Friday, January 27, 2017

Your Opponent is Overrated

For my birthday my wife gave me James Schuyler's Your Opponent is Overrated (Everyman Chess, 2016). I appreciate the subtitle: A Practical Guide to Inducing Errors.

I have not gotten into the book, but the text on the back cover is enticing
Which opening does better in practice: the wild, "unsound" and "refuted" Latvian Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5) or the solid Philidor Defence (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6)? As James Schuyler points out, referring to the definative Megabase, the Latvian Gambit scores higher. 
How can such a discredited opening (and the same story is repeated with other "unsound" openings) do so well? the point is that playing like this throws the opponent off balance, makes them anxious and induces mistakes.Even the very best players recognise the value of discomforting the opponent. Historically, Emanuel Lasker was the master of this approach and his modern day equivalent is world champion Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen frequently employs offbeat openings and his opponents invariably fail to counter them correctly. 
This is the key theme of this book. Schuyler covers all phases of the game and discusses other vital subjects such as harassment, meterial imbalance, time management, surprise moves, unusual ideas, provocative play, manoeuvers and recovering from bad positions.
I am pretty sure that the author "overlooks" an opening as "discredited" as the Jerome Gambit, but I think that it is likely that many of his ideas in the book will relate to playing the Jerome! 

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