Friday, November 24, 2017 22:17

Posts Tagged ‘Giuoco Piano’

Messy scrums and missed opportunities, part 1

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

I had an interesting game at the club yesterday. “Interesting,” in this context could be translated as, “Completely horrifying once posting the game for analysis.” The horrifying part and missed opportunity will be shared in a later post. For now, we open with… well… the opening.

I was playing a player brand-new to the club. Typical process when facing a brand-new player in a club setting, if you’re experienced at all, can be staying within your comfort zone as much as possible. (You’re looking to give your best, combined with feeling out the strength of the other player. Is this someone you want to play regularly in the future, or is this player too strong or too weak for you normally?) So you stay strong, and play what you know best.

I’m not typical. ;)

You may have read my earlier post on facing the Sicilian defense while playing as White. Well, this time I tried playing it as Black – for only the second or third time ever. The basic position I was expecting was following the moves 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4. This sequence produces the following board:
The Sicilian after 4. Nxd4
It didn’t exactly work that way, though. ;) Instead, I got 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 e6 4. d3. A very different position from the get-go:
A different sort of Sicilian...

My opponent admitted after the game that his purpose with the Bishop move was to take me out of my opening book rapidly. He didn’t know, of course, that I really don’t have a book for the Sicilian yet.

For new players, “book,” in this context means a set of fixed opening moves that a player has prepared in advance. (For example, if I’m black and my opponent moves 1. e4, I will respond with c5. Then if he follows with 2. Nf3 I will respond Nc6. Then if he plays 3. d4 I will play cxd4. Then I expect 4. Nxd4 as most likely.) Semi-experienced players will study and develop Opening Books for themselves, based on the extensive body of research in chess openings. If a player is, “in book,” it means they have already analyzed the move and position enough before the game.

Another example of books – if I’m playing White, I will almost certainly play 1. e4. What I’m really hoping for is that the opposite player will cooperate in giving me an opening called the Giuoco Piano (or Italian Game.) It will play 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5. It rarely works for me, though. Many players will respond either 1. c6 (an opening called the Caro-Kann Defense, or 1. c5 (the Sicilian.) Which is why I’m working on the Sicilian at present. :D

These days, new players aren’t generally taught to develop opening books until at least developing understanding some basic fundamentals of openings in general. The new player is encouraged to see what’s going on in an opening, as opposed to rote learning of sets of opening moves.

Besides, as you’ve seen above, there are so many choices that can occur in an opening. White has twenty possible first moves. Of these, five are common – about ten have no real purpose, and five are just too slow. Black likewise gets twenty possible first choices. I think around seven or so are popular, highly dependent on White’s first choice. Perhaps I’ll detail these in depth at some point. But this is just a long way of saying don’t panic about your openings at first. Even a semi-experienced player can get into a messy scrum off the bat.

Within that understanding, though, even a new player can ask these questions: What’s happening with the first four moves of the game I just played? Why did I play each of those moves? Did I get what I was hoping for? Over time – with many games that follow those same four moves recorded, start asking: Am I satisfied in general with what’s happening in those moves, and/or the game that results from them?

It helps to have a coach or teacher to help you explore these questions. You can also find the name of that particular opening and see what the Web can tell you about it. Always be careful about free advice – it may be worth less than you paid for it. But there’s a lot you can do yourself – after all, you’re a chess player! :)

Play on!

** BTW, apologies for the varying sizes of the boards in these opening posts. The size of the board is dependent on how I’ve sized my ChessBase board window before copying and pasting – I’m still trying to find the size that works for me.