Saturday, March 20, 2010


Being prepared to play your next opponent, or a future opponent, assumes certain risks and memories. In the back of your head you might also think, "What if he doesn't play 1.d4?"

Then you have to speculate, "What might he play, 1.c4?"

The EASY answer is, it's a good idea to be prepared, in general, for a wide variety of openings subjects. Purdy nailed it when he said it is the overall skill set which matters--hence, being alert for opportunities can make preparation go even further.

I can remember a few times when I played e6. from the white side, early in an opening where my pawn went from e4 to e5 and then to e6. I had seen this "idea" against a particular Pirc Defense line in a Fridshteyn book. Ultimately the line fails and advantage goes to black, but Black has to either know that or suspect it.

It's possible I played e6 earlier than that book, but, it fascinated me. Fascination helps give us courage. We can see a game that is enthralling even if we would never get that position ourselves. But here's a secret: the more you play and learn, the better you get, and at some point you will see previous positions the higher up the food chain that you climb.

There's always that old desert island question, "If you were stranded on an island 'what ten chess books would you take with you?' " Of course there are a lot of assumptions in that question, but if that was the ONLY serious question asked of you, most would try to find books we admired which were full of games, or philosophies on chess, maybe even endgame tomes and so on. But I am not sure that would actually be true.

Have you ever been in the hospital for more than a day or two? Usually you aren't in peak performance condition, right? You might watch TV because it doesn't require much mental activity. Similarly, if you were stranded on a desert isle, you might be depressed, or spend fanciful time thinking about being rescued or saved from wild animals.

The unknown is one thing, the "known" plus preparation can exhilarate your looking forward to your next opponent.

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