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A game to demonstrate opening fundamentals

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  • A game to demonstrate opening fundamentals

    Here's an annotation of a game I won this morning on MSN Gaming Zone. I present it here for any beginners to look at, as my opponent demonstrates exactly what NOT to do in the opening, and I demonstrate exactly why that is:

    1. d4 d5

    2. e3 Nf6

    White resigns after my 14th move, so he has twelve left to play. Out of those twelve, a full TEN deserve a dubious ? after them. We should also note that d3 is rarely played at high level because even though it is sound, white has moves with clearer advantages.

    3. f3?

    f4 is playable, but after briefly looking it up I wouldn't recommend it for a beginner. f3 is just bad. White hasn't developed a single piece and has weakened his pawn structure for castling K side. What does this pawn do? Very little, in fact it ends up getting in white's way. Nf3 or Nc3 are both far better.

    3. ... Bf5

    Normally it's knights before bishops but when your opponent's opening is so weak you can get away with breaking this rule.

    4. g4?

    Oh look, he made a big smiley face on the board with his pawns. Awww, that's cute...BUT IT's WRONG!!! What does he think this achieves apart from opening up his defence for me to pound him into the ground? Does he really think I might go "Hmm, that pawn doesn't threaten anything, my bishop has an invisible shield and cannot be taken, muahahahaha!!!" Totally useless move.

    4 . ... Bg6

    5. g5??

    Yes folks, you saw it, five moves, five pawn advances. Same comments as above still apply.

    5. ... Nd7

    6. Bh3 (?)

    I was a mile ahead in development when I brought my Bishop out and could afford to break the rules of development. He is a mile behind, and it's not really the right square for the cleric in any case, he's just got visions of capturing my knight, which is pretty dumb as the bishop will get stronger as the game goes on while the knight becomes comparatively less strong as pieces are removed. I'm not even bothering to check with the PC, I am 100% sure white is far better off with Nc3 here.

    6. ... e6

    Even though this does block white's bishop from my knight, the primary reason is to free my dark bishop.

    7. c3

    Not best, but probably not bad enough for a ?. Still, white has no development and frankly if I were to lose this game I ought to be beaten over the head with a hammer, even at this early stage. Now castling on both sides for white is compromised.

    7. ... c5

    It's time to roll. When your opponent neglects his development, a well timed pawn advance can ruin his day.

    8. Qa4?

    This move forces me to make a move I was going to play at some point anyway. In other words it achieves nothing. It also brings the queen out early, which is a violation of basic opening law. As a rule of thumb, develop at least three minor pieces before your queen. Two is sometimes OK, but he has just one minor piece out, almost never correct.

    8. ... Nc6

    Obvious and best.

    9. dxc5?

    Taking a pawn out of centre where my best response is to capture it with a knight that will then attack his queen on its new square. Uh, no, not good.

    9. ... Nxc5

    10. Qb5?? (??????)

    White has now lost his queen. Find black's move:











    10. ... Bd3!

    White has one response that prolongs the queen's life, but only for a single turn. It wouldn't be smart to play it.

    11. c4??

    I can see what he's thinking: "Rather than trade my queen for a minor piece, I'll trade my queen AND A PAWN TOO! That'll fox him." Yeah. I'm "foxed".

    11. ... Bxc4

    12. Qxc6+?

    Clearly white is better off taking the bishop and splitting my centre pawns.

    12. ... bxc6

    13. Nc3?

    Even though this allows me to crush him, we will spare him a double ??, as he's just lost his Q and is already beaten. The best move here is Bf1, i.e. bringing the bishop back to its home square to prevent Nd3 from being crippling, but it's just horrible for white. We'll forgive him this one, however, his next move is appalling.

    13. ... Nd3+

    14. Kd1?? (??)

    Thank you and good 'knight'

    14. ... Nf2+!

    White resigns.


