Saturday, September 13, 2008

It begins with the end.

Once I drove along a quite big mushroom. It was half a meter wide. The next day Margriet and I decided to have a look at it. We were very disappointed to see that somebody had kicked it to pieces. In stead we were looking at a broad boring lawn. At least, that was what I thought at first. All of a sudden I realized that there were very tiny fungi amidst the grass. When I had a closer look I saw a wealth of wee mushrooms. Most of them had beautiful shapes and there must have been at least a hundred different kind of species.

That's the art of life. Learn to not fall for the freak things with their easy satisfaction, but to sharpen your eyes so you can see and enjoy the little things where everybody else sees just a boring field of grass. Boredom that prevents a second look.

It's the same in chess. The break has done me alot of good. I realized that the freak gambits and the freak tactics alone are no longer able to satisfy me. It's time to sharpen my eye and to learn to enjoy the seemingly boring. I already start to see the glimpses of beauty neglected by many.

What is more logical than to begin at the end? How can you conduct a middlegame if you have no idea what you are heading for? I have 1.2 meter bookknowledge of the opening and more than average experience with tactical problems. It has become somewhat unlikely that I fall for a simple trap in the opening or a cheap trick in the middlegame, allthough accidents do happen. But my opponents have become stronger and tend not to fall for all too cheap tricks either. So what should be the plan as long as my opponent fails to become the victim of an accident? The answer is of course: get a favourable ending. Does the enemy make a mistake along the road to the ending? Of course I will not hesitate to punish him. But if his game hasn't serious tactical flaws, the ending should be the goal. Capablanca advocated exactly this.

I have broad experience with the wrong way of endgame study. The way which is advocated by most chessauthors, by the way. They propagate to acquire an encyclopedic knowledge of the ending. Which is as nonsensical as learning openings by heart. In stead I'm going to focus on general endgame strategy. Because when I play an ending wrong, I can look after the game in my "encyclopedia" (a bunch of books) for how I should have played. You don't start to read an encyclopedia right from the latter "A" to the letter "Z", but you use it when you need it.

The Polar Bear is a solid base for a good middlegame, so no worries there. It seems to soothe my lower rated opponents into sleep since it isn't all too obvious what the opening is about. As you can see in my first game of the season here.


  1. good to see you maturing. I just had my alapin killed with
    E4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 bd3 dxe 4 ne2 nf6 5 f3 nc6!

    Declined ! What would you do? There are some killer tactics w/nb4 for black. Do you still play this kooky gambit?

    This seems to really kill it.

    On iPhone sorry for typing ugly

  2. Bb5 and c3 seem to be thematic, often transposing back into main lines....

    PS How can you tell if a mushroom is safe to eat?

  3. I asume that you are talking about the Alapin-Diemer gambit against the French and that both 3.Bd3 and 4.Ne2 are typo's. After 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Be3 dx4 4.Nd2 Nf6 5.f3 Nc6 I play 6.c3

    I don't think there is an acceptable way to decline the gambit. If so at least you have accomplished that every french opening book can be thrown out of the window.

    Allthough the gambit is perfectly playable, even at cc-level according to Tim Harding, I now play solely the Polar Bear. Which, en passant, gets me rid of the French, the Caro Kan, the Sicilian, the Pirc, the Modern and the Ruy.

    A mushroom is probably safe to eat if you find it in one or two places at a supermarket.

  4. Tempo: yes those were thinkos (I was doing it from memory at a tournament on an iphone and screwed up).

    I will have to look at this polar bear. I thought you played it as black for some reason.

    I'm thinking about....playing the French as black. I did in a few blitz games and it was pretty fun, white had no clue. :)