Boring Chess Openings

Technical questions regarding Openings, Middlegames, Endings etc.
Paul McKeown
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Re: Boring Chess Openings

Postby Paul McKeown » Mon Sep 20, 2010 7:42 pm

Gavin Strachan wrote:Books on the following should be banned:
French exchange
Spanish exchange
London System
Catalan (played by Kramnik and he helps me sleep at night)
4 Knights


Hmmm,

I play the Alekhine's Defence; against 2. Nc3, I generally play 2... e5, very often resulting in a Four Knights. At my patzerish 183, my opponents are generally between 150 and 210. Against that standard, I wouldn't qualify the opening as dull at all. Very rarely an absolutely tedious sterile short draw indeed, usually a game with genuine content, usually manoeuvring, sometimes tactical, sometimes a positional grip for one side or the other. Indeed John Nunn played it from time to time and even wrote an interesting book about it; he was certainly not a "boring" player, so even at the highest levels, it has some interest.

To call the Catalan boring is completely ridiculous, it is a varied opening with all sorts of possibilities. I play it from time to time, and I can promise that it gives White good chances, often of a very tactical nature. Sometimes, if Black is well booked and wants to play safe, it does less to sterile equality, but at my level, I can promise, gripes are either parroting something someone read somewhere, or else a whinge about Black's prospects.

As for truly boring openings, I am surprised that Petroff's Defence with Qe2 didn't feature on your list, or the Exchange Slav. There are many other candidates. I think, though, that what is boring is, to some degree, dependent on playing level. GMs might think the Marshall Gambit to the Ruy Lopez, a boring drawing line, but, frankly, I would be terrified to have to play either side.

Matt Mackenzie wrote:
John Upham wrote:I would also include the Sicilian Alapin in the banned list!

OI!!!!!!!!!!!

It was inevitable somebody would include it of course :P

I have, of course, played loads of interesting and at times exciting games in said opening - as have all the fellow devotees I know of. Seriously, I don't see how it can really be compared to dross like 1d4 d5 2e3 stodges or the Exchange Slav/Ruy/French/QGD (the last named being what Fischer famously once described as epitomising all he disliked about chess, IIRC) But as ever, each to their own :wink:


Agreed, Matt, it's a bit daft including Anti-Sicilians in the list as being boring. Well, perhaps some Moscow lines and some Alapin lines, but really! I think that Sicilian Defence players are boring, they sit there behind their dull books of forced lines that they have been studying and plotting since when they were pustulous teenaged oiks with chocolate besmeared limp handshakes (some still are...), and then complain when White players decide that they would rather not discover the latest innovation on move 35 in the Chinese Dragon. I found Sicilian players so boring that I actually gave up on 1. e4 and now just wheel it out from time to time for old time's sake.

As for the Exchange QGD, well it's a bit dull, but it can be very effective, even at World Championship level.

Agree about the Collie and other terrier openings, dull, dull, dull. Stonewall Attack, which is probably so called only by players of approximately 120 standard who probably have dozens of victims of similar grade who couldn't foresee a Greek Gift, even if the whole of the playing hall were simultaneously to bellow "Watch out on h7!"

Exchange Slav is very dull, but as Black I almost always draw against White players with much higher grades and win against players of lower grades, so I can't really complain.

One line that can be sterile is the Bxe4 sac main line in the Slav, but there are actually many more possibilities for both sides than the books give it credit for. Actually, with the exception of the really boring exchange lines, I find that if you play an opening with a forced drawing lines (e.g. the 5... Nd7 line in Alekhines Defence, allowing the Nf7 sac, which can be followed up by Qh5+, Qg4+, Qh5+, etc.), that the invitation is only very rarely taken up.
Last edited by Paul McKeown on Tue Sep 21, 2010 1:16 am, edited 2 times in total.

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John Upham
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Re: Boring Chess Openings

Postby John Upham » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:03 pm

Alan Walton wrote:Jon,

There is a good chapter in Neil McDonald's book on how to play the black side against the French Exchange

Also to John U, I don't think you can transpose to the Botvinnik if you play the Moscow because after black plays g5 white has to play Bg3. Personally from the stuff I have been looking at recently, the Botvinnik is a very dodgy opening to play with black, and the Moscow is the safer alternative


You can arrive at a dull line of Botvinnk (with Bg3) that can also be arrived at from a Anti-Moscow move order.

However, possibly more exciting than this is the Hodgson-Smallbone piece sac in the Bronstein/Steiner variation of the Slav!
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Re: Boring Chess Openings

Postby Alex Holowczak » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:23 pm

John Upham wrote:However, possibly more exciting than this is the Hodgson-Smallbone piece sac in the Bronstein/Steiner variation of the Slav!


This is turning into the chess equivalent of Mornington Crescent.

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Gavin Strachan
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Re: Boring Chess Openings

Postby Gavin Strachan » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:45 pm

There are a number of other openings and variations that could fit the bill. Never got over Kramnik beating Kasparov :cry: .

I remember the day when the 150 attack was the best thing since sliced bread! The Latvian gambit scared the mighty and oh how the Blackmar Deimer Gambit got 'em shaking in there boots. Kings Gambit after Gallagher's book was suddenly the new shock tactic and then the Volgar/Benko Gambit really did spoil white's fun. Kasparov smashing all with the Tarrasch. Morra Gambit, Grob and Vienna such fun.

Grinding is the order of the day.

Do Drunken Knights players Nh3 anymore???

Arshad Ali
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Re: Boring Chess Openings

Postby Arshad Ali » Thu Sep 23, 2010 6:13 pm

Richard James wrote:There are no boring openings, only boring players.

