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  1. 27 Sep '09 13:10
    To quote from a popular openings book:
    "The Yugoslav Attack is the most theoretically complex line of all openings.... there is simply no substitute for learning the seemingly endless amount of critical variations"
    And regarding the Sicilian Scheveningen,English Attack:
    "A large body of theory has built up over the years and it is advisable... to read up before attempting to play this line in a serious game"

    At the risk of asking a stupid question, what exactly IS opening theory and where can one find it? I was hoping to find it in the book I've just quoted and I'm now a little confused. If you can't find it in an opening book (The Sicilian, Starting Out, J. Emms) then where CAN you find it?

    I would appreciate your help on this.

    Cheers.
  2. 27 Sep '09 13:19
    Opening theory is simply memorizing lines. If your opponent does this, then the best answer is that. It is really only useful for those who are playing against other people who have memorized the lines. Or more exactly, those who have memorized the lines and knows how to punish those who make the wrong moves.

    If you are playing against someone who simply memorizes lines, then making the 'wrong move' will help you because now all those hours spent memorizing the "right moves" have been wasted.
  3. Standard member Talisman
    Time traveller.
    27 Sep '09 14:07 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by witchfyndergeneral
    To quote from a popular openings book:
    "The Yugoslav Attack is the most theoretically complex line of all openings.... there is simply no substitute for learning the seemingly endless amount of critical variations"
    And regarding the Sicilian Scheveningen,English Attack:
    "A large body of theory has built up over the years and it is advisable... J. Emms) then where CAN you find it?

    I would appreciate your help on this.

    Cheers.
    The general concensus on this and i stress general, is that any serious amount of time devoted to opening preparation below the expert 2000 ELO level is not time well spent. The idea behind opeing preparation at the higher levels is simply to take a small workable advantage into the middle game. It may be a weak pawn to aim at, more space, better development and the chance of a well time attack.

    Of course all of this is useless if you're throwing material away or don't yet have an idea of how to put together an attack or are weak tactically. All these things take priority over hours of opening preparation, only for your opponent to play a non book move and leave you scratching your head.

    Of course some people simply enjoy opening study. I for instance have a thing for the Pirc. I have a book on it which i will study for the odd hour here and there, gradually bringing my theoretical knowledge up slowly. However, apart from the playing over of master games, i don't study any openings as white or anything else as black. I just find something about the Pirc very Mystical!

    If you have a pet opening i suggest this method of casual study would be very rewarding. If however you've got you're head in an opening book trying to memorise reams of lines in the hope it will have some drastic effect on your play you're probably misleading yourself.

    On top of that you are likely to become disheartened very quickly. memorising lines has to be just about the driest, most laborious way to study this game that i can imagine.
  4. Standard member wormwood
    If Theres Hell Below
    27 Sep '09 14:29 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by witchfyndergeneral
    To quote from a popular openings book:
    "The Yugoslav Attack is the most theoretically complex line of all openings.... there is simply no substitute for learning the seemingly endless amount of critical variations"
    And regarding the Sicilian Scheveningen,English Attack:
    "A large body of theory has built up over the years and it is advisable... J. Emms) then where CAN you find it?

    I would appreciate your help on this.

    Cheers.
    opening theory means the bulk of lines which have been publically played or analyzed. which means there's no Book for it, just like there's no Book for mathematics. theory also changes and develops. discoveries are made constantly, and evaluations change. in some cases lines that were won for decades change into lost ones because of some new idea found for the defender. abandoned lines get a new life.

    in practice you start with the mainlines, not going very deep, and learn the basic ideas. slooowly you learn more lines and gain more insight. learning theory is not memorizing, almost the contrary. the real point is to understand the type of positions, why they are good/bad and thus knowing what to do when the opponent doesn't understand.

    so basically you're on the right path with the 'starting out the sicilian', but it's just the beginning.


