If you talk to some chess players, you will find some refuse to play the French or the Slav as Black because of the exchange variations, which lead to symmetrical pawn structures and are notoriously drawish.
First off, yes, these positions ARE more drawish than most openings, but that doesn’t apply to most amateurs. If you’re under 1700 or so, the draw is practically non-existent. Here’s what does happen regardless of rating: the pawn structure is symmetrical, piece development is generally symmetrical and the game is pretty colourless. Not the most fun chess positions.
As I approach expert level, I’ve become keenly aware of the drawish tendencies of these positions. It’s very hard to win a game without any imbalances, and that’s true regardless of how much I may out-rate my opponent. In this game, I reach such a position and do my best to give myself winning chances in a dead-equal position. Continue reading →
If you hear a seasoned chess player talk about chess, it’s usually one of two things: either about famous players or openings. What else is there to talk about? Everybody has his or her own favourite player, be it the dauntless Tal or the dominating Capablanca or the demolishing Fischer. Finding your favourite player is generally pretty easy as well. Go through a collection of famous games, see one that catches your eye and presto, your favourite player.
For the record, my favourite player is Siegbert Tarrasch.
Openings, though, are completely different. While you might enjoy going through your favourite player’s games, you need to play your own openings. You need to study hard and memorize lines if you want to avoid opening traps, especially in the heavy theoretical lines. Each opening is different, leading to different positions, and it can seem overwhelming. Where to start? Which is best? How can I possibly know any of this? Continue reading →