    The objective of this is not to mock a beginner who should never have been paired with me. This game, more neatly than any other I've played or indeed seen with my own eyes, demonstrates why the fundamental opening principles are there to be followed. I appreciate white blunders his queen away, but look at the position after my 8th move:



    Tell me, what has white got going for him here? Both knights still on the back rank, an isolated hanging g-pawn, huge gaps in his K-side pawns with an advanced c-pawn making castling Q-side more risky, his queen isolated and going nowhere and his bishop on the wrong square. He also has pawns occupying the best square of both his knights. It is as bad a position you could fear for after 8 moves. This position should be a guaranteed draw for black with winning chances. Even with better play, white is in trouble. This line came from Arasan on fixed depth 8 (I normally use 12 but that takes too long for my patience when the position is so skewed it hardly matters):

    9. Qb3 Nb6 10. dxc5 Bxc5 11. Qb5 Bd6 12. e4 dxe4 13. Bg2 exf3 14. Nxf3 O-O 15. Nh4 Bh5 16. Be3 a6 17. Qxb6 Bc7 18. Qc5 (Arasan wants to resign here as white) Qd1+ 19. Kf2 Qe2+ 20. Kg1 b6 21. Qxf8+ Rxf8 22. Bf2 Qd1+ 23. Bf1 Be2 24. Kg2 Qd5+ 25. Kg1 Bxf1 26. Nd2 Qg5+ 27. Bg3 Bxg3 28. Hxg3 Bd3 29. Rh2 Qxg3+

    It goes on for another 15 moves or so, but the final mate position was:



    Dominating.


    To summarise then:

    1) Don't push pawns without a plan. If you've made more than 3 pawn moves in your first 5, you're either a master who knows what they're doing or a beginner. A bad piece move can be undone, but pawns are one way warriors until the end game. And making a smiley face does NOT constitute a plan.

    2) Don't develop pieces to squares just to attack an opponent's piece, especially if the best counter is a natural and good move. (see 6. Bh3 in the game)

    3) Don't advance your queen into enemy territory unsupported unless it poses a serious threat.

    4) When outnumbered in the center, don't make capture moves that pull your pawns out of the center (there are exceptions but it's a 95% rule)

    5) Don't "force" your opponent to make moves they wanted to make anyway.

    6) Develop your knights to the center of the board. On the back rank they control 3 squares but in the centre it's 8. You do the math...

    7) Don't put a pawn on f3 early. That is your knight's spiritual home.

    8) Usually, knights before bishops.

    9) Usually, three minor pieces before the queen.

    10) Don't move the pawns on the side you plan to castle early. Moving just one can give your opponent the opening they need if the situation arises. Additionally, castle early most of the time.


    10 rules of opening theory. I believe my opponent broke them all, and I hope that a beginner who reads this may find at least some of this useful, because this game shows beyond doubt why they are called RULES. Note how easy my win was? I didn't even move my queen before white resigned. Because his opening left him with no chance whatsoever.
    Last edited by SoxSexSax; 06-24-2008, 10:12 PM. Reason: As Abba pointed out, I had put the wrong opening moves for white. I suck. :(

  • #2
    Based on the diagrammed position, I think some of your notation is wrong. You have 1 e4 for example, but the e-pawn is on e3.
    USCF: 2248, High: 2295
    FIDE: 2193, High: 2229
    Games Left to Analyze: 9

    Comment


    • #3
      I've never understood the "Knight's before Bishops" rule. I've heard the excuse "Knights maneuver better then Bishops when there are more pieces on the board." With that in mind, I'll wait until the endgame to develop my bishops. Also, you will probably be developing your first piece by move 2-3, when the center of the board will still have open areas, which means the bishop will get more activity...?

      Ivring Chernev had an example game in "Logical Chess: Move by Move" where he blamed black's loss on the fact that he/she developed a Bishop before a Knight?! It's the opening, you have plenty of transposing opportunities; for example: 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Nf3 transposes into the Italian game, and 2. ... Nf6 3. Nc3 transposes into the Vienna.

      If we all developed Knights before Bishops we would all be playing the Four Knight's Game, Four Knight's English, and the Four Knight's Sicilian.