Interesting players can make any opening interesting.


Didn't Kramnik bore Kasparov to death and thus succeed in winning his match against him? Playing opening systems like the Spanish Berlin depend on understanding subtle positional and endgame nuances that frankly bore most club players to tears. Granted, it's technical chess of a very high order. But that doesn't mean it's interesting for most players. To be fair, the swashbuckling systems (like the Sicilian Najdorf or Botvinnik Semi-Slav) require enormous memory work if one isn't to fall into a chasm.

Richard Bates
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Re: Boring Chess Openings

Postby Richard Bates » Thu Sep 23, 2010 7:15 pm

John Upham wrote:
However, possibly more exciting than this is the Hodgson-Smallbone piece sac in the Bronstein/Steiner variation of the Slav!


Not much prospect of excitement unless white falls for it, just a bad position. Fortunately one is unlikely to fall for it more than once :oops:

Where is this idea originating that all Sicilian players know reams of theory? Might have done once, but with time comes forgetfulness...

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John Upham
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Re: Boring Chess Openings

Postby John Upham » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:18 pm

Paul McKeown wrote:As for truly boring openings, I am surprised that Petroff's Defence with Qe2 didn't feature on your list, or the Exchange Slav.


OK, how can this be considered boring :

1 d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cd: cd: 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Bf4 Bf5 7. e3 e6 8. Bb5 Nd7 9. Qa4 Qb6 10. Nh4 Be4 11. f3 Bd3 12. Nd5: ed: 13. Bd3: g5!

Peter Tart and I have christened 13..g5 the Vujon variation after the Indian Restaurant in Farnborough where we spent analysing this main line of the allegedly dull Slav Exchange.

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Jon D'Souza-Eva

Re: Boring Chess Openings

Postby Jon D'Souza-Eva » Fri Sep 24, 2010 10:42 am

Alan Walton wrote:There is a good chapter in Neil McDonald's book on how to play the black side against the French Exchange

Thanks for the information. I've borrowed the book from a friend and have been trying some of the ideas out in blitz games on playchess.com.

Michael Jones
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Re: Boring Chess Openings

Postby Michael Jones » Sat Sep 25, 2010 2:42 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
John Upham wrote:However, possibly more exciting than this is the Hodgson-Smallbone piece sac in the Bronstein/Steiner variation of the Slav!


This is turning into the chess equivalent of Mornington Crescent.


That's an idea, can anyone think of a line we could call the Mornington Crescent Variation?

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John Upham
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Re: Boring Chess Openings

Postby John Upham » Sat Sep 25, 2010 2:52 pm

Michael Jones wrote:
That's an idea, can anyone think of a line we could call the Mornington Crescent Variation?


Yes, the Clarendon Court Defence :lol:
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Ola Winfridsson
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Re: Boring Chess Openings

Postby Ola Winfridsson » Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:37 am

On reading Gavin's initial two postings in this thread I, for first time on this forum, felt like writing an expletive-riddled post on how some people never seem to understand that chess is a bit more multi-faceted than the typical coffee-house slash and burn style characteristic of the 19th century skittles or exhibition games. Then I read Richard James' posting, and I fully concur. I suggest you have a look at Bent Larsen's games, Gavin.

Furthermore, if chess only consisted of that style of play, the game would actually be rather uninteresting, and lacking in sophistication. The beauty of chess is this constant ding-dong battle or tension between attack and defence, positional and tactical and how certain positional features depend on tactics to work and vice versa.

Niall Doran
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Re: Boring Chess Openings

Postby Niall Doran » Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:36 pm

Alan Walton wrote:Jon,

There is a good chapter in Neil McDonald's book on how to play the black side against the French Exchange


Which book would that be? I'd sell my soul to find something a bit double-edged with the black side, I'm tired of being dragged into draws, boring ones at that!

What line does he recommend by the way?

Simon Ansell
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Re: Boring Chess Openings

Postby Simon Ansell » Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:11 pm

The answer is just to play good chess and the better player should win. I have a huge score on the Black side of the Exchange Slav, for example and am always happy when my opponent plays this way.

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Re: Boring Chess Openings

Postby Niall Doran » Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:56 pm

In the Exchange French, the drawing margin is quite high, so black has to play a lot better to make his superiority tell. As I'm not a lot better than most of my opponents, I end up drawing with players up to 200 points weaker than me. I'll just have to try to be 500 points better! :)

Jon D'Souza-Eva

Re: Boring Chess Openings

Postby Jon D'Souza-Eva » Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:20 pm

Niall Doran wrote:
Alan Walton wrote:There is a good chapter in Neil McDonald's book on how to play the black side against the French Exchange
Which book would that be? I'd sell my soul to find something a bit double-edged with the black side, I'm tired of being dragged into draws, boring ones at that!

What line does he recommend by the way?
The book is "Mastering the French". McDonald and Harley recommend making the position assymetrical. For example, if White goes for the usual Nf3, Bd3, c3, O-O sort of stuff then Black may go for Bd6, Ne7, Nc6, a6, O-O-O, f6. I haven't played this in an OTB game yet, but in online blitz I've played it about twenty times and generally been happy with my position out of the opening. I don't know if f6 is part of their plan, but I've found it a useful move to discourage White's knight from sitting on e5 and also as a springboard for a kingside attack with g5, h5 etc.

As for the large number of draws in the exchange French - I think this is because White is often playing for a draw if he plays the exchange variation, and if one side is going for a draw from move three rather then obviously more draws will happen.


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