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  1. 09 Jun '12 16:59
    Hello all, I was wondering if some of the stronger players here would give me the benefit of their opinion.

    I'm a weak club player, and have just returned to playing after about 10 years off. I reckon my grading is somewhere around the 50 ECF, which would grade me around 1000 ELO. Players who know me at my chess club grade me a bit higher, around 90 ECF which is 1320 ELO. The strongest element of my game is definatley end games, I took to heart the motto that a well played opening only gives you a good position, a well played end game gives you a win. I'm pretty good OTB at turning half points into wins and losses into draws.

    My opening knowledge is shocking. I'm looking for a few openings to learn. At the moment I'm leaning towards Alekheines defence as black and the Larsen opening as white. Mostly because to a large extent they allow me to dictate the opening and type of game, minimising the effect of the narrow breadth of my opening knowledge. However, I'm not sure these openings are playing to my strengths, I used to play the scotch game (problem being the sicilian as a reply) because it tended to get me to an endgame easily and without too many complications.

    I want to be a big asset to my new club next season, and am willing to put some effort into improving, But running 3 businesses means my time is limited.

    Bearing the above in mind, do you think I'm using my time wisely studying larsens opening and alekhines defence? Do you have any better suggestions as an opening for white that might suit me? Or a defence with black to e2-e4? Please explain your reasoning.

    I will also look at a reply to d2-d4 later, but time constraints being what they are - and assuming it will come in no more than 255 of my games next season, that is lower down the list - but feel free to suggest something easyish to learn and hardish for my openent to draw me away from - i.e. the benko?

    Lookign forward to your help 😀 - I'd like to aim for 100 ECF next season which would put me 1400 ELO, and is I think a realistic goal. Or should I be aiming higher?

    You can see some of my games on here if you want an idea of whether im enarer my own estimate of 1000 or my clubmates estimates of 1300
  2. Standard member Thabtos
    I am become Death
    09 Jun '12 18:27
    If you're serious about improving in chess, I'd recommend 1..e5 as a response to e4.

    It's a classical defense and the opening gives you a wide breath of games to study from Morphy to Aronian, depending on how much you want to dedicate yourself to study.


    Also, generally speaking, playing an open game forces you to be tactically aware, which is a great way to improve.
  3. 09 Jun '12 18:39
    Thanks, the 255 games above should read 25%.

    The problem with e4-e5 is that white could do anything in response - kings gambit, petrov, ruy lopez, scotch, it means i need to know a bit about everything. I know alekhines is probably a weaker response than e5, but at my level, it might suprise an opponent and will quite often have him out of his opening book and comfort zone on move 2, whereas if i study it, I'll have the trumps on opening knowledge. Akin to fritz always playing 3rd choice move rather than 1st, sub optimal but it would still kick my ass.
  4. Standard member Wulebgr
    Angler
    09 Jun '12 18:50 / 1 edit
    At your level, general principles of opening play are far more important than learning specific systems. Even so, you should employ classic, time-tested systems: Spanish and Queen's Gambit as White; and as Black, meet 1.e4 with 1...e5, meet 1.d4 with 1...d5.

    When your opponent throws something weird in your way, meet it will clear principles: increase the mobility of all your forces, aim for their coordination, reduce your vulnerabilities while hunting for those in your opponent's position, avoid forays that waste time, ...

    Offbeat openings have the illusory merits of seeming easy to learn, but they require astounding positional understanding to play well through the middle game. If you cannot understand how to coordinate your pieces, you do not possess this understanding.
  5. 09 Jun '12 20:21
    In my opinion,at your level the study of openings,any opening,will not help you much.
    Why not?Because you'll see about 3 to 4 or at best 5 'bookmoves' and then the game takes a unique path.Furthermore you can't yet play well enough to understand the moves advocated in books.All you could do is try to memorise.
    Far better to learn opening principles and apply them (more difficult than it sounds!).Like others above I also advise to play classical openings (e4/e5,d4/d5).

    You would benefit more from learning better chess.I'll show a few things using a loss of yours onhere.
    Dewi Jones - RankBaajin
    I checked,it seems the game goes out of book at his 4th move.Rather typical.

