Thursday, September 29, 2011


For years two players at a competing chess club were known for the King's Indian Attack by one and "anything" by the other. Now I've been told that both have been playing the Ruy Lopez of late. Interesting. Had their game gone stale? Were they too easy to prepare for?

Let's examine that last question--were they too easy to prepare for? One fellow (the KIA guy) was, but he still won games now and then and it required him to do almost NO work, or at least it looked that way. The other was potpourri--you were likely to see anything after 1.e4 (King's Gambit if opponent responded 1...e5), 1.f4, and other unpredictable second moves. But in MY experience with him, his success was very limited because he didn't know these openings any better (in most cases) than his opponent. If his opponent was the stronger player, he would usually go down like a Japanese Zero that had been hit by too much naval fire.

Some speculated it was his job, but I think it was his personality. He liked wildness, adventure, the unknown--anything to keep his opponent from getting an edge. But often that tactic didn't work except against those who didn't "know" him. I can't go into specifics on a blog, but suffice it to say, this tactic didn't work against me or others--it was just loose cannon fire on a rolling deck.

By playing the Ruy Lopez, if he has studied it at all, he presents all new problems for his opponents. But the thing about the RL is that it requires a certain amount of patience, which some players do not have, including him. Has age caught up? Maybe.

One reason for the CHESS TNT event coming next month on October 21-22 is to allow people to GET REAL. Fooling people ONE time is not enough for a legacy.

I remember one time going out of my comfort zone (I played the French as Black) and "figured," incorrectly, that my opponent would open 1.e4 and be really, ready for me (which usually means the Advance French). I CHICKENED OUT. Totally outside of my character. I played the Pirc, which maybe I had never played before, and because I knew how Black SHOULD play it. But, my opponent, didn't know what he was doing and I topped that off by PROVING I didn't know what I was doing either, and I lost a long battle.

A short while later, we had a chance to skittle or play blitz and I realized that DESPITE his prepping for the French, he knew NOTHING! He knew some mechanical moves, and soon as he was out of HIS book, maybe 6 moves, he played as if he hadn't studied anything at all!

The hardest hall to fight is not city hall, but chess hall. When players are entrenched and won't change, it is because they WANT IT to stay that way. They can lose, they can win, they can draw, but the needle on their rating basically doesn't change. If they play someone 200-300 points stronger, they go down like a kite in a rainstorm as if they didn't know their system at all. The MAIN reason for this is that the stronger player understands MORE about strategy, correct placement of pieces, taking advantage of weaknesses and all that "middlegame stuff."

For years I had heard about the weakened dark squares, the weakened light squares, and NONE of that made any difference to me BECAUSE my opponents couldn't prosecute a win by the use of that knowledge. So "technique" IS worth something... actually, a lot.

We hope to get into the various PHASES of a game's opening at the TNT event and hope you will come even IF you are wedded to what you play. As IM Martin also said, "It's also about having fun and being entertained too."

Running this event has SHOWN me a lot of things about chess player personalities and one is, you can lead a horse to water, and that may be all. But when it is pure cussed stubbornness to remain FIXED, then you are talking the MULE family, of which the horse is only a subset of!

Bizarre me, but as I get older, and read more and more of my library, esp. in conjunction with the upcoming publication TO THE POINT, the idea of experimentation has become extremely attractive to me. Why? Because principles of chess are pretty much the same in every opening, but the differences are in the NUANCES, and often a game can turn on the nuances of that opening. When you look at CJS Purdy's games and see Slavs, Lopezes, Queen's Gambits and the Colle, if you look further you will find he played LOTS of other openings too, and he did all right for himself.

G&L CHESS has a new DVD catalog which has just been released. If you would like a copy, send me your name and email address.


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