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  1. 14 Oct '09 13:36
    Hi folks.

    I'm a newbie to chess, and I've really disliked plodding my way through the opening of almost every game I've played thus far.

    There are two different approaches I've tried.

    1. Consult an opening database - this inevitably leaves me in the end high and dry in a position I feel is unnatural and unfairly gained.

    2. Work from the Openings 101 textbook. Control the centre, bring out the knights before the bishops, don't move any piece or pawn more than once if you can avoid it. This is the approach that appeals to me innately, however it has many a time left me down a pawn - or even a piece - by move 10.

    Really I'm just looking for a bit of advice and an understanding pat on the shoulder from some more experienced chessmen. At the moment, whenever I embark on a new game, I am filled with a mixture of tedium and dread until the game goes out of book.

    I'm hoping that -

    a) Someone will be able to divulge the secret that makes playing book openings enjoyable.

    b) Someone will be able to offer some easily digestable tips that will make playing from Openings 101 more effective.

    Obviously I've currently got my hopes pinned on option b). But don't let that deter you from option a), if you can deliver the goods.
  2. Standard member MetBierOp
    Dutch
    14 Oct '09 13:47
    Originally posted by Nybes
    Hi folks.

    I'm a newbie to chess, and I've really disliked plodding my way through the opening of almost every game I've played thus far.

    There are two different approaches I've tried.

    1. Consult an opening database - this inevitably leaves me in the end high and dry in a position I feel is unnatural and unfairly gained.

    2. Work from the Openings ...[text shortened]... n option b). But don't let that deter you from option a), if you can deliver the goods.
    Lets aim for "a"

    Why do you like chess?
    Try to apply this to your opening

  3. 14 Oct '09 14:05 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Nybes
    Hi folks.

    I'm a newbie to chess, and I've really disliked plodding my way through the opening of almost every game I've played thus far.

    There are two different approaches I've tried.

    1. Consult an opening database - this inevitably leaves me in the end high and dry in a position I feel is unnatural and unfairly gained.

    2. Work from the Openings n option b). But don't let that deter you from option a), if you can deliver the goods.
    which openings do you like and which do you dislike, that is a good place to start, however, the strong players here will tell you that openings are not where its at, saying that , there are some very general opening principles that apply to all situations, which are readily defined and not too hard to understand, thus by freeing up your opening with general principles, you shall be able to concentrate on other aspects, like positional concepts, strategic ones and tactical ones. then when you are satisfied with those, you may choose to specialise in a particular opening, learning its subtitles and nuances.
  4. 14 Oct '09 14:06
    The most important thing in the opening is to develop all of your pieces.

    If you accomplish developing all of your pieces but make some mistake that loses a pawn for example you will still have a reasonable game since you are down a pawn but you have developed all of your pieces.
  5. 14 Oct '09 14:56
    MetBierOp - Why do I like chess? Thats a very good question. If I were to be completely honest, my answer would be that I like to win. In a strategical game unnafftected by chance, coming out on top gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling in my belly.

    However, when I say I like to win - the mating move, or the resignation of my oppenent is very rarely what gets me going. It is my recognition of an opponent's blunder, that will, with careful play, gain me a piece, 3 turns from now. Or my realising that, if I give up a couple of pawns, it will gain me an positional advantage that will, in time, prove insurountable.

    These things really only happen in the mid-game. Not in the opening. Although, if you can turn my mid-game mindset into a viable strategy for the opening, I am all ears.



    Robbie, I tend to play Petrov's defence as black. and just recently, the Bishop's opening as white. I experimented with the Sicilian with black for a while, but only through the aid of an opening daabase.

    The only opening I deeply dispise is the old faithful - Ruy Lopez. As black or white on turn 2 or 3 I will try just about anything to avoid it.

    Robbie, you go on to spout out some generic stuff about 'generial principles' but you don't really go into specifics. I'd love to hear some additions or re-orderings of my Opening Principles 101, which thus far, in order of importance, read.

    1. Control the centre.
    2. Bring out the horsies before the parsons.
    3. Don't move anything more than once unless you can't avoid it.
  6. 14 Oct '09 15:37 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by Nybes
    MetBierOp - Why do I like chess? Thats a very good question. If I were to be completely honest, my answer would be that I like to win. In a strategical game unnafftected by chance, coming out on top gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling in my belly.

