The Chess Thread

Other notes:

  • My favorite player of all time is Petrosian. Guy was a monster. And so refreshingly different.
  • Bulldancer: I’m 100% sure you don’t “get” Capablanca. If you really understood what he did and why, you’d be rated 2500 minimum.
  • Petroff surely didn’t fall out of favor because of being “overly drawish”. If you took any real high ranked player and told him he’d get a sure draw with black against someone rated the same, he’d take it. Petroff fell out of favor because people found ways around it and black has zero counterplay. You just sit there and pray white can’t crack you.
  • Sicilian can be played rather passively. All openings are schizophrenic - and always depend on both players actions. You can call the Queens Gambit a passive opening and I’ll tell you to study some Marshall games. Generally though, yes, the Sicilian is regarded as a rather aggressive opening.
  • What did Nakamura say about Kasparov?.? I must’ve missed something.

^ Does Black have any sort of ability to force closed games?

I need more practice on those types of games on black…

I don’t know how to create an advantage on a board where everything is well protected…

No, neither party can force closed games. That’s why you learn how to handle open positions first -
It’s much more likely for you to be able to force a position open than to force an open one to close.

At your level it’s not a matter of creating advantages, but of not creating disadvantages.
If your opponent doesn’t actually “play”, plus you’re black, yes it’s hard.
What it comes down to is putting your pieces to better squares and looking for weakpoints in the opponents camp, then abusing those.
Badly protected pawns, difficult to defend wings, weak squares (be that specific ones or a whole colour complex), stuff like this.
There’s a load of books on this, but as I said: Rather bother with Tactics and Endgames.
Even if it comes down to a closed middlegame and just masstrading pieces afterwards (thus you being unable to apply any tactics),
it’s extremely easy to win theoretically drawn endgames against weaker opponents -
actually for the most part this is more likely to score you a win than wild races on both kings where one mistake can cost you the game.

Unbalanced pieces (eg: knight/knight vs bishop/knight; bishop/bishop vs knight/knight; bishop/knight vs rook/pawn; etc) make winning against weaker opponents (usually those are the ones who refuse any activity) much easier as long as you know when which piece got the advantage -
e.g. against a weaker opponent in a semiclosed position it’d be viable to close the position completely (he’ll be happy with that), then exchange both your bishops for both his knights and abuse the fact that knights are much stronger than bishops in closed positions.
Be careful with that though - if you can’t keep the position the way you want it to be (in our example: you missed something and he got an easy way to open the position), you can quickly drift onto the losing side.

Any line in particular you’re worried about? The Petroff avoids a lot of typical White responses.

And yeah, I think the Elephant Gambit is trash for Black. It’s very easy to refute with a variety of responses and a minimum of theory.

You realize the part in bold essentially means learning a few hundred pages’ worth of theory…at least?!

If Black plays 2…Nf6, he only needs to learn

-Petroff (Two main variations with 3. Nxe5 and 3. d4)

If Black plays 2…Nc6, he needs to learn

  • Ruy Lopez Berlin Defense
  • Open Ruy Lopez
  • Exchange Ruy Lopez
  • Scotch Gambit
  • Scotch Game (I play this as White, and there are a TON of lines; Mieses, Scotch Four Knights, etc.)
  • Goering Gambit
  • Ponziano Opening
  • Four Knights’ Opening
  • Italian

Quite a huge difference, no?

That’s nonsense. If Capablanca were around right now, he would barely even be rated 2500 FIDE, himself.

I never implied that it did. It fell out of favor at the highest levels because there are variations White can play to get a steady advantage against the Petroff. You’re correct about that.

However, for a 2000-2200 player trying to play for a win, it’s worth noting that the Petroff will decrease your chances of doing so.

That he was the best ever at openings, but there were better players for both middlegames and endgames.

That’s accurate though right? But I think Kasparov was leaps and bounds better than most in closing out games.

Black can win rather easily in the absolute main line of the Petroff which basically pits his better structure against white’s piece activity. The problem is white will deviate earlier 90% of the time, eg 5. Nc3 is very popular and Black has hardly any winning chances in that.

