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ReneDescartes
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Re: Best instructive writing on open positions?
Reply #6 - 08/15/18 at 03:43:11
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About Marin's take on Morphy--when Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe, Botvinnik, and Smyslov each praised Morphy's positional understanding, they were thinking, I believe, of the principles of dynamic play in open positions, not what we would call positional chess, a lot of which, even in open positions, is determined by a deep understanding of the consequences of pawn structure.

Marin, after admitting he fell in love with Anderssen's play, chiefly (and beautifully) analyzes a game where Anderssen starts with 1.a3 and deliberately gets a position that is not an open position (it's more like half-open). Yes, the older, well-experienced European man was more sophisticated positionally in such situations (Morphy also had trouble against Barnes, an English player who produced clogged positions and beat Morphy more than anyone else. All this was known). It is not the world champions' views that Marin really combats, but Reti's mythology of Morphy as the great prophet of fast development, a vision that, like Reti's mythology of Lasker, is pat and emphasizes the wrong points.

But if the elements of Morphy's style were not new, he certainly perfected dynamic play in open positions to a high degree. And he did emphasize certain principles. Beim, in his Morphy book, finds mistakes where Morphy overlooked a winning tactic because he was so focused on bringing new pieces into an ongoing attack; and Franco in his book points out that Morphy often maintained tension in a position as long as possible (this was one way of being aggressive, and it often had the effect of postponing combat until most forces were on the field).

So I don't think Marin's unusual take counts against the idea that Morphy is a useful read for someone seeking principles of play in open positions.
« Last Edit: 08/15/18 at 17:10:01 by ReneDescartes »  
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Stigma
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Re: Best instructive writing on open positions?
Reply #5 - 08/11/18 at 18:46:53
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Thanks guys for all your thoughtful replies! I was half expecting this thread to just descend into oblivion.

You are basically confirming my suspicion that there isn't much recent material on this. But on the other hand a lot of the old material by Keres/Kotov, Euwe/Kramer, (the slightly newer) Marovic and others may still be worth reading.

About miniature books: I looked for Nunn's Grandmaster Secrets: Winning Quickly at Chess in the Gambit Studio app, but surprisingly it's not there. I have Burgess' more encyclopaedic The Quickest Chess Victories of All Time - there should be some good examples there even though finding them is more work.

I'm also reminded of another Nunn book (sort of) that I have but never read: The King Hunt by Cozens, updated by Nunn with many games added some time in the 90s.

Material on the topic "lead in development" is also relevant: I think Hellsten's Mastering Opening Strategy has something on that, and I recall a decent section on the lead in development in symmetrical positions in Colin Crouch: Attacking Technique.

About players: Thanks for the Morphy tip. He's on my radar, but the only material I have on him is Del Rosario's book (very good but geared towards beginners) and Marin's thoughtful chapter in Secrets of Attacking Chess on the real reasons Morphy beat Adolf Anderssen despite Anderssen being in many ways the more sophisticated player.

I also have the entire The Masters series from Everyman on my study plan: Four nice books with tactics from the games of (respectively) Spielmann, Alekhine, Tal and Spassky. My plan is to solve the tactics first and only then go through game collections on/by the same players (The Art of Sacrifice in Spielmann's case). Sort of a compromise because I have realized I'll never find the time to go through the games collections of many of the world champions solitaire/"guess the move" style, which was once my ambition. Anyway, there should be plenty of open positions in the games of those four.

It is hard to think of modern top players who are especially well-known for their play in open positions. Maybe Shirov, but he's not part of the elite anymore. And Kasparov's occasional use of the more open Scotch and even the Evans Gambit instead of the Ruy must mean something. Anyone who plays the Grünfeld regularly as Black is also ready to blow up the centre and play fairly open positions if White plays too slowly. And Morozevich has tried some of the most open defences to 1.d4 possible: The Chigorin and the Albin. But maybe that was more due to their being offbeat and somewhat underestimated at the time than their open character.

Hector is an interesting character: It's a bit impressive that he's that well-known as a creative attacking wizard despite remaining an "ordinary" GM in the 2500-2550 range and not publishing anything on his own games (that I'm aware of; maybe there's something in Swedish).
« Last Edit: 08/12/18 at 00:03:42 by Stigma »  

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Re: Best instructive writing on open positions?
Reply #4 - 08/10/18 at 17:54:32
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Because piece activity/coordination and initiative matter most, i would suggest Rudolf Spielmann - Art of Sacrifice, where these elements triumph over static factors.
Perhaps a book on miniatures - I profitably studied the oddly named, "Grandmaster Secrets : Winning Quickly" by John Nunn.  When a GM loses in 20 moves, it will not be because of a longterm grind.
The old Tartakower book, 500 Master Games is full of slash and burn open games with entertaining notes.  GM Bryan Smith has said that he studied 500MG for many many hours in his youth.  Not a coincidence Smith is strong in open positions.
Among modern players, Jonny Hector is the closest analog to a time-machine Paul Morphy in my opinion.  I have always thought Hector deserves a book devoted to his games.
  

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Re: Best instructive writing on open positions?
Reply #3 - 08/10/18 at 02:56:48
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LeeRoth wrote on 08/10/18 at 02:27:39:
You might try The Art of the Middlegame by Kotov and Keres.  It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at it, but I am dimly remembering that one of the chapters discussed how to play with different types of centers.  It may be old, but it’s a classic!


I was reminded of an Amazon customer review of the Marovic book which included this:  "It is like having a greatly expanded and better organized version of the essay 'Various Pawn Positions in the Center' by Alexander Kotov (in the collection of papers titled 'The Art of the Middlegame' by Kotov and Keres)."  I see that Kotov had a section on the Open Center of about 8 pages, while the Marovic chapter is about 35 pages.
  
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Re: Best instructive writing on open positions?
Reply #2 - 08/10/18 at 02:27:39
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You might try The Art of the Middlegame by Kotov and Keres.  It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at it, but I am dimly remembering that one of the chapters discussed how to play with different types of centers.  It may be old, but it’s a classic!

  
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ReneDescartes
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Re: Best instructive writing on open positions?
Reply #1 - 08/09/18 at 21:08:37
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A couple of thoughts. I was also backwards in my development, i.e. I switched to 1.d4 after learning and using a 1.e4 repertoire book for a while, took a jump and then for a long time struggled relatively in open positions.

I don't know of any books on open positions either, but then Markovich used to say that there just isn't that much strategy, as such, in open positions. He implied that it's mostly just piece play, attacking play, endgame play, etc. Despite that, I found that it was helpful to remember to watch for targets and think backwards from those: within empty regions, to look for points from which pieces might hit those targets and for transit squares through which pieces might get to those points. This, which I got from my own observation, was not natural to me, and when I started doing it, open positions became a lot closer in ease to closed positions for me.

The Euwe-Kramer material (especially on "positional preponderance in the center," i.e. pawns on e4 and d4 vs. e6, or e4 and d4 vs. d6--I just glanced at it--should not be not be that dated, since the strategic themes are quite simple and the piece placements are very fluid in open positions anyway.

Also, it occurs to me that a book on Morphy ought to serve well, since Morphy laid out ideal play in open middlegame positions according to Botvinnik. Franco and Beim have good books from which which I have read games.  I also know good players who studied Bronstein's 200 Open Games, though I don't own it. Also Franco's great book on Spassky, whom one master I know thinks the greatest 1.e4 stylist. Both Spassky and Morphy generally conducted their attacks in such a way as to bring as many reinforcements into the struggle as possible.

A lot of the games in the "advantages of the IQP" sections of IQP books, especially Baburin's, have to do with what to do after the IQP is cleared and White winds up merely with better piece placement, which is, however, often a fatal advantage.

I think endgame study helped me a lot, since the positions are often very open.

Perhaps some material from specific opening books would also be useful--maybe the Open Spanish in Ponzetto and King's Spanish book and  the Goering and Danish gambits, the Two Knights, and so on in Bologan, Marin, and others who have included explanatory chapters in their open-games books.

Together, it seems to me, these materials ought to cover many of the sources which open positions come from.
« Last Edit: 08/10/18 at 00:53:22 by ReneDescartes »  
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Best instructive writing on open positions?
08/07/18 at 22:42:47
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In my junior days, my results only started improving when I moved away from open positions, studied a bit of Nimzowitsch, Silman and Dvoretsky, and started playing closed and especially fluid positions. But to this day I feel uncomfortable when positions open up, even though my tactics are OK for my level. When I try out open games in blitz, I sometimes get crushed by players rated 600 points below me.

So I need to fill this hole in my chess education and understand positions with an open centre better. But it seems many of the good intermediate and advanced strategy books treat this as basic stuff that the reader already knows! Well, I don't, really.

Marovic in Dynamic Pawn Play in Chess has a chapter on the open centre which I should read more closely, but it feels a bit like just a preamble to the real meat of the book. And I'm sure the old strategy classics by Euwe/Kramer and Pachman had chapters on this, but they're, well, old. Something with more modern examples would be welcome. Thankfully there are many good books on attacking play, which is a big part of playing open positions, but there must be more to it than that.

(I have similar problems with IQP positions and "hole in the centre" structures – Stonewall Dutch, Boleslavsky and Sveshnikov Sicilians, Botvinnik System, etc. – but one thing at a time.)
  

Improvement begins at the edge of your comfort zone. -Jonathan Rowson
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