    After 6 moves you have this position
    white to play

    and you went 7.f3?
    Bad move.some observations:
    1.it doesn't help your development (an opening principle)
    2.it opens up your king to a check on h4
    3.it takes away the best square of your g1 knight (look how unhappy he now is!)
    Had you followed opening principles you probably would've found 7.Nf3 which I think is a good move in this position

    next move.White to play

    8.b4 not really terrible but why kick the knight again?
    You need to get your pieces out.8.Ne2 seems perfectly fine to me

    move 10

    10.Bc4?? (now f3 comes to haunt you) Qh4+ CHECK!and the bishop on c4 is lost.

    The game is now resignable and so you did soon enough.
    However,I would advise to continue playing.Your opponents are equally prone to losing pieces and overlooking mates!

    Summary of this game.The opening was a complete success.
    after 6 moves you were up a healthy centre pawn.
    Yet you lost in 13 moves.Kinda makes a case against opening study,doesn't it?

    Some simple practical guidelines
    1.Adhere to opening principles,mostly the principle of development.
    Don't go pawnsnatching unless you're absolutely certain it's worth it.same goes for chasing pieces.
    2.Play with your pieces!!Leave the pawns at rest!!
    I know,you see no good move and think moving a pawn can't hurt.Wrong!
    And yes,lashing out with your pawns looks aggressive.
    But weakening pawnmoves are the cause of many lost games.
    3.Whenever it's your turn think about your opponents last move.
    Why did he play that?What changed?What new options did it provide for him?
    4.Carefully examine all possible checks.A check is the most powerful tactic because you're not allowed to ignore it.
    5.Play with your pieces!! 🙂
    It is so important I can't stress it enough.

    Keep at it with the endgames and add tactical training (if not done already) and you'll become that asset.

    Finally,I like this site: http://exeterchessclub.org.uk/content/ten-rules-opening

    Good luck!
  6. 09 Jun '12 20:38 / 1 edit
    Thank you folks for the advice, and there is a theme running through the advice. So back to e2-e4. 🙂

    And Wilfredva, that is a nice website.
  7. 09 Jun '12 21:52 / 1 edit
    To 1.e4 I was thinking the Caro-Kann or sicilian Kan might suit if you have a strong end game (the real hard work already done!) but they are quite theoretical and if you have seriously limited time I would recommend the scandinavian defence as its a sound, almost completely forcing response to 1.e4 with few critical lines to remember.

    To improve long term in any significant way you need to have a white and black repertoire - and stick to it for at least a season no matter what!

    I'd love to say 'just play natural moves' and don't bother studying the openings because 'stick to general priniples and you'll be fine' - knights before bishops' etc but I think its just a quick way to get butchered.

    good luck!

    p.s forgot to add have a look at 'the Sniper' e.g. 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c5! good to go against anything!
  8. Standard member wormwood
    If Theres Hell Below
    10 Jun '12 01:31
    Originally posted by Dewi Jones
    Hello all, I was wondering if some of the stronger players here would give me the benefit of their opinion.

    I'm a weak club player, and have just returned to playing after about 10 years off. I reckon my grading is somewhere around the 50 ECF, which would grade me around 1000 ELO. Players who know me at my chess club grade me a bit higher, around 90 EC ...[text shortened]... nt an idea of whether im enarer my own estimate of 1000 or my clubmates estimates of 1300
    at your level, NOTHING but board vision matters. absolutely nothing.

    the way to get better at that? tactics, tactics, tactics. do tactics every single day. don't slack off.

    this piece of advice will make THE difference. nothing else will.
  9. 10 Jun '12 03:41
    Nice to see exeterchessclub.org.uk mentioned here. It helped me improve a lot when I first joined a chess club.
  10. 10 Jun '12 08:41
    Originally posted by wormwood
    at your level, NOTHING but board vision matters. absolutely nothing.

    the way to get better at that? tactics, tactics, tactics. do tactics every single day. don't slack off.

    this piece of advice will make THE difference. nothing else will.
    Do tactics? How do I do that? I mean where do I get the material to study. I do have one book on tactics 'tactics for advanced players' its a tough read for me, but it is an excellent book.
  11. Standard member hunterknox
    Hopeless romantic
    10 Jun '12 10:43
    Originally posted by wormwood
    at your level, NOTHING but board vision matters. absolutely nothing.
    What he said.

