* Food for thought: https://bristolchesstimes.com/2018/...
FTB says there's nothing wrong with 1.b3 Larsen's Opening, a.k.a. the Nimzo-Larsen or Bird-Larsen Attack. Learn it well against the many different Black structures it allows, and you have a useful repertoire for life. FTB believes many adult players don't have the time or the desire to learn all the nuances of the popular Ruy Lopez and the vast minefield of the Open Sicilian. For the sake of time, Owen's Defense combined w/the English Defense (same pawn structure) is a much better fit. This is NOT the best opening -- there is no such thing as BEST -- but Bb2/Bb7 is a PRACTICAL approach. Of course, the more you study it, the better it should work for you.
We have a local player, an older medical doctor with much more important demands on his time, who always plays the same chess openings. The doctor plays the Torre Attack as White, and the Caro-Kann/Slav defense as Black. (He does not play gambits or Indian Defenses.) Everybody knows this is what the doctor plays -- every time. Yet, the doctor wins more than he loses because he has become very familiar with his openings over time, and plays slowly, thinking about the opposing army before he moves. The doctor says he does not memorize opening lines deliberately, but he has acquired such knowledge from so many replays. (He did some research on the Panov-Botvinnik Attack.) The doctor simply plays over grandmaster games in these three openings, and only these three openings. Other openings are shunned. He does not bother with any other openings. (Of course, the doctor sampled other openings many years ago before eventually deciding on his safe, solid choices.) He refuses to debate the French defense w/the rest of us! This careful, restricted approach is how the doctor makes use of his limited time for chess and finds success. The triangle pawn structure of the Torre/C-K/Slav defense is sound, the piece development is active enough, and basic middlegame plans are familiar. He gets a fair middlegame and does not keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. It works for him. FTB knows the doctor has read a few chess books -- and many chess book reviews for possible discussions of his repertoire. The doctor reviews the master reviewers like Silman, Donaldson, Watson, Bauer, Hartmann, etc. but rarely buys the book -- he just borrows FTB's books if he likes the review. We have discussed various books, mostly just the reviews, table of contents, and index. These are the books the doctor has read, likes, and KEEPS:
- Chess the Easy Way by Reuben Fine, Sam Sloan. Playing strong chess is not so easy as it sounds, but the doctor has all the listed principles/tips memorized from this book. You might want to read "Easy Guide to Chess" by B.H. Wood, and "The Right Way to Play Chess" by D.B. Pritchard first.
- The Middle_Game in Chess by Reuben Fine, Sam Sloan ( -- NOT Burt Hochberg's mistake-prone revision).
- Capablanca's Best Chess Endings by Irving Chernev. The doctor admires Capablanca and Karpov, but he says the Queen's Gambit has way too much opening theory for his tastes.
- Opening Systems for Competive Chess Players by John Hall. This helped him lock in on his repertoire (he avoids playing fianchettoes).
- Two opening books by Eric Schiller about his same repertoire: Play the Torre Attack, and Complete Defense to King Pawn Openings.
- The doctor has read other chess books, but he has deliberately mentioned these around the club. He's not worried about keeping chess secrets; this is what worked for him.
- He also has some Foxy Opening videos, but got rid of others.
The doctor steadfastly follows/gives this bit of advice:
There are so many, many different openings to choose from! Pick just three openings...one pawn with White, one defense against 1.e4, and one defense against 1.d4. "It is better to be a master of one trade then a fool in many." The doctor does not care about the latest opening theory for a tiny plus advantage as sought by grandmasters because "I usually don't play grandmasters, so why worry about 'em?" He's happy to have an equal game w/a secure position, waiting for his opponent to hastily slip up. He tells FTB to stop buying so many chess books and just play more chess, but play carefully. "Don't play unless you're focused, determined, ready to concentrate deeply. Thinking is the nature of the game." The doctor is always telling the kids (including the big kids w/grey hair) to "Slow down, look around! Don't make hasty decisions. Plan ahead for both sides. Always know what will happen next before it happens. Never guess, never hurry -- that's when you make mistakes." How many times have we heard "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"? He watches but does not play blitz chess in public at the club (just rated tournaments at slower time controls when his schedule allows), but he does play chess against the computer some. The doctor maintains an Expert rating, having beaten his share of masters from time to time.
"Play whatever opening you like" is often heard around our local chess club. FTB does not disagree with this. After all, you should be playing chess for fun. Of course, you want to get safely out of the opening with a stout center, developed pieces, and a castled king so you can make hay in the middlegame. Get creative in the middlegame -- not the opening! (FTB discourages moving the rook's pawns in the opening because it does not help to develop a minor piece. All four minor pieces should come out fast!)