2… Nc6 will teach you more about chess.

Yeah if you’re a 2000 rated player that wants to go for the FM title, you’re right on that.
At 1300-1500 level, games get decided by fundamentals and you don’t need to know shit about any theory.
Doesn’t really help you to learn a few hundred pages worth of theory, get out +0.6 from the opening, then lose a pawn which you didn’t see was attacked.
I know ~1850 rated players whose opening knowledge is limited to “pawns and pieces towards the center, develop asap, castle”. It’s sufficient.
When you’re at 1800-2000 level and hit the wall where people start outplaying you in the opening badly and not doing terrible mistakes afterwards,
you can still go and delve into opening theory - and by then your playstyle will have matured and you can start looking at which opening would actually fit you,
rather than going by “this isn’t much to learn so I’ll just play it”. Telling a beginner to change his opening from something other than open games,
or rather: delve into any sort of opening theory passing the basic principles is the worst thing you can do, it does nothing but hinder their development.


What exactly other than openings would Capablanca be worse enough at than current (crassly inflated) 2500 rated players to not be able to learn it rather quickly given his unprecedented chess sense?
There is a reason he was called the chess machine. There is a reason nobody after him was given that title.

I don’t even think “best” is really quantifiable, let alone when going by such stupid brackets like “opening / middle- / endgame”. I don’t think Nakamura believes that, either. It’s all highly position dependent. There’s middlegame positions where Tal would have wrecked anybody on this planet, there’s middlegame positions where Karpov would have demolished him, there’s middlegame positions where both of them would’ve gotten rocketed by Kasparov. There are endgames which Carlsen plays without a peer, but there are some where Petrosian would’ve taken him apart. It’s a pretty… senseless statement.
Aside from that, as long as he doesn’t state he himself is better, I don’t see how this is “disrespectful” or even “arrogant”. Even if he DID state he was better, it wouldn’t be. It’s an opinion, not an insult. If C.Ronaldo were to say “Messi got the best control over the ball while at topspeed I’ve ever seen, but he is lacking at headers and long distance shots, I’m better at those two than he is”, would that be disrespectful, arrogant, or anything of the sort (yeah, this is a bad example because it’s actually the truth and the Nakamura statement is highly debatable, but you catch my drift)?

Yeah, that’s what I was getting at.
Of course you can play some obscure gambits like the Latvian, learn 30 moves of the mainlines and then win a buttload of games at lowlevel because people can’t handle the opening whatsoever and as long as you don’t blunder a piece it’s going to be an easy ride.
However, you don’t learn shit about actually playing chess and as soon as someone knows anything about the opening you are playing some piece of shit which makes you get in a worse position, PLUS your opponent is going to be better at actually playing so you’re going to hit a smashing wall.

If you learn how to play open games, you can apply the general principles of what you’re learning to pretty much anything that’s coming up in your later chess career.

I’d rather learn chess than going for extreme short term success by throwing all fundamentals in the wind and just praying my opponent runs some harsh blunders where I learned by heart on how to punish them. And I’m definitely not going to advertise the latter.

Depends on who you’re playing. I’ve beaten solid 2200s with the Petroff. Winning as Black only becomes really hard at the 2300+ level from what I’ve seen.

I’m strong enough to know that it’s definitely true for endgames. I can rattle off a dozen players that were better at the endgame than Kasparov. I’m not nearly strong enough to assess Kasparov’s middlegame play, though. I think he’s one of the very best, but the absolute best? Who knows…

You might be correct about the rating inflation. It’s a huge hypothetical, anyways. Capa’s openings sucked, and his style of play was antiquated by the 1930s, but he was one of the best endgame players ever, and had amazing, unconventional middlegame play.

*Cue historical spiel

Capablanca was a tremendous genius and legendary player, but along with Morphy, one of the most disgustingly overrated players, too. Some people actually believe he was the greatest ever (which he isn’t even close to by any reasonable metric) or that he would be a force today (haha).

