Wednesday, December 06, 2006


There are a lot of (semi-)irregular openings around. They can easy lead to a quick defeat.
As J'adoube found out lately with the Benoni and the Benko gambit.
Since there are quite a few obscure lines adopted in my own repertoire I know it all too well myself.
Yesterday I encountered for the first time in my life the Grob (1.g4). It took me about 4 hours to find out what this opening is about. And although I don't know all ins and outs, at least I have an idea where the danger comes from. Boy, was I glad it is a correspondence game and not during Corus! In the end it is all pretty logical where white is after.
This story expresses clearly the problem at our level with opening study. If I'm catched off book, it takes me an enormous amount of time to analyse a position. If that happens OTB, you probably find yourself at the short end of the stick. Being worse or even worse. Or having a big plus in time trouble.
So if you learn openings by heart and play the main lines, the dirty work is done by grandmasters in the past. That's all very well, but there has to come a solution when you must leave the book lines. If that is at move 10, you have probably an acceptable position already, with most pieces developed. But if that happens at move one, as happened to me with the Grob, you have to a have something better than the knowledge "jeepers, he plays an opening that is not played at grandmasterlevel!".

So you have to develop the skill to analyse an opening position yourself. Preferably in less than 20 minutes. Correspondence play is a great opportunity for this.

Yesterday I played an obscure gambit myself, the Icelandic gambit.
The white player had clearly no idea where I was after, nor had he the skills to analyse a new opening position (although it was a correspondense game). He struggled for 10 moves only.
You can find the game here.


  1. I really think that after a few more years of play, I will have pretty much run into everything I wille ver face. . .although eventually someone will do something like Kasparov did and re-introduce the Evans Gambit.

    But still, I think that after 10,000 games I will have pretty much faced everything at least once! I am betting you will have too!

  2. Nice! I love the Icelandic. You play it much better than I do.

  3. Jim, you might have faced everything, but you can never be prepared enough. Some people make it their life's work to beat you with obscure play. Why? Because they did not want to delve themselves in all that opening theory. Instead they look to play the more non-theoratical stuff and keep things simple for themselves. But don't get me wrong, because what they do choose to play, they make it second nature and really specialize themselves in that stuff. And it is to be admired. Because it is not like one day you just say to yourself, hmm... Why don't i play 1.a6 this time, and maybe i get lucky because my opponent will be baffled. You definitely have to know what you're doing, because you can expect your opponent to want to show you a lesson you'll never forget. Because obscure play is generally considered inferior play. And good players usually know how to punish you for "inferior" moves. Anyway, take a look at this guy for example...

  4. Dutch,

    You make good points, but those other less common openings are easier to defeat because at some level they don't attack the center as much as some other less common openings and at some point I will make you pay for that (at least in few years when I reach 2200+) [grin]

  5. Read the bio of this fellow who was considered to a Grob expert