Some basic openings

You have to be able to make a decent start in a game of chess, or you risk being blown away by your opponent's better development. Knowing a few openings in a bit of detail is some insurance against traps and ideas that you haven't seen before.

So, here are some variations in common openings that you can -- and should -- learn. At each turn, try and learn not just what is the right move(s) but why that move is preferred.

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2018.01.30"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Felix"]
[Black "Openings"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C54"]
[PlyCount "11"]

Opening Workshop 2015

A bit of perspective

Your opening choices are determined by:

Your style: are you a Steady Eddie or a Bonkers Billie?

Your memory: can you commit the key traps and variations to memory?

Your study time: can you find and absorb what you need to play this system well?

Your aims: are you trying to get a playable position? are you trying to
set your opponent problems, so they make a mistake? are you inviting
your opponent to waltz with you blindfold on the edge of a cliff? are
you trying to lure them into unfamiliar territory, or a trap?

Trouble with b6

"I'm having trouble getting ...b6 to work against 1.e4"

1.e4 b6

[Event "Coaching"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015. 0. 0"]
[Round "?"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "NN"]
[Result "*"]
[FEN "rnbqkbnr/p1pppppp/1p6/8/4P3/8/PPPP1PPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 2"]
[Setup "1"]


"I'm not surprised!"

Any opening is only as good as the ideas you bring to it. I don't think
I heard much from you about what your ideas were in playing ...b6: what
sort of position do you hope to get to play?

The ideas behind some systems can be pretty straightforward - for
example, I think the Evans Gambit and the French Defence and the Colle
System can be picked up pretty quickly by club players, and the extra
ideas you need as your opponents get better at meeting your new opening
can be added fairly easily. The French Defence in particular often
leads to the same sort of pawn structure (white Pd4 Pe5 vs black Pd5
Pe6), so, even if you don't recognise the exact variation, you can still
have a good idea about the best plans for both sides.

1...b6 is a rarity - you will struggle to find many books to read, or
games to follow. If you look it up in the books, you will find most of
the lines end in +=. The ideas behind the opening are hard to find or
understand: I think it can be best interpreted as a hypermodern defence,
letting White occupy the centre then hoping to get play later, either by
deciding on your own central setup once you have seen what White has
done, or using the centre as a target. I think it ends up as += because
that is hard to do! Also, you aren't going to get the same structures
and ideas in each game, and you are going to lose games that you don't

My advice: pick something else!


How to lose at losing chess

    ( {The simplest loss is} 1.d4?? e5 2.dxe5 Qg5 3.Qxd7 Bxd7 4.Bxg5 Kd8 5.Bxd8 a6 6.Bxc7 Ra7 7.Bxb8           
    b6 8.Bxa7 a5 9.Bxb6 g6 10.Bxa5 Bb4 11.Bxb4 Ne7 12.Bxe7 Rf8 13.Bxf8 h6           

Gambits galore

We welcome to the club a bunch of new members, among whom is Ian
Simpson, who comes to give us better weather, or, at least, better
weather forecasts.

Ian is a big gambit fan and is looking forward to the Rex Willis
Memorial Gambit Blitz Tournament in the Spring.

Ian has his own website which discusses lots of gambit lines:
Looks good! And essential revision material for the Rex Willis event...

Opening Workshop 2014

Work in progress...

How to decide if the Dutch Defence is good for you
Just taking the Dutch Defence as an example...

Do you think it suits you? (Do your friends think it suits you?)
Do the ideas you read about go into your memory?
Do the ideas you remember actually turn up in your games?
Do you get good results with it?
Do the results in your games have anything to do with the opening?
Can your opponents avoid the lines you like to play?

Philidor's Defence -- see recent post

Lessons in Philidor's Defence - live action version

This page is a play-through version of

[Event "Lessons in Philidor's Defence"]
[Site "Exeter"]
[Date "2014.06.07"]
[Round "1"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "Philidor"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C41"]

Openings Workshop 2013

In contrast to previous instances in this unintentional series...

...questions were expressed this time as a series of dilemmas.

1.e4 or 1.d4?

Short answer: 1.e4, but it's a matter of taste.

Long answer:

1.e4 is likely to lead to open and semi-open games, while 1.d4 is more likely to lead to closed and other more

Openings juniors should know

Lesson 1. The first system to learn and play for both sides

Italian Game (Giuoco Piano) with c3

Don't touch the pawns in front of your King!

[Event "Berlin Jubilee"]
[Site "Berlin"]
[Date "1907.??.??"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Von Scheve, Theodor"]
[Black "Teichmann, Richard"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C53"]
[PlyCount "34"]
[EventDate "1907.??.??"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Qe7 5. O-O d6 6. d4 Bb6 7. a4 a6 8. a5 Ba7
9. h3 Nf6 10. dxe5 Nxe5 11. Nxe5 Qxe5 12. Nd2 Bxh3 13. gxh3 Qg3+ 14. Kh1 Qxh3+
15. Kg1 Ng4 16. Nf3 Qg3+ 17. Kh1 Bxf2 0-1

The Bogoljubow Paradox

"When I am White I win because I am White, when I am Black I win because I am Bogoljubow." - Efim Bogoljubow.

I'm still thinking about this, so bear with me, and comments invited...

I pounced on Nunn's Chess Openings when it came out, and found some things that I found puzzling.  Openings like the Dutch Stonewall, which I had always thought of as being fundamentally flawed, were being shown as equal, while superior approaches like the Classical Dutch were coming out as +=.

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Chess Quotes

"The great master places a Knight at e5; mate follows by itself."

  "Some Knights don't leap - they limp."

  "A chess game is divided into three stages: the first, when you hope you have the advantage, the second when you believe you have an advantage, and the third... when you know you're going to lose!"

— Savielly Tartakower