    Last year I was under 110 ECF and won a decent sized banded (OTB) tournament playing 1. g4. Not a single game was decided in the opening - every game was decided by tactics.

    You'll occasionally lose to someone who's memorised a book but if you go through the game afterwards and find some sensible deviations then you should have no fear meeting them next time.

    Good luck!
  12. 10 Jun '12 11:34
    Originally posted by hunterknox
    What he said.

    Last year I was under 110 ECF and won a decent sized banded (OTB) tournament playing 1. g4. Not a single game was decided in the opening - every game was decided by tactics.

    You'll occasionally lose to someone who's memorised a book but if you go through the game afterwards and find some sensible deviations then you should have no fear meeting them next time.

    Good luck!
  13. Standard member nimzo5
    Ronin
    10 Jun '12 11:57
    OP-

    Spend your study time playing through annotated games of Morphy, Capablanca, Alehkine, Marshall, Pillsbury, etc.

    Do 5-10 tactics problems everyday.

    Don't spend any time at this level studying openings, if you have played through games of other players you will gradually understand opening principles and see how they are used by strong players.

    Go over all your old games and look for ways you could have improved your play.
  14. 10 Jun '12 13:57 / 3 edits
    Hi Dewi

    Wormwood has is spot on:

    "at your level, NOTHING but board vision matters. absolutely nothing. "

    Get used to reading the board and this can only really be gained by playing and playing.

    Stuffing your brain with opening moves will do very little to help you improve.
    At your level the theme is punishing and avoiding simple opening blunders.
    Neglecting development to go pawn chasing is very common.
    You have to have faith in the principles ofthe game and your own abilty to
    whack such play.

    You will see very little theory under 1400.
    You mentioned the Alekhine Defence.


    In the Alekhine Book 95% of it will taken up with 2.e5.
    Here on the 1400 DB is a breakdown of the 2nd move and the number of times
    it has been played.

    Played 12483

    2.e5 7806
    2.Nc3 3623
    2.d3 609
    2.Bc4 137
    2.Nf3 79
    2.Qf3 77
    2.d4 61
    2.f3 28
    2.Bd3 32
    2.Qe2 4

    The ability of an under 1400 player take you out of the book cannot be
    underestimated. You will be on own very soon in the opening.

    Playing over short games will give you a feel for what are common opening
    errors at your level.

    You have a ready made DB of short games on here.

    http://www.redhotpawn.com/core/playertable.php?col=3&state=asc&page=250

    Puts you into the players graded 1300 area. Pick a player with more than 200 games.
    In this case hofwhitby - look at his completed games for any interesting looking
    final position that appears to have decided the game in the opening.
    Play it out and see the kind of errors your peers are playing.
    Look for improvement - quicker mates - different wins.

    I picked a game and by chance guess what I got a...An Alekhine Defence!

    dangros - hofwhitby RHP 2012



    Me thinking? Back here there was a plausible trick.



    Where did b5 idea come from? An opening trap in the Centre Counter.
    Tricks in all openings often merged. All you need is the pattern.

    Playing over these games builds up your stock tactical tricks. You get ideas.



    Some positions for you to solve.

    White to play. If that Knight was not on g7 then Rf8 would be mate.



    The power of the two Bishops. White to play.




    Good luck. And if you find a brillo short game poking around in the games
    played on here then post it.
  15. Standard member wormwood
    If Theres Hell Below
    10 Jun '12 15:58 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Dewi Jones
    Do tactics? How do I do that? I mean where do I get the material to study. I do have one book on tactics 'tactics for advanced players' its a tough read for me, but it is an excellent book.
    basically any problem set will do, the important part is that you do them daily. chess tactics server is a good free online training system, focusing on simple problems. I did around 100 000 problems during my first couple of years, which got me to 1800+.

    http://chess.emrald.net/

    everybody who ever got better have done the same work, one way or another. some have gotten the same exposure by playing thousands of games, some by sets of more difficult problems, but EVERYBODY has done the same amount of legwork. there are no shortcuts.

    one final tip: aim for accuracy, don't guess. every time you get a problem wrong, you imprint the WRONG pattern into your brain.

    don't worry about ratings, they will follow if you train correctly. just keep plowing through the problems and you'll slowly get better. it will take time, but it's the only way. the hard way.