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  1. 13 Feb '12 04:42 / 1 edit
    I've been trying to improve off my mid 1800 USCF plateau (down from 1950 two years ago) for a while, but my play has been really inconsistent--sometimes really strong play, and other times horrendously weak. I dug a little deeper and noticed that it seems like my play with black is awful-- in the last three OTB tournaments I played, my record against similarly rated opponents has been 1/5 with black, and 3/3 with White. On RHP, I've played about an equal number of games with white and black, and I'm scoring 58% with white vs 45% with black.

    After looking into some of my OTB games, I believe the reason for such a large disparity has been the psychological effect of openings. With white, even if I forget an opening or my opponent takes me out of my knowledge, having the first move generally allows me to steer the position into one that I'm comfortable with, even if the opening is unknown. With black, however, that comfort isn't there, and in many of my games the psychological pressure of being in an uncomfortable (though not necessarily bad) position and taken out of book has caused me to make some terrible positional mistakes and occasionally outright tactical blunders, or in the best case get way behind in time.

    The conclusion from this is that, first, I should forget about studying any openings as white and devote whatever time I was allotting to studying openings to specifically studying openings as black. Second, I need to make sure I don't psychologically collapse when I get in an unfamiliar opening (I'm not sure how to go about doing this, but at least I've identified the problem).

    It's weird, but I didn't actually realize this until I randomly saw a forum post online that mentioned prioritizing working on improving your score as black. Has anyone else noticed a disproportionate difference between playing performance with white and black? Below IM/GM level there really shouldn't be much of a difference.
  2. 13 Feb '12 09:25
    My win percentages are also skewed:
    - as white: 62%
    - as black: 50%

    I just think black is penalized harder when he makes a mistake (deviation) in the opening, because he is on defense. Whereas white merely loses the initiative. But there may be some psychology as well. As white, I start thinking about an attack on the king as soon as pieces are developed. As black, I will be more reluctant to attack and try to make the position better for me or gain a little bit of material.
  3. 13 Feb '12 12:47 / 1 edit
    I have found it is the reverse. between 1600-2000 players score slightly better
    with Black because they spend more time on Black pet openings.

    You need to post a couple of OTB games.
  4. 13 Feb '12 13:01
    Originally posted by greenpawn34
    ... because they spend more time on Black pet openings.
    So this only holds for players who actually spend time on openings. Maybe that's why I don't belong to the 1600-2000 range (yet). 😉

    On topic: Why would/do players invest more time on openings as black?
  5. 13 Feb '12 13:32
    Because they have too. I think is the answer.
    They need something v 1.e4 so they try the French, Sicilian, Pirc. Alekhine, Caro....
    In the beginning they will 'usually' lose a few then as the patterns and plans
    start gelling they will find the points start coming in.
    Meanwhile with White it's 'usually' something odd to get them out of the book
    which at this stage is often the players main concern.

    Openings take over (we have all been there.) lines and variations are committed
    to memory.

    Some players complain they often forget their openings.
    I have a head full of stuff I've never seen OTB that I wish I could forget.

    Then the openings get the blame for a loss (as here) so more opening
    cramming is called for. More money thrown at books...more hours wasted.

    That is why I asked to lad to post a few OTB games.
  6. Standard member nimzo5
    Ronin
    13 Feb '12 14:35 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by tvochess
    So this only holds for players who actually spend time on openings. Maybe that's why I don't belong to the 1600-2000 range (yet). 😉

    On topic: Why would/do players invest more time on openings as black?
    Unless you play a system opening as White (colle etc) then there is a much wider amount of work. With Black you only have to study your variation plus the "anti" lines that try to avoid your choice. So more bang for your buck studying black variations...


    Now all that being said, sub about 1700-1800 it really shouldn't matter how much opening "theory" you know as you will be out of book by move 8-10 anyway.

    for example I was playing a 1950ish player on Friday and he left theory on move 7 in a mainline QGA (probably not intentionally) this is so common that it really underscores the pointlessness of memorizing variations unless they can be forced on the board.

    If you know your opening principles by heart (rapid development, fight for the center, king safety, space.) then that should take care of most of your opening concerns.
  7. 13 Feb '12 17:41
    Originally posted by nimzo5


    If you know your opening principles by heart (rapid development, fight for the center, king safety, space.) then that should take care of most of your opening concerns.
    There you go. Now you know the opening principles. No more opening study needed! Tragedy befalls those who get stuck in the opening!

    Now onto Endings and Puzzles.

    Add master games that play your style of chess.


    Q
  8. 13 Feb '12 19:42 / 1 edit
    is the white black ratio available somewhere or do you calculate it manually?

    Edit: Silly question, found answer on my profile.
    Confirmed the feeling I had of doing significantly better with the white pieces
  9. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    13 Feb '12 20:41
    Originally posted by nimzo5
    Unless you play a system opening as White (colle etc) then there is a much wider amount of work. With Black you only have to study your variation plus the "anti" lines that try to avoid your choice. So more bang for your buck studying black variations...


    Now all that being said, sub about 1700-1800 it really shouldn't matter how much opening "theory" you ...[text shortened]... e center, king safety, space.) then that should take care of most of your opening concerns.
    I was going to say this, but you beat me to it.

