Why Beginners Should NOT Play This OpeningJune 2, 2023 2023-08-26 20:38
Why Beginners Should NOT Play This Opening
Why Beginners Should NOT Play This Opening
Today I’d like to share with you my observations on why most of the chess players (especially beginners and intermediates) are not able to make further progress and how they are just one skill away from becoming an advanced-level player (reaching 1800 or 2000 ELO).
You can also watch the video lesson here.
1. How to Counter 1. e4 as Black?
This is one of the first questions that a beginner asks himself when he just starts playing chess.
A lot of beginners, when they start checking openings to play, realize that after 1. e4 e5 White can start putting pressure on the vulnerable f7-pawn through the move 2. Bc4.
For example, in the Scholar’s Checkmate, after 2…Nc6, White would continue with 3. Qh5; or in the Fried Liver Attack, that occurs after the moves: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6, White now increases the pressure on f7 with the move 4. Ng5.
And most of these beginners realize that the following variations are quite complicated. And finally, they decide to play a different opening for fear of the aforementioned type of variations.
Although this may be partly true, the reality is that these lines with Bc4 should not be a reason for you to completely avoid playing 1…e5 for example.
2. The Problem with the Caro-Kann Defense
After the moves 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5, the Caro-Kann defense is raised, which is well known for being a solid defense. Now your opponent can’t play you the Fried Liver Attack or any lines with Bc4 anymore.
However, what happens is that many players get stuck at a certain level and cannot progress beyond that.
For example, suppose you are playing against a player who does not know much theory, both develop their pieces and reach a position like the one in the next diagram.
Again, so far so good, nobody’s attacking, you haven’t lost the game, you haven’t blundered anything, which is already nice. But here the problem is that you can’t attack White’s king.
How are you gonna attack in this game? It’s not all that easy to answer that question because the Caro-Kann Defense is more positional and, for somebody like Magnus Carlsen, that’s like a dream come true. Magnus is especially known for beating strong GMs in completely equal positions.
3. What’s the Point When You Can’t Attack?
But for someone who is just learning chess, what’s the point of playing a position where you have no attacking prospects? How do you win in the level below 1800? Let’s see the next example.
So, what happened in the previous example? How is it possible that White had won using a very bad opening?
What happened is that right after White created the very first serious threat in this game and put some pressure on Black, he blundered immediately.
And that is a very common thing because players of lower ratings usually have low defensive skills. They don’t really know how to defend, so all you’ve gotta do is put pressure right to start attacking and then they overlook something inevitably if not immediately; then a couple moves down the road, they will overlook something.
So, that is basically how you beat guys who are below 1800. You just put pressure, you attack and you’ve gotta develop those attacking skills in order to pass to the next level.
Once you have improved your attacking skills, then you should start caring more about endgames, positional skills, and chess mastery.
4. So, What to Play Against 1.e4 as Black?
First of all, let’s say you do not feel comfortable for some reason going into 1…e5.
The one opening that I recommend is the Scandinavian Defense, where you also narrow down the theory just to one opening to get a play. But it is a lot more aggressive.
Okay, I want to get into the opening theory of the Scandinavian Defense. As a separate subject, I’ll put a video link down below if you want to check it out.
5. Countering Your Opponent’s Early Opening Tricks
Honestly, it’s not at all scary to play the main line 1…e5, seeking the open game with more opportunities to seize the initiative and to start attacking. Because of all these early tricks, you’re gonna want to welcome them as long as you just study a simple refutation.
Usually, people who go for that aren’t that great attackers; they just rely on a single trick and we can easily prepare with some counter-trick. Let’s see the next example.
So, that’s how you deal with those tricksters, trying these early unsound attacks against you. As you can see, it’s not all that difficult to counter it; you just need to learn the fairly simple refutation.
6. How to Counter the Fried-Liver Attack?
Now let’s see how you can handle the opening variation that terrifies so many: the Fried Liver Attack.
One of the main reasons why many players don’t reach the next level is that they play chess openings that don’t give them any attacking opportunities. In other words, their opening choice is very passive.
Most chess players fear early queen attacks or the Fried Liver Attack after White plays 1.e4. Hence, they play an opening like the Caro-Kann Defense, which can help them defend against such early attacks but does not give them any attacking opportunities, especially against stronger opponents.
Players below 1800 should focus on developing their attacking skills. Most of the time, when you put pressure and create threats against your opponent, he will play a bad move because of his bad defense.
If you want to break through to the next level, I highly recommend the course “Level Up Your Chess“. It’s a complete guide to chess progress.
This course is aimed at players from an advanced beginner to an intermediate level who, like the vast majority of players, when they started in chess, progressed quickly and reached a certain level, reaching a plateau in their chess career.