      Was this rule one that wasn't that much thought out, and was just made by some lazy instructor who got tired of people asking them "Now how should I develop my pieces again?"

      Comment


      • #4
        Octal, I think the reason for this general rule is that a knight will most often have only one good square, so putting it there is making no real commitment. On the other hand, a bishop can often have several good locations, one which may be better than another at some point.

        Now, a very good example of this is in the Silician. 1. e4 c5 2. Bc4?! is not so good because black can follow up with e6 and d5 at some point gaining a tempo on it.
        2. Nf3 is much better because it makes little sense to put it anywhere else, doesn't give much of your plan away, and gives no real target for your opponent.
        Whether or not you choose to play the open Sicilian or not, the light-squared bishop might want to go to e2, b5, or even another square like d3, c4, or g3. By reserving that choice you have much more flexibility.

        Comment


        • #5
          It's generally meant as the knight before the bishop on one side I've always believed. Like, the g1-knight before the f1-bishop, with the same for the queenside. In the context of Open Games, that means that you should play Nf3 (or the rare Ne2, or even the brother to the unicorn Nh3) before sliding out that bishop..

          If it ends up transposing it doesn't matter which piece got out first. The only difference being the opportunities the other player had to (more or less) force white into a different line.
          Have you read the Forum rules?

          Queeg: Pawn to King Four. Holly: Horsie to King Bish Three.
          Rimmer: It's called a "knight," actually, Holly...
          Queeg: Knight to King Bishop three. Holly: Queen to Rook Eight. Checkmate.
          Queeg: That's an illegal move. Holly: Oh, sorry. Queens don't move like that. I was thinking of poker.
          Holly: Cleudo? You could be Colonel Mustard.
          Cat: If it's any help, I've been studying his tactics and there's a pattern emerging: Every time you make a move, he makes one too. *Winks to Holly*
          Holly: *Winks back* Thanks, Cat.
          --Red Dwarf

          Comment


          • #6
            The key to opening mastery is to learn the rules layout by great masters, such as don't move the same piece early, don't move the queen to early, castle, etc. Chess opening is a matter of setup, some opening moves are good to play in one opening but are not good in another.


            Learn the exception to these rules. Learning the development ideas behind an opening is also necessary.Also study middle game ideas
            Last edited by ryan_c; 06-28-2008, 06:18 AM.
            " Deep calculation is not what distinguishes the champions. It does not matter how far ahead you see if you don't understand what you are looking at. When I contemplate my move, I first must consider all the elements in the position so that i can develop a strategy and develop intermediate objectives"

            -- Garry Kasparov--

            "Tactics must be guided by strategy"

            --- Garry Kasparov--

            Comment


            • #7
              You should watch out with these kind of general rules. They might be right in most occassions, but they can be horribly wrong on other occasions. While these general rules are usefull, you always need to look at the situation and question wether move your going to play is really good, or just good in most cases.

              Comment


              • #8
                That's why i also told learn the exception to these rules
                " Deep calculation is not what distinguishes the champions. It does not matter how far ahead you see if you don't understand what you are looking at. When I contemplate my move, I first must consider all the elements in the position so that i can develop a strategy and develop intermediate objectives"

                -- Garry Kasparov--

                "Tactics must be guided by strategy"

                --- Garry Kasparov--

                Comment


                • #9
                  here is a game that I played against someone who wasn't as good as me. I have had had people fall for Legals mate before but this is the only game that I won without giving away any pieces that I can remember. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Bc5 4.d3 d6 5.a3 Nf6 6.Qe2 Bg4 7.h3 Nd4 8.Qd2 Bxf3 9.Qg5 0-0 10.Kd2 h6 11.Qg3 Nh5 12.Qh2 Qg5+ 13.Ke1 Nxc2#
                  "Let me only get there," he had said with the fatuousness of Crusoe over his big boat, "and the rest is but a matter of time and energy."
                  --Thomas Hardy

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cyanfish View Post
                    Octal, I think the reason for this general rule is that a knight will most often have only one good square, so putting it there is making no real commitment. On the other hand, a bishop can often have several good locations, one which may be better than another at some point.

