19 October, 2011

TeamLeague 4545 : T50 Summary and Openings

Another TL4545 is drawing to a close, and, unfortunately Magnum Ignotum are not among the championship contenders.

No matter, it was an enjoyable tournament, although for me, since I didn't play the last two rounds, it was shorter than usual, with a grand total of 4 games, all played in August.

I don't consider myself obsessed with the openings (certainly not from a Chess sense, although maybe from a statistical point of view ! ), but having started out looking at them via T47, I thought I may as well post an update and a T50/T47 comparison, ie ask the question "Have things changed much in 3 tournaments and almost a year of elapsed time ?".

However, before that , what happened from a personal point of view? and does this match the statistics overall ?

As White, I kept up the banner of 1.e4, playing it in all my 3 games, but how was I answered ?

Surprisingly, not one Sicilian, which defies the statistics of TL !

Instead, I was presented with:

1...e5, which transposed to a sort of Nimzovitch defence, after 2.d4 Nc6 ( is that technically a reversed Dunst or Van Geet ?). This was a win for me more by stealth than fireworks.
1...e5 slipping into a variation of the Centre Game. A loss for me, missing a pin on a rook through a queen.
1...Nf6 and an older line of Alekhine's Defence.Mainly level play, lost by a miscalculation in a 4-Bishop endgame.

My one game as Black, I played the Philidor with e5 and d6 against White's 1.e4. Unusual for me as I normally play the Hanham variation, but after 6...Nbd7, we were back on familiar ground.

This was a long game and I showed remarkable patience in fighting for a draw after my middlegame blunder. White did not play actively with his advantage, and he made the last mistake in a Rook and pawns endgame :I cashed in on it for a draw.

Results-wise this was a grand total of 1,5 points from 4, ie 1-2-1, or 37%, with all opponents being higher rated than me.

Surprisingly, my win as White was against my highest rated opponent ( 1719 vs my 1544 ),but here, it was probably due more to the intense desire to win on my part, plus the speed at which he moved ( he had 42 minutes left to my 6 !) : a good game to show in a later post.

T50 Openings Summary

In TL overall, what were the openings played this time around ? and was there a significant difference from a year ago ?

Generally, the answer is no, as the most popular opening is still the Sicilian in all its variations, grabbing 17% of all TL games played.

Again, just like T47, inside this general Sicilian, its the Alapin and Closed variations that are most played individually. White players either don't want to enter Black's favourite lines, or perhaps they think that by not playing an Open version it gives them the best chance.

However, comparing T47 and T50 , there's a surprise : there are actually fewer Sicilians played now !

What has happened ? Easy, Black is now playing e6 and c6 much more often in reply to e4, ending up in the French or Caro-Kann.

The French doesn't quite match the increase in games of the Caro-Kann, but remains the second most popular opening played. Maybe the GingerGM  and his French Defence DVD is to blame !

The Caro-Kann is now the third most popular opening played ( up from 5th most popular in T47).

It is played 50% more than in T47, and now 1...c6 has a 47% result ( compared to 43% in T47 ) providing Black with 40 wins and 21 draws out of 108 games. Not that bad at all, maybe I should take it up !

The rest of the top 10 remains more or less the same, with the biggest change being more Queen's Pawn games with the Trompowsky or Torre Attack ( definitely didn't feature much in T47)  and a decline in the use of the English : 1.c4.

Another mover up the ranks was the Grünfeld Defence, which doubled in its use, but still represents a small  2% of total games.

As before, you can find a huge mix of openings in the rest from Nimzo-Indian's through Bogo-Indian's down to the single game featuring the Falkbeer Counter Gambit : this time, unlike T47, it was a Black win !

                                                                   Openings in T50

ECO Range Description Games(%)
B20-B59 Sicilian (Taimanov/Kan/Classical/Closed/Alapin/Wing Gambit) 175 (13)
C00-C19 French Defence 141 (10)
B10-B19 Caro-Kann 124 (9)
D30-D69 Queen's Gambit Declined 90 (6)
A10-A39 English 82 (6)
C60-C99 Spanish Game 62 (4)
D00-D05 Queen's Pawn ( General ) 53 (4)
E60-E99 King's Indian Defence 53 (4)
B60-B99 Sicilian (Richter-Rauser/Najdorf/Scheveningen/Dragon) 50 (4)
D10-D19 Slav Defence 47 (3)
A45-A50 General Queen's Pawn, Trompowsky and Torre Attack  44 (3)

For those interested, all games were re-indexed in Chess Assistant, just like those for T47, so I could compare them. The Opening classification ranges ( ie to group ECO codes), I borrowed from Chessville (many thanks :)

See also T50 Addendum and T50 Short Games.