Post by William Hyde Post by Kevrob Post by Lynn McGuire Post by William Hyde Post by Gene Wirchenko
On Fri, 7 Jun 2019 12:11:18 -0700 (PDT), William Hyde
Post by William Hyde
"What if I just make a move that makes no sense at all, wouldn't you be baffled?"
It depends on how well you play chess. If not well, such a move
If you play so badly that all moves baffle you, then perhaps. But then your attempt is superfluous. Better to baffle with a move that actually accomplishes something.
In my earlier years I played many moves that made no sense at all - though not intentionally. I don't recall any of my opponents being baffled. I recall them being happy.
Ah ! We played the same people. Happy to trounce us.
I can remember 15-year-old me, at a summer program at Georgetown
University for high school debaters, playing chess with someone
I'd just met, just one of the fellow debaters. We were all
hanging around in one of the dorm rooms, somebody had a board,
and I took my turn at pushing the wood around. Aside from a period
when I was 12-13 years old, when some of my 7th and 8th grade class-
mates and I brought pocket sets to school and played while eating lunch,
I did not play often. Neither did I read chess books. I would look
at the chess problem in the newspaper sometimes, and I followed the
Spassky-Fisher matches that were going on in Iceland while we were
in DC. Chess was a bit of a fad that year, but a dorm full of
debaters, original orators and ex temp speakers would naturally have
its subsets of chess nerds, sf fen, comics fans, politics junkies,
military tabletop gamers, Latin students, etc.
I was "developing" my position when some kibbitzer announced that
my ..defense...?...was "trash."
I am familiar with this kind of "expert". One who has learned the names and the received wisdom about various openings, and confuses this with an understanding.
A weakish player I met in a tournament long ago never ceased to criticize his opponent's openings. "Look at this", he would say, "look how badly he played the Leningrad Dutch".
But they guy who played the Leningrad Dutch so badly nevertheless beat him. As did most of his opponents, though they mostly played the opening badly.
I was being placed in the role of arbiter because I was much, much, stronger than either and it was assumed that a player of my level absolutely must know the openings well. But I barely knew what the Leningrad Dutch was.
I never knew the openings well. Below master level, I never found that to be a handicap. Far better to invest your time in actually understanding the game itself. But this is a minority opinion.
I was surprised. I knew that there
Post by Kevrob
were probably guys in the room who could kick my butt in 10 moves,
and, so far as I could tell, I hadn't made any blunders, that I
could see, yet.
It turned out that Joe Expert thought I was playing a defense
associated with Siegbert Tarrasch, a great player from the late
19th, early 20th century.
It's probably a received wisdom case. The Tarrash has been mostly out of favour since about 1910. But there's really nothing wrong with it and ultra-strong players like Spassky have brought it back from time to time, even in world championship play.
Such openings are especially good to play against people like your commentator who "know" it's a poor opening, and play overconfidently against it.
On a far more refined level, the young Fischer seems to have thought there was something wrong with the Caro Kann defense. In ultra-strong events people who never played the Caro were playing it against him. Of course, it didn't take him long to wise up.
Post by Kevrob
I have no idea where I absorbed whatever principles that led
me to try doing this, or some lousy version of it.
It's a sensible set of moves, played by many people before Dr. Tarrasch, who worked it out in greater detail, popularized it, and fit it into his theoretical scheme. That you played it shows that you were thinking reasonably.
In playing this defense black accepts a permanent weakness, his queen pawn, in return for more active pieces. So it's a question of style, really. Tarrasch always thought that a little extra mobility could compensate for a fixed weakness - it's one of his major contributions to chess theory. Rubenstein and Schlechter devised a system to minimize the freedom and emphasize the weakness, which more or less drove the Tarrasch out of tournament play for a generation.
Thanks, William, for giving me what is probably more credit than I deserved.
What peeved me about the "trash" fellow is that he was NOT my opponent, and
that since all in the room were new acquaintances. I was a pretty
inexperienced player, and if I had done something clever, I didn't need this
supposed maven tipping off my actual opponent, who might have a practiced
counter to the defense filed away in his brain, that he would then deploy,
the possibility that I was following a master's advice being pointed out
The way I was acculturated to chess playing, you never assumed kibitzing
was to be tolerated. If I was playing my best friend Dave at lunch before
we went out for recess in 8th grade, and my buddy Owen wanted to kibitz,
we might let him. We also might suggest he challenge one of the other guys
who played, and worry about his own game!
Heck, some of my uncles played a pretty mean game of checkers/draughts,
and I learned pretty early from them to mind my tongue watching them play.
The summer months were when our related families would gather to populate
small, unheated bungalows near the beach in a Long Island North Shore
village, on a harbor on the Sound, and board games were a major
after dark activity, as we sat on the screened-in porches, catching
the breeze off the water. No air conditioning in those little houses.
A radio playing the baseball game or some music in the background?
Sure. It was years before we bothered to bring a portable TV with us.
Also required: the daily newspapers my Dad brought back from town
on his way back from his job, and stacks of library books. Any bad
weather that kept us off the beach, or from "running through the
woods like a pack of hooligans" [/Mom] or other such outdoorsy pursuits
like playing ball were to be dealt with by reading and playing games.
At our "year-round house" on the South Shore, when I was high school
boy, I actually read most of "Dune" sitting on the front porch while
torrential rains battered our village for several days. When called
inside, for a meal or some other reason, I actually was surprised at
how wet everything smelled and felt, once I was mentally disconnected
from the sands of Arrakis!
There's no front porch where I live, now, but there's a large
covered landing for the back stairs, big enough for a chair,
a barbecue grill and a radio. There's a lot of shade from the
leaves of many trees. It can serve.