    However, when I say I like to win - the mating move, or the resignation of my oppenent is very rarely what gets m s before the parsons.
    3. Don't move anything more than once unless you can't avoid it.
    sure thing, i like the bishops opening myself, and if the opponent allows we can get into a kings gambit type thing, if he allows us to get f4 in.

    1. control the centre (which we can do with pawns or pieces), but we are noobs and pawns make it easier for us, so we have, or aim for a pawn centre, why do we wish to control the centre? well suppose that the chessboard was not flat, but instead a hill, or a mountain, who has more the advantage when fighting for control of a hill? the player at the top, who can see in every direction around the hill, and whose opponents are fighting uphill. This is essentially the reason for controlling the centre, it allows our pieces more mobility, consider this position, taken from Richard Retis book, Masters of the chess board,

    Louis Paulsen - Wilhelm Steinitz
    Baden-Baden , 1870



    on move 22, black completes the pawn centre with ...d5, thus it can easily be seen how difficult it would be for white to transfer the bishop on a2 to the opposite side, or the knight on g3 also for that matter. thus this is essentially the reason for a pawn centre, it allows us more mobility. if you like i can post some more stuff? perhaps you know these things already and are bored?
  7. Standard member wormwood
    If Theres Hell Below
    14 Oct '09 16:30
    Originally posted by Nybes
    1. Control the centre.
    2. Bring out the horsies before the parsons.
    3. Don't move anything more than once unless you can't avoid it.
    it sounds like general opening principles are what you're after, if you don't like opening study. the book/theory openings also follow them as a rule, and understanding principles is paramount to begin understanding book lines.

    also, although correspondence chess is a bit of an exception, generally speaking you won't be doing much with opening study before 1800+ or so. kasparov said 2000+ as I remember, so there's some heavy backing for that claim.

    opening principles:

    1. develop fast, with threats if ever possible. get your pieces out. seek activity this is the most important principle for a beginning player especially. check out some morphy games to see how he completely demolishes his opponents with superior development/activity. -think twice before grapping material in the opening if it loses time.

    2. castle early. get your king safe. this will save you countless games.

    you know, everything else pretty much falls under these two. controlling centre, not moving pieces 2 times before completing development, etc. -knights before bishops doesn't really matter much, but the point is it's easier to find a proper place for bishops after a few moves, otherwise there's a slightly greater chance you'll need to move them twice before completing development. I wouldn't worry about it, fast development is about 100x more important.

    a GREAT book for learning how 'real openings' obey basic opening principles, is chernev's logical chess move by move. I'm not much for book learning (because people tend to use them for procrastination instead of training), but logical chess is definitely a book every beginning player should read.
  8. 14 Oct '09 16:47 / 1 edit
    castling early is good advice, but not too early!
    what do we mean by this? well if you think that
    the centre is likely to open up and your king shall
    be exposed, then try to castle early, however,
    everything is relative to the position, and if the
    position is such that the centre is closed
    (i.e the pawn formation is such that it will
    remain as such for some time, then castling
    can be delayed. here is an instance in which
    castling early proved quite destructive, for the
    king became a target.

    Serafino Dubois - Wilhelm Steinitz
    London , 1862



    you will notice that white has castled early whereas
    black has rightly deferred castling, because the centre
    is closed and will remain so for some time.

    here is the game continuation, which is not the actual
    game, but illustrates the point quite well.



    thus i repeat, look at the position, if it will open up, or has the
    potential to open soon, usually by a pawn break in the centre
    or on one of the bishops files, then castle quickly, if not, you
    may defer castling until such times as you deem it advantageous.
  9. Standard member orion25
    Art is hard
    14 Oct '09 16:52
    Originally posted by wormwood
    it sounds like general opening principles are what you're after, if you don't like opening study. the book/theory openings also follow them as a rule, and understanding principles is paramount to begin understanding book lines.

    also, although correspondence chess is a bit of an exception, generally speaking you won't be doing much with opening study befo ...[text shortened]... aining), but logical chess is definitely a book every beginning player should read.
    here is a game that illustrates wormwoods points pretty validly, to wich I would also add: don't move your pawns unless you have to/have completed development and it is a natural plan. Let me add that I don't know much teory (if any) on d4 openings, this game was based only on principles. Notice how my pieces come out quickly, and black is wasting time with his corner-pawns. Notice also how quiclky my king was safe and my heavy pieces were ble to come out and mount an attack. If you just play calm sound moves in the opening you will always come out safely and be able to aply your middle-game craft.


