Here we go. SmithyQ presents YouTube video number two!
This one may become a regular series. I adore chess miniatures. These are games under 25 moves, usually finishing with a crushing attack or fancy tactics. In order to lose in under 25 moves, one side has to make some decisive mistakes. Studying miniatures teaches us both to recognize when these mistakes happen and how to punish them most effectively. Your opening and early middlegame attacking skills will increase tremendously after even just a few games.
In some ways, the game today is fairly simple. It’s ten moves and Black hangs a piece. GG.
This is true, but it isn’t the whole story. Black didn’t hang his piece randomly. He had a plan, and his first few moves were standard, and he played a standard central break. Things seemed fine on the surface, but if you look deeper, Black’s position was actually terrible. Why? Because Black didn’t follow opening principles. He moves a piece twice in the opening, and though it looked harmless, it basically brought him swift defeat.
My opponent in this game is Gringo, long-time blog reader. He offered a challenge, I accepted and the result is what you see here. I can’t play against everyone who comments, but I’ll do my best, and I promise to analyze each game. Best to do it now, because once I become a GM I’ll be charging money for this.
I’m joking. Maybe.
In this blog, I’ve said repeatedly that the opening doesn’t matter and you don’t need to study it. That’s true… and yet I won this game in 17 moves because of my opening. What gives? Some openings work much better at amateur level than professional level. Most gambits, for instance, and systems like the Alekhine or Pirc score significantly better by those under 2000 rating.
I think the inverse is also true. That is, there are some openings that masters play and do well with that are nonetheless not suitable for amateurs. Any opening that leads to a solid but passive position is inherently dangerous at lower levels. That’s basically what happened here. Gringo got a normal QGD position, but he doesn’t have the requisite skills to play it properly. I don’t think I have those skills. I think the QGD is a terrible opening, but anyway, let’s take a look. Continue reading →
That’s an old adage that says amateur chess players need not worry about opening theory, since no one follows the mainlines after move eight anyway. This is perhaps an oversimplication, but it has a grain of truth in it. The game today, though, shows this off perfectly.
By about move 4, we had reached a completely unique position, one you could barely tell was a Sicilian. You could have every opening book ever memorized and it wouldn’t help you. If you knew basic ideas, though, then you could figure out the correct plan without much effort.
This game was a blast to play, and I’m excited to share the following crazy opening. Continue reading →
More ink has been spilled on chess openings than any other part of the game, and it’s easy to think it’s some mystical thing, too deep to understand. It really isn’t. For 98% of opening positions, Basic Opening Principles explain exactly what to do. They aren’t a secret. Here they are.
Develop pieces, preferably Knights before Bishops.
Make as few pawn moves as necessary.
Do NOT move the same piece twice.
Do NOT bring the Queen out early.
That’s the opening in a nutshell. The vast majority of my games stick to this. Openings really can be this simple. Violating opening principles is a surefire way to lose quickly. That’s what happened here, in my fifth game since returning to chess. Continue reading →
The Nizmo-Indian is probably the best opening Black can play. It’s completely sound. It can be super-tactical or pure positional. It introduces imbalances at an early stage, allowing the stronger player to outplay a weaker one. The positions are diverse, and ten games can have ten completely different positions by move 10.
Honestly, the only downside is that White can completely avoid it by not playing an early c4 or Nc3, which is admittedly frustrating.
The following game shows about the worst that can happen to White: an imprecise move leads to a small blunder, and suddenly White is naked facing a flood. Let’s take a look. Continue reading →
On the downside, the game itself isn’t that interesting. White basically falls for an opening trap, and that’s it. GG. That’s a shame, because this month I played some really interesting positions … but none of them were my first ever victory against a titled master. Oh well, this game has historical value if nothing else.
First, let me celebrate. I recently reached the 2100 rating mark … and then immediately lost a game to fall below it … then had a few draws … then I won and now I’m back over 2100! It’s by exactly one point, but I’ll take it.
Just a few years ago, I had been stuck at 1800 most of my life. To have my rating now over 2000, let alone over 2100, is like a dream come true.
When I broke the 2000 barrier for the first time last year, I wrote a post examining exactly how I did it. That is, I looked at every single victory and classified it by type. For instance, sometimes I won by a mating attack, sometimes by an endgame advantage, and sometimes my opponents just hung material and I took it. It was a good experience, and quite eye-opening. I learned a lot about myself…
… and then I wondered, if this were so useful only looking at one year’s worth of games, how much more insight would I get from looking at ALL my games? The thought never left my head, and after nearly three months of work, I present to you my findings. It’s pretty awesome. Continue reading →