Wednesday, September 07, 2011

How long?

On Monday I mentioned that I faced e2-e4 in just one of my four games with Black at Twyford. It was a draw against Gorak Rajesh who, after already reaching 152 ECF by the age of ten, will be making quite a name for himself if he's still playing in a couple of years.

Anyhoo, I answered the young fella's king's pawn opening with 1 ... e5. It's not that I've abandoned the French entirely - I had an Interesting French Exchange only a few weeks ago - it's just that I've been trying to expand my horizons a bit recently. Or re-expand, given that I played virtually nothing but open games in response to 1 e4 throughout the 1990s.

I'm hoping that having played 1 ... e5 quite a lot, albeit a decade or two ago, I should be able to get up to scratch with the opening much more quickly than would otherwise have been the case. True or otherwise, as I was pondering the question of how long it takes to learn an opening a passage in the essay on Efim Geller in Genna Sosonko's excellent Russian Silhouettes floated into my mind:-

At the Olympiad in Lucerne in 1982 I talked to him about expanding my opening repertoire. Geller advised me to include the Closed, Chigorin Variation of the Ruy Lopez. I asked him: 'And how much time would be needed to master it?' He thought briefly. 'At your level?' - I used to play regularly at Tilburg and at Wijk aan Zee, the strongest tournaments in the world. 'To compile everything, process, understand and apply it? Well, a year and a half ...'


David Fowler said...

A quick spelling correction - it should be Rajesh, not Rajash.

And I agree that he's someone to look out for - I played him in the round before you, and also got a draw. I had to dodge some awkward tactics, and came close to losing.

Jonathan B said...

Thanks David - amended.

Jonathan B said...

Are you playing at Sunningdale, btw?

David Fowler said...

Not sure - there's a congress at Fareham the following weekend. Can't really manage both, and should probably support the local event. But playing conditions at Sunningdale will probably be better.

Anonymous said...

It's probably a good idea when you change openings to keep the old stuff to wheel out from time to time. Someone who worked for New In Chess who I met in Ghent told me this- not that means it is automatically true. The need to be less predictable seems to be more important now that you are regularly playing e2e4 events as you will start to get quite a body of games available to opponents to prepare from. Of course that does bring us into another area-
1. You can let them prepare. Go ahead take me on in an opening I have spent far more time on than you can ever hope to in a few hours before a game. If somehow you do come up with something, my repetoire will become all the stronger for it.
2. Play loads of different stuff. Save your energy and don't bother preparing- you'll never pin me down! Bogdan is a master at this as I gather is Stuart Conquest. Nosher also adopted this approach at the British.

ejh said...

You can let them prepare. Go ahead take me on in an opening I have spent far more time on than you can ever hope to in a few hours before a game.

...and which I may well have played before except that you don't know this. You, however, are definitely playing it for the first time. Be amazed when your preparation runs out before my knowledge does.

Definitely my approach.

There's a future blue-or-red-pill in this, I think.