Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The failure of books about openings
I find most books about openings or even books that talk about openings almost a complete failure. Openings are so much more important than (Ruy Lopez) 1. e4, e5 2. Nf3, Nc6, etc. You find books that talk about the Ruy Lopez and they talk about other Ruy Lopez variations. What most of them don't tell you is that say you decide you want to play the Roy Lopez, your opponent doesn't have to follow the Ruy Lopez or any of its variation's pre-written moves.
What does that mean to the player? Well, if you following the opening even though your opponent is doing something completely different, there is a chance he/she could exploit a weakness in your position. Different variations in openings are created to protect or exploit different weaknesses in your or your opponent's defenses. It means if you don't understand the opening and its positional consequences then you are in a position of weakness. The weakness can come in two forms. Positionally on the Chess board and the fact that you do not understand your position. Your move could be positionally sound and considered a strong (!!) move, but because you don't understand it, you may not be able to exploit it as well as fall victim to its weakness.
My problem with books that show openings but do not explain the positional meanings is that they teach you nothing. The algebraic notation for Chess openings are all over the Internet and you do not need a book for that. Walking you through almost an entire game using an opening is not necessary either. In my opinion, a book should be about a single opening. It should explain the opening, the theory behind the opening, its positional strengths and weaknesses and best moves for at least the top 10 most likely opponent moves, the best counter moves per game turn up until development is pretty much complete.
Understand, this would make for a huge book and yet it would pretty much only discuss a single opening with a few variations based on your opponent's decisions. Understanding all aspects and theories behind an opening should lead to better positioning when entering the middle game which will lead to better Chess.
The reason I write this post is because never once in my minimal amount of Chess playing have I ever had someone follow more than four moves into an opening. Well, at least an opening that I know the moves of anyway. When that happens, I tend to get exposed in my positions. Sometimes I'm able to recover and maybe even pull out a win. Other times my position gets exposed and it turns ugly quickly. Especially against players over 200 point above me.
Until next time.