  10. Standard member wormwood
    If Theres Hell Below
    14 Oct '09 17:00
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    castling early is good advice, but not too early!
    what do we mean by this? well if you think that
    the centre is likely to open up and your king shall
    be exposed, then try to castle early, however,
    everything is relative to the position, and if the
    position is such that the centre is closed
    (i.e the pawn formation is such that it will
    ...[text shortened]... n castle quickly, if not, you
    may defer castling until such times as you deem it advantageous.
    yeah, the 'correct' rule about castling is to delay it until it's necessary, thus saving the tempo for doing something else. but the practical problem with that is that the beginner can't judge that moment correctly, gets his king stuck in the center, and gets murdered. it's much more practical advice to castle early. it'll work 19/20 at least, while the correct delaying will get the king stuck in the center 1/5 or so.

    in time, the rare occurences of getting killed because too early castling will teach you what's dangerous, and when you should avoid it. but until you develop that feel for danger, you simply won't know 'when'.
  11. Standard member wormwood
    If Theres Hell Below
    14 Oct '09 17:08 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by orion25
    If you just play calm sound moves in the opening you will always come out safely and be able to aply your middle-game craft.
    yeah, that's a general thing worth mentioning twice. -a typical problem with the beginning players is that when the opponent disobeys opening principles, they think there's a forced win and throw in everything they have. and lose. -usually, maybe 9/10, the correct reaction is to simply continue developing calmly, and NOT waste time trying to 'punish' the opponent for the 'wrong' move.
  12. 14 Oct '09 17:14
    develop with a threat. this is great advice. here is Morphy game, which illustrates well , the principle of developing with a threat.

    Paul Morphy - Theodore Lichtenhein [C36]
    New Orleans New Orleans, 1857



    some moves for your consideration,

    2.f4, this pawn sacrifice is designed to deflect blacks pawn away from the centre, or by capturing it, although white does not yet truly threaten to take on e5

    5.Bb5 developing a piece with a threat, and thoughtfully.
    5.Be2 does not control the centre, 5.Bd3 blocks the d pawn.
    5.Bc4 is blocked by the pawn on d5, so white encourages
    him to get it out of the way.

    13.Qh5 developing with a threat

    16.Bg5 developing with the biggest threat by the biggest
    unused piece

    17.Nc3 developing with the threat of playing 18.Rad1
    pinning the queen

    so hopefully this game illustartes the idea of developing
    with threats, but it must be noted that it must be done
    thoughtfully, for while 1.e4 d5, 2.Bb5 is a threat, its not
    an effective threat, for black may simply play,
    c6 forcing our bishop away
  13. 14 Oct '09 18:05 / 10 edits
    I agree with what have been said, but I think it is useful to add two points:

    - the so called "basic principles" are very useful, but it may give you the wrong impression that you're playing alone. so don't forget that the opening is not only developing your pieces, but also doing it in such a way that you answer adequately to your opponent. Let's think of chess as a dialogue, or better as a music play: every music player knows that in a band, you do not only play your part of the thing, but have to listen at others, so that you can play it well.

    Then I may add to add a few things to "basic principles"; so that your opening makes a good sound. Beyond all principles, you have to understand what is at stake. Of course, we know : fundamentally, the king is the big thing. But there are many paths to the king; so the real concrete stake in the beginning is the path.

    The path is the point in the game that is not decided, but will have to be decided; and who will decide of it will win the game. Of course the path may change during the game.

    the path will be materialized by certain squares or series of squares, that you have to struggle for. For instance:

    - in the nimzo-indian, it's easy, you should mainly focus on e4. every piece on both sides is oriented, directly or indirectly on e4. (will white be able to push e4 in good conditions?)



