Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Preparation for Corus

The tournament in Groningen went quite well for both Margriet and me, with each 3.5/5
I don't want to spend too much time on blogging or publishing my games, because I want to digest what I have learned in Groningen in order to adjust my preparation for Corus.

In general it can be said that my play has changed in the following way: in stead of throwing the sink at my opponent from move one I develop quietly and play the middlegame as positional as I can. When the exchange of pieces start, at the end of the middlegame, there all of a sudden appears a moment that I can shift gears, sacrifice a few pawns and mate the hostile king. Time and again these attacks seem to appear at the end of the middlegame 'out of the blue' lately, just by playing positionally.

There is another phenomenon I noticed. My attacks used to be as 'lean' as possible. That is to say, when I sensed that there are tactics in the air I started to execute them as soon as I could. Now I let the threat exist, but make a (few) development moves extra first. It proves that this multiplies the amount of tactics manifold. It gives the attack a devastating extra punch.

The Scandinavian with 3. ... Qd6 didn't live up to it's expectations. Although I haven't lost with it yet in six outings (1+ 5=) it is difficult to find a plan for black and to solve all blacks problems. Tiviakov gave as motivation for this move that it is 'different'. Which is not very guiding. Since there are no books about the variation, I can't get inspiration how to treat the opening. I'm not ready yet to develop my own treatment. So for the time being I will abandon this opening at a certain moment. The problem is: before or after Corus?

I don't want to spend time on opening preparation for Corus since I need all my time for improving my positional play. Besides that, I haven't decided on which opening to play yet. I hesitate between the French, the Caro-Kan and the Taimanov Sicilian. At the moment the balance tips to the Caro-Kan. I ordered the book of Jovanka Houska (Playing the Caro-Kan) and if I like what I see there I will take it up.


  1. Congrats on winning your last game!

    A teammate of me also played the scandinavian with 3. ... Qd6 . It were all very strange games but he had good results with it. So perhaps a bit of investigation of this opening will do wonders.

    I dont know if he has a book about it or if he just looked games up in a chess database. I will ask him if i see him.

    Goodluck at Corus!

    Congratulations to Magriet aswell!

  2. Huh? I know of at least two popular resources for the 3...Qd6 variation. Michael Melts wrote "The Scandinavian Defense" and Andrew Martin created "The Scandinavian: The Easy Way". Either of those should explain the key idea and variations. The Melts book is a key reasons you see many players taking up ...Qd6.

    "At the moment the balance tips to the Caro-Kan. I ordered the book of Jovanka Houska (Playing the Caro-Kan) and if I like what I see there I will take it up."

    I have her book. It's good, but the amount of theory needed to play the Panov, Fantasy, etc well turned me off switching for now. Even despite the pawn structures being similar to the Scandinavian. Besides, it's comforting that at least GM Eric Prie seems to feel the Scandinavian is sound even at the top levels of chess.

    Her book, in contrast to the Wells book, advocates taking some risks to try for the full point. This is a delight for many but not so for those who want safe solidity. I really like how she describes common tabiya pawn structures and am eagerly awaiting her book on the Scandinavian, due soon.

  3. I'm pretty sure there are a couple of books on 3...Qd6, but maybe you should just study middlegame positions from Caro-Kann main lines and the Rubinstein French. The ...Qd6 Scandinavian usually winds up looking like those, doesn't it?

  4. LF,
    thanks, I wasn't aware of those, I will check them out.

  5. Ed,
    I need a bit of a kickstart. The way of thinking of the Caro-Kan is quite alien to me. Which is one of the reasons to go for it btw. Just as I took up gambits when I was weak at tactics.

    I'm simply floundering around since I haven't found a good source for the main idea's yet. I expect Houska's book friday.

  6. Congrats on your great performance, and on finding a more solid style of play to suit you. That person that won it seems to have been playing way above his rating. Great work!

    I also found I drew a lot of games with black when I played the Qd6 variation of the Scandy. White can push it into drawish territory quite easily, and I just found the games sort of boring as black.

    So far I'm happy with the Caro, and you are quite prepared for the Panov attack since you played the Nf6 Scandinavian, which often transposes. The annoying thing for me is that white plays 2 Nf3 over 50% of the time at my level, so I'm on my own. Luckily it is pretty easy to get a small advantage as black as 2 Nf3 suggests white doesn't know what he is doing.

    The Houska book is good, though I don't follow her recommendation of playing c5 right away against the advance variation, preferring the more fun Bf5 (which Karpov covers in great detail in his book on the variation).

    Another nice thing about the Caro is that black plays many of the same moves in most of the variations, so it is something of a "system" opening like the Smith-Morra.

  7. Well, I'd be the last to discourage you from playing the Caro-Kann, which I have done quite well with; and Houska's book is very good. As Blue Devil Knight suggsts, you may want to consider playing some other line against the Panov and Advance variations than what she recomends. Although who knows, maybe you'll like her lines; many people do.