Monday, July 11, 2011

Chess Beginners avoid the QGA

Really, beginners shouldn't play Queens Gambit Accepted.

1. d4 d5
2. c4

The c4 pawn looks free, but it really isn't. Once black gets the pawn it is very hard to hold on to it. Usually white responds with a quick e4, which not only puts a discovered attack on the black pawn (from the light squared Bishop) but also gets control of the Center. White has more then gotten compensation for that pawn. I'm not saying QGA isn't playable from blacks side. It is, but it usually takes a somewhat seasoned player.

I can and have had a lot of fun when a unseasoned player takes my pawn. The games I get like this can be a lot of fun for me, but they must be a little humiliating from blacks perspective.

I played a recent game on FICS where my opponent accepted the gambit.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 dc (short hand for d5 x c4)
3. e4 e5

Black would really love white to de (d4 x e5). Then black could exchange Queens and after white takes back with his King (he has no choice at that point,) white can no longer castle. After that black looks forward to at least an equal game, if not better.

4. Nf3 Bb4+
5. Nbd2 (That is Knight on b to d2)
6. Qxd2
Studies indicate that unless there is additional compensation a Bishop for a Knight is a bad exchange. A mathematical analysis says that Knights are worth 3 points, but a Bishop is really worth 3.5.
6. ed
7. Bxc4 Nf6

8. e5 Ne4
9. Qxd4 Qxd4
10. Nxd4 o-o
11. o-o c5
12. Nf3 Nd7
13. Re1

Well now, black is now down a whole pawn and where does that Knight think he is going. In truth did I plan this, uh, no. This was speed chess (time control was 2 minutes to start and 12 seconds added to your clock for each move you make) and all I was doing was making natural moves and not thinking about it very hard. And now black was going to be a whole minor piece down. I refuse to play slow chess on FICS, there is too much cheating.

13. Nxf2
14. Kxf2 Re8
15. e6 fe
16. Bxe6+ Kf8
17. Bf7

I realized right after making this move, that I had created a Check-Mate threat (Bd6.) Blacks best move here is g6, but even with best play black will be on the defensive for the rest of the game.

17. Nf6
18. Bd6+

Black now has to block the Bishop with the only piece available, the Rook. If I had his position, I would resign. All I have to do now is get light squared Bishop out of the way and I will win the Rook outright.

18. Re7
19. Bxc8 Bxd7
20. Bxe7+ Kxe7
21. Bxf6

There was no point in not trading down, my opponent was down a Rook and a Knight. The game went on for a few more moves but after I went after his pawns he gave up.

The most important point here is that control of the center is worth more then a pawn. Don't take that pawn unless you can create tactical complications elsewhere. I recommend looking at something like the Tarrasch or the Slav Openings instead. Some older games of mine that further demonstrate this point are here.

I have a copy of ChessBase which is a few years old. I ran a report on this opening and this is statistics for strong players using these lines:

Black Scores below average (42%).
Black performs Elo 2239 against an opposition of Elo 2295 (-56%).
White performs Elo 2338 against an opposition of Elo 2282 (+56%).
White wins: 9640 (=41%), Draws: 8034(+34%), Black wins: 5913 (+25%).
The drawing quote is Average. (9% quick draws, < 20 moves).

White wins are shorter then average (37).
Black wins are of average (40).
Draws are shorter than average(32).

So, even Masters don't do that well as black with this line.