Chess training game - thoughts of Malacandra

We’re off. peeker, just under the message window to the right of the board is a button marked “settings”. That takes you to a page with a number of options, one of which is “Auto-win on time”. Make sure that’s unchecked if we’re still playing two weeks from now please! It’s your move. I’ll put my thoughts in this thread, and you can read them; you can start one where you explain yourself to Chessic Sense.

The game is rated but despite our rating difference I stand to gain a mighty +3 for winning. I’ll have to try not to draw and make sure not to lose on time. :slight_smile:

peeker played 1. e4 so 1. …e5 is routine for me. I could have played a number of alternatives but the idea is to give my opponent some training so there’s no need to wander off into the byways of opening theory. My move puts the brakes on Black’s centre pawn, frees Q and KB and cuts down on centre squares for him to put his pieces on. This is all very old theory indeed and many eleven-year-olds would play nothing else. :slight_smile:

peeker played 2. Nf3 so 2. … Nc6 is routine, defending the attacked pawn. There are alternatives, partly because the attack isn’t a very serious one (if Black played a "pass"move, say 2. … a6; 3. Nxf3, Qe7; and White will have to give the pawn back however he plays) but it makes perfect sense for Black to defend as sooner or later the threat will need to be taken seriously, and meanwhile I may as well develop.

I could have played 2. …Nf6, the Petrov (or Russian) Defence; 2. … d6, the Philidor Defence; or even 2. … f5, the Latvian (or Greco Counter-) Gambit. But, again, let’s stay on the highways for now in the interests of advancing my opponent’s education.

ok, checked/unchecked the box but i would submit before i would allow that to happen.

btw, am i supposed to read this stuff as well as the one i set up for me and chessic. because if not, i certainly want to play kind of fair.

and just out of curiosity where in the world do these names come from and do they have any signifcance?

Read away and welcome. :slight_smile:

Some opening names relate to their inventor (Philidor, Petrov, Greco, many others), at least one (Damiano’s Defence) is named after the guy who figured out what a crock of shite it is, some are named after countries where they were considered fashionable (Spanish, but also called Ruy Lopez after its inventor; Italian, also called Giuoco Piano, “quiet game”, a purely descriptive name; French; Sicilian; English), and some are whimsical (there is a line called the “Orang-Utan Opening”). Some are named after towns or tournaments where they were introduced (Berlin Defence, Riga Defence, Cambridge Springs Variation) and some just describe what’s going on (Bishop’s Opening, Two Knights Defence, Queen’s Gambit). For those in the know it helps to have names to hang on things, and I guess the rule of thumb is that if something has a name, strong players have considered it worth looking into.

thank you. and please forgive my ignorance but …

do most of the “good” players have a “script” that they follow? i mean i have read about some of the world champs having “scripted” games for at least a couple of moves at the beginning. that is, if x does y i will do z. i mean each game, for me, is a brand new adventure. and i fully comprehend that certain moves will prove to be advantageous over the long term but crud i play golf and i can play the same course twenty times in a row and it will be a different adventure each time.

Mal (or some other chess expert) can chime in here, but it’s really only the Openings that follow a ‘script’. The reason for this is more of the fact that an awful lot of chess games have been played, even at a high level with records taken. There are really a fairly limited number of moves you can play at the start, and a smaller subset of those actually keep the game even. Memorizing those openings is mainly a matter of knowing how to get the game started without losing the advantage.

The important thing to realize is that this primarily applies to the highest levels of the game. When you expect your opponent to know how to guide the opening, you may want to guide it yourself. While these are scripted, often you have a choice of scripts/openings available. At the really high levels, you know the sort of game that will likely develop from a particular opening, and you’ll know your opponent’s style of play, so you’ll work on guiding it the way you desire. Openings also sometimes go in or out of fashion as more games are played, and they are judged to be better or worse.

As a player starting out, you’re better off focusing on just making good moves. I don’t think any good openings have moves that make no sense (although in some situations it’s not obvious that you’ve played a ‘weak’ move that your opponent may capitalize on). Remember that unless you’re purposely getting killed by Master-level players or higher, you or your opponent may well make mistakes that render the opening sequence irrelevant.