                    Now, a very good example of this is in the Silician. 1. e4 c5 2. Bc4?! is not so good because black can follow up with e6 and d5 at some point gaining a tempo on it.
                    2. Nf3 is much better because it makes little sense to put it anywhere else, doesn't give much of your plan away, and gives no real target for your opponent.
                    Whether or not you choose to play the open Sicilian or not, the light-squared bishop might want to go to e2, b5, or even another square like d3, c4, or g3. By reserving that choice you have much more flexibility.
                    This is a very good answer. Let me expand a little bit on what he's saying.

                    First of all, I usually am not thinking that I need to develop my knights before my bishops. It just turns out that a lot of times the best way to increase my piece activity is to bring out my knight first as my bishop is still somewhat useful on its initial square most times. For example, in some Ruy Lopez lines, black plays Re8-Bf8. If black is purposefully putting his bishop back on its original square, it can't be that horribly bad there. Meanwhile if someone brings their knight back to its starting square they will usually redevelop it elsewhere immediately, unless it is performing some defensive purpose.

                    The real reason why a bishop needs to be developed is to free the rooks. As I mentioned in the Ruy Lopez line, once the king's rook is freed, then the bishop can be moved back. In fact, in some Sicilian lines, black will play Rfe8, Rad8, Bf8, Bc8. This way the bishops are out of the rooks' way but can still have long distance impact. Now of course, a bishop's best square isn't always the initial one (and most times it won't be), but it's not as bad of a starting square as the initial square is for the knight.
                    USCF: 2248, High: 2295
                    FIDE: 2193, High: 2229
                    Games Left to Analyze: 9

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Peter91 View Post
                      You should watch out with these kind of general rules. They might be right in most occassions, but they can be horribly wrong on other occasions. While these general rules are usefull, you always need to look at the situation and question wether move your going to play is really good, or just good in most cases.
                      This is, of course, entirely true, there are exceptions to some of these rules on occasions. Out of the ten rules I posted, I would say five have exceptions, however I believe I did make that clear in the post.

                      1) Don't push pawns without a plan. If you've made more than 3 pawn moves in your first 5, you're either a master who knows what they're doing or a beginner. A bad piece move can be undone, but pawns are one way warriors until the end game. And making a smiley face does NOT constitute a plan.

                      2) Don't develop pieces to squares just to attack an opponent's piece, especially if the best counter is a natural and good move. (see 6. Bh3 in the game)

                      3) Don't advance your queen into enemy territory unsupported unless it poses a serious threat.

                      4) When outnumbered in the center, don't make capture moves that pull your pawns out of the center (there are exceptions but it's a 95% rule)

                      5) Don't "force" your opponent to make moves they wanted to make anyway.

                      6) Develop your knights to the center of the board. On the back rank they control 3 squares but in the centre it's 8. You do the math...

                      7) Don't put a pawn on f3 early. That is your knight's spiritual home.

                      8) Usually, knights before bishops.

                      9) Usually, three minor pieces before the queen.

                      10) Don't move the pawns on the side you plan to castle early. Moving just one can give your opponent the opening they need if the situation arises. Additionally, castle early most of the time.
                      There are no exceptions to number 1. A pawn advance in the opening makes a hole in your position. There are times when the reward outweighs the risk, however if you haven't made a clear plan then you wouldn't know that for sure, would you? Hence, you never push pawns without a plan, no exceptions.

                      There are no exceptions to number 2. If the sole reason for you making a move is to attack an opponent's piece which has an escaping move that is both natural and good, don't make that move. Note that I said SOLE reason.

                      There MAY be exceptions to number 3, but they are RARE and normally will be a result of your opponent blundering. In the first twelve moves, your opponent should be able to attack the majority of squares in his half of the board in one move, and almost all in two. How can your unsupported queen possibly be safe in his half of the board unless your opponent has made some very bad positional choices along the way?

