Sunday, October 29, 2006

Minimalist Openings or the “Sketch Pad Approach”

Finally I finished the groundwork on my new opening repertoire!
This led to my latest plan for chess improvement, which is called the “Sketch Pad Approach”.
The idea was started while I tried to streamline my openings and to stop each of the lines at the point of completed development. Versus trying to input 57,000 variations like I attempted in the earlier incarnation.
The common thread is that all of the openings lead to simple playable positions that have seen plenty of practice at master level and above. Of course I combined pawn structures when and where I could.
A majority of the lines chosen are given as = by both Fritz and my ECOs’, there are no hidden agendas involved. Gone are the razor sharp openings that I played in the past, (while fun to play, for me they required an intense amount of review and study to be effective). I figured it makes more sense to gear my focus toward time spent learning how to play the standard positions. This is done by studying the games of the masters and of course simply playing chess. I want to spend more time playing (and reviewing each of my games). As I face a new line then and only then will I update my opening book, hence the term “Sketch Pad Approach”. Since J’adoube is big into naming stuff I should go ahead and call this the S.P.A.C.E. method (“Sketch Pad Approach to Chess Enjoyment”) [grin].
I have definitely included more notes dealing with plans and strategies into this opening repertoire than I did in the earlier version.
My plan is to now transcribe these lines from the Chessbase format into Bookup so that I can practice until I have them down cold.
From there I start the play and review phase.


Jim said...

Well, yeah, but the point is to name it after yourself!

Sancho Pawnza said...

I'm not even going to open that can of worms. :)

Temposchlucker said...

What openings have you chosen. What were the criteria?

Sancho Pawnza said...

Well mainly the idea was to pick opening variations that could be called "solid". Picking lines that allowed me to complete development and establish control on my side of the board as much as possible.
I'd really say my approach to learning openings is what has changed the most.
Especially while working through the Soltis book "Pawn Structure Chess".
It has made me realize how much master’s rely on strategy, and have a clear plan
for each of the openings they play. Where as I used to focus on how I was going to attack the enemy king and would try to memorize the sharpest lines possible. I now look at how
the pieces coordinate and work together and try to understand the objective within the given pawn structures.
Of course it is not always possible to dictate what your opponent plays, but at least now
my understanding of how to obtain a playable position is improving.

As for my openings.
Against 1.e4 I respond …c5 and try to head into Accelerated Dragon territory for now I’m still working on my Taimanov (I like having an active dark square bishop one way or the other).
Versus 1.d4 I play …Nf6 and wait for the reply, hoping to get into a Nimzo or Queen’s Indian depending on White. (Lots of possibilities for White)

As White I play 1.e4 versus 1…c5 I play what I’d like to think is the proper way to enter
the Grand Prix via 2.Nc3 (2.f4!? is just asking Black to open things up with Tal’s most excellent reply 2…d5!). The reason I went back to the Grand Prix was to limit my study
time versus the multitude of possible Sicilians. Along with the fact that I have a plus score with it in rated play without any losses.
Versus 1…e5 I respond 2.Nf3 (Black gets a large say with the next move, too many lines to mention).
1…c6 The Panov Attack ( I’m still working this one out, it may just become the exchange variation temporarily)
1…e6 2.d4 and 3.Nc3 when possible.
This is just a very brief listing but at some point I may include an in-depth survey but that will be a post all to itself.

Temposchlucker said...

I'm going thru the same natural change of mindset from tactical to positional. The gambit-openings that prevailed the last 4 years in my repertoire have actually a great unexpected positional side to them. So I can permit myself to make changes to my repertoire step by step. The game becomes more interesting the more you know of it!

Sancho Pawnza said...

It’s funny how our mindset changes as our understanding of the various game aspects increase.
I certainly agree, every time I learn something and watch the new information start merging with and sometimes even overwriting the old I get a renewed sense of how cool this game really is, to me the feeling of accomplishment is no different than playing music or creating something with my hands.

Temposchlucker said...

I was able to pick up a copy of a second hand "pawn structure chess" of Soltis. It has 300 pages, and we have two and a half month before the Corus tournament. What's the best way to "attack" it?

Sancho Pawnza said...

Soltis does a very good job of breaking down the formations by family.
I would try and pick out the groups
of the openings that I played first.
He gives a diagram of the structures with a description of the openings from which they arise in every chapter.
Honestly I don't think it would hurt either way by approaching it from Chapter 1 or to just skip around.
Each Chapter stands pretty well on its own.
I think you are going to really love the book. It definitely made me rethink how openings and more importantly how chess should be played. At least it gave me a pretty good glimpse into the minds of the greats. Making me realize that they
know and understand structures just as well as they do endgames.
To quote Soltis from Chapter 4 [Chain Reactions] "It is hardly an exaggeration to say that no one can achieve the status of master without acquiring a mastery of chains."

I realize what I have to do preparation wise for each of my revamped opening choices. This book has made it a lot easier in the sense that I no longer feel as lost as I did prior to picking up.

Let me know if this helped.

Temposchlucker said...

Ok, I will start with the openings with which I perform worst.

Sancho Pawnza said...

After few chapters you will start to get a feel for what makes a successful pawn break. Then you start to realize why certain moves are played in the first place. Where before I used to look at moves for what they could do in an attack on the enemy king's position. I now look at those same moves and understand their true purpose. It's still an attack but it's an attack on a square.

gamechess said...

I have never been the opening of the play.
I prefer opening ben-oni.happy to know with you from gamechess in indonesia.