Shortly after the presention of the big Part I of Best of Chess Blogging: Openings, two more posts appeared on the opening that I wanted to share with readers.
Path to Chess Mastery linked to the Carnival and added some thoughful commentary on the subject of amateur chess players and opening study.
Wang's Chesshouse has a self-described looong post on openings that includes a lot of very interesting analysis of his database and the statistical success of various openings. He warns us:
**WARNING: THIS WAS A NON-SCIENTIFIC DIVERSION, I IMPLORE YOU TO NOT READ TOO MUCH WHEN LOOKING AT OPENING STATS***
However, there are some things in there that