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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Opposing Notions.

It's amazing how two people playing a chess game can have totally different views of the situation.

Here is the current position of my game against Rook of Rooks Rant.

And here is his comment thereto: Well, we have entered uncharted territory. Carl has moved R-K1. He has taken us out of opening book.

When I read that I had two sharply contrasting reactions. The first was: Wow! I've been out of chess too long. Am I about to be hit by a bolt from the blue? Uncharted territory? How can that be? How could I have overlooked whatever it is?

The second reaction, which has lasted much longer, is: I don't know what opening book Rook is using, but that's not what mine says.

From what I've seen, the Ruy Lopez is one of the most popular of the openings, for playing and for that equal pleasure of the game, analyzing. It's been that way for at least a couple of hundred years, yet it is still so rich in interesting possibilities that it still hasn't been exhausted. Unless they deny themselves the delight of playing this opening by avoiding it as White and as Black, which is possible, people can't be true masters unless they've "booked" themselves up with dozens and even hundreds of Ruy variations, along with a good idea of the principles involved. And these variations can run up to 20 or more moves long. In fact, masters sometimes go into games with such variarions, rattling them off in a minute or less, in order to save precious time on their clocks for the true battle that lies ahead after the opening. In a long, grueling tournament they might even give each other a break through the courtesy of a "grandmaster draw" by playing such a variation, trying to give the impression of exerting themselves in a short but hard struggle, though all the moves are well known ahead of time to both parties. They can do this tacitly, without ever having breathed a word of such an agreement to each other beforehand.

So it's just about impossible to go into uncharted waters this early in the Ruy, unless one player goes totally bonkers, and as far as I can see, that hasn't happened yet. Instead what we've been doing -- or I should say what Rook has been doing -- is merely engaging in transposition, aka changing the order of the moves. And actually we are still so much in known waters that, depending on what Rook does with his B's, we seem to be drifting into none other than the hoary Classical Variation of the Closed Defense to the Ruy.

If I were playing the Black side in this game, I would indeed be thinking about getting crazy by this time, but I never feel called upon to do that as White. I feel that the onus is on Black to do that in this opening.


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