    - in the Catalan, white put the pressure on the h1 a8 line;



    and black will chose between

    open catalan in which Black decides to take pawn c4 with pawn d5



    in that case, black opens the diagonal for White bishop. the struggle will be: can white take benefit from this diagonal, or will black manage to go faster (in his development of the queen side).



    or the closed Catalan, if he doesn't like this struggle. then Black does not take the c4 pawn, but will rather sooner or later play c6 to defend the diagonal.



    Here something interesting happens: Black changes the path. a new question arises: will black be able to do anything without space.

    Conclusions of this:

    1. basic principles MUST be given a TWIST in the opening. this is the difficulty. To give the good twist, you have to see the path. The path is a dialogue, you cannot define it alone. Chess is not for lonely people.

    2. this twist concretely mean that you will HAVE TO play THEMATIC moves. i.e. moves that are unexpected in regard of basic principles. In the Catalan, it happens that White plays such moves as a4, Qc1, Nf3e5 or Nf3d2, or moving the f rook before even having played your b Knight or c bishop.

    3. thematic moves is what gives TASTE to an opening. it is what makes an opening interesting or not; it's why each opening has its own history, (not this early, not that too late, this at that precise moment) its own geography (this or that square, this line).

    So to improve your opening, you don't need to learn lines by heart; just try to remember a few thematic moves, have a sense of geography, of history; and then, if your opponent also does so, you will together play a great music.

    On the contrary, if you don't remember this, if you try to learn lines by heart, if you want to play alone, your music will sound like bureaucratic chess. and as it is not in the nature of chess to be bureaucratic, you will face problems. More precisely, you will face a problem many bureaucratic players face: you will only "develop" (what a stupid word, the problem is not to develop, it is to organize according to the path) your pieces; and once it's finished, will just get stuck and won't know what to do.
  14. 14 Oct '09 22:23 / 1 edit
    Hi Nybes,

    I looked at few of your games.

    You are Black Game 6736921



    That Black position does not suggest to me you are in dire
    need of instruction on the opening basic principles.

    You appear to learning from your opening mistakes. You still have
    a slight tendancy to move pieces twice in the opening but nowehere
    near as often as you used to.

    The above game was perfect, keep following that trend.

    Game 6615946

    Another good middle game but you are now carrying strict development
    too far. If your opponent is threatening to win material in the opening
    then you should do something about it.

    Usually you can defend an attacked e-pawn with a developing move.
    Letting it go with no tactical come back is not sound gambit play.
    I can see no reason, other than hope why you sacced this e-pawn.

    Your e & d-pawns are very important. They are worth more any other
    pawn. Don't give them away for nothing.

    Though I lke your outlook. 'You attack my e-apwn, I will castle.'
    You must understand which positions can stand such a sac. and you
    have to have an active development to even consider such a sac.

    The good thing about this game is your opponent wasted time
    taking a few pawns and you cashed in through sharp play backed
    up with your development.

    I've seen the good games.
    You can do it when you want too just watch those loose pieces/pawns.

    You are now at the stage where you want to get better and are looking for the quick way.

    There is none.

    It's up to you. You stay where you are or put some work in.

    The opening is not boring or dull. You are placing your pieces
    ready for the all important middle game. You must give yourself
    a chance in the middle game.

    A small plus you can gain in the opening may become a game
    winner in the middle game. A bad opening move can haunt you
    for the rest of the game.

    Still here? Good.

    If you can, join a chess club and play as much as you can.
    One of the guys there will play an opening that appeals.

    Ask him about it - chess players love to talk about their openings.
    Suggest moves, ask questions. Listen.

    Play it on here. Go to the RHP database and play over games
    from both the weaker and stronger players. You find all the traps
    and see the opening blend smoothly into the middle game.

    Books: Someone suggested Logical Chess - get it AND READ IT.
    It will iron out the wrinkles.

    The Most Instructive Games of Chess by Chernev will give you
    a boost as well.

    You need a basic endgame book, any will do.
    Give the section on Rook endings special attention.
    It's the most common ending and the most trickiest to master.

    Comeback after you have put some work in in these books.
    or books of a similiar ilk but I can suggest none better.

    Good Luck.
  15. Standard member orion25
    Art is hard
    15 Oct '09 13:20 / 1 edit
    this post is full of good advice, and to be recomended all-round. Great stuff

    keep up the good work lads!