I mentioned that I read a great intro to the King’s Gambit in my Fundamental Chess Openings Book. An excerpt reads ‘The King’s Gambit is without doubt the most fascinating of all openings. Surrounded by an aura of mystery, courage and heroism, it is this classical opening which comes closest to the eternal myth of the hero who leaves all earthly pleasure behind…’.
So when I saw the King’s Gambit book at the chess sale I bought it and was excited by its possibilities. The book was written by Victor Korchnoi in 1974 and this pedigree gave me confidence that the opening could be a dangerous weapon. I have only flicked through the book quickly at this stage but the diagrams throughout show extremely loose positions with lone pawns, exposed kings, and dynamic pieces. The positions look very unlike positions I normally associate with good play so I was excited.
I decided to have a look at a video about the opening (slipping from Luddutism) and the most accessible one I found was called ‘Opening Traps for Beginners: Countering the King’s Gambit’ by a fine video author called IM Valerie Lilov. In it Valerie seems to show how the opening can be completely overturned which wasn’t what I was expecting and which took the wind out of my sales a bit.
His approach was
or the ‘King’s gambit declined: Nimzovitch counter gambit’. The video lasts just under 20 minutes but it did seem convincing. On the games explorer it shows the King’s Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4) being used 4920 times, the move 3. …c6 is played 213 times but shows a 42% win for black with 21% drawn and 37% won for white. (I guess this isn’t a refutation but it’s not a great start for white). The most popular sequence is 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 with 3. …g5 being played 694 times and with a white win percentage of 42% and a black win percentage of 45%. I should add that percentages seem to bounce around from move to move so they aren’t particularly instructive and it also seems to me that many games are decided after the opening but it has been interesting to look at this opening in the light of chess history and modern theory. Whether a player is black or white the opening does seem dynamic and interesting and I’ll look into it more and try it as white and, f4 willing, as black.
Here is my first attempt at playing the King’s Gambit. This was in a 10 minute game on chess.com. I was rated 1234 and my opponent was rated 1233 but it seemed to catch them off guard.
And the computer analysis shows our game to be riddled with mistakes and blunders:
On the weekend a chess shop was having a clearance of all it’s older stock. This included chess books. I went along and bought five for $25. They were: ‘Chess, The History of a game’, ‘Bobby Fischer goes to war’, ‘The Best of Chess Life’, ‘Kings Gambit’ and ‘Wining With The Scandinavian’. I also bought a chess clock (that I need to return because only one side works) and was given free photocopied work sheets; one on the Grunfeld defence and one on the Marshall attack.
I have almost finished the chess history book and it’s been interesting so far. It starts by looking back to the earliest origins of chess which can be proven back to around 600AD and intimated at around 450AD. The history starts in India then moves to Persia (Iran) before spreading first to Sicilly and Spain via Islam and then spreading through Europe especially to Paris and London. Later it moves to Russia but I haven’t read that far. I’m glad I also read the Chess Queen by Yalom (see earlier post) because this fills in what I consider to be an omission – the changing value of the pieces, particularly the queen, and the changing rules of the game.
I have also been reading ‘Fundamental Chess Openings’ (see earlier post). This is a great book in that it runs through all the well known openings and gives a bit of history and background to openings. It talks about the shift from 1.e4 to 1.d4 in history and then continues to discuss modern flank openings. One opening paragraph inspired me to buy the ‘Kings Gambit’ book by Korchnoi at this sale but I’ll go into that more in my next post.
I used to come home from work and turn the TV on (or I would get on the net) and watch it till late with a break for dinner and for stuff I had to do – laundry, washing, etc… My wife and I then had to look after a place for a few months that didn’t have a TV or an internet connection. Our lifestyles improved hugely. We cooked interesting meals, read widely, went out to restaurants/movies/plays and caught up with friends. It was a richer existence. When we returned to our house we got rid of the TV and the computer and our lifestyles continued to be great (we could access the net by phone for quick info). We then moved house but needed a net connection and TV because we chose to rent our house out during holidays when we went away. Since having the net and TV we have fallen back slightly into the easier electronic existence. We occasionally binge DVD (The Wire, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones…) and I mess around online (Facebook, Clash of Clans and chess).
I want to reduce my computer use so that I can get back to a lifestyle that is better. Computer games and Facebook are easy to reduce or eliminate. Unfortunately I want to improve my chess and computers are a great tool for learning. I use computers for tactics, online correspondence, this blog, live games, video lessons, chess ‘mentor’ (chess.com), games databases, opening study, games explorer… A long list. But there are alternatives and I plan to try these. In a previous post I wrote that I have bought a couple of books that allow me to practice tactics. I’ve also bought Jeremy Silman’s ‘Complete Endgame Course’ and Paul Van de Sterren’s ‘Fundamental Chess Openings’. I am hoping that these books will provide me with enough material so that I can reduce my total online time to 2hrs a week; time to write this blog, finish off my online correspondence games and do a couple of other things.