07 December 2013

Annotated Game #109: How to play against your own opening?

It's always difficult to play against your own opening, psychologically speaking.  You normally will have faith in its superiority (or at least its preferability), the flip side of which is that you naturally will tend to dislike the other side's position type.  Of course strong players can often play both sides of an opening equally well, but that is one of the reasons why they are exceptional.  Overcoming a psychological bias and deeply understanding an opening's characteristics from both sides' perspectives, including the middlegame and endgame play that results, is I think a characteristic of mastery.

In the following game, played in the opening round of a tournament in the Slow Chess league, I face an early opening choice as White when my opponent replies with 1...c6.  Rather than transpose into more standard lines against my own defenses, I stick to an independent English Opening continuation that involves gambiting a pawn.  This is the first game that I have played with this line, so I'm pleased with it for training purposes, as well as content with the result.

One of my long-term flaws as a player has been being too materialistic, so learning to play more dynamically and with "compensation" is good for my chess.  In this game, the compensation for White is positional rather than in the form of a direct attack, although I was able to obtain some tactical play once Black castled queenside.  Houdini's assessment throughout was that White had full compensation for the pawn, which is useful validation of the line and my handling of it in this debut game.

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