Openings tend to be only a few moves deep anyway (though some go for quite a while, which is really just a way of saying they’ve been played so often that they’re studied to that depth). The rest of the game is up to the players. There are a handful of endgame situations that get memorized (not precise moves, just the pattern). For instance, mating with a king & rook, queening (or knowing how to prevent same) with a king and pawn, etc. These are actually useful for a beginning-intermediate player to know, as executing these will lead you to a win; executing an opening successfully isn’t as much of a sure thing.

peeker played 3. Bc4 so I respond 3. … Nf3, going into the Two Knights Defence. The main alternative was 3. … Bc5 and we’re in the Giuoco Piano or “Italian Opening”. Clearly, I’m getting my other Knight moving and putting White’s centre under pressure.

One thing about opening theory is that players may be known to have favourite lines, in which case it’s possible to try to research some innovation that will catch them by surprise. Frank Marshall once introduced a sensational counterattack in the Ruy Lopez which he hoped would catch out Capablanca, but after years of waiting when he finally got a chance to try it out Capa accepted the challenge and found the flaw in the Marshall Attack. But later research found other refinements in the line and various flavours of the Marshall have been played since.

peeker played 4. 0-0. There are many interesting complications after 4. Ng5, involving either a pawn sacrifice by Black or a piece sacrifice by White, and I’d have been inclined to head for the latter as it’s often preferable to sacrifice the opponent’s pieces and make him prove it was worth it. There’s even a still more sacrificial line by Black: 4. Ng5, Bc5?!; 5. Nxf7, Bxf2+; 6. Kxf2, Nxe4+…

Anyway in the line peeker has chosen 4. … Nxe4 is playable so let’s see what his plan is after I take his pawn.

Just as a golfer comes to the tee with a selection of clubs that he feels cover the likely situations of his play, a chess player comes to the game with a set of openings he can play. That’s called his “Opening Repertoire”. If you asked me what my repertoire is, I’d say it’s d4, the Sicilian (usually a Dragon), the Nimzo- or Bogo- Indian, and the Symmetrical English. Those cover all the openings I’m likely to encounter. If the opponent doesn’t play into one of these systems, it’s because he’s chosen a weaker opening. Think of it this way: If I’m trained in guns, knives, ropes, and brass knuckles, you’re not going to upset me terribly if you go “Oh yeah? Let’s see how you do when I attack with a spoon!”

And it’s not just the openings that are scripted. Lines nowadays tend to go very deep into the middle game. In master games, every three moves or so, one side can choose to branch into three or four different lines (or just make a mistake). But the thing is, everyone’s memory is flawed. And after a while, the lines start to blend together. So it’s not that the lines don’t go deep- it’s that even grand masters simply forget them!

peeker played 5. d3 and I’m not tired of my Knight so back to f6 he goes. 5. … Nf6. There are alternatives for White on move 5 and key among them is 5. d4! offering further sacrifice. But the resulting line, called “Canal’s Attack”, though strong, is on the whole defensible with good play. As things stand, I have wasted some time, but a pawn is a pawn. It’s up to White to prove compensation, and up to me to wait for him to err. Of course, proving that your opponent has erred can be as difficult as a proof in pure mathematics - or as straightforward.

peeker played 6. d4 and hands back one of the tempi I gave up by taking his pawn. 5. … exd4 would have entailed some risk with the Knight still on the open file with the King, but it’s safer for me now. We may swap a piece or two in this line but that’s to my good as long as I’m a pawn up.

This is an example of a player’s repertoire. We’re way “out of book” for me here. Since I don’t play the KPO, I’ve never heard of Canal’s Attack and know nothing of it. I’m afraid I’m not much use in extra-game commentary on this one. I’ll have to save my analysis til the end, I think.

We’ve had 7.Nxd4, Nxd4; 8.Qxd4, d5 with the expected exchange of pawns and Knights in the centre. I thought I might as well risk the pawn push in the centre as I think I’m well able to support the centre pawn and the push …d5 is effectively “free” since it hits the Bishop. With simple and obvious play I expect to be able to complete my development, fully equalising and with the advantage of the extra pawn.

