28 July 2013

Opening Logic from Fischer

In Fischer's Chess Life columns from the mid-1960s, which I introduced in a recent post Fischer Talked Chess, the future World Champion made a number of extravagant claims. One such claim, shown in the image below, is easy to verify.

If you're not comfortable with descriptive notation, the moves leading to the position in the diagram are 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.O-O O-O 5.d3 d6. Is Black really better here? I asked Chesslab.com for some statistics.

For the given position, Chesslab gives W-L-D stats as 33%-33%-34%. That means 33% wins for White, 33% losses for White (wins for Black), and 34% draws. That's as even a split as you can find anywhere.

The two most popular continuations for White (by far) are 6.e4 and 6.c4. Note that both resulting positions can also arise via transposition, which gives a larger statistical sample than the preceding position.

The W-L-D stats for 6.e4 and its two most popular responsess are:-
6.e4: 31%-34%-35%
6...e5: 37%-29%-34%
6...c5: 32%-36%-32%

The same stats for 6.c4 are:-
6.c4: 33%-31%-36%
6...c5: 29%-15%-56%
6...e5: 36%-30%-34%

For both of White's sixth moves, the non-symmetrical response scores significantly better than the symmetrical response, although 6.c4 appears to give an edge to White.

I know that opening stats can be misleading, but it's still shortsighted to ignore them completely. For this particular opening, Fischer understood the dynamics very well.

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