How to Study and Play “Reverse” Openings!!

If you ever get good at any opening the next idea you get will be to try that opening in reverse! The viability is determined by whether of not a single tempo is enough to approve or dismiss the idea.

What happens is there is usually a lot of theory on what ever color has gotten the most use. If you want to play the Bird, I think it’s best to have a book or 2 on the Dutch. With an extra tempo, why hasn’t theory made the Bird more feared than the Dutch? It’s up to you to discover that!? When you find the answer, and it is out there, you will have a tournament weapon that no one reading a book can prepare for!! The other good news is you may have found a move or sequence that is dangerous as White and as Black.

The way you check viability and find out where the tempo matters has definitely been improved by the computer. To find white’s best move, put the position on an engine with 12-16 lines showing and see what it says. Now, take the position on the right and put it on the engine but tell the computer that it’s black’s move. As white my engine chose c2-c4, b1-a3, and c2-c3. As Black it chose c7-c5, b8-a6, and c7-c6, but the numerical evaluations were off by +/- .10 – .25. If it’s the exact same position and color is the only thing that’s changed, why isn’t the evaluation exactly the same?? That’s why in my chess laboratory the computer is the tool, not the boss! Try this with any opening!?!

The basic consensus is that the English is one of the most boring and drawish openings ever created. Translation; Your endgame has to be at, “A” level or higher to handle the endings!?! lol With a tempo down, the Sicilian not only invokes more uncertainty, but it is not called a reverse English in any variation!? If you want to get good at the Bird you must also buy books on the Dutch, but if you really want to understand the Sicilian and the struggle for the tempo they lost, you must study the English!!

So now comes the challenge of transpositions. The Philidor starts with 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6. The Philidor in Reverse for me starts with 1. Nf3 to prevent an unprotected e5 by black. The extra tempo eliminates the traps and sharp lines I usually have to face. Since there is so little theory for black and virtually none for white, I’ve been able to execute middle game campaigns that punish my opponent’s clocks because after castling, they are always in unfamiliar territory and I have a few, “Novelties”. Again, set your opening position up on the computer, If it’s white’s move, change it so that it’s black’s move. If it’s black’s move, change it so that it’s white’s. Now watch what can and can not still be done!?! Even if you decide not to play the reverse of your favorite opening, you are sure to come away with a better understanding and some fresh ideas!

As you play your opening in reverse, be aware that your opponent, whether a move a head or behind is going to try to steer the game back into familiar territory. Your break away, if possible, should avoid the theoretical or classic lines unless they are still good for you. Move order is very important when playing the reversed. Watch carefully for variances and make sure there is no way back to familiar territory as soon as possible. When one comes up that’s forced in your favor, study it, practice it, and add it to your arsenal!!

Remember, grandmasters beat other grandmasters by creating unfamiliar middlegames from familiar openings. Now you have the key to planning better middlegames and surprising your opponents. Chess.com’s analyzer is good enough if you don’t have an engine. Go to settings on the top right hand side of your analysis diagram and you can change the number of lines it shows you from 3 -5!! Don’t be intimidated by the number of equal lines. Select lines and moves that are sound and suit your tastes!!

We have reopened! Come visit us at the club on Thursdays, take a class, get some lessons, or register for our monthly tournament!! Need equipment or recommended books… We’ve got them at competitive prices, no shipping and no waiting! The other thing is … Call when chess is on your mind, it’s that important to us. 804-426-6058, 8 am til 10 pm.

Healthy, Wealthy, And Wise For All Ages,

Mike C

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