacrifices and maneuvers that seemed awfully difficult to find.
They say there's nothing harder in chess than to win a won position. I'm reminded of game 1 of the Yaccov vs Komodo match in which Yaccov being 2 pawns ahead refused to attempt to press the advantage against the engine because he did not want to go into complicated tactical positions with it. The evaluation put him at around (+2.00) and yet he still didn't want to play the position. The engine managed to get a strong position because of this and Yaccov really only managed to get an advantage by going for some kind of anti-computer strategy.
Chess is a complicated game. Knowing you're better is not enough. Proving it is what counts and that's not happening without tactics and calculation.
... It's important to understand why this is so. It's simply that blundering may be more difficult in better positions. And yet it is also said that if you were to pit a player with grandmaster positional play but poor tactics against a player with grandmaster tactics and poor positional play, the tactical player would win most of those games. Why? ...
Why should we care? Are below-2000 players choosing between those two extremes?
... you can't actually win a game without tactics. ...
Is anyone arguing in favor of not learning tactics?
penandpaper0089 wrote: "And yet it is also said that if you were to pit a player with grandmaster positional play but poor tactics against a player with grandmaster tactics and poor positional play, the tactical player would win most of those games."
Botvinnik beat Tal in 1961. Petrosian beat Spassky in 1966. Kramnik beat Kasparov in 2000. Carlsen beat Anand twice recently. Good strategy seems to work well for them.
We can't say that any of them have poor positional or tactical play.
No. But tactics typically lead to the game's win condition and openings do not. It's not until a certain level is reached that openings actually affect the game in a relevant way. This is the way I see the game at any rate. Some may disagree but I don't see the openings as very important at all.