                      There are exceptions to rule 4, but I made that clear in the post. Generally, keep central pawns in the center unless there is a compelling reason not to. In the posted game, there was no compelling reason, white just played a bad move.

                      There probably are exceptions to 5, but again they will be rare. If you know, as it is obvious, that your opponent wants to play Nc6, why would you play a forcing move where the best response is Nc6? Only if the move you are making has other plus-points will this be a good idea.

                      There could conceivably be exceptions to 6, but it is still a hard rule. One of the first lessons any beginner learns is that a knight can control eight squares in the centre but no more than four, and as few as two, on an edge. No further argument needed.

                      There are exceptions to rule 7, but NOT for beginners. Any opening that contains f3 before castling is just not suited to inexperienced players who will regularly miss the best move. Too many of white's future moves will be practically forced to make this appealing to a newcomer to the game.

                      There are exceptions to 8 but I made that clear in the post. The Larsen opening (b3 Bb2) springs to mind. However, for a beginner, knights first makes a lot of sense. Each of the four knights' "logical" home square (c3, c6, f3 and f6) applies pressure on 2 center squares, should be proteced by a minimum of a pawn in the early stages and allows the knight to attack its full range of 8 squares. Conventional wisdom also suggests knights are more useful in the early game (as they can jump over "piece-congested" areas of the board) while bishops are more useful in the end game (when there are likely to be open diagonals on the board), so why not get the "early game" piece on the board early?

                      There may be times where you will want to bring your queen out before you third minor piece, but it is almost always a mistake to bring her out before your second. Queen chases lead to tactics, and not normally for the side doing the running.

                      Finally, yes there are exceptions to number 10, but it is still a good rule for beginners to follow where possible. Only move the flank pawns on the side you wish to castle (and for a beginner that should be the K side 90% of the time) if you REALLY have to, but don't be afraid to if you DO in fact really have to. Moving those pawns opens a diagonal line into your position, which may not look critical now, but might actually be pivotal in 20 moves time. However, of all the rules, this is the one you can break the most.


                      My opponent broke EVERY rule. Every single one of them. You can break one or two, and in fact some very playable openings do just that. I very much like the Larsen myself, it's my fallback if I feel my opponent is better with e4 than I am. But I would declare the following two statements to be true:

                      1) If you break 5 or more of these rules in the same game and your opponent does not, you will be lucky to draw if you are similar in skill

                      2) If a beginner who is regularly breaking these rules stuck to them without exception even when exception would be relevant (except possibly rule 10), they would be a better player immediately.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Part of the issue that the bishop can usually get to a great square in one move - but what squares it's useful on are harder to determine - it's more vulnerable to changes in the pawn structure.

                        Whereas a knight is going to need several moves to get to a good aggressive square - so that first move is really less of a big deal. (If the N is going to end up on d4, it doesn't matter so much if it gets there via f3 or e2, now, does it?)

                        Added to that is that f3/f6 is almost always a good square for the KN. For black, c6 is almost always a good square for the QN (after ...c5, sometimes) and for white it often is (in 1.d4 openings, at least). Those moves aren't putting pieces on the wrong squares (even if there may be specific reasons not to do them at any given time).

                        There are no comparable certainties with bishops. So rather than move them too early, and lose time having to move them again when the pawn structure changes, why not wait a few moves and see if your opponent will make a move which makes the choice obvious?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SoxSexSax View Post
                          There are no exceptions to number 1.
                          1.d4 N6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 Bxc3+ 5.bxc

                          This is a perfectly playable opening even by non-masters. To say nothing of the Smith-Morra accepted by black.


                          There MAY be exceptions to number 3, but they are RARE and normally will be a result of your opponent blundering.
                          Najdorf poisoned pawn variation.

                          There could conceivably be exceptions to 6, but it is still a hard rule.
                          There's a huge exception to this rule, which is that if the way to get a knight to the correct square is to move it to the edge first, then move it to the edge first. But even still, the general principle is poorly stated. Knights are more effective in the center, sure, but they're also more effective on advanced outposts. A white N on e4 is generally not as effect as the same piece of f5, despite the fact that f5 is less of a central square.

