Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Out Of Book, Episode 1

Studying opening theory is a horrible timesink. I have some strong opinions on how club players should choose and study openings, and will address this soon.

For now, here's part one of what will be an ongoing series of examples where my opponents leave book early without outright blundering. These should help drive home the point that studying opening variations isn't the most productive use of a club player's time.

I have just recently started to bite the bullet and play the open Sicilians, because I think the tactics and positions that result will help me become a better player. After 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f4 e5 7. Nf3 my opponent in this blitz game played 7...Qb6

If you're new to chess and the Sicilian, you wouldn't think of move 7 as being an "early deviation". However, in the open sicilian White's first 5 moves are the same against any of a small number of Black responses, so in a sense we're talking about a novelty on the second move here. Black normally plays 7...Qc7 or 7...Nbd7 here.

7...Qb6 is not mentioned in any book I own, and there's only two rated games in my giant Chessbase database. During the game, all I could think about was the a7-g1 diagonal, my exposed king, and how kingside castling would be well-nigh impossible. I ended up winning, but I really didn't like this position at the time.

The solution appears to be 8.Bc4. The f7 square and e5 pawns are weak, so variations where a N hops into g5 or where white captures twice on e5 are strong. is weak. Fritz gives White about2/3 of a pawn advantage here after 8.Bc4 Be7 9.fxe5 dxe5 10.Nxe5 0-0.

The bottom line is that there's still play in the position, and the aggressive stance of the Black queen and the position of White's king make this a reasonable surprise weapon for least against patzers like me.

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