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is chess in the Olympics

  There is currently no chess in the Olympiad. The Chess Olympiad is a chess competition officially organized by FIDE since 1927 and takes place in even-numbered years. Before World War II the event was occasionally held every year. There was also an unofficial Chess Olympiad series that ended in 1976. Although chess is covered in the sports sections of many newspapers around the world, it is not one of the recognized sports in the Olympic Games. However, FIDE is now a member of the International Olympic Committee and follows its rules. This means that chess could one day become an Olympic event, although most knowledgeable observers say this is unlikely. The World Chess Championship is a competition held annually by the international chess organization FIDE to determine the World Champion of chess. Both men and women are eligible to participate in this championship. The World Champion does not have to be the player with the highest Elo rating: the 2006-2007 World Champion, Vladimir Kr

Clueless in the Opening

A few years back when I started playing chess online, I would always be caught off guard when I had no idea about the opening my opponent played against me so I would make natural moves but still lose the game since I was at a disadvantage because of my cluelessness to the opening principles and my lack of awareness to tactics and general chess strategy.

You can say that I was going in blind most of the time without any direction and cohesion in my play which led me to become frustrated and fearful of certain positions like the Sicilian defense or even the French because it deviated from what I knew at that point which was the King’s Pawn Game (1 e4 e5).

In view of this, I decided to start studying the general principles applied in chess and how I can improve my understanding of the game which I did by watching YouTube videos and it immensely helped improve my game and slowly I started to progress from being an amateur to having a decent amount of skill and knowledge in various openings.

When before, I once feared the Sicilian, now it is part of my regular opening repertoire and my usual reply to a King’s pawn opening (1 e4); moreover, I found out that I have a natural inclination to tactical positions and attacking chess which I wanted to develop by looking for masters who are tacticians to imitate their thought process so I came to know and study the playing style of Mikhail Tal, Garry Kasparov, Viswanathan Anand, and Hikaru Nakamura to name a few.

I noticed that there was a great improvement in the way I played chess because I became keen to see the subtle nuances over the board and to apply the concepts that I learned from what I have seen and read.

Now, what I learned from playing with many different people with different playing styles and disposition over the board is that you should not panic whenever you are confronted with a position which you are unfamiliar with or variations which are unknown to you because you will be able to figure it out along the way.

Moreover, I have also learned just recently that it does not matter whether you can calculate 20, 30 moves ahead rather what matters is that you choose the right course of action to take and you must both be flexible and determined as well to accomplish the goals which you have set for yourself over the board, that is, when you want to attack your opponent’s king, for example, as you should, you must make moves that are geared toward attaining that aim while being vigilant of your opponent’s plan so as to respond to your opponent’s attacks against your camp precisely and maintaining your plan.

Basically, what I am trying to say is you should keep calm in any situation and assess the position pragmatically especially when you are faced with a novelty or something you have never encountered in your previous games.

Most often, you would probably encounter these types of situations in the opening especially when you are at the beginner level and even in the master level, there are still novelties that arise because there are so many ways you can choose to play a game although there have been well-established opening theory that masters would usually adhere to because they are already tried and tested, but that does not mean that you should be confined to just those openings unless you are contented with utilizing the same opening over and over again which can sometimes become predictable or boring.

It is good to have a wide range of opening knowledge so that you would be aware of the general ideas behind the moves in a specific opening and it is also good to specialize in an opening or two where you would study the different variation of that opening in-depth so that at least, there would be variety and flavor to your play and so that your opponents would not easily get caught off guard.

What happens then when you find yourself staring at the board for more than half an hour because your opponent seemingly made a move in the opening which you have never seen before? What should go on inside our minds when we see our opponent making a somewhat odd move?

First of all, if your opponent instigates a departure to the general theory of a certain opening, there must be a reason and it is great for you to find out exactly what his plan is. It would be great to ask questions such as “Is there any direct threat to my pieces or my king?” or “Would I be comfortable with a change in the pawn structure or exchanging this piece for that?” and after asking such questions, you may want to evaluate how this move would affect your own plan.

Again, it does not matter how deeply you can calculate rather it is the right idea that counts because at the end of the day, the opponent who makes the last mistake loses. So do not panic whenever you are confronted with a weird move or even a dubious move because you will be able to find the right response to that move which will slowly give you an advantage and develop the right plan which will ultimately lead to victory.

More often than not, when somebody starts to make a weird move especially during the first ten moves of the game, it would either be something he has prepared and studied well or it may be something that he just wanted to do on a whim and it may tragically lead to certain disaster for him; however, when it doesn’t appear to be blatantly violating any widely accepted principle, then we should carefully assess the pros and cons of that move.

There are cases when your opponent may want to stay away from certain positions, which is why they would make a move to veer away from the main line of an opening which I sometimes try to do especially when I have no knowledge of the general ideas behind an opening.

In this regard, making an interesting or even a dubious move may become a weapon against your opponent because of the psychological struggle happening within and emotions can sometimes factor in the equation and make your opponent falter or panic.

This is the reason why the first step of facing an unknown variation or a novelty would be to keep calm and think through your plan and your opponent’s. Look at the position through his eyes and explore the different possibilities that both of you have. Maybe this move has actually made a weakness in his position so you can try to exploit that or maybe this move just simply wastes time and you are in the perfect spot to start attacking his king.

I believe these are things that need to be considered thoroughly since many games have been lost because they have been so overwhelmed by weird moves that they fail to see that these moves are not threatening at all. One of the best practitioners of using psychology as a weapon would be Mikhail Tal and I would recommend that you look at his games because there is much to learn from the way he handles almost any position.


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