                          There are exceptions to rule 7, but NOT for beginners.
                          Well, we could quibble about the definition of beginner here, but the QGD exchange is a reasonable choice for class players ...

                          Each of the four knights' "logical" home square (c3, c6, f3 and f6) applies pressure on 2 center squares, should be proteced by a minimum of a pawn in the early stages and allows the knight to attack its full range of 8 squares.
                          ANd here I Just have to disagree with you, particularly with your claim that c3 is a "logical" home square for the white QN. Furthermore, moving the black QN to c6 prematurely is often a HUGE mistake in 1.d4 openings. So here I feel like you're sliding very deeply into "by rote" play, rather than emphasizing the dynamic nature of the center - the understanding of which is one of the key roles to rapid improvement.

                          Conventional wisdom also suggests knights are more useful in the early game (as they can jump over "piece-congested" areas of the board) while bishops are more useful in the end game (when there are likely to be open diagonals on the board), so why not get the "early game" piece on the board early?
                          I've never heard this conventional wisdom before, and I don't agree with it. I think it's more useful to think in terms of which pieces you want to have value. After all, it may be helpful to move a bishop outside your pawn chain before you actually lock in that pawn chain - so delaying can hurt a bishop. Knights can be much more valuable than bishops in an endgame (if, say, there are pawns on only one side of the board) and since, in many openings popular at the club level (Italian, Scotch, Sicilian) pawn exchanges happen early and often it's a mistake to suggest that the bishops are poor pieces in the opening phase of the game.

                          This "wisdom" should be thrown out. It's not useful and it'll be wrong as often as it's right.

                          There may be times where you will want to bring your queen out before you third minor piece, but it is almost always a mistake to bring her out before your second. Queen chases lead to tactics, and not normally for the side doing the running.
                          THe issue I have with this is that it's all about counting, rather than thinking about what your pieces are doing. There are plenty of times when it's perfectly reasonable to bring your queen out right away. (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 ed 4.Nxd4 Qh4!? which is a reasonable weapon in club play; 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cd 4.Qxd4; 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cd 3.c3 cd 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 - whoops, just violated rule #1 - 7.0-0 Be7 8.Qe2 a6 9.Rd1 Qc7) These aren't obscure lines. These aren't stuff you have to be a master to play.

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                          • #14
                            Rules vs. Guidelines

                            I think Rules have a tendency to lay a psychological snare. We follow without as much questioning as we ought to.

                            Guidelines, on the other hand, are less restricting.

                            In any case the Guideline should be wise and correct. I appreciate when a player offers up his understanding of the game, and especially the reasoned responses by the more experinced players here.

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                            • #15
                              These rules apply to U1000 players so the Samish Nimzo-Indian won't matter, nor will the Najdorf Poisoned Pawn. But instead of teaching novices these rules, they should teach the refutations. They may know not to bring the Queen on early, but they might not know what to do against 1. e4 e5 2. Qh5/f3. Or how will they react to 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5. This is played by grandmasters, and is probably a horrible move, but against an U1000 player they will probably just get scared and lose the game. Or even 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. Bg5 O-O 7. Nd5 Be6 8. Nxf6+ gxf6 9. Bh6 Re1 10. Nh4?! (a crude attempt at checkmate) Kh1!. With two off-side pieces White has denied much piece central control because he wanted to prematurely attack. He has left Black with a half-open g-file leaving white unwanting to castle king-side, a piece-majority in the center, and an extra f-pawn that might eventually help for an attack on white's center with f5.

                              The only rules in chess that work in every scenario are Tarrasch's passed pawn, "Rooks belong behind your and your opponent's passed pawns; except for when they don't," and Tarrasch's (I think) "When giving the chance to win a valuable center-pawn during the opening, always except unless you see something wrong with taking it."
                              Last edited by Octal; 07-01-2008, 04:55 PM.

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