    I played the King's Indian Defense OTB for a long time, and successfully, and one of the reasons was that I had a sound response to almost anything White could throw at me, with clear ideas and themes that were relatively consistent no matter what White tried.

    To further the point, the KID Classical can go 30 moves deep in theory, but it didn't matter because I hardly ever saw it. Even when I did, the plans for Black are very straightforward, so even if my play wasn't exact, it would take a player with a 2200+ rating to punish me for it.
  10. Standard member nimzo5
    Ronin
    13 Feb '12 21:59 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by Paul Leggett
    I was going to say this, but you beat me to it.

    I played the King's Indian Defense OTB for a long time, and successfully, and one of the reasons was that I had a sound response to almost anything White could throw at me, with clear ideas and themes that were relatively consistent no matter what White tried.

    To further the point, the KID Classical even if my play wasn't exact, it would take a player with a 2200+ rating to punish me for it.
    I played about 5 KID classical games in my 1700s, in every game I would achieve the "book" line I wanted at move 15-20 and still manage to implode to the kingside attack. A very difficult opening for the rank and file club player and yet another vote in favor of GP's no opening study mantra.
  11. 13 Feb '12 23:39
    Originally posted by nimzo5
    ...
    Now all that being said, sub about 1700-1800 it really shouldn't matter how much opening "theory" you know as you will be out of book by move 8-10 anyway.

    for example I was playing a 1950ish player on Friday and he left theory on move 7 in a mainline QGA (probably not intentionally) this is so common that it really underscores the pointlessness of memorizing variations unless they can be forced on the board...
    I agree that these are completely true statements, but I don't think it justifies the conclusion that one shouldn't study openings. All it means is that one needn't study beyond about moves 8-10 at the 1700-1800 level. Beyond that, one needs to know some of the basic strategies for these "type" of positions, but memorizing moves is largely a waste of time. Using the King's Indian example. The game goes:

    1. d4 Nf6
    2. c4 g6
    3. Nc3 Bg7
    4. e4 d6
    5. Nf3 0-0
    6. Be2 e5 (black might need to study to learn the tricks in this position)
    7. 0-0 Nc6
    8. d5 Ne7
    9. Ne1

    In practice, a 1700 Black can probably stop studying concrete variations here. He decides whether he wants to play Nd7 or Ne8, and from then on all he needs to know are the basics ideas in how to play the kingside attack (f5, f4, g5 and where to put his knights, etc.) But it helps to know the first 9 or so moves and especially the tricks around 7. dxe5 dxe5 8. Nxe5

    It still doesn't mean you should go out and buy lots of opening books though, especially in this day of databases. Good ones are harder and harder to find, anyway.
  12. Standard member nimzo5
    Ronin
    14 Feb '12 01:14
    To further illustrate my point about not needing openings knowledge. This is my game last friday vs a 1900 where I was out of book more or less at move 4 in the mainline QGA.

  13. 14 Feb '12 13:20
    Originally posted by nimzo5
    To further illustrate my point about not needing openings knowledge. This is my game last friday vs a 1900 where I was out of book more or less at move 4 in the mainline QGA.

    [pgn][Event "DC Chess League"] [Site "?"] [Date "2012.02.11"] [Result "1-0"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 e5 4. Nf3{my book knowlege is limited to having thumbed through a couple key g ...[text shortened]... which was 30/90 sd1} Kf8 27. Rxh7 Kg8 28. Ra7 Rc8 29. Rhc7 Rxc7 30. Rxc7 Bf7 1-0[/pgn]
    Nice annotations and interesting game.
  14. Standard member SwissGambit
    Caninus Interruptus
    14 Feb '12 18:43 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by Erekose
    I agree that these are completely true statements, but I don't think it justifies the conclusion that one shouldn't study openings. All it means is that one needn't study beyond about moves 8-10 at the 1700-1800 level. Beyond that, one needs to know some of the basic strategies for these "type" of positions, but memorizing moves is largely a waste of time. h, especially in this day of databases. Good ones are harder and harder to find, anyway.
    7.dxe5 and all the time spent learning the Kingside attack is wasted. I like the KID but if I know in advance my opponent will play this, I switch to a different opening.

    At the local chess club, there is one guy who is kind of a pansy and is afraid of getting attacked. He always plays this as white to avoid it.

  15. 14 Feb '12 19:04
    Originally posted by nimzo5
    To further illustrate my point about not needing openings knowledge. This is my game last friday vs a 1900 where I was out of book more or less at move 4 in the mainline QGA.

    [pgn][Event "DC Chess League"] [Site "?"] [Date "2012.02.11"] [Result "1-0"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 e5 4. Nf3{my book knowlege is limited to having thumbed through a couple key g ...[text shortened]... which was 30/90 sd1} Kf8 27. Rxh7 Kg8 28. Ra7 Rc8 29. Rhc7 Rxc7 30. Rxc7 Bf7 1-0[/pgn]
    It seems to me that your opponent did not know the opening too - 4...exd4 is the best according to theory. Black should be OK after 5.Qxd4 Qxd4 6.Nxd4 Nf6 7.Nc3 Bc5. The most popular response is gambit - 5.Bxc4 Nc6 6.0-0 and both sides need good knowledge of theory.