When he was world champion and still in his mid 30s, he was STILL finishing 2nd place in top international tournaments to a Lasker in his mid 50s. (New York 1924 being a great example) Also, in the prime of his career, at the age of 39, he lost to a 37 year old Alekhine in an extremely long match for the titles.

Yet, somehow, his defenders gloss over the fact that in the absolute prime of his career (from 1911-1928) Capablance was only the second best tournament player to Lasker (who was PAST his prime by that point, and 20 years older than Capa), and the second best match player to Alekhine, who was virtually the same age.

They also gloss over how poorly Capa did in the 1930s, (still in his 40s at the time, an age when guys like Alekhine or Lasker were still dominant world champions…) when he had to face a new generation of stronger, more well-rounded, dangerous players like Botvinnik, Lilenthal, Flohr, Keres, etc. Or how he was slipping against these guys by the mid 1930s, and his disastrous performance at the legendary 1938 AVRO tournament.

*end historical spiel

I agree. You’re right about the rest of the stuff, too. Ultimately, it is a huge over-exaggeration.

I agree with the general sentiment, but lumping in the Petroff with the Latvian Gambit is nuts! The Latvian Gambit leads to a lot of weird positions with very one-dimensional, limited tactical ideas.

The Petroff will teach you a lot about various positions, endgames, and everything from attacking and defending in sharp games to squeezing a small edge in an endgame. You’re not going to be any worse off in that regard by playing the Petroff instead of 2…Nc6.

What I meant is 2…Nc6 (mainly the Ruy Lopez/Spanish game) leads to a wider variety of pawn structures. You get closed Ruy Lopez structures, open Ruy Structure, the exchange variation structure, King’s Indian type structures, modern Benoni ones, Czech Benoni, Najdorf/Sveshnikov type structures with d6 e5 pawn chain and a hole on d5, the central pawn majority, etc. The Petroff won’t really let you experience these.

That’s true.

However, you will also face 1. d4 a fair amount as Black, and personally, I played 1. e4 as White, which leads to all the same structures, except from the other side of the board. You’re not limiting your range of positions solely by playing the Petroff in response to 1. e4.

The Petroff is still an open game and an actually critically acclaimed opening, thus my points don’t hold up 100%. That was mostly directed at the “Elephant Gambit” suggestion and the likes. Petroff is a worse choice simply because of why you made it out to be a better one (there’s a gazillion more variations that white and black can choose from following 2. …Nc6).
QGD leads to different structures than Petroff and Ruy alike, plus particularly at a lower level, 1.e4 is much more prevalent, so I wouldn’t count on that. If you decide to take the “open games” structures a step further and play the Tarrasch in response to 1.d4, that’s entirely different structures (QIPs are hella scarce in the open games).


He isn’t for the simple reason that he had a severe lack of talent in one of the most important areas - “being able to work hard”. From what I’ve gathered - if you were to divide playing strength by the amount of work put in, he’d be the strongest player ever indeed.

Not hyping him; as I said - that’s a branch of talent in itself which he simply lacked. But there is a reason why Alekhine denied him a rematch - if you take a look at the match, it really mostly comes down to Alekhine outplaying him in the opening because he worked massively for that match and after that holding on (which is a feat in itself!). And no, with ‘reason’ I don’t mean that FIDE-crap people sprout from time to time. It comes down to Alekhine possibly not only denying Capablanca a rematch, but also denying the chess world the strongest player of all time - as I’m fairly sure Capa wouldn’t have gotten into the rematch with the same lax attitude (“let me play all 3 challengers at the same time”), but actually try to win this time.

Generally, how quick ones level drops doesn’t tell anything about peak strength. There have always been players which played at a tremendous level for decades (Lasker, Karpov) and ones which had a quick rise but only a short frame of fame (Fischer, Kasparov). I wouldn’t call the latter bracket the worse players (and I don’t think anyone would).

I’m not sure about that. There are a lot of “myths” about Capablanca which are either anachronistic accounts at best, or total bullshit at worst.

