In this article, I'm going to talk about how you can use Convekta's opening CDs to further your opening knowledge. For the purposes of illustration, I am going to take an example from Convekta's King's Indian Defense CD, which was released in 2004. While the example is taken from the KID CD, the ideas and techniques that I will talk about can be applied to the other opening CDs too (or Chess Assistant as well, for that matter).
The very first step in using the CD is to take a quick look through the various chapters present. All Convekta's opening CDs use the same format. They use something called a classifier to separate the instructional material into various sections, which analogous to chapters in a book. If you want more discussion of what is typically found in these classifiers, I would suggest that you look at this article.
I'm going to start this discussion with an examination of the pawn structure shown on the right, and an associated model game. Many of you realize that this structure typically arises in the KID. On the other hand, if you didn't know this already, simply clicking through some of the material in the classifier would reveal this important fact. Note that each article has a board position next to it to facilitate fast recognition of the material you want. Now, If you take a look at the "Practice" section of the classifier, under the "Classical" subfolder, variation 6...e5, 7.d5, you'll notice that there are 27 illustrative games for this pawn structure (note the small 27 over in the "#Games" column. I've shown this classifier in the picture below. You can navigate to these games by successively clicking on the classifier nodes until a game list opens. When you do so, you should see a list of games with the game Kramnik vs. Kamsky, Monte Carlo 1994, listed at the top. Double click on this game, and it should open in a new window.
Before I begin this discussion in detail, let's take a look at what the CD has to say about this pawn structure:
"This pawn structure, which often arises in the King's Indian Defense, dictates the plans of both sides. Black, as a rule, strives for a f7-f5 advance followed by active play on the kingside. White, in turn, seizes an initiative on the queenside with a c4-c5 breakthrough. Sometimes Black tries to create a piece outpost on c5 by means of a7-a5 followed by Nc5. The c5-knight hampers White's queenside activity, attacking at the same time the e4-pawn."
The above passage can be found under the classifier node labeled "Typical pawn structures"->"Positions with the closed center".
Step through the moves of the Kramnik vs. Kamsky game. As you do so, look for ideas mentioned in the passage above, but also be on the lookout for moves or ideas that you do not understand. After you examine these moves, let's say that at several points in the game, you were a little confused as to why certain moves were played. For example, there are some moves which may look a little strange. As an illustration of this, take a look at black's 7...Na6 (see below). If you realize that one of the ideas in the opening is to eventually place a knight on c5, you'll see that this is one route to that square. This also helps to understand white's subsequent 8. Nd2!. This move actively prevents the idea behind black's previous move (this is called prophylaxis). This is because if black does play ...Nc5 anyway, the e-pawn is protected, and white can react immediately with b5! You should also notice that the annotations after the Nd2 move explain this in Informant symbology. Each CD includes a key to the Informant symbols that are used (just click on the node called "Code System" in the classifier).
Another move that's somewhat interesting is 8...Bh6, which was played in the game Babula-Polgar, Yerevan, 1996. Black normally tries to hold onto this bishop, since it becomes very powerful once the center is opened. It also appears to waste tempi, by trading a developed piece for an undeveloped one. Furthermore, it appears to weaken the dark squares around the king. However, this move is worth consideration, even though it might not be the "best" move in an objective sense. The KID CD makes you aware of this by both marking the move with a red arrow on the board, and annotating it with a "!?". If you click on 8...Bh6, you'll see the display below. Note games that were played with this particular variation are listed below the board.
The KID CD also has a passage on this maneuver (in classifier under "Exchange of the dark-squared bishop"), which says:
"As a rule, an exchange of the dark-squared bishops in this pawn structure is to Black's benefit."
This is not especially enlightening all by itself. However, if you look at the two games that are given as examples, you can see one white strategy that counters the idea behind black's trade. This can be seen in the game Taimanov-Tatai, Venice 1969, where white attempts to open the game, and eventually take advantage of the weakened squares around the black king (this is noted in the game annotations). In addition to this game, you can also take a look through the games database for other examples. If you want to do this, my suggestion is to use the search by pawn structure and material command (accessible by right clicking on the small carat at the right of the search button, see picture at right), On the search dialog, I would then manually add the black bishop on h6 (click on the black bishop below the board, and then click on h6). If you then search through the games database, you'll find 23 illustrative games.
Another interesting move is 8...Kh8 by black. A quick look through the classifier does not really reveal any insights about it, nor are there any annotations in the game that talk about it. So the best bet is to resort to a search by pawn structure (once again, accessible via clicking on the carat/upside down triangle next to the search button). Begin by stepping through the game until black is about to play his 8th move. Click on the search button carat, and select "Search by pawn structure". After the search dialog comes up, click on the maneuvers checkbox, clear the board (accessible via right-click), then place a black king on g8. The click on the arrow graphic, and move the king from g8 to h8. You should see something like the graphic below. Then change the default search database from "King's Indian" to "Games", you can do this by clicking on the button with the ellipsis, next to the database name, at the bottom of the search dialog (circled in red). Then execute the search.
You'll notice that quite a few games come up (over 3000!), and if you examine a number of them, you start to notice that black moves his king aside in preparation to placing a rook on the g-file. Furthermore, it also appears that many times, the g-file opens up because white captures the f-pawn at some point, and black recaptures with the g-pawn. So it appears as though Kramnik may not have had a good short range plan at move 8, but he decided to move his king to h8, because it was part of an extremely long-range strategy to eventually make use of the g-file.
This concludes the first part of this article. In the second half, I will take a look at some interesting ways in which opening theory can be displayed.