When I started paying serious attention to improve my Chess back in March, one of the things I identified was to learn a few common openings so I don’t get outplayed in the opening itself.
I have only played two openings since that time – Queen’s Gambit for white, and Sicilian Defense for black.
I have not been outplayed in the opening in a long time, so I am satisfied about achieving my original goal, but I can do better in learning the correct responses to some of the moves my opponent plays, and not have to spend time in calculating in the opening.
For instance, this is a game I played today, and after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4, I hesitated before playing 5.e4.
I want to avoid this in the future, and be certain of moves that I have come across several times in my earlier games.
With that in mind, I am doing a post with all the variations on Queen’s gambit that I have encountered so far, and my preferred responses to them. In this game, 5.e4 is my preferred response, and although it blocks the dark bishop temporarily, I favor it because in the past when I have played Bg4, I have found that I have been forced to trade the bishop for the knight, and lately, I have not liked that option very much.
My opponent played 5…Ne4, and it made me think a long while, and at the end of it I decided to break the pin and play 6.Bd2.
After the game, when I analyzed this with an engine, I found that Bd2 is not recommended and I see myself that this can lead to the knight trading the bishop early on in the game, and pinning the queen which leads to a loss of tempo, so I don’t want to play this anymore.
Instead 6.Qc2 is a much preferred option, and after a move like 6.Qc2 Nd2, I should play 7.Bd3 putting pressure on the knight, and clearing the way for castling. Due to black’s pawn on e6, the light squared bishop is blocked, and can’t pin my knight on f3 and force a ruining of the king side pawn structure, and thus 7.Bd3 instead of 7.Be2 is better.
In case 7.Bd3 Nxc3 then 8.bxc4 dxc4 9.Bxc4 Be7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Bb2 is good.
The following game made me think quite a bit in the opening because I have not encountered this before, I was glad to see that I made sound moves at least till move 5 but then 5…c4 totally confused me because I wasn’t sure about giving up my d pawn for a c pawn, but eventually decided on 6.e3 so that I could recapture and still maintain strong pawns at c4 and d4. This eventually did play out in the game, and then my opponent played another novel move Ba6 putting more pressure on the c4 pawn. Here I made a mistake by moving the knight again because I thought Qc7 was coming putting pressure on the c4 pawn, and eventually capturing it. However, the better move is Be2 because Rc1 is an adequate response to Qc2 as Bxc4 can be replied with Nb5 pinning the bishop. Very instructive game.
This is another very instructive game, and the biggest thing I’ve learned from these three games is encouraging black to sacrifice their bishop for the knight, and double the pawns on the c file.
To that extent, 5.Bd2 is an incorrect, and better is e3. Next 7.Be2 is incorrect and Bd3 is better because that is the file it needs to exert pressure on. I moved Be2 to protect the knight from the bishop on b7 and not allow my pawn structure to be ruined but it is not necessary as the Queen is doing a good enough job of protecting the knight and it has e5 as a flight square.
This is another instructive game, and the most surprising thing to me is that while I thought b6 is a rarely played move, my opponents played this four times in a row and I failed to take notice of this. I played this per theory till move five, and at six, I should have played Bd3 instead of Be2 as mentioned earlier. Further, as said earlier the response to c5 is to let him take it and continue development instead of dxc4 which I played in the game. The developing move Bd2 is much more powerful.
Another game where b6 was played! I’m beginning to wonder if I have been blind to all my games! I more or less followed what I have written here in this game, and I am also quite amazed to see how inconsistent my responses are and how bad that is given I only ever play one opening.
The computer is suggesting all the moves I have already discussed with the addition of e4 at some point pretty quickly, and also Nd2 as a protector of the e4 and c4 pawns, and then of course it does suggest e4 fairly quickly as black has no pawns on the fifth rank, and is conceding a space advantage.
Now here’s an opening that is really not played that often, and the idea here that I learned from prior games is to grab the d5 square for the pawn as soon as c5 is presented as an opening, and the later analysis shows that all the subsequent moves are correct. Although a4 is suggested by the computer in response to a6 as a means to stop b5 and space gain by black.
This next game is also very instructive because when c6 is played, I instinctively take on d5 but the correct move is e3 to open up my bishop and allow Bxc4 if dxc4. Further Bd3 is better than Bd2 because his bishop is blocked by the f5 pawn. Also, Qb3 is recommended in this structure hitting his b7 and d5 pawn and allowing a capture in the middle game.
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This next game is instructive because here I don’t want to do what the computer suggests because after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 the computer suggests 3.Nf3 whereby 3…dxc4 4.e3 b5 5.a4 e6 6.axb5 cxb5 7.Nc3 Bd2 offers white an advantage and a dynamic position, but I don’t think I am at a level where I can pull this off, so I still feel that the way for me to go is to respond to c6 with e3.
This is a crazy game because hardly anyone plays e5 to d4 and I lost this to a much lower rated player in eleven moves so it shows how effective shock can be!
The idea behind this opening for white is to take the e5 pawn, but not to hang on to it but rather encourage a trading of queens, and trapping white’s king in the center.
So, after 1.d4 e5 2.dxe5 e6 3.Nf3 Nc3 4.e4 Nxe5 5.Nxe5 dxe5 6.Qxd8 Kxd8
I was looking for a game like this in my archives and it took quite a while to stumble across one. In the tournament I played in one of the games c5 was played, and I wasn’t sure what the right response was. The correct response is cxd5, and then dxc5 and clear the middle files for activity. I didn’t play that in the game, but the computer suggests it.