Capablanca DID put in a ton of work into chess. The supposed stories of him not studying hard are largely unsubstantiated, and rarely stand up to scrutiny, especially when you notice he would change up his opening repertoire, adapt certain new ideas into his play, etc.

Alekhine was obviously way better at the opening, but in the context of an enormously long match (34 games!), it’s not enough to win, especially by the significant margin he did. (6 wins, 3 losses)

Also, note that Capablanca was better at endgames, which largely makes up for his failings in the opening.

The deciding factor was that Alekhine was outplaying Capa in the middlegame a lot, too.

It makes sense; Alekhine’s game was more evolved, sophisticated, and advanced, and he generally did better head-to-head against the new wave of players in the 1930s.

The examples you use to support this argument are very bad ones. Fischer vanished from the chess world at the peak of his powers, so we have no idea how long he would have been an elite player.

As for Kasparov, he only had a “short frame of fame”? Huh?! He was world champion for over 15 years, one of the longest reigns ever, during one of the most competitive eras for chess ever.

Not only that, but Kasparov was an elite, top 2-3 player when he retired at 43, and would probably still crack the top 5 today, at almost 50 years old. Considering how much more difficult and competitive the top level of chess is today than back in the 1930s, that’s a hundred times more impressive than the modest results Capablanca had in his 40s.

Ultimately, what you’re completely ignoring is that Capablanca was elite for a much shorter period of time because his STYLE couldn’t stand up to the new, better players of the 1930s.

Capa didn’t magically become worse against the same players he was beating up in the 1910s and 1920s; players like Bernstein, Mieses, Marshall, old Tarrasch, and Nimzovich.

No, the problem is that he was doing much worse against the new, much stronger generation of foes; Botvinnik, Keres, Flohr, Euwe, Lilenthal, and even Fine.

He didn’t suddenly grow ten times weaker from the time he was 35 to the time of 40; his competition just got way better!

Ironically I play the Petroff alot…

Wow… that’s the correct answer to a King Pawn opening?(That’s the most theoryless opening I can use?), I didn’t even know this had a name to it…

If my pawn doesn’t get taken, is it best to turn it into a four knights game?

Of course he did. I’m stating he put less work in. Which eg gets shown by what you yourself posted: “Capa’s openings sucked, and his style of play was antiquated by the 1930s”. He didn’t really evolve at any point.

Just ask yourself why Fischer requested all that Bullshit against Karpov.

I’ll give you that ‘short reign of fame’ is an off wording for Kasparov. I didn’t specifically mean peak strength, but general contesting at the highest level. Kasparov gained the WC title and quit competitive chess 21 years later. 21 years after Karpov had gotten his WC title, he smashed Linares in what quite possibly was the strongest tournament performance of all time. Karpov played competitive chess for pretty much 20 years longer than Kasparov did.
It was a pretty stretchy statement because I’m so used to comparing Kasparov and Karpov (see also here, third graph) - of course Kasparov can’t really get thrown in a pot with Fischer, that was my bad.

His competition played way differently than he was used to, and as I stated, he never picked up the things that this new generation brought to chess - aside from the fact that I don’t even really know why you make it sound like he got crushed by them left and right, when in fact he kept placing in the top spots at tournaments until his retirement in '39.
I also doubt that if Capablanca was as weak as you make him out to be, he’d be the player resembling Rybkas choices the most - then again, Houdini would probably be a better pick.

Did you read any of my posts :shake:

^ Yeah, use basic openings…

e4 e5, … Nc6

I’ll try it both ways…

Seriously though, the Scotch game is multiple books by itself… if I’m going to play an opening, I want to play it properly…

I’ll bounce around between the two…

I’m not reading any theory though… trying to apply it in my games has been absolutely disastrous…

White having the first move makes those “rush for the center” type openings more advantageous for white than black imo… but again I’ll try it your way…

Would the King’s Indian Defense be the best response for d4? I tend to use this one alot…

Well, Lasker’s openings sucked even more than Capablanca’s, but few would argue about the former’s devotion to the game!