Chessic, the line I mentioned, like many of the older Open Game variations, is a good hundred years old. I used to be well booked on the Max Lange Attack too but in three or four seasons of league chess I never ended up following the main line past about move three. Some weakies I encountered, after 1. e4 e5; 2. Nf3 would play 2. … Bd6; which had the advantage for them of taking me out of book, and the disadvantage of being a bad move. :smiley:

peeker played 9. Re1+. I pretty much have to interpose a bishop as any alternative would be idiotic. One factor in the decision is that White’s King’s Knight is not at home. That means I won’t need my light bishop to pin his KN, and equally I don’t have to worry about Ng5 which sometimes bothers a Black bishop on e6. Again, I may have some alternative squares to consider for my dark bishop. So, stop the check, let him worry about his bishop again, catch up on development, think happy thoughts about being a pawn up. 9. … Be6.

peeker played 10. Bd3. Had he gone to b3 instead I was entertaining some fantasies about 10. Bb3, Ne4 followed by 11. … Bc5 driving the Queen away and 12. … Bxf2+ winning material. But I now don’t have to worry if that’s sound. :slight_smile: The pressure’s off my centre so routine development and increasing my control of the board seems clear. 10. … Be7.

Canal’s Attack, btw, goes like this:

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 Nc6
  3. Bc4 Nf6
  4. 0-0 Nxe4
  5. d4
    (because 5. Re1 leads nowhere in particular)
  6. … exd4
  7. Re1 d5
  8. Bxd5! Qxd5
  9. Nc3
    (is going to win back all the material - note that 8. … dxc3?? loses on the spot)
  10. … Qd8!
    (Dating back as far as Steinitz, this retrograde move protects the Queen from the White minor pieces)
  11. Rxe4+ Be7
  12. Nxd4 f5!
    (Discovered by Pillsbury, this drives the White Rook to an awkward square in order to hang on to the Knight on d4, and after the further 11. Rf4, 0-0 Black has an okay game)

Other Black tries on move 8 are more dangerous. You can Google up “Teichmann amateurs” to find a famous game where the master played this line as White and reached a curious position with Queen, Rook and Knight against Queen, Rook and Bishop where in order to finish off his attack he marched his King down the board to threaten mate. It features, as an instructive point, the stationing of a Knight on the sixth rank where it almost immobilises the remaining Black pieces by itself.

peeker played 10. Bd2. Time I was castling I think. I have to be a little careful of any shenanigans with his Bishops pointing at my King’s position, but strategically speaking I ought to be just fine as I have plenty of pieces available for the defence. I’m happy with my present position. I have an extra pawn, I’ve fully caught up on development, and I’m in a position to gain myself time and space with an attack on the centre, driving off his exposed Queen. 10. … 0-0.

peeker played 11. a3. That doesn’t threaten anything so it looks as though the time is ripe for me to begin operations in the centre. His Queen is a little exposed and a little short of squares although I don’t have any means of trapping her for now, so I don’t see any problem with making another pawn move right away since I haven’t yet decided where my own Queen belongs. Meanwhile although I would like to centralise my QR which is lallygagging around at the edge of the board, I don’t have a good square for it until after the White Queen has committed herself. So, control some more space with an option on a further advance, make room for my Queen to enter the game and plan for effective use of my Rook later. 11. … c5.

peeker played 12. Qe3. He’s still got some work to do before he can use his Q-side pieces so I can carry on with routine development. I’d been entertaining some happy thoughts about what might have followed after 12. Qh4 (as long as I avoided 12. …Ng4?? 13. Qxh7# which would have been an easy slip to make… you see that the mate is covered, so you discover an attack on the Queen by moving the very piece that is preventing the mate :smack: ) and one line I looked at ended with a Queen sac on g1 and Nf2#.

Well, that ain’t gonna happen, so it’s time to find my Queen a home and maybe bring a Rook to e8. Not sure which Rook yet. They may work best on d8 and e8, or I may double on the e-file. We’ll see what’s going on in a move or two. 12. … Qc7.