Wednesday, March 09, 2005


DLM Opening Question

Several Knights here have posted their thoughts on openings recently. I certainly agree that gambit openings will teach you more about tactics and calculation. But it got me thinking about De La Maza's philosophy on openings. I seem to remember him advising playing simple openings, where you get to castle early, and then let tactics to evolve in the middlegame. Is this right?
Completed circle 3 of problems 160-208.

I've always wondered about the "castle early" philosophy around openings.

It seems to me that that advice is, while easy to remember, usually dead wrong in practice.

Castling is almost always the among the last development moves you will be making. It is rarely correct to castle if you have any ohter development move available, particularly if that other move contains some threat.

In fact, if you have a choice to castle or not, it's almost always right to avoid castleing if you have another usefull active move -- unless there are threats against your position that would preclude you from castling normally.

So while it's easy to remember advice, I think it's almost the exact opposite of good advice.
You are right. But for the level of most Knights (and the level of their opponents!) it is a good advice to castle early. The idea behind this is that the King is safer then, and you can start tactics only after the King is safe. (Though you can castle into trouble sometimes). You have to have a certain level of skill to postpone castling. Imho most knights are not ready for this. As a gambitplayer myself a lot of scalps come from people who thought it would be possible to postpone castling for one move.

What MDLM says about openings I don't know, but what King Ots says sounds reasonable.
Comments seem to have been down this morning.

That's an interesting tack your on, Rakshasas. But I would agree with Tempo, as I have had plenty of losses against the sharper Chessmaster opponents who play openings "wrong" but succeed via early King harassment.

Reading DLM's abbreviated "400 Points in 400 Days" I did find his advice
"Improve the mobility of the pieces" and "Prevent the opponent from castling." Hard to argue with that.

I found a nice opening idea summary at
It's long but pretty good. I'm not sure about a few of his ideas, like avoid obstructing Bishop pawns which occurs all the time with 1.Nf3 or 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3.
I'm afraid, my fellow knights, I have to side with Rakshasas, simply judging from my own experience. I have had many games where it just wasn't prudent to castle early either from a tactical or strategic standpoint. I've even found on occasion that I've been able to throw my opponents off their game by not castling at all in the game. I did this in a victory over a Class B player last year.
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