Sunday, November 15, 2009

Holey Repertoire!

There was a period a year and a half back when I tried to learn intensively from a coach. I'd say my main weaknesses were tactics and a suitably tactical opening repertoire. So he showed me many different lines from tactical openings, and I nodded my head and said things like, "Neat!" and "Whoa!" But a few weeks later when he showed me the same openings, my neurons could only muster a fuzzy and faint recognition. I've almost always picked things up quickly and vividly, but the lack of retention really frustrated me about chess in particular and made me distrust my own brain in general. Grasping these slippery lines was like fishing with my hands for black eels on a moonless night. Part of it is laziness toward the role of drilling. But part of it I internalize as a hopeless decline of aging. But that's my mental enemy talking again.

Back in April, I was trying to qualify for the Club Championship and played Drunknknite. It was a quick loss mostly from an opening inaccuracy. Afterward I remarked that I had hardly faced the Gligoric in my years of playing the King's Indian and Drunknknite said, "So I found the hole in your repertoire." A week later he asked if I had seen Gelfand-Polgar. At least my opening mistake had been made by a grandmaster once.

For last Thursday's game, I eschewed the well-trodden paths of the open Sicilian for the trappiness of the Morra Gambit. But the choice backfired as I was out of book at move 6. My opponent found good moves and I soon found myself two pawns down with no compensation. Luckily, I managed to get some play and exchanged into a theoretically drawn endgame.

So repairing my leaky opening repertoire is climbing my To Do List again.

1 comment:

Eric Shoemaker said...

Hi Ernie, you spelled "HOLY" wrong.