I have written about what my ideal game would be in a previous post but it would be a game versus a human over a long time control and it would be free of blunders – ideally it would have great tactical combinations. Yesterday I played my best game to date. It was the final game in a ‘once a week’ tournament and because I had won all my previous games, partly through luck, I ended up being undefeated on board one. This competition is ACF rated and my rating when I joined the tournament was 863, opposite me was my opponent who was a FIDE Master with an ACF rating of 2082. Here is the game, I am White.
The game was great for me – my best to date. It wasn’t overly tactical but I think it was beautifully positional and I was very happy to play such delicate moves over such a long period. Looking at the engine output after this analysis shows that it was extremely close and didn’t vary by more than 1 point for for 50+ moves! Even after 65 moves there was never more than 2 points in it.
I have been posting about openings and focussing on the Scots Gambit for white and the Scandinavian for black. This weekend I entered my monthly ‘Rookies’ tournament at Boxhill Chess Club and played seven 15 minute games. In 4 games I played black and I was able to play the Scandinavian 3 times – my fourth black game was against an English opening and I played the symetrical. So the Scandinavian worked well and I think it unsettled my opponents. I also played three white games; one was a Sicilian that went beautifully – I used my ‘messing with the Sicilians’ system, another was against a French and my last was a Scots Gambit. In my Scots Gambit game I had a winning position early on and was happy to take a three repeat draw against a player with a 500 point higher rating. So less opportunity, this time, for my prepared white opening but it seemed to work when I played it. It looks like the next to openings I need to learn for white are answers to the French and answers to the English.
The opening of my Sicilian (Click on moves in parenthesis to see the engines recommendation)
The opening of my French (Click on moves in parenthesis to see book moves)
Opening knowledge is something that grows over time. It starts as a three point premise of: 1. Control the centre, 2. Develop your pieces, 3. Castle. From there you notice things naturally occur. Knights often support central pawns, bishops flank out to pin and soon you form a personal opening that seems to occur often. This was the stage I was at a couple of years ago but I knew there was more to it. Growing up in the UK I watched TV coverage of Nigel Short getting thrashed by Garry Kasparov and commentators mention things like ‘Najdorf Variation’ and ‘Poisoned Pawn’. So I sought to find out more about openings so that I could ‘master’ a white and a black opening. My research led me to two openings that are widely respected and often seen as the ‘best’. These were the Ruy Lopez for white and the Sicilian for black. What I didn’t realise is how complex they can be. I played a cursory version of these openings during computer blitz games for a long time without really understanding them. After a time I started to get a feel for them and I supplemented this with watching videos about them. I still don’t know much about them but what I do know is that I feel much more comfortable with the Ruy than with the Sicilian and I’m much happier with the Najdorf than the Dragon if I play the Sicilian.
More recently I have played the Orangutan and Danish gambit as white and the French, Kings Indian and Ruy Lopez as black (as opposed to playing as white). All of these openings I play at a basic level and I feel ok with the white openings but I’m not happy with my black defences and the way my games pan out. The French seems as complicated as the Sicilian, the Ruy as black seems a lesser version of the Ruy as white and the Kings Indian always seems cramped.
I got to talking about openings at my Tuesday club and the teacher there suggested the Scandinavian since it flowed fairly naturally as black but could easily trip up white. We looked at various versions of it and it looked good for the type of chess I am interested in. I will do some more work on it.
Also, in my postal games, I am also trying to steer away from openings I know so that I can study new openings as they play out. I see this as an enjoyable way of finding out about other openings.
my aim at this stage is not to have a full understanding of any opening but rather to understand some openings enough that I can play them in over the board games to a point where the middle game takes over without me being overly disadvantaged.