    edit: I also fully agree with talisman above.
  5. 27 Sep '09 14:46 / 5 edits
    opening theory is not the memorisation of lines, that is memory, not chess. opening theory is understanding WHY the opening is being played and WHY the lines against it are employed. for example take the Kings Gambit, 1.e4 e5, 2.f4, why does white employ this move? because he hopes to open the f file and distract blacks e pawn from the centre so that he can play d4 giving him the ideal pawn centre. what can black do? he can try the Falkbeer counter Gambit and try to disrupt white intentions, thus we get a position which looks like the following, after the moves 1.e4 e5, 2.f4 d5, 3.exd5 e5



    thus it would seem that whites plans are thwarted, the f file is not opened, neither can he put two pawns side by side in the centre. this is what is meant by opening theory, understanding why the opening is being employed, what one hopes to achieve by it, and how it may be opposed. This will aid the student far better than memorising zillions of lines, that may never be played and the reasons why they are being played are never known. when we simply follow lines, we understand nothing of how we came to be in a position and are up the creek without a paddle as they say! Is it not better to play moves that we understand rather than ones we do not?
  6. Standard member DeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    27 Sep '09 18:24
    Originally posted by witchfyndergeneral
    To quote from a popular openings book:
    "The Yugoslav Attack is the most theoretically complex line of all openings.... there is simply no substitute for learning the seemingly endless amount of critical variations"
    And regarding the Sicilian Scheveningen,English Attack:
    "A large body of theory has built up over the years and it is advisable... ...[text shortened]... J. Emms) then where CAN you find it?

    I would appreciate your help on this.

    Cheers.
    It depends what you want the theory for. Playing correspondence chess you can use a database while playing, which covers more ground that a book ever could, but lacks an expert telling you that the promising looking win score of 60% for some move is misleading as no-one has played it since X vs Y where the line was refuted. In OTB chess on the other hand you don't have that luxury and all you can hope for is some idea of what to expect, unless you actually are a professional and spend 8 hours a day on training.

    The book you have is fairly general. To find deep analysis of opening variations on the English attack you need a specialist book. In the old days you'd look for opening theory in books and periodicals, and that was the only place you could find lines of play. Now you use a database, which tells you how particular lines fare and that is where to look for specific tactical continuations. To understand what the contents of your database is telling you it helps to have some expert guidance, which is what modern opening books try to do. They tell you what you are trying to achieve in the book, by talking you through some games. What you should try to do is work out from the commentary in the books how that applies to the various lines in databases.

    So get a database, it is possible to get free ones, and use that to research your openings. But to be honest based on your rating you don't need to research openings deeply. You're looking at consistently beating the people with lower ratings and trying to get something out of games against people with higher ratings than you. To consistently beat players with ratings lower than 1,500 does not require opening finesse, they do not have the technical ability to exploit the even positions that result from theoretical lines of play unless you misplay your position for them. You are not as concerned about beating players with a higher rating, it's nice but your focus should be on consistency against weaker players.

    What you need is to evade traps and get into the middle game in a half way reasonable state. For games here a reasonable approach is to decide what you want to do and then compare your ideas against a database and see if the move has been tried to avoid getting into too much of a tangle.

    I liked your profile btw.
  7. 27 Sep '09 20:41
    Taliman has nailed it.

    One wee thing though. 'Just playing over master games.'

    Don't limit yourself to these choice games, there is lots to learned
    playing over games from so called weaker players.

    You see the tactics in action, instead of buried in the notes.
    (if indeed there are any notes)

    And some of the refuatations are entertaining and instructive.

    500 Pirc Miniatures by Bill Wall is a feast of Pirc's showing all
    the strengths and weakness's of this opening in the early stages.

    Most of the games are by 'working class' players, not GM's sitting
    in relative comfort with a TC of 40 moves in 2 hours.

    Game 36 is probably the best game in the book
    Here it is.

    (11.h4 was played to stop 11...Qh4 hitting both the c4 and h6 Bishops)

  8. 27 Sep '09 23:29
    wormwood and talisman nailed it on the head I think and thanks for the game green pawn. That was an interesting one.

    Theory in my mind is the moves which have been played and or studied to the point where the theoritically best moves have been "figured out"-until some other genius comes along and turns the theoretical world upside down.
  9. Donation ketchuplover
    G.O.A.T.
    27 Sep '09 23:41
    Originally posted by greenpawn34
    Taliman has nailed it.

    One wee thing though. 'Just playing over master games.'

    Don't limit yourself to these choice games, there is lots to learned
    playing over games from so called weaker players.

