Why Play Main Lines?

For US Co-Champion Stuart Rachels advised young players to play main lines because, “There is a reason they are main lines.” Where is the fun in that? How many times can a player trot the same old fifteen or twenty moves of “book” without becoming bored enough to fall asleep at the board? The so-called “Super GM’s” still, for the most part, play main lines, but I have noticed a tendency in other, lesser tournaments toward experimentation.

Consider the thoughts of World Chess Champ Magnus Carlsen:

“Since my collaboration with Kasparov, my strategy is as follows: At a time when all players prepare themselves with software, my goal is not to see if my computer is better than my opponent’s. In the openings, I just need to reach a position that gives me play. The idea is to be smart rather than trying to crush the other. I try to figure out where he wants to take me and I do my best to not put myself in positions where I could fall into his preparation. I try to play 40 or 50 good moves, and I challenge my opponent to do as much. Even if the position is simple and seems simple, I try to stay focused and creative, to find opportunities that lie within. Not to play it safe. It is important to know how to adapt to all situations.

In this sense, I have that in common with Karpov in his heyday: he believed deeply in his abilities, he was very combative and won a lot of games in tournaments because even when he was not in a good position, he felt he could still win, and played all the way. I’m somewhat similar in spirit: during a competition, I always believe in myself.” —Magnus Carlsen (http://en.chessbase.com/post/magnus-carlsen-explains-his-approach-to-chess)

Although this was published on Chessbase, I took the above from the excellent Mechanic’s Institute Newsletter #668 by IM John Donaldson (http://www.chessclub.org/news.php?n=668).

This game was played yesterday in the seventh round of the Championship of Sweden:

Emanuel Berg (2557) – Tommy Andersson (2336)
ch-SWE 2014 Borlänge (7.4), 2014.07.18
1.e4 c5 2.a3 Nc6 3.b4 cxb4 4.axb4 Nxb4 5.c3 Nc6 6.d4 d5 7.exd5 Qxd5 8.Na3 Bf5 9.Nb5 Rc8 10.Nxa7 Nxa7 11.Rxa7 Nf6 12.Nf3 g6 13.c4 Qe4+ 14.Be2 Bg7 15.O-O O-O 16.Ne5 Rfd8 17.Be3 Nd7 18.Bf3 Qh4 19.g3 Qf6 20.Bxb7 Rc7 21.Ra6 e6 22.Bg2 Nxe5 23.dxe5 Qe7 24.Rd6 Rdc8 25.g4 Bxe5 26.Rd2 Qh4 27.h3 Be4 28.Bxe4 Qxh3 29.f3 Rxc4 30.Qb3 Rxe4 31.fxe4 Rc3 32.Rd8+ Kg7 33.Rxf7+ Kxf7 34.Rd7+ Kf8 35.Qb4+ Kg8 36.Rd8+ Kf7 1-0

The opening followed this game, found on the CBDB:

Frank Korostenski (1599) vs Laszlo Kos Kis (1241)
LSS RC-2009.0 00038 1912 2009 B20

1. e4 c5 2. a3 Nc6 3. b4 cxb4 4. axb4 Nxb4 5. c3 Nc6 6.
d4 d5 7. exd5 Qxd5 8. Na3 Bf5 9. Nb5 Rc8 10. Nxa7 Nxa7 11. Rxa7 Nf6 12. Nf3
Rxc3 13. Qa4+ Kd8 14. Bd2 Rb3 15. Ba5+ b6 16. Bc4 Qe4+ 17. Kf1 Rb1+ 18. Be1 Bc8
19. Ra8 e6 20. Qa6 Rxe1+ 21. Nxe1 Qc6 22. Nd3 Bd6 23. Bb5 Qc7 24. Ke2 Ke7 25.
Qa7 Nd5 26. Rc1 Qxa7 27. Rxa7+ Kf6 28. Ne5 Rf8 29. Bd7 1-0

It is not often one finds a game played by titled players which follows the moves of players in such lower classes. Could this game have been played online with the players using programs? The next game, which varies with 11…g6, was found on 365Chess (http://www.365chess.com/view_game.php?g=300263):

Igor Shchukin – Pavlo Kruglyakov
Event: Stepichev mem 10th
Site: Kiev Date: 12/23/2002
Round: 4 ECO: B20 Sicilian defense

1. e4 c5 2. a3 Nc6 3. b4 cxb4 4. axb4 Nxb4 5. c3 Nc6 6. d4 d5 7. exd5 Qxd5 8. Na3 Bf5 9. Nb5 Rc8 10. Nxa7 Nxa7 11. Rxa7 g6 12. Nf3 Bg7 13. Bd2 Nf6 14. Be2 Ne4 15. c4 Qc6 16. O-O O-O 17. Bb4 Qb6 18. Qa4 Bxd4 19. Nxd4 Qxd4 20. Rxb7 Ra8 21. Qd1 Qb2 22. Rb5 Ra2 23. Bf3 Nxf2 24. Qe1 Nh3+ 25. Kh1 Nf2+ 26. Rxf2 Qxf2 27. Qxf2 Rxf2 28. Kg1 Rb2 29. h3 Bd3 30. Bd5 Rc8 31. Bxe7 Rxb5 32. cxb5 Bxb5 33. Bf6 Bc6 34. Bb3 Bb7 35. Kf2 Rc6 36. Be5 Rb6 37. Bc4 h5 38. g4 hxg4 39. hxg4 Rb4 40. Be2 f6 41. Bd6 Rd4 42. Bc5 Rf4+ 43. Kg3 g5 44. Bd1 Kg7 45. Be2 Bc8 46. Bd1 Be6 47. Be2 Kg6 48. Bd6 Rd4 49. Bc5 Rd2 50. Bf1 f5 51. gxf5+ Kxf5 52. Be3 Rd6 53. Ba7 Rd1 54. Be2 Rd2 55. Bf1 g4 56. Bc5 Bd5 57. Be3 Ra2 58. Bc5 Be4 59. Bd6 Rb2 60. Ba6 Rb3+ 61. Kf2 g3+ 62. Ke2 Rb2+ 63. Ke3 g2 64. Bc8+ Kf6 65. Bh2 Rb1 66. Kxe4 Rh1 67. Be5+ Kf7 68. Bd4 Rh4+ 69. Kf3 Rxd4 70. Kxg2 Rd3 1/2-1/2

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