07 April, 2013

T55 Report and Openings

I need to look back at some of my games in TL, as I haven't spent time on them in any way,and so as a prelude to that, I thought I'd put out another "TL Openings' post to cover TL55, as a way to start the process for me.

Personally, my record was +2=3-2, that's 50%.  Par for the course, although if you take out my default win and draw ( as you should ) , I have a not great 40%, and only 1 win out of 5 played games : GM material I am not !

Definitely room for improvement, although I would have to say generally not in the area of openings. Here, I tend to do well, mostly coming out into the middlegame with a good position. Its there, that I lose it !

In opening play, as White, I stayed with 1.e4, and in my two games faced:

The French, where, as usual,  I avoided mainline French lines with the fun-filled Réti Gambit.  Certainly, I reached an acceptable middlegame, but let things slip with a simple oversight losing a pawn. Following this with a less than active defence meant I played a pawn down for 20 moves, and eventually blundered a piece. I held ground for quite some time, but ultimately couldn't hold of the attack.

I really don't like the French.

The Sicilian  ( sounds like a Gothic novel title ! ).  This was a different prospect, as I think it was the first time I switched to a main line, rather my usual 2.b3 ( the so-called Czerniak Attack ).

Guided by Timothy Taylor ( in spirit, not in person :) , I played a Classical line with Be2, and again found myself well-placed in the middlegame, helped, I am sure, by an indecisive Black Qb6, followed by a creeping Qd8 retreat. I don't think he was ready or could calculate the positions after Qxb2, but no shame there !

In the end a forced combination led to a loss of a piece and an inevitable resignation : always satisfying to defeat the Sicilian.

As Black, I started with a loss in a Philidor. Again, I came out of the opening well, and then spent a long time until I made a major mistake. I even had a great chance to recover, but didn't see it, ending up a long piece down and resigning.

Twice I had games in the Old Indian/King's Indian, drawing both, which was a good feeling , as I don't consider myself a d4 player.

I'd say I was well-prepared in both of them, with a more than acceptable middlegame. In both, I gained the upper hand, but didn't see a plan to win, and with a lack of time my draw offers were accepted. Definitely could do better here.

How does my opening experience compare to Team League overall ?

This time, again, quite close, as the "Top Ten"  remained  much the same, namely Sicilian, French, Caro-Kann and the generic Queen's Pawn leading the pack, and keeping 1.e4 as top dog.

1.d4 still looms large, running at 416 games compared to e4's 612.

Individually, by ECO, the most played are:

Queen's Pawn games ( ie D02, 1.d4 with a reply of d5, e6 or Nf6 ),
Psuedo King's Indian (A48)
c3/Alapin Sicilian ( B22)
Center Counter/Scandinavion
and another Sicilian variation B23, the Closed Sicilian, followed closely by B14, and C02, variations of the Caro-Kann and French Defence.

However, track the responses to 1.e4, and the order is Sicilian, Spanish, French, Caro-Kann, Pirc/Philidor, Center-Counter and Alekhine.

The Falkbeer Counter Gambit ( 1e4 e5 2.f4 d5 )  is still hanging on in there with 4 games this time, honours still shared at 2-2 !

Responses to d4 are covered by d4 and Nf6, and the main independent one is f5, the Dutch Defence, which does well enough over the 16 games its used in.

Statistically, the best starting move for White in T55  was 1. b4, but its not for me.

Short games, there were a few, but the most dramatic was a 6-move loss in the Caro-Kann.  Amazingly, its an exact copy of a game I previously spotted in T50 , and added to later.

Below is the brief summary of opening play in T55. For all rounds/games, see here for round 1, and follow through for the rest of the rounds.

T55 Openings Top 10

B20-B59 Sicilian (Taimanov/Kan/Classical/Closed/Alapin/Wing Gambit) 160 (13%)
C00-C19 French Defence  97 (8%) 
D00-D05 Queen's Pawn ( General )   94  (8%)  
B10-B19 Caro-Kann   89  (7%)  
A10-A39 English 72  (6%)
D30-D69 Queen's Gambit Declined 67 (5.5%)
A45-A50 Indian Defences & Torre Attack 57 (5%)
E60-E99 King's Indian Defence 48 (4%)
C60-C99 Spanish Game (Ruy Lopez ) 41 (3.5%)
D10-D19 Slav Defence 35  (3%)

For those interested, all games were re-indexed in Chess Assistant 11,. The Opening classification ranges ( ie to group ECO codes), I borrowed from Chessville (many thanks :)

See also T51 Summary,  T50 Summary and T47 Summary.