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1. e4 e5

Anwulf blog

Thursday, January 17, 2019

1. e4 e5

Sicut erat in principio…

I first learnt how to play chess about 35 years ago. If I remember rightly, there was a programme on the telly about the game which was in black and white, and illustrated various games using stop animation. If, again, my memory isn't too faulty, the commentator always described castling as a tricky move. My Dad bought me a chess set one day and taught me how to play the game along with the first few moves of the dear old Giuoco Piano.

I was a bit miffed when one of my friends played an opening which didn't respond to the Giuoco Piano and annoyed with him for saying that he (or someone) always won with the opening in question. Her did win, but this particular opening is probably difficult to tackle for a lot of players if your opponent is being excessively defensive.

Curiously enough, when I started playing online chess last week, one of my opponents played the same kind of opening. Whether it has a name, I don't know, but it appears to be known – somehow – among defensive players. It's the sort of opening which must drive knowledgeable players to paroxysms of rage and frustration.

I started out trying to play a Queen's Gambit and ended up playing the Old Indian Defence (ECO A55) without even knowing it. (I'm not sure the moves are in the standard order, but the final position is.)

I then played d5 and got e5 in return. My opponent has played quite a few games, likes this opening, and tends to be defensive. e5 was no great surprise. I tried c5 and have got Nxc5 as a reply, which is not a move attacking or developing a piece, but a wholly defensive action. I'm now considering my next move, but my attempts to kibitz this game keep leading to the same conclusion. It forces the attacking player to sacrifice pieces to advance because the other player is playing a wholly defensive game.

Whither now? b4 is tempting. He'd probably play Nd7; I'd play b5; he'd probably play c5; I'd play b6; he'd probably play Nxb6, thus thwarting another attack but doing nothing to advance his cause. However, that leaves me with Bb5+, no doubt followed by Nd7 or Bd7, which then has me thinking, "Why bother?" I think I may just let the game time out, which is not the way it should end, but such an opponent isn't worth the effort.

I am somewhat irked by this bothersome child's irritating style of play. I shan't suggest that he should learn a proper opening or two because I doubt whether he'd be mature enough to accept my advice with good grace.

Since I have an academic background, I quite like the research and analysis sides of correspondence chess and even the chance to try a little original thinking (perhaps). I note that by playing 1. …c5 to some of my opponent's 1. e4, I've probably put them out of sorts because they know the Giuoco Piano and do not expect or recognise some Sicilian Opening (of which there are too many). I've had several play 2. Bc4, which is a move in a less played version of the Sicilian.

In spite of this failure, I think that some of these players and I are quite well matched once they stop playing pointless moves. I've spent the opening of these games mostly moving pawns around while the other player tries Bb5(+).

Whatever else, I ought to get plenty of practice at the game.

Comments: 6    

1. Zahnarzt says: Monday, September 21, 2009
Hello Anwulf, Are you from China? Your English writing is beautifully fluent and is that a Latin quotation at the beginning? Obviously you are well educated. I'm a little confused about your opening comments. I think ECO A55 gives variations related to the old way they used to play the King's Indian Defence with ... Nd7 instead of the modern ... Nc6, and in which some of the better known lines of this system are avoided. White can just develop happily behind his pawns using his superiority in space. GM and nearly World Champion, David Bronstein pioneered and played many games along these lines in the 40s and 50s as both White and Black I believe. He also made very illuminating comments about these types of games and "dynamic" play in his famous book on the Zurich International Tournament of 1953. For me the point is that these blocked and closed games, while very slow initially, can open up with great complications later on because most of the pieces are still in play. Some of my own personal favourite games have come from these openings, when after chafing in a lifeless position for some time, I break free and all hell breaks loose. As for the position illustrated adjacent to your comments, I'm not sure how this fits in. However I would comment that in the final position after 8... h5, Black has not developed his pieces at all and a White break with e5 opening lines onto the Black king would be the first thing I'd look at, since a premature attack on the flank is best countered by a central thrust and it's in the spirit of Paul Morphy to open lines onto the undeveloped king. I hope these comments strike a chord with you. Good luck!

2. ilkerkalyoncu says: Monday, September 21, 2009
I didn't examine the position deeply but I will give some brief information. In one of my games of which I am playing with white, my oppenent chose an irregular openening which was looking incredibly defensive. I mean, none of his pieces reached his fourth rank, he developed his bishops through b7 and g7, placed central pawns on e6 and d6, and I suppose he would attack on the kingside in the end. Such kind of development can be successfully used in real time rapid-blitz games, but in my opinion, in correspondence chess this kind of playing has something wrong with it. Although I think my oppenents opening is wrong I could not find a clear and easy way to win the game. I made hours of analysis in computer but all the moves the machine reccomends was leading to a draw, although at first, computer was giving an edge to white. All early pawn storms and some piece attacks were leading to nothing but draw. I was kind of stucked, feeling that I can win but could not find the right way. After hours of analysis I concluded that the right thing in such positions is to make use these two things: Better development of pieces and space advantage. So, I centralised all my pieces slowly, while my opponent could not, and I strengthen my center. Then finally when I am ready, with pawns on c4,d4,e4, I played e5, opened up the center, and then increased my advantage slowly but safely, and finally win the game. In such style of playing, computer evaluated the position equal at first, but move after move computer tended to give whtie an advantage. So, instead trying early pawn moves like c5, d5 or e5, I reccomend just continue to develop your pieces like Be3, Qc2 and Rad1 and so on. I don't know if these are the correct moves, but just to give you the point. In such situations, one should not hurry up for the win, just should continue development, since any early attack of opponent on kingside with g4 or anything else will not succeed at all.

3. bayne_s says: Monday, September 21, 2009
At some point having more space will provide enough of an advantage that you may not have to sacrifice but merely redeploy your forces from one flank to other

4. froido says: Wednesday, September 23, 2009
what kind of game was it? in a classical game it might be weird to have to go in such a possition, but in a blitz game the nature of the gamerules almost obliged you to run for strange ones. its just what i believe...

5. SoItGoes says: Tuesday, April 06, 2010
I have some experience with this. I learned how the pieces moved when I was very young, and learned some basics a couple of years ago. I really learned to play over the board in prison, where you find a lot of decent players who have no opening knowledge. The best strategy is to make good fundamental moves (Nf3,Nc3, d4,e4,c4,f4) and control the center. When the other player commits a simple pawn push will usaually break them wide open or at least open tactical lines. I really didn't know what tactics were until I played against these types of openings. Remember that in these games, regardless of the time constraints, your opponent is a poor player and his/her defense, a veritable house of cards, can collapse on one pin, fork, pawn storm, cheap check, sacrifice, exchange sacrifice, or even a simple pawn push or pawn sacrifice. The people who play these games are not interested in depth.

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