([Opening variety is healthy to keep up club interest, but don't go changing opening repertoires from month to month. Don't blame the opening when you lose! Stick with the same few openings for awhile and improve them.
First, play through a book of traps and short games of 25 moves or less. Play through that same book again! This website can also help with traps and short games. Replaying miniatures will expose you to many different kinds of openings.
Narrow your search down to your preferred pawn move (e- or d- pawn, perhaps the c- or b- pawn -- but just one pawn push), and select a specific opening to test using your preferred pawn push. Watch free online videos by searching for your specific opening by name. Then use a database (consider the opening's ECO code) to play over 50-100 master games in the specific opening you are thinking about selecting. Develop a feel for it by how strong players handled it. Do you like the pawn structures and piece placements that it produces? Do you generally understand how to control the center and attack on the wing? If that opening is right for you, then and only then some memorizing is in order.
Learn the specific opening traps and proper theoretical lines by heart from a reference/repertoire book. Start off w/a handful of moves and expand over time. Memorize 5-7 moves deep this month, 8-10 moves deep next month, 11-13 moves deep the following month, etc. Make good use of the index in the back of your repertoire book to branch out properly because most of your opponents will not stick to the main line for very long. Let the author guide you -- assuming the author is a master player and experienced chess writer.
Write your lines down in a notebook and check them for accuracy -- avoid printing and proofreading mistakes at all costs (most chess books contain some inaccuracies). Assign each opening line it's own page in your notebook and write it down again and again, day after day, one line below the other. You should also physically rehearse the lines by moving the pieces by hand over-the-board. So, you have researched your preferred lines, checked them for correctness, and now you write them down each day and rehearse the pieces movements by hand. This daily repetition of a carefully selected opening system will develop a natural feel with excellent recall in time.
FTB recommends you emphasize your Black defenses to 1.e4, 1.d4, and 1.c4. So many club players emphasize their favorite White opening and don't stay balanced with the Black pieces. The majority of your opponents will play 1.e4, 1.d4, or 1.c4 often, so be extra prepared to face them. If your opponent opens with a knight move (1.Nc3 or 1.Nf3), you steer toward your defense to 1.e4 or 1.d4 because your opponent might play that move next. For example, if you understand the Open Games, then 1.Nc3 e5 allows 2.e4 Nf6 and the game has transposed into familiar territory. The same goes for a short pawn move such as 1.a3 or 1.g3, etc. -- prepare to play your best defense to 1.e4 or 1.d4 anyway, as if that move is coming next. Generally, if your opponent does not play 1.e4 to start, Black should prevent a later e4 from being played. For example, 1.g4 d5 prevents White from playing 2.e4 safely. Others might prefer to play the Modern Defense 1...g6 and 2...Bg7 against all White responses.
Once you learn an opening -- really learn an opening by investing month after month on it, keep it in good shape, even if you sour on it over time. Opportunities to play your "old opening" against strangers abound -- use it as a cover-up, a smoke screen, a second fiddle to your new opening. You should never dump your older sister, little brother or the family pastor in real life; the same goes for previous chess openings that you've invested many, many nights learning years ago -- they are a part of you forever.])
FTB is a fan of opening gambits for amateurs because the gift of a pawn or two opens lines for active piece play. Active piece play tends to be more fun! Seize the initiative and attack! (Of course, you don't want to be down two pawns going into the endgame.)
Off-beat gambits are unsound for a reason. Is your opponent knowledgeable enough to punish you for it?
Realize that you only surprise your opponent once. S/he should be expecting it the next time around. Is s/he too lazy to do her chess homework? What's more, onlookers might discuss your offbeat try between rounds -- warning others, so they won't be surprised at all. Why spend a lot of time learning an off-beat gambit if you play the same opponents from week to week? All they have to learn is one sound defense/line-of-play to combat it. You're better off learning an opening system that can be safely repeated over and over again without getting a bad position even if your opponent knows it's coming.
Has your specific opening been played by any grandmaster of the past in contention for a world championship? If Alekhine, Capablanca, Karpov, or Kasparov would not play it in a big match, then maybe you should not either. Of course, if you have the teachings of Stephen Buecker/Kassiber at your finger tips, then by all means have a go with unusual openings. Just remember, opening with a center pawn or knight often provides a faster, easier, more active game with your pieces than do slower flank openings that leave your pieces stuck on the back row. Your big pieces don't like to sit there on the same square all game -- the rooks want to be connected to each other and join the battle for the center!
