My Chess Area
My Present USCF rating: 1230
I started playing chess when I was 7 years of age. My brother Merl (who doesn't really care for it now) taught me how to play - my father taught him. My Uncle Carl is a very good player also. I find chess to be a challenge to learn and become versed in. It is a relatively easy thing to learn how the pieces move on the board and the rules of the game - they are not that cumbersome. The next stage in a players developement might be to appreciate the respective values of the pieces themselves and to develop some sort of aesthetic for the differences and relative importance of the bishops and knights. Once these things are understood one might endeavour to learn the tactics of chess. Chess tactics include the fianchettoing of bishops, the infamous "pinning" of a piece, sacrifices, controling the center, mastering the endgame and such.
It is a later developement (where I myself am now) to understand the underlying theory of different openings, and the mid-game strategies that are associated with these openings. The opening is the most important part of the game, it sets the stage for one's chance of success. It is most definitely true that the opening can "make or break you".
Bishop vs. Knight
In some games the knights will be eminently more important than the bishops, in other games vice versa and still yet others there will be no real difference. I have found through experience that it is an incorrect thing to ascribe to these pieces set values, though in general it is a more often than not occurance that these pieces will range between the value of a pawn and of a rook. In one of my favorite defences, the Stonewall, knights play a critical role for both sides and the bishops are tangential. In other defences, such as the French, bishops will play a more prominent role.
When I first began to play chess, I learned to play with the opening of e4. My position always seemed to turn into the four knights game and became boring and repetitive. Later, I switched to the queen's gambit and it held my favor for quite a long time. Alas though, my games became boring and repetitive once again. It seems that these openings were so popular that I found my games were lacking any freshness to them. It was because they were the "in" thing and what everyone was playing they also knew the defence against. So I sought out new lines that aren't seen too much in tournaments anymore. I have settled upon three lines that are different from the run-of-the-mill plays and provoke surprise whenever I use them against a class player similar to myself.
The first is the Sicilian Dragon. I myself am a quarter Sicilian, so when I looked for new lines of play, I thought I would check out my heritage. It turns out that I really liked my heritage! When I began to delve into this line, it was a wonderful feeling of refreshment. There are different flavors to the Sicilian as with most other lines, but these varied flavors all had something in common - I wasn't seeing them played in tournaments. This is of course an observation from the standpoint of a class player - not a master. The Dragon seems especially scarce among class players. The book to the left is part of my library and I would recommend it to the player who is seeking untrodden paths to surprise his opponents with. It is a very powerful weapon if handled correctly, but it takes hours upon hours of study, as with any good opening.
The next opening that is scarce indeed is the Dutch. Played in response to d4, where the Sicilian is in response to e4, this defence is joyfully esoteric. It is an old defence that has long since fallen from the experience of most players although many masters use it regularly. It is another surprise weapon for the opponent who is used to the run-of-the-mill lines as I was bored with. The element of surprise can be a powerful thing in any play. It seems I myself am partial to the Stonewall variation, which not only surprises but frustrates the opponent since the center of the board is rendered unplayable. May I call the attention of the reader to the excellent book on the right. It is a very well written book and I would recommend it, as with the Dragon, to the "bored" chess player.
The previous lines were defensive lines, but what about a different offensive? A possible answer could be what I seem to enjoy - the Stonewall Attack. A well fortified stonewall is nearly impregnable. With this attack you can achieve the stonewall formation while playing the white pieces. The book to the left is a very good book for learning this attack plus more and is also recommended.
More to come here! Under construction!