Anyways, if we’re going purely by hours put into the game, Botvinnik probably put in way less time than any other world champion. He learned the game at a relatively late age, 11, took an entire year off when he was only 15, and would then periodically take long sabbaticals, at one point 3 years from 1948-1951, away from the game.

Hey, I agree with you that Fischer recognized Karpov as a credible threat and was looking for a way out.

But that in no way discounts my point. He’s a poor example of “short prime” because he retired IN his prime, and we never got to see at what point he would be beaten, and by whom. Whereas with Capablanca, we know who he was surpassed by, and how soon from his prime. (Very soon in his case, way moreso than virtually any other world champion…)

You’re using some really silly metrics and obtaining a wrong conclusion as a result. Karpov was a top 10 player from 1971-1998. 27 years. Kasparov was a top 5 player from 1981 to his retirement in 2005. That’s 24 years.

I don’t know where you get that Karpov had a vastly longer career at the top than Kasparov did. They were at the top for virtually the same number of years (27 versus 24 years), except Kasparov was number 1 for more years, and was usually in the top 3, while Karpov was barely in the top 10 near the end.

He wasn’t crushed by them left and right until the 1938 AVRO tournament, but the 1930s were a marked difference from Capablanca’s dominance in the 1910s and 1920s. Far from being an unbeatable machine, he was just another top player. Not the best one, either.

I never said he was “weak”. I even called him a “tremendous genius and legendary player”. (Sounds like the exact opposite of “weak” to me!)

I’m just saying that his reputation in some circles is overblown. He is certainly not the best by any meaningful measure.

You won’t be able to play any opening properly anyways. Going by the opening fundamentals will carry you a long way.
The best way to develop in chess is by taking the route that the game itself took.

  1. Learning how to mate the naked king with rook/queen
  2. Not randomly blundering pieces anymore
  3. Pushing the kings pawn for the sole reason of opening lines, doing random stuff to mate
  4. Learning how to play pawn endgames
  5. Learning the importance of development
  6. Learning the importance of king safety
  7. Learning the importance of center control via pawns
  8. Learning about pawn structures
    … etc
    Then at like 138) there’s “taking a quick glace at opening theory”

Actually it’s a rather bad choice. Again, you don’t even understand the very basics of pawn formations and center control via pawns; how are you going to even remotely understand the hypermodern school of thought?
I’d advise you to play the Tarrasch. It leads to asymmetrical positions with a crucial positional mark which will be a recurrent theme for many games to come (the “isolated queen pawn”), forcing you to learn how to play such positions. It features lots of open lines and active piece play.It can also lead to symmetrical positions with a load of tension in the center, making for an easy headstart to rather closed positions and when (and how) to open them.

Haven’t looked much into Botvinnik - it just always struck me as amazing how Capablanca made chess seem easy. There’s little to no fanciness - just solid middlegames and then ruining his opponents the farther the game went on.

I guess we can agree to disagree here. I say “short prime” regardless of whether someone becomes obviously worse or leaves voluntarily without actually playing. Prime is not just something based on player skill, but also backed by tournament results. If you just stop playing, you can’t say you’re still as good (if alone because your strength will naturally decline due to lack of competition).

Umm I quoted that off the top of my head. I’ll look into it again - if I’m indeed calling on wrong sources, my apologies.

I agree with you on that - however, you made it sound like he wasn’t “one of the best”, either. Possibly a misunderstanding.

Yes, his play grew worse. But who was better, really?

Looking at his tourney placings from '30 till AVRO, he placed behind…
Euwe (2), Thomas (1), Flohr (3), Botvinnik (1), Lasker (1), Reshevsky (1), Keres (1), Fine (1)
times each, while landing in front of each of them multiple times as well (plus winning a match against Euwe in 31).
He surely wasn’t dominating anymore, but calling him weaker than every one of them seems pretty off.

I think that’s a pretty horrible way to improve, actually! Following the path that chess took to get to its present location is an enormous waste of time, and means completely erasing previous knowledge and beginning from square one as soon you hit a higher level.

It’s enormously inefficient and a great way to become permanently stuck at a level below even 2000. Besides, opening theory existed and was explored extensively from the very beginnings of chess. The Ruy Lopez for instance, which was first found and investigated in the 16th century.

