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Opening Theory

Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:50 am
by Roger de Coverly
When not indulging in writing insulting and sarcastic material for the sake of it, a notorious blogger does sometimes have something interesting to say. This is the case with his latest column at
http://stevegiddinschessblog.wordpress. ... ntary-box/

He picks upon an observation by Kramnik in the latest NIC, that at the highest levels, you cannot expect to win by a magic bullet in the opening because players are universally well-prepared.

I'm wondering to what extent this applies lower down. On the one hand, if you know your opponent plays a dodgy opening, you can research how to bust it. On the other hand, if the struggle is going to take place in the middle-game or by tactical accidents, it's the player with the better chess sense, vision or study of the middle-game who will benefit.

Re: Opening Theory

Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:30 pm
by John McKenna
Kramnik says the upshot of this optimal saturation of opening theory at the top-level is that elite players can put less emphasis, and hence spend less time, on it and more time on middle/endgames.
But, does that imply players at all levels can stand easy as regards openings and spread their preparation efforts more widely?
GM-level players can rely on just cruising through familiar opening paths and concentrate on winning after while ordinary players still risk the traps and pitfalls of the jungle.

Re: Opening Theory

Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:55 pm
by Ian Kingston
My impression is that elite players are now looking to find playable late opening/early middlegame positions that they have studied and their opponents haven't. The computer evaluation will be = or += at most, but they will be relying on having identified the nuances of the position in advance, whereas their opponents may have to spend a lot of time at the board working things out.

The days of the spectacular novelty that overturns the theory of an entire variation may well be over. In return, we'll be seeing a deeper understanding of middlegame ideas.

Re: Opening Theory

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:21 pm
by Andrew Bak
I think the opening preparation that is performed at the top level has led to a new exciting sort of chess. The positions in top level games are invariably complex with very deep long-term ideas.

When the computer gives +=, the players are having to work very hard to show that this advantage is in fact true. To me, it seems like there have been a lot more Black wins in recent years compared with say, 10 years ago.

The elite players can play their "narrow" range of openings, whilst us mere mortals can experiment with the unfashionable and offbeat, but not necessarily unsound stuff!

Re: Opening Theory

Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:56 am
by Geoff Chandler
Hi Roger

"I'm wondering to what extent this applies lower down."

It's a different world lower down.

These top guys a study chess daily, it's their job.
They play in imaculate conditions and every request is pampered too.

Your normal Joe does a 9 -5 five days a week, often playing league chess
in conditions that these GM guys would not use as a toilet.

Come the weekend they are playing two games a day backed up with
the one or two hours study they have managed to squeeze in during the week.
The canny ones become system players which keeps them on the board in
the opening and gives them an inkling of what is going on the middlegame.
The trouble is they never drop the system. They become stale.

But it's the 9-5 Joes who buy the books/DVD's and pay the subs.
They love the game. But it is a different world from the one Kramnik lives in.

Re: Opening Theory

Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:20 pm
by Graham Borrowdale
While I can see what Kramnik means about not needing to study opening theory as much, that is because he pretty much knows it all. Up and coming players (say 2600) may well have reached that level without knowing as much as Kramnik, but they are going to have to learn still more if they are going to rise to the higher levels.
At the lower levels (club/county) it is very easy to go wrong very early in the game by not knowing the best or correct continuation. The concept of a TN does not really apply, it might just be that one player knows the line better than the other. I doubt I have played or faced a TN in my life. It all depends on how much the players study as well. Repertoires developed 30 years ago have probably been left wanting at GM level, but serve just fine at club level.