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Elementary Questions

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  • Elementary Questions

    Q1

    I'm currently looking through an old book I have for beginners, and it shows the below diagram as a position that could be developed - not to show how things MUST look, but just to give the novice the kind of ideas to work on in their early games.



    I get the thinking involved here. There's one thing that seems a bit odd to me though - both Bishops seem unnecessarily exposed.

    I realise that could be purely what the player has in mind, and they normally play aggressively. However, if you imagine me, a beginner, as that player - at this moment I'd avoid that and have my Bishops in d3 and e3 instead. Yes, that reduces their diagonal effectiveness; but the way I'm looking at it I'd not lose material in an early exchange. For example - my experience so far (admittedly there's not a lot of it!) shows me that if I played the arrangement in the diagram I'd lose the bishop and maybe another Knight or be forced to develop my queen earlier than liked, something like that. Whereas with the Bishops behind the pawns I'd maybe lose one of them and a bishop or knight, so not as much material.

    Maybe I have this idea all wrong - could someone explain? It just seems too exposed to me - especially when I read (and it makes perfect sense) that games at my low level are won and lost through mistakes. That would encourage me to play a little more defensively and have the bishops in a slightly more withdrawn role in support of the Pawns.

    Regards, Gavin.
    "The most significant contribution to civilization since the invention of the wheel" Irving Chernev, on castling.

  • #2
    Q2
    (I'll keep these in one thread to save spamming the forum if that's OK with the admin mods?)

    I read somewhere on the forum that a member has became the player he has through the openings he chose to focus on earlier in his chess career. That could mean one of two things (to me at least!).
    1 - he relies on those select few openings, fairly rigidly.
    2 - those openings have led to him focusing his game on the shape/moves that evolve from these positions.

    If we assume 1 is correct. Do 'intermediate' players (I'm guessing 1400-1900) utilise just a few openings? Or if we opt for 2, do certain openings really give a certain signature/stamp to your approach to the game and the way you play your games?
    "The most significant contribution to civilization since the invention of the wheel" Irving Chernev, on castling.

    Comment


    • #3
      Q3

      I feel it's too early for me to consider openings in detail - at the moment I just want to get some games under my belt, partly just for the fun factor and partly just to become familiar with the pieces and board again. Having said that, I hope in the very near future that it's something I'll want to give thought to, indeed NEED to.

      With that in mind I'd like to ask you if there is one or two (for white and black. Or should I just learn white first?) that you think I should be introduced to first? Something simple, if there is such a thing, at first I'd imagine. While I'm enjoying my games at the moment, my approach is quite 'ad hoc' and I can tell some structure will need to be introduced soon.

      Thank you for any help here.
      "The most significant contribution to civilization since the invention of the wheel" Irving Chernev, on castling.

      Comment


      • #4
        The reason for the position above.
        To teach the best possible set up in Chess.
        The Bishops are targeting the "weak" pawns at c7 and f7.
        Many combinations in real games target those squares especially
        f7. The Knights are developed on C3, and f3. In most positions the best Squares. The Q is on d2.
        What the "book" is teaching-
        Evacuate the back rank.
        The rooks are connected to go the c, d, or e squares preparing
        for e5 or d5.
        In a perfect game which never happens that would be the goal.
        Another move for White which would come later in the game,
        h3 for King safety. To give the King an escape route.
        Try getting from a public library "Lasker's Manual of Chess"
        or Ed Lasker's Chess Strategy. There are a 1000 to 20,000 other books as well, new and old.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Malbase View Post
          The reason for the position above.
          To teach the best possible set up in Chess.
          The Bishops are targeting the "weak" pawns at c7 and f7.
          Of Course!! I hadn't noticed that. I've got the other fundamentals you mention in my head, but I hadn't picked up on those pawns.

          There are a 1000 to 20,000 other books as well, new and old.
          Oh, at least.

          The one I have at the moment is from the 'Teach Yourself' series. I don't like it much, but I'm expecting 'The Idiots Guide' any day now, and I've seen positive things about that. And I happened to borrow Laskers 'Complete Self-Tutor' yesterday from the library. I've got a feeling that'll be a bit advanced for me but I just happened to see it on the shelf.
          "The most significant contribution to civilization since the invention of the wheel" Irving Chernev, on castling.

          Comment


          • #6
            Good questions.

            Q1: I've seen that diagram before, and the point is just to show good general development, with the bishops placed aggressively, if your opponent would let you get there. But obviously, it all depends on how the opponent responds. In some openings, the bishops are better placed on e3, d3, or sometimes b5 or g5 or e2, etc. There are a lot of places those bishops can go. That's the reason for the old saying "knights before bishops". It's a safe bet that the knights will be well placed on c3 and f3, but you have to see what the opponent does before deciding for sure on your bishop placement.

            But c4 and f4 are just aggressive spots for them, which help control the center squares, while targeting black's pawns on c7 and f7. So in an ideal scenario, if you could develop as you wished without worrying about the opponent, those are probably the best squares for them. For instance, take a quick look at this: Scholar's mate - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

            As for your specific defensive concerns, I think that your thinking is good, but you're coming to the wrong conclusions. Yes, games are decided by mistakes. But you can't assume you're going to be the one who makes the mistakes. You have to play aggressively and try to pressure your opponent. If you blunder and lose, then learn from it and move on to the next game. But you can't play scared. See my signature quote.

