Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Gospel of Evaluations

I have recently been playing a certain UCO Opening as Black which Mr Fritz frowns upon (+0,95 +/-). This very opening have been quite good for me as Black in semi serious games vs Shredder's iPhone App. Over the last ten games, I have had an performance of 1500+ which is much higher than my ICC rating.

How much should one humble patzer care about theory and evaluations?

Another interesting aspect is the "Blunder Distribution" for players of different strengths. Looking at the changes in Evaluations in any ordinary game by yours truly, you find the evaluation dropping but about a piece every twenty moves or so. That is indeed scary!

So, if I find an opening that I enjoy playing and the opening (as far as I know) is free of traps or wild forced tactical lines. Is that a cure or remedy for Opening Phobia? You often hear or read that you should stick to validated solid lines that will that will be your guide and support throughout your chess career.

Well, my career might find a peak and a plateau at 1700ish some years down the road (loosely guesstimated by a quote from Pandolfini(?) claiming that anyone capable of thinking three moves deep is able to reach 1700) and I think that any opening that avoids donating wood and glaring positional sacrifices should be OK for a 1700 future me.

So, Evaluations are funny stuff. What does it really mean to be down by almost a full pawn (according to Mr Fritz) in a position that in no obvious way is doomed to loose a pawn? I guess Mr Fritz is betting on Soft Values such as "more space" and perhaps "superior control over the center" but these are features not forever and is it absolutely sure that someone capable of dropping a piece every 20 moves is capable of cashing in on "more space"?

Dear Reader, Have I cured my Opening Phobia? I Dare not Say but I will keep playing Weapon X for a while. I hope to be able to post some interesting game with the stuff in action pretty soon.


  1. Do you enjoy the opening? Do you feel you're learning from it? Do you like the positions that you're reaching in the middle game?

    Personally, I'm playing the King's Gambit for white because I enjoy the sharp tactical lines and the need to keep the initiative. For Black, I'm playing the French, and I'm enjoying working on the pawn structures and how to time the break moves.

  2. One says that at the level of -1600 rated players an opening isn't neccesary. Better to focus on tactics and endgames (to learn how a small amount of pieces work together)and how not to put pieces on prize for nothing.

    But if you feel the need to learn an opening then just keep it to one opening for white and one opening for black. Dont just learn the moves but more important learn the plans behind them. Also learn the plan of the middlegame that follows after the opening moves you studied.

  3. Thank you both for interesting comments. Most Appreciated!

    Yes, "generic plans" for your pet openings are really important. It is depressing how bad that sort of information is expressed in books. Maybe I "Generic Plans" are more High Level than I realize or my concept of a plan is skewed.

    Slightly exaggerating, I think the plans presented is just a few additional lines of moves. I am still looking for a book that presents basic plans for the opening in question in a useful way. Something like: "After these moves, White could try for....." and not the more common "After these moves, White should play the following moves..."

    Which books have taught you some useful plans?

  4. HeinzK wrote (but the comment failed to get posted):

    "What position is exactly "-0.95"? And why should you worry about that?"

    Indeed! The more I think about evaluations, the more I get doubtful and confused. The only outcomes are Win and Draw. What is really -0.95? It philosophically unclear. Even a probability distribution over the events Win, Draw, Loose is somewhat vague as an Evaluation. Perhaps it is OK for a devoted Bayesian?

  5. Do you like it?

    Does it like you?

    Sounds like all you need to know.

    Bottom line is, there are openings that are playable all they way up to 2600 and then there are the main lines for super GM's. I for one am pretty certain that I'm never going to play Carlsen one on one, so my suspect repertoire is of little concern to me.

    I have just taken up the Modern and my phobia is gone. Should have done this years ago.

  6. On Target, Wang!

    I tried the Modern for a while but I changed for unsound reasons. I guess you are sleeping with Tiger's Modern under the pillow?