Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Openings You Dread

As a player who is taking up the King's Indian Defence vs 1. d4, I was surprised to learn from chess forums that some 1. d4 White players really dislike the typical KID player.

After some digging, I found that it is because a typical KID player is one who plays not for the material of the pieces but plays for the initiative, which usually results in unclear, dynamic play and sometimes absolute chaos can result on the board if White chooses to take on Black tic for tac.

What of Kramnik's infamous Bayonet Attack? Sadly, that line has gone out of fashion as Black players started to devise counter-plans to achieve equality (partly in due to the modern 7.... Na6 variation), taking the whole sting out of a queenside attack.

I know at my club, some 1. d4 players absolutely dread the Nimzo-Indian Defence because the darn thing is so hard to crack and right from the 3rd move, Black is threatening to unbalance the game with 4... Bxc3. If you throw in the Rubinstein, the Saemisch, the Leningrad, Romanishin then suddenly the Nimzo-Indian starts to look really really daunting.

As for 1. e4 players, some players dread the French Defence, it's rock solid and allows Black a transition to the middlegame. White sometimes play the f4 variation to stifle Black and attempt to put Black out of his misery but there's still plenty of play on both sides. The Winawer and the MacCutcheon variations offer Black plenty of counter play as well.

How about the Najdorf Sicilian? Bucket loads of theory and play is governed by move memorisation that it's downright scary.

Using computers for openings is next to impossible. A dated study done by Chessbase shows that computers are strange beasts when it comes to openings (hence the need for opening books) - see inset.

What openings do I dread? Well.... none at the moment. I play all kinds of openings so I'm not that disturbed by the different types of opening play.

Do you have an opening that you absolutely hate facing?


  1. im serious:

    The KID and Grunfeld!

    warmest, dk

  2. It seems to me that a strong dislike of an opening played against me should inspire me to find good lines against it.

  3. I am not at a level yet where I can really love or fear any opening. They are all equally good and bad to me right now!!

    I am just in the process of figuring out what openings I am going to commit to learning and living with for the next long while! Oddly enough I was thinking about the King's Indian and The French for my openings when playing black...!!!


  4. dk: remind me not to play against you then! :)

    greg: that's normally the case. i think what particularly irks some players are players who like to play 'slow' chess (move chess to good positions etc.) are suddenly confronted with huge tactical shots and totally unbalanced positions that it knocks them off their 'usual' game. likewise for the reverse where attacking players get locked up by pawn blockades.

    i think chess players have a tendency to steer the game towards what they are more comfortable with and if something happens that run contrary to their gameplan, it can be quite upsetting.

    Tommyg:for players learning the French Defence, I recommend John Watson's books and Ziegler's French DVD. They're good intros. For the King's Indian, you can't go wrong with anything by Joe Gallagher.


  5. I dread the French and Marshall attack in Ruy Lopez(love to play this one for Black). Many people are afraid of the Marshall attack, I even did a post about that.

  6. rollingpawns,

    I didn't dread the Marshall Attack these days because there's enough counter play and White can always choose the Anti-Marshall move 8.a4 although play seems to get easier for Black.

    Confronting the Marshall is not easy, I've not yet to face it fully in my OTB games and wonder how it'll turn out.

    The complications arising from the French (I play it on both sides) and notice that French players seems to have most trouble with the Nf3 variation and also White can build solidly with the Tarrasch leading to a slow positional game.


  7. I don't like what I refer to as the random d4 crap where they dob't play a typical QGD type formation and avoid allowing me to play my Nimzo. I also hate the damn Smith Morra against the Sicilian. I decline it a and deal with a c3 transposition.

  8. Hello Polly,

    One needs to tread carefully with the Smith-Morra. However, instead of accepting the Gambit, one can choose to ignore the Gambit or play d3 which is very annoying for White.

    There's a clever transposition targetting players wanting to avoid the Nimzo and that's to play the Queen's Indian Defence/Nimzo-QID hybrid. Black usually gets a safe comfortable game. The alternative is to play the Slav defence which is very solid and White has to find ways to break this defence.


  9. Austrian Attack vs. Pirc. And probably the 150 Attack as well, except no one seems to use it.

  10. LEP, I normally use the 150 Attack vs the Pirc. Very very nice weapon. One of the reasons why I don't play the Pirc as Black. :)

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  12. I found out the same thing about the KID. There's even a thread about this: I also found it interesting that g6 scores a bit better than e6 at the 2600 level. I expected the opposite.

    BTW: Is there really no edit option for posts!???