            As for your second and third questions, I'll answer them together. Yes, most intermediate level players have a small number of openings that they play routinely. And yes, those openings define the character of the resulting games, so those players will usually get to be quite good at certain types of positions, while lacking in the skills to play other types of positions.

            Now for the interesting part - Many, many, MANY chess coaches think that all beginning and intermediate players should stick to open positions. Those are positions, frequently resulting from games beginning with 1. e4 e5 (known as "open games"), where at least one pair of center pawns are exchanged early. This pawn exchange opens lines of movement for the pieces to maneuver in the center of the board, often resulting in highly tactical piece play. There are two very good reasons why coaches recommend playing these types of openings at that level:

            1. Players at that level need to improve their tactical skill, so playing lots of highly tactical games is good practice.

            2. Closed positions have to become open positions later in the game anyway. Unless the players agree to an early draw, almost every game ends up becoming an open game sooner or later, so you have to learn how to play them. On the other hand, closed games can be completely avoided, so you don't necessarily need to learn to play those. So save the openings that lead to closed positions until after you've mastered playing in open positions.

            That said, the usual recommendation for beginner openings is to play both sides of 1. e4 e5. I've actually recently encountered one professional coach who insists that any improving player rated below 2100 (nearly master level!) should continue playing 1. e4 e5 and answering 1. d4 with the Tarrasch Defense (1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5, usually leading to central pawn exchanges earlier than most 1. d4 openings). I don't know if I'd go that far, but as a 1650ish player, I'm actually following his advice and going back to those types of openings now.

            Of course, 1. e4 e5 isn't a very detailed opening recommendation, but I'd recommend you go with it. There are a lot of different openings that start that way, so you'll probably have to pick one or two to play frequently. I'd say avoid the Ruy Lopez, as it's too complex and more likely to keep the center closed than most other 1. e4 e5 openings, but just about anything else is fair game. Actually, playing lots of gambits, where you give up an early pawn for open lines of attack, is a great way to learn the value of piece development and aggressive attacking, rather than worrying about material.

            --Fromper

            "Don't be afraid of ghosts! Always play the moves you want to play unless you see a genuine tactical drawback." --Grandmaster Neil McDonald

            Comment


            • #7
              I remember one of my friends did that against me as a child, and thought what the hell just happened there?!?

              Yes, games are decided by mistakes. But you can't assume you're going to be the one who makes the mistakes. You have to play aggressively and try to pressure your opponent. If you blunder and lose, then learn from it and move on to the next game. But you can't play scared. See my signature quote.
              Yeah, I didn't put that very well, and I'm aware of what you're getting at.

              Regarding 'open openings' and how coaches like those at it leads to combinations- at the moment I'm just playing some really open games in Titans until CM arrives, as you know, and I'm really enjoying looking at possibilities and outcomes with the material; you know, pins and forks, etc. I know that practice has to be balanced with theory, but I think I'm learning more this time around because I'm playing games whereas before I was reading more and it never sank in properly.

              That said, the usual recommendation for beginner openings is to play both sides of 1. e4 e5. I've actually recently encountered one professional coach who insists that any improving player rated below 2100 (nearly master level!) should continue playing 1. e4 e5 and answering 1. d4 with the Tarrasch Defense (1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5, usually leading to central pawn exchanges earlier than most 1. d4 openings). I don't know if I'd go that far, but as a 1650ish player, I'm actually following his advice and going back to those types of openings now.

              Of course, 1. e4 e5 isn't a very detailed opening recommendation, but I'd recommend you go with it. There are a lot of different openings that start that way, so you'll probably have to pick one or two to play frequently. I'd say avoid the Ruy Lopez, as it's too complex and more likely to keep the center closed than most other 1. e4 e5 openings, but just about anything else is fair game. Actually, playing lots of gambits, where you give up an early pawn for open lines of attack, is a great way to learn the value of piece development and aggressive attacking, rather than worrying about material.
              OK. These two paragraphs seem to form the start of my studies! Building blocks. Thank you for making these suggestions (including steering me away from the Lopez).
              "The most significant contribution to civilization since the invention of the wheel" Irving Chernev, on castling.

              Comment


              • #8
                Hi folks.

                Enjoying Gameknot. Thought I'd register with FICS for a closer look too.

                Question on FICS - I can see the time modes people would like (the second number is seconds right?), but it's hard for me to determine the kind of regular settings that are preferred for standard games.

                Could someone give me an indication of the increments I should be looking for please? At the moment the console seems to filled up with 99% of people looking for Blitz games! LOL.

                I'd quite like to find out the increments people at my level prefer, and then try a few games with that on Chessmaster to see what I'm comfortable with.

                Thanks people. Gavin.
                "The most significant contribution to civilization since the invention of the wheel" Irving Chernev, on castling.

