Kindred’s Look at Amateur Strategy Needs

Over six decades of chess play I found with due thought one of the questions I was most asked was: “Do you recommend I play 1.e4 or 1.d4,” or variations expanding on the question itself. My response was to study and concentrate on 1.e4 openings because they follow an attack, defend motif whereas Queen Pawn openings tend to be more deeply involved in positional maneuvering. “King Pawn openings tend to sharpen your attacking and defensive game and point out strengths and weaknesses in your plans and ideas put into the battle. Chess is a battle of wits between you and your opponent where, for the student wanting to learn and improve skill, necessitates to a degree a concentration on finding opening systems that fit your style and enthusiasm for the game. Since the vigor of youth bolsters the desire to charge forward, the variety of openings starting with 1.e4 are largely forged in open positions where the fireworks are ever present.

An interesting idea I came up with involves playing Black against the Ruy Lopez. I have long been an advocate of answering 1.e4 with e5 which I consider a straightforward defense and I do not know how many times I saw eyebrows of my opponents frown at my reply as I suspect they were prepared to do battle against the Sicilian, French, Caro Kann, or weird fianchetto Indian systems via 1…g6 or 1….d6.

After, 1.e4  e5  2.Nf3  Nc6  3.Bb5 years ago I introduced the strange looking 3…b6. I was successful because my opponent thought I was nuts and did not know how to play chess!  In recent years I have been looking at variations that I avoided due mostly to playing those I was most familiar with and I like positions that offer counterattacking chances and imbalance that almost assures chances for both sides. I cannot say that 3…b6 is sound.  But it poses a problem for White in that if he exchanges with 4.Bxc6  dxc6 gives Black the two bishops longterm with excellent control over the white squares that might favor my square count theory.  In trying different methods for White I noticed that often the QR is long delayed in finding a suitable file. In general my analysis presents Black with excellent middlegame and endgame play. Another plan is 4.c3 aiming for d4 but maybe Bd6 is good and after d4 with f6 or even Qf6 to hold the center.  Here the White Bishop has to regroup if not exchanged costing a valuable tempo. Either castling or playing Qe2 is slow and lets Black further development without any direct action to refute b6. Another point less obvious is that now White no longer really has a Q-wing a4 sally against advanced a/b pawns found in more normal pawn structures. At some point the aggressive counter by a5 saves a tempo if the opportunity arises favorable to Black for that action. For no other reason, it does give Black more square count and space to control of the Qside.

I have only my own analysis to gauge the effectiveness of this novelty and no play from actual games other than my brief encounter where the White side was totally misplayed as I recall. Whether sound or not, and many novelties have surfaced in various openings with preliminary good results only to be studied and analyzed to death either to forge it as an additional weapon or to add it to the scrape heap of historical ? marks, I herewith challenge the chess stars of the chessworld to at least look at the idea with an open mind. I am a fairly good player and interest in chess related more to the service area (TD, organizer and program director) as a young man and history of the royal game.

My next column will be devoted to a look at one of my favorite lines with Black in meeting the Ruy Lopez.  Until then, adios amigos.

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