A word of caution -- memorizing the main line 20-25 moves deep is a waste of time for amateur players who would earn far more points reading the same endgame manual three times. It's highly unlikely your amateur opponent will follow the main line that far, but if s/he can, then branching off may leave the opponent wondering what to do next. Regardless of what you open with -- main lines or sidelines, sound or unsound, gambits or fianchettoes, the study of the endgame will reward you time and time again (and you won't be afraid to trade queens). Know your endgames, fight long and hard, and you'll find yourself coming out on top many, many times against your opponent who spent lots of time studying lots of openings.
* Miniatures: thenewchessplayer.com/PDF/Miniatures_1.pdf
FTB generally likes opening books written by Gary Lane, Neil McDonald, John Emms, Cyrus Lakdawala, Andrew Martin, Andrew Greet, Peter Wells, Cyrus Lakdawala, Sam Collins, John Watson, Nick de Firmian, Cyrus Lakdawala, Richard Palliser, Joe Gallagher, Jan Pinski, Cyrus Lakdawala, Byron Jacobs, Nigel Davies, Timothy Taylor, Cyrus Lakdawala, Graham Burgess, Chris Ward, Carsten Hansen, Cyrus Lakdawala, and older books by Tim Harding, Tim Sawyer, A.J./Tony Gillam, Tony Kosten, John Lutes, and Angus Dunnington. There are plenty of other good authors not listed here. All of the above names are strong players and well-known chess authors with nothing to hide about their background. Read whatever you like (and don't be fooled by a fancy cover title written by a weak school boy)!
Most club players could get by with this small, older collection of books that was once very common, now gathering dust:
- Winning in the Opening by John Walker (types of opening strikes).
- Power Mates by Bruce Pandolfini (contains a variety of openings).
- 700 Opening Traps by Bill Wall (beware - some are unsound).
- Basic Chess Openings by Gabor Kallai (All K pawn openings).
- More Basic Chess Openings by Kallai (No K pawn openings).
- British Chess Openings II (BCO2) by Kasparov and Keene.
$ Each of the books above should be available used for under $15.
A student should gradually build up their chess library over the years. This list is progressive in nature with the easier opening books (and king pawn books) toward the top.
- 51 Chess Openings for Beginners by Bruce Albertson.
- Chess Opening Trap of the Day by Bruce Alberston.
- Quick Chess Knockouts by Julian Hodgson (only if cheaply priced).
- Instructive Chess Miniatures by Alper Efe Ataman.
- Everyone's Second Chess Book by NM Dan Heisman.
- Understanding the Chess Openings by Sam Collins.
- Inside Chess Openings by Eduard Gufeld (only if cheaply priced).
- The Mammoth Book of Chess by Graham Burgess, John Nunn.
- Logical Chess: Move by Move by Irving Chernev.
- Learn Chess in 40 Hours!: A Self-Tutor for Beginners and Advanced Players by Rudolf Teschner. (Has fundamentals and openings, but it's a bit much for beginners to swallow!)
- Common Sense in Chess, New 21st Century Edition by Emanuel Lasker.
- 101 Chess Opening Traps by Steve Giddins.
- Starting Out: Open Games by Glenn Flear.
- FCO: Fundamental Chess Openings by Paul van der Sterren.
- A Simple Chess Opening Repertoire for White by Sam Collins.
- Starting Out: d-pawn Attacks by Richard Palliser.
- Victory in the Opening! by Gary Lane.
- The Art of Checkmate: New Translation by Renaud & Kahn (Batsford)
- Chess the Easy Way by Reuben Fine, Sam Sloan (modern reprint).
- The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings by Reuben Fine, Sam Sloan.
- Winning Quickly at Chess: Attack and Counter-Attack from move one! by Iakov Neishtadt, translated by Ken Neat.
- Back to Basics: Openings by Carsten Hansen.
- Unorthodox Chess Openings by Eric Schiller.
- 300 Most Important Chess Positions by Thomas Engqvist.
- Improve Your Opening Play, Middlegame Play.
- 222 Opening Traps After 1.d4 by Karsten Müller and Rainer Knaack.
- How to Win Quickly at Chess by John Donaldson.
- Win in the Opening! : Opening Mistakes and How to Punish Them by Yakov Neishtadt.
- Winning in the Chess Opening: 700 Ways to Ambush Your Opponent by Nikolai Kalinichenko.
- Mastering the Opening and Middlegame by Byron Jacobs, Angus Dunnington.
- Winning Chess Explained by Zenon Franco.
- Understanding Chess Move by Move by John Nunn.
* For Intermediate and Advanced Players: http://patrickvossen.com/wp-content...
* Gedult Flank Attack: Opening Explorer