An unexamined life is not worth living.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Opening preparation – how to make a tree

I am not a big fan of opening preparation, it’s never been very easy for me. I enjoy studying the endgame a lot more. At the same time, I must admit that without proper opening knowledge – every game can potentially turn into a lot of suffering. In some openings you may get away with just knowing general ideas, but generally you can’t get away without knowing some precise variations.
Around the year 1998, I lost a speed chess game to a master. I lost it in an embarrassing manner, by getting my rook trapped on move 10 in the opening. I forgot the move order in exchange variation of Slav defence, and there was no return. After the game, the opponent looked at me with understanding, and gave me a very valuable advice (ok, one of the many he gave me). He said – “For every opening you play – you must have a tree. Does not matter how you do it, on paper, on computer, you must have it recorded somewhere”. Indeed, if you don’t bother to record it once, how likely are you ever going to REMEMBER thing?
Computers make it really easy to do this – you can create a database of games that looks like this (you can create it in Chessbase Light 6, and then load in Chessbase light 2007 for viewing – both are free).
In the body of the game, you enter the variations, and then if you do File-Print-Print Repertoire, you can get a nice printout like the screenshot below. It looks just like your own NCO! Store it under your pillow and that way you won’t forget your moves after 23…Rc4 in the Panov attack…
I recently wrote another post on opening preparation that has more to do with the psychological aspects of studying the opening.

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