                Comment


                • #9
                  It varies quite a bit. I think the slow time control leagues that used to play on FICS had time controls of 45 45 and 60 15, but I don't think they're both still active. Some people just play very long time controls without an increment. Personally, I won't play without an increment of at least 5 seconds, though I'd rather have more initial time and a smaller increment, since that's more similar to my USCF tournament conditions.

                  --Fromper

                  "Don't be afraid of ghosts! Always play the moves you want to play unless you see a genuine tactical drawback." --Grandmaster Neil McDonald

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Fromper View Post
                    I think the slow time control leagues that used to play on FICS had time controls of 45 45 and 60 15, but I don't think they're both still active.
                    I checked the 'slow' links here, and yeah, they're not very busy to say the least.

                    I guess I'll keep looking around, and in the meantime just 'seek' my own time controls and see if anyone picks them up.
                    "The most significant contribution to civilization since the invention of the wheel" Irving Chernev, on castling.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I get the thinking involved here. There's one thing that seems a bit odd to me though - both Bishops seem unnecessarily exposed.

                      I realise that could be purely what the player has in mind, and they normally play aggressively. However, if you imagine me, a beginner, as that player - at this moment I'd avoid that and have my Bishops in d3 and e3 instead. Yes, that reduces their diagonal effectiveness; but the way I'm looking at it I'd not lose material in an early exchange. For example - my experience so far (admittedly there's not a lot of it!) shows me that if I played the arrangement in the diagram I'd lose the bishop and maybe another Knight or be forced to develop my queen earlier than liked, something like that. Whereas with the Bishops behind the pawns I'd maybe lose one of them and a bishop or knight, so not as much material.
                      You're wrong. You're thinking in reactive terms. If you are unable to post your bishops to their best squares without losing them, then you need to work on your tactical vision.

                      If you play passively, you will lose. Your bishop may look "safer" on the third rank, but it's really not ... and it's action is blocked by your own pawns.

                      You're right that games are won and lost through mistakes - and the point of aggressive play is that it puts your opponent in a position where he's likely to make mistakes. When your opponents pieces are more active than yours, it's far easier for you to make mistakes, and your mistakes will be more damaging.

                      You can't play chess scared.

                      Q2:

                      It's better not to spend a lot of time studying openings, so most players stick with the one or two openings that they know well most of the time. And yes, choices made in the opening can affect the shape of the entire game. You'll become familiar with recurring ("thematic") ideas and thus play better in that opening.

                      Q3:

                      A beginner should open 1.e4 and meet 1.e4 with e5, and meet 1.d4 with d5.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                        You're thinking in reactive terms. If you are unable to post your bishops to their best squares without losing them, then you need to work on your tactical vision.

                        If you play passively, you will lose
                        Yeah, I'll freely admit I'm playing reactively at the moment. I'm just trying to get my pieces in play, castled, and not make too many mistakes. But I know this has to change soon, and I'm really just doing it now so even if I get beat I'm still puting up a defence and not losing heart with the game.

                        I need to start taking the initiative soon.

                        In fact, I should probably post some PGNs - not for detailed analysis, but just to see if there's a general theme to my worst (or unimaginative) play.


                        Q2:

                        It's better not to spend a lot of time studying openings, so most players stick with the one or two openings that they know well most of the time. And yes, choices made in the opening can affect the shape of the entire game. You'll become familiar with recurring ("thematic") ideas and thus play better in that opening.

                        Q3:

                        A beginner should open 1.e4 and meet 1.e4 with e5, and meet 1.d4 with d5.
                        That's pretty much all I'm doing

                        Thanks Ronaldinho.
                        "The most significant contribution to civilization since the invention of the wheel" Irving Chernev, on castling.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Check out these games... learn to attack, attack, attack!

                          Paul Morphy playing the King's Gambit Accepted as White

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by moocowmoocow View Post
                            Check out these games... learn to attack, attack, attack!
                            Damn - forgot about those. I'll check them out now before I forget again.


                            Q4 - Despite googling, I'm still not sure what a 'pawn break' is. If 1. e4 e5, would that be a pawn break? or is it not a break until 2. d4 exd4?
                            "The most significant contribution to civilization since the invention of the wheel" Irving Chernev, on castling.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Nerazzurri View Post
                              Damn - forgot about those. I'll check them out now before I forget again.


                              Q4 - Despite googling, I'm still not sure what a 'pawn break' is. If 1. e4 e5, would that be a pawn break? or is it not a break until 2. d4 exd4?
                              After 1. e4 e5, 2. d4 and 2. f4 are both possible pawn break moves. Most of the time, white prefers to develop more pieces before playing those breaks, though. The idea is to trade pawns in a way that opens lines for your pieces, which is why it's best to have a few pieces developed before doing it.

                              Generally speaking, pawn trades favor the player with better development, so develop a bunch of pieces in the opening, then play a pawn break at the end of the opening. But that early development should have an eye towards that pawn break, such as putting a rook on d1 if you're planning to play d4 in a few moves to trade for black's e5 pawn and open up that file.

                              --Fromper

                              "Don't be afraid of ghosts! Always play the moves you want to play unless you see a genuine tactical drawback." --Grandmaster Neil McDonald

                              Comment

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