Thursday, February 24, 2005

Something about tactics and openings

For years I played the Sicilian defense with black.
So what's on the menu of the Sicilian kitchen:

  • Seduce the enemy to a premature King attack by developing as slowly as possible.
  • Beat this attack off graceful but determined, with the help of the pawnmajority in the center.
  • Frustrate the enemy by trading off pieces.
  • Mop up the left wreckedge of whites position.
  • On the queenside there are now two black pawns against three white ones.
  • Start a minority attack at the queenside.
  • After trading off the pawns white is left with one weak pawn, which black conquers.
  • All the other pawns are traded off until black has one pawn and white has none.
  • Promote the pawn to rook and play around a little untill whites flag falls.

I played the Najdorf variation of the Sicilian for about 3 years but never succeeded in eating all the coarses to the end.

There was always someone rude to the cook by throwing tabasco in the food by a Knightsacrifice on e5 or by the Morragambit.

The reason I never reached the ideal situation is simple. My tactical skills were underdeveloped so things always went different.

But if that's true then there is no point in hanging on to the Sicilian defense.

And so I quit playing openings which were developed with the endgame in mind.

I deciced 3 years ago to develope my tactical skills.

It's not more than logical that I choose tactical openenings too. Openings which are developed for a lead in development, piece play, the initiative and/or a space advantage.

That's why I play a lot of gambits. I'm not alarmed that some people say that some of these openings are unsound. Because on my level they are sound. And when I start to loose to much games because my level rises, I simply drop the opening. With Bookup-lite it takes me about two weeks to learn a new opening enough to play it with confidence. Because I am tactically stronger I feel less dependend on the opening than I used to. Besides that, a lot of openings have common elements. For example the King's gambit and the Vienna with f4. You get more possibilities. If you like to play the Bird 1. f4 but hate the frommgambit 1....e5 you can switch to the King's gambit with 2. e4, and so on.

My games became far more exciting then the dull ones I used to produce.

Sac a pawn and you'll have an enjoyable evening. And afterwards you will have an 1 or a 0. So what?

When playing gambits a few things are important:

  • Count pawnmoves. I'm very allergic about moving a pawn in the opening. I sometimes would rather let it drop of the board (especially on b2) and develope a piece in stead. Moves like a3 or h3 as defence against a move your opponent maybe even has not considdered to play lead to an almost physical aversion.
  • Count tempo's. Especially the hidden ones. When a Knight has used 4 tempi to be trade off against a Bishop which has only made one move, you gain 3 tempi.
  • Don't be hasty. The lead in development might disappear. But open lines and the space advantage will do their job anyway.

It is very simple. With more space you have statistical more possibilities. You change from thread to thread. On a certain moment the enemy can't keep up because with little space he has lesser possibilities to defend. Then you strike.

There is no guarantee you will win. But I can guarantee that you will have an interesting game!


  1. My daughter had as one of her spelling words to memorize for school: s-i-l-l-y

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  4. New! Try "tabasco in the food" chess!!!
    Nice post. Maybe I need to learn more about Sicilian!

    Alas, it's clear why you are not getting endgames -> Gambits. It does sound interesting, and over my head :-) !

    I sometimes play the Petroff as black. I imagine that would bore you, but get you in an endgame once in awhile... which in turn might bore further (hehe).

  5. CD,
    I don't understand your reaction.
    Would you be so kind to explain it?

  6. King,

    I don't advocate gambits or tactical openings as a means to play chess but as a means to study tactics. I'm not addicted to them, nor do I think endgames are boring.
    Against the Petroff I play the Cochrane gambit, which seldom leads to an quiet endgame...

  7. When I made my comment, I was sure that your post was made at least partly in jest. That's to what I was responding. Especially to the formula for success with the Sicilian!

  8. Awesome! It's over my head too but I can see what you are getting at.

    I once had to play a Queen's Gambit Accepted because of the little quirk of online play called the "mouse slip". I usually play a Pirc but the dumb Queen's pawn went to d5 instead of d6. Good thing I remembered the first couple of moves. I went on to win that one even though the guy was 200 or so points higher than me. I guess he wasn't used to gambits either.

    That was the one and only time I played a gambit though. I prefer the quieter games. The drawback is that most people don't like playing me. They get ticked off that they have to play the whole game even if they do beat me. That's why I think I am going to LOVE Team 45 45.


  9. CD,
    Of course I'm partly jesting. But I didn't know about your reaction if I had made my main point clear about the Sicilian, and that most variations with black are not designed for a quick Kingside attack.

  10. Against the Petroff I play the Cochrane gambit...
    I knew it!!! (hehe)

  11. Actually you summarized what gambits teach in addition to tactics quite well. :-)

  12. Thank you for pointing me to the blog entry. After reading it, I think their is some validity to putting my Najdorf study on hold and examing some of the gambits. The only one I am familiar with is the Evan's Gambit, maybe I'll start there.