    You see the tactics in action, instead of buried in the notes.
    (if indeed there are any notes)

    And some of the refuatations are entertaining and ...[text shortened]... Rxd1+ 17. Rxd1 Bd7 18. Ne4 f5 19. Rxd7 Kxd7 20. Bxe6+ Qxe6 21. Nc5+[/pgn]
    woah!
  10. 28 Sep '09 04:47
    Originally posted by Talisman
    The general concensus on this and i stress general, is that any serious amount of time devoted to opening preparation below the expert 2000 ELO level is not time well spent. The idea behind opeing preparation at the higher levels is simply to take a small workable advantage into the middle game. It may be a weak pawn to aim at, more space, better developmen ...[text shortened]... has to be just about the driest, most laborious way to study this game that i can imagine.
    agree to.. i play for fun... don't want to be rated 2000... the simple rules of try to move each piece once is good enough for me

    with e4-e5 games think its just as much fun not to know the theory as there's so many unexpected tricks ...do have a few pet lines.... the halloween attack just cos it so odd.. n refuting the fried liver attack as when i started i hated loosing to it...The kings gambit is one that it helps to know a bit.... i don't learn the theory ... just the minimum to decline it and get into quieter water people who play it usually know how to get very quick wins...
  11. 28 Sep '09 15:19
    Thanks for all your help.
    Cheers.
  12. 28 Sep '09 19:08
    Although I find the semantics a little confusing my understanding of "theory" equates to "memorization" of lines of play. Something with a lot of theory has a lot of lines to memorize.

    To be effective you will need the tactical strength to exploit an opponent who plays a weaker move.

    Opening theory however is a seemingly bottomless pit and all the advice seems to suggest not to get involved. Yet the people giving this advice usually have a lot of opening knowledge - how else would they know.

    You do need the basics, you do need the principles and you do need some theory...but beyond that your time will be better spent on tactics, endgames, startegy and pretty much anything related to chess that isn't opening theory - unless you want to be a GM that is.

    This t these are theoretical allows for the possibility of new discoveries.
  13. Standard member Talisman
    Time traveller.
    28 Sep '09 20:36
    Originally posted by greenpawn34
    Taliman has nailed it.

    One wee thing though. 'Just playing over master games.'

    Don't limit yourself to these choice games, there is lots to learned
    playing over games from so called weaker players.

    You see the tactics in action, instead of buried in the notes.
    (if indeed there are any notes)

    And some of the refuatations are entertaining and ...[text shortened]... Rxd1+ 17. Rxd1 Bd7 18. Ne4 f5 19. Rxd7 Kxd7 20. Bxe6+ Qxe6 21. Nc5+[/pgn]
    Thanks for the tip on the book GP. I shall try and hunt down a copy.

    That was a a super game posted there. Of course the 6..Nxd4 line in the early Bc4 Pirc is well known to be poor for black. Then i only know that from the Bible i have on the Pirc called Pirc Alert by Albert and Chernin. A fantastic book. The first half of it is taken up with all general ideas. The sort of thing us weaker players tend to learn a lot more from. the second half is basically all theory along the lines of most other opening manuals. I use this section for reference in my CC games and to check lines after my OTB games. It really works. I have a very good plus minus ratio with it.

    I'll certainly check out the Bill Wall book. looks just the ticket.
  14. 28 Sep '09 21:02
    Originally posted by Talisman
    Thanks for the tip on the book GP. I shall try and hunt down a copy.

    That was a a super game posted there. Of course the 6..Nxd4 line in the early Bc4 Pirc is well known to be poor for black. Then i only know that from the Bible i have on the Pirc called Pirc Alert by Albert and Chernin. A fantastic book. The first half of it is taken up with all genera ...[text shortened]... lus minus ratio with it.

    I'll certainly check out the Bill Wall book. looks just the ticket.
    Just a heads up. From what silman says there are issues with the theory in pirc alert. The pirc in black and white according to him is more accurate in terms of theory(and all the reviews I have seen on this book were fantastic as well.)
  15. 28 Sep '09 21:08
    Originally posted by Mahout
    Although I find the semantics a little confusing my understanding of "theory" equates to "memorization" of lines of play. Something with a lot of theory has a lot of lines to memorize.

    To be effective you will need the tactical strength to exploit an opponent who plays a weaker move.

    Opening theory however is a seemingly bottomless pit and all the advi ...[text shortened]... GM that is.

    This t these are theoretical allows for the possibility of new discoveries.
    Once again theory doesn't refer to memorizing lines. Theory in my mind is what the moves which have been studied are theoritically better or worst in a specific position. You can memorize theory if you like. But, that doesn't make theory the memorization of theory.


    And yes most STRONG players will know at least some theory because it is necessary at a certain point. But, at lower levels (low understanding of positional principles and techniques,endgame knowledge, tactics etc) theory should not be worked on (at least not too much). What much does it matter that you get in to a +/= middlegame if you either have no idea what your advantage is or why your endgame is superior or worst yet hang a piece or lose to a simple tactic?