Also, I should note that many top players today (like Carlsen) have never even seriously looked at games by greats of the past like Lasker or Capablanca.

Heh, I used to play the Tarrasch as a kid and even won the few tournament games where I used it. However, there are just too many strong counters to the Tarrasch; generally, I like to play openings that can work for a lifetime, not just a certain level. There’s a reason you almost never see the Tarrasch at a respectable level of play, despite how many anti-QGD responses there are.

Heh, I have never understood why anyone described Capablanca’s game as “easy”. To me, he is one of the most confusing, unorthodox players ever. His strategies and ideas were unbelievably bizarre and complex.

He is one of the best. Every world champion is, even Euwe.

Lasker was almost 70 years old and hardly a part of the new generation of the 1930s. Sir George Thomas was never an elite player, period. Somehow you’ve ignored Lilenthal though, who certainly was. As for the others, obviously in 1930, when many of them were still teenagers (back then, without computers, chess players hit their primes much later), and Capablanca was only two years removed from winning the championship, he was still a little better.

The point was, against much better opposition, Capablanca was still great, but no longer the best, and his results and losses bear this out. Also, Capa rarely played in tournaments in the 30s, and when he did, they were often weaker, second-rate ones without all the world’s best players, especially Alekhine

However, here are the major international tournaments of the 1930s where Capa did play and how he did;

Hastings 1934-1935

1-3. Salo Flohr 6.5 points
1-3. Max Euwe 6.5 points
1-3. Sir George Thomas 6.5 points (again, not even an elite player!)
4. Capablanca 5.5 points

Moscow 1935-

1-2. Mikhail Botvinnik 13 points
1-2. Salo Flohr 13 points
3. Lasker, 12.5 points (at 67 years old!!!)
4. Capablanca, 12 points

Moscow 1936-

1. Capablanca 13 points
2. Mikhail Botvinnik, 12 points
3. Salo Flohr, 9.5 points
4. Andor Lilenthal, 9 points

Nottingham 1936-

1-2. Mikhail Botvinnik, 10 points
1-2. Capablanca, 10 points
3-5. Fine, 9.5 points
3-5. Reshevsky, 9.5 points
3-5. Euwe, 9.5 points

Semmering-Baden 1937-

  1. Paul Keres 9 points
  2. Reuben Fine 8 points
    3-4. Samuel Reshevsky 7.5 points
    3-4 Capablanca 7.5 points

AVRO 1938

Complete standings, top to bottom

1-2. Paul Keres, 8.5 points
1-2. Reuben Fine 8.5 points
3. Mikhail Botvinnik 7.5 points
4-6. Alexander Alekhine 7 points
4-6. Max Euwe 7 points
4-6. Samuel Reshevsky 7 points
7. Capablanca 6 points (lost more games than he won)
8. Salo Flohr 4.5 points

So there you have it. In the 1930s, in elite tournaments, Capa won a clear first place, tied for first place, tied for 3rd and 4th, had two clear 4th places, and then finished second to last (7th).

Overall, excellent results, but a far cry from his domination in the 1910s and 1920s, when only Lasker did better in tournament play.

Instead, in the 1930s, both Paul Keres and Mikhail Botvinnik were doing better in tournaments (both of whom hadn’t even remotely hit their primes), and Euwe, Reshevsky, Alekhine, and Fine were doing just as well as Capablanca did.

Capa was still a top 10 guy, maybe even top 5 around 1934-1935, but no longer the feared legend he used to be.

Not exactly sure how impressive that was, either. Euwe in 1931 was a LOT weaker than the Euwe in 1935 who shocked an alcoholic Alekhine, and Capablanca squeaked by him (by standards back then) with 2 wins and 8 draws. Consider that Euwe was not even considered a top 5 guy in 1931, either.

Yeah that tarrasch is gdlk… against people who cant play against. Kingside is mad vulnerable on black … got blown up many a Time for using the sshit against folks that knew what they were doing lol typing on this kindle SUCKS…