Kindred’s Kaleidoscope: Don’t Tread on Me

Chess theories abound. I, as an amateur, treat chess preparation and the study of opening theories with a bit of dismay because I have always tried to instill the idea that one should plan from move 1 to obtain the type of position that fits within one’s understanding and skill level. It does nothing more harmful than to merely play opening systems from book learning without a thorough knowledge of the complexities one finds in an opening system like the Sicilian Defense where it is paramount importance to study, study, analyze, and study again and again the huge number of variations possible if you so want to adopt what many term the best defense to achieve success with the black pieces. This requires deep study from both sides because as an 1.e4 player, you will likely encounter the Sicilian Defense more than any other opening system. For this reason, I have always advocated the study of 1…e5 in answer to e4 where, despite the result, you will learn to understand chess more quickly and develop a keen sense of attack-defense-counterattack situations. Even among the elite of the chessworld, the Sicilian can be a problem child. The following example will illustrate just what difficulties are met across the board when the Sicilian Defense is tried.

White: Igor Kurnosov   versus  Black: Pavel Anisimov

1.e4  c5  2.Nf3  d6  3.d4  cxd4  4.Nxd4  Nf6  5.Nc3  a6  6.Bg5  e6  7.f4  Nbd7.

This natural looking move if often played but one could also argue for Anand’s preference of 7…Qb6 that avoids the setup here that White aims for.

8.Bc4  Qb6.

Here, one round later, 8…b5 was tried and after 9.Bxe6 fxe6 10.Nxe6 Qa5  11.Nxf8 Rxf8  12.Qxd6 Qb6  14.O-O-O  Qxd6  15.Rxd6 Nc5 16.Re1 with advantage for White. In a 1971 game, this whole idea was played where black employed at move 14…b4 but faced hardship after 15.Na4.

9.Bxf6  Nxf6  10.Bb3  Qc5.

Also interesting and played in this position is 10…e5 11.Ba4+ Ke7 12.Nde2  exf4  13.Bb3  Be6  14.Nd4  g6  15.Qd2  h5  16.O-O-O with good play for the pawn. But a pawn is a pawn is a pawn, or; does compensation of a dynamic position dominate the landscape?

11.Qd3  Be7  12.O-O-O  e5.

Not a bad move maybe but it allows White’s Knight to penetrate and exchanges that lead to open lines more favorable for White where he dominates and controls the light squares.

13.Nf5  Bxf5  14.exf5  O-O 15.g4!

This sharp entry of the g-pawn is well played because 15…Nxg4 is strongly met by 16.Nd5!

15…exf4  16.Rhe1 Bd8  17.g5  Ng4  18.Ne4  Qa5  19.f6  gxf6  20.gxf6 Kh8 21.Qh3  Nxf6  22.Qh6.

Enter the Queen!

22. … Nd7  23.Rg1  Qe5  24.Rd5 and Anisimov resigns.  If you thought of 24.Rd3, that is even better as it forces mate in 8 moves!

Many of my amateur games even against many stronger rated players brought victories in splendid and short snappy games with the White pieces. Reference my wins from Dr. E. W. Marchand and other club players whom I documented in my columns.

Again, I recommend you learn as much as possible about KING PAWN OPENINGS where attack, defense, and counterattack will give you a strong sense of what to do from either side of the board. The variety of openings is quite large: The Ruy Lopez, Giuoco Piano, Scotch, Danish, King’s Gambit, Vienna, Two Knights Defense, The Petroff Defense, The Hungarian Defense, The Center-Counter Attack Defense.

Some argue and perhaps rightly so that all these openings undercut home preparation for tournament play because a smattering of some knowledge in playing key lines at least requires lots of effort and then you might get crossed up by openings other than 1.e4.  Same holds true with any opening like the Sicilian where the Wing or Morra Gambit can be essayed by White. And if one chooses the Caro Kann, French or  Indian systems against 1.e4, then there are a host of variations in each of them. So the whole matter becomes like a choice between apples and oranges.

In summation, it is more important to learn to play chess and get the most from the time studied for the amateur player who wants to compete or just play for fun while learning along the way to box and punch like good fighters. This is my belief and what 65-years of chess has taught me.

Adios, for now!!

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