I don't like playing the white side of the benko gambit, Blacks having way too much fun, the positions get messy, I can't control events and at some point I'm forced into going all in on his king while my queen side desintigrates.
What positions don't you like to play?
It's been 20 years since I played seriously. But I agree, I didn't like to play against the Benko. I got the same feeling playing against the Grunfeld. In both Black (when White doesn't know the lines) gets all the play and White has a bunch of uncoordinated pieces. As White I also didn't understand very well the Pirc and the Sveshnikov, especially the latter. I couldn't understand why I would get bad positions when my opponent had the big hole on d5. Clearly, I wasn't very booked up.
I've always tried to avoid getting an isolated Q pawn. Which is probably one of the main reasons why I've never had the hanging pawn formation in any of my games.
I taught myself how to play chess with books like "My System" and Larry Evens "New Ideas in Chess" so I had some positional understanding. But I was not very good at tactics, so I avoided the ..e5 opening where White could get a fierce initiative for only the cost of a pawn.
OTOH, I really enjoyed playing the Bronstein-Larson variation of the Caro-Kan. I don't think I ever lost with it in a tournament game, although I probably never had the chance to play it against anyone rated higher than 1800.
My only win against a master was in a Blitz game where I played exf6 in the Caro, instead of gxf6. He dropped something pretty early on and I was able to finish the win. He then said something about being awake for 20 hours. : ) But I'm sure it was true.
The French Defence. I have a terrible 39% win rate against the French so I have adopted the KIA structures to try to do something about it.
PxlP - do you know this from experience?
I have had a fair share of positions which I had problems with - But here is how I managed to deal with it
1) Benko Gambit - Till a few years back I used to be an e4 and d4 player. At the present moment I have completely dropped 1d4.
I can understand that openings giving up a pawn and putting pressure are usually the toughest to face.. However I realized that one simply has to choose a specific setup and follow a few stem games. On doing that over a period of time the results start to improve and gradually one also starts to get comfortable.
One Stem game I follow
2) Alekhine Defense - Any opening surrendering the center is hard to respect for me. But this was one opening I was scared to face. Either I ended up doubling my own g and f pawn or I managed to blunder the c4 pawn. The results as white against this opening was becoming quite awful.
I saw Lawrence Trents Video on the Alekhine Defense on Chess24 and it was slighlty off beat. I play it and most of the times my opponents are surprised.
No Stem games here as it is a video series
PS - I managed to play the side line against two IM 's Chess Explained and Mostrovski on Chess24 . Lost one and Won one but it had nothing to do with the opening. The position I got after the opening was quite comfortable
Chess Insights show me a +ve score over 95 Games
3) French Defense: I initially rigidly played the Winawar (after seeing Fischer and the likes of Anand and Kasparov play it (games against Pregrag Nikolic ) but I soon realized that I dont grasp the resulting positions and messed up in the middlegame. (Doubled Pawns cause a certain imbalance which I dont fully grasp and feel uncomfortable playing with
So I browsed through a lot of games and found Nd2 suits me better
PS - I managed to beat IM Mostrovski in a banter blitz game and I have pretty good results with this line
Chess Insights show a positive score for me over 163 games
1) Morra Gambit - Psychologically dont have respect to an opening which gives up a pawn on move two and also the fact that Black is free to choose the setup he wants. But it all changed when I faced a stronger opposition (Kingscrusher) and he managed to crush me multiple times.
So I had to work on my own to choose what setup I like, and after a lot of research managed to find the Ne7-g6 Qb8 setup and it has been reasonably successful
2) Closed Sicilian - This is still an ongoing problem but I dont have the time at the moment to figure out how to play against it.
Hopefully when I sit down I should find something
Thanks for the info KramnickStudent.
@kramnikstudent1 Let me preface this by saying how glad I am that you have joined us. :D
As you may know, I am a casual player, recently more serious about the game. I am unfamiliar with opening theory in general and the Benko, in particular. So, some of my comments may seem quite naive to you.
1- "Benko Gambit ...At the present moment I have completely dropped 1d4": does this mean you used to play 1.d4 as White but have discontinued the use because of the possibility of that particular (Benko gambit) response to 1.d4? If so, did you generally accept or refuse the pawn? Can you give concise reasons why, if one prefered over the other?
2-"I understand that openings giving up a pawn...toughest to face": could you elaborate on this, please? Is this because, in the Benko's case, Black's giving up material gives it a chance at a significant lead in development which may, with correct play, allow sustaining the initiative long enough to set up a position containing good attacking chances against White? If so, is refusing the gambit - in order to "fight for the initiative", early on - not a sound option for White?
3- "I realized that one ... stem games": does this mean you used Karpov's game as a model before you eventually stopped playing 1.d4? In other words, accepted the gambit and based your reply to the Benko on this and other seminal games?
Concerning your "Alekhine" reference, is this the video you referred to above: youtu.be/oKHeutGL1Zs
1- Morra Gambit: could you suggest one or more "stem games", please?
2- Closed Sicilian: Chessable username "Ring" - a FIDE instructor - is currently working on "Neutralizing the Closed Sicilian", which I gather will eventually become similar to a chessable "Short & Sweet". I know this for a fact because I am part of the beta-testing (grammar, in my case) team. Do you know him?
Below are my answers
Sorry if I had caused any confusion earlier, I typed that just before I was going to work
1) I meant to say I used to play 1 e4 and 1 d4 as white. With 1 d4 I did well against the KID as well as the Benko. However the biggest problem turned out to be the Nimzo. I had a hard time grasping the resulting positions. Many times I felt that my position was just lost when the engine would say 0.00 or 0.10.. The situation was similar with the QID. After analysis I realized that open games more suit my style and hence dropped 1 d4. It is easier to focus specifically on one repertoire
2) I understand that openings giving up a pawn...toughest to face" What I meant was , based on my experience I find people find it difficult to grasp and play openings which give long term pressure. After sacrificing one usually wants an immediate gain. But a gambit like Benko gives long term pressure on the queenside. It requires one to know specific piece placements and one simply cannot play on general ideas and principles
3) Stem Games - It was a coincidence that both the games I gave happened to be Karpov's. Usually when you have to learn on opening , once needs to choose what setups one is comfortable playing. This has to be done by browsing through games in that opening line and then one has to go through at least 10-20 games in that line. That was one understands the piece placements and a certain comfort level is established. So Stem games can be of any player
Yes the Alekhine Video is correct
Morra: As I said I did my own research on this to find what I am comfortable playing. I had see a Chess24 video on how to play Anti Sicilian and disliked what was suggested against the Morra . So I chose the Nge7 - g6 setup which I think neutralizes whites initiatives. Hence I do not have any stem games.. But you can watch the below video to see the setup I choose. I havent worked out all the subtleties and move order possibilities. But it is good enough for online play.
Closed Sicilian: I have Iogozars course on the sicilians but I am yet to go through them. Thanks for the update though, will try to see what "Ring" has suggested