Saturday, August 19, 2017

The open games

If you watch the games of our youngest players then you notice a lot of Italian four knights. That is of course because many teachers use this opening in their classes. The opening is very solid and for beginners there are enough possibilities to play an interesting game. It is perfect to make your first steps at chess and develop yourself. Besides it only takes a few minutes to teach and learn the opening so more important aspects of chess like tactics can get more attention.

A couple of individuals at youth-tournaments try to profit from this by using some home-studied traps. It are often very sharp gambits which are very efficient as normal developing moves don't work as defense and exact knowledge of the opening is mandatory. When I found out that my son Hugo lost some crucial games in the tournaments due to that strategy so not because of inferior skills, I realized that I needed to help him.

I am a specialist of the open games so I know very well what enormous amount of theory exists today of the open games. Further I don't think it is ideal to force a child to play like I do see the scientific approach. Therefore Hugo switched from 1.e4 e5 to 1.e4 c6. With white we started to play exchange-variations of the Spanish see my article bjk. So theoretically these openings aren't the most critical ones but this way he does get each time positions which allow him to play a long game of chess.

It is not only the choice for the open games of trainers which I question. I am also often surprised how it is possible that stronger/ more experienced players choose open games while it is evident that they know barely any theory. 3 times in the past Open Gent I encountered a lack of basic theory-knowledge in the play of my opponents. Let us have a look to my first round against nonetheless a player of +1800. If you play the Ponziani then I expect that you are at least aware of the Fraser-defense.
[Event "Open Gent 1ste ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Bauwens, S."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C44"] [WhiteElo "1822"] [BlackElo "2307"] [PlyCount "50"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 Nf6 4.d4 Nxe4 5.d5 Bc5 6.Be3? { (If you play the Ponziani then I expect that you are at least aware about the Fraser-defense which was last couple of years very hot.) } ( 6.dxc6! Bxf2+ 7.Ke2 Bb6 8.Qd5 Nf2 9.Rg1 O-O 10.cxb7 Bxb7 11.Qxb7 Qf6 { (On my blog I published a very extensive analysis of this very sharp position.) } ) 6...Bxe3 7.fxe3 Nb8 { (Ne7 is slightly more critical but in the game I also obtain a large advantage.) } 8.Be2 O-O 9.O-O d6 10.Qb3 Nd7 11.Qc4 f5 12.Nbd2?! { (White has a very difficult position but this loses further material. Qd3 was necessary.) } 12...Nb6 13.Qb3 Nc5 14.Qa3 Nxd5 15.Bc4 Be6 16.Nxe5 Nxe3 17.Bxe6+ Nxe6 18.Qb3 Nxf1 19.Qxe6+ Kh8 20.Ndf3 dxe5 21.Nxe5 Qe8 22.Qd5 Rd8 23.Qc5 Nd2 24.Re1 Ne4 25.Qxc7 Rc8 0-1
On my blog I wrote 2 articles about the opening see 14 x sos and computers achieve autonomy but just like my opponent of the previous article, he didn't read it. Maybe my opponent doesn't know this blog but I don't find that a good excuse as the Fraser-defense is basic-knowledge for any Ponziani-player.

Besides I also consider basic-knowledge the classical mainline of the Spanish: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 etc... However my opponent in round 3 managed to mix up the order of the next moves by playing 8.h3 instead of c3. I took advantage of this by using the same idea which I showed earlier in my articles the sequence and familychess part 2.
[Event "Open Gent 3de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "De Haas, W."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "*"] [ECO "C90"] [WhiteElo "2050"] [BlackElo "2307"] [PlyCount "24"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.h3 { (White mixes the sequence which allows me immediately to get a very comfortable position.) } 8...Na5 9.c3 Nxb3 10.axb3 Bb7 11.d3 O-O 12.Nbd2 Re8 { (In a similar sort of position I played c5 in 2008 against Van Vlaenderen but I only achieved a draw. This time I want to keep the position more dynamic but I was afterwards not so pleased with my different idea. Eventually I won the game after some adventures at move 38 with mate.) } *
It is remarkable that this inaccuracy popped up in 300 mastergames while 2 out of 3 just transposed back to the mainlines. The difference of evaluation is small but can be noticed when you look at black's score which is clearly better with Na5.

A much larger difference of evaluation after mixing up the right sequence is my 3rd example. Also here we see my opponent choosing for an open game while not being versed too much by knowledge.
[Event "Open Gent 6de ronde"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Van Akkeren, A."] [Result "*"] [ECO "C60"] [WhiteElo "2307"] [BlackElo "2080"] [PlyCount "19"] [CurrentPosition "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.O-O Bg7 5.c3 Nge7 6.d4 O-O { (Black mixes the sequence of the moves. Here exd4 is correct.) } 7.d5 Nb8?! { (Again played without much reflection while a6 is here clearly stronger.) } ( 7...a6! 8.Be2!? Nb8 9.d6 cxd6 10.Qxd6 Nbc6 $14 ) 8.d6 cxd6 9.Qxd6 a6 10.Bg5?! { (Even stronger was immediately Bc4. In the end I won the game after some adventures at move 34.) } ( 10.Bc4! b5 11.Bg5 Nbc6 12.Bd5 Ra7 13.a4!? $16 ) *
In my database there are 32 mastergames with the same mistake. Online I already got it 19 times on the board. I mean the examples are definitely not isolated cases.

It is especially stunning that these are very elementary positions of the open games which are misplayed by many players. So we are not talking about missing a new strong novelty somewhere deep into theory. I can only deduct that many players like to play intuitively and are not willing to study properly the openings. In open games this will regularly lead to disasters if the opponent is booked up. I believe switching to less demanding openings is absolutely necessary for those "lazy" players.


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