Far away are those days when playing a chess tournament meant arriving to the playing hall and just to discover (of course, on a handwritten pairing sheet) who was your opponent for that round five minutes before the start. Some pioneers dared to call to the referee the previous night, took some opening book and checked some opening which according to some friend was usually played by his next opponent.
I like to wonder how their faces would look like if we got a time machine to go there with a laptop and the OM chess database. Unluckily, or not, we cannot do such a thing, so let’s go back to 2015…
I think we must learn endings and middle game tactic and strategic motifs before thoroughly studying chess openings. Once we have accomplished this task and have started playing tournaments, studying and preparing chess openings is a very important work to do.
I will mention some of the advantages of having a good chess opening repertoire:
-Self confidence, doubts are never a good friend in chess!
-You save time which you could use later on the middle game.
-After the opening, you will still know some of the typical plans in the reached position.
In the following game, even with a huge rating difference, black managed to win with a good and poisoned preparation:
Korneev,Oleg (2602) - Milla de Marco,Carlos (2092) [C41]
Malaga op 8th Campillos (1), 19.02.2005
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 exd4 5.Nxd4 Be7 6.Bf4 0–0 7.Qd2 d5!? Chess is a magic game where you can start with an apparently quiet Philidor and then turn matters crazy with this provocative move. Korneev accepts the challenge.
8.Ndb5 c6 9.Nc7
9…d4 A tricky move which is dubious, but really dangerous for White if he does not know it. Probably Milla had studied it whereas we can guess Korneev had a general idea of it but could not remember completely all the details. We can find out in the OM chess database that Grand Master Nisipeanu gave the first steps on this concrete variation.
10.Nxa8 10.Ne2 is the usual answer if you cannot remember every variation at that moment.
10...dxc3 11.Qxd8 Rxd8 12.bxc3 Nxe4
A crucial moment. Black is offering the knight on b8, intending to play Bf6. Is the attack really dangerous or is Milla bluffing? We must say that, at the moment when this game was played, there were only three games that had arrived to this position and one of them was a rapid game.
13.Bxb8?! The greedy option, which is not very advisable. I can imagine that Milla was very happy now.
One can see in the chess database how after this game was played everybody realized that it is better to play safe for a win with 13.Bd3 Bd6 14.Bxd6 Nxd6 15.0–0–0
13...Bf6 14.Bd3 Bxc3+ 15.Ke2 Bf5 Black is a rook down, but of course the attack is dangerous and White could not save both picturesque pieces in a8 and b8.
16.Bc7 16.Bxa7 was played in Wallner-Webersberger (both of them Masters) in 2011, ending up in a draw.
16...Re8! Milla continues playing very strong moves and I suspect that this was still part of his opening preparation.
17.Rac1? This loses, but finding the correct defense here is something that only a computer chess engine can do.
17.Rae1 was the best option when even then Black will get a better endgame.
17...Nd2+! 18.Kd1 Bg4+ 19.f3 Nxf3 20.Be2 probably Korneev saw this move previously and thought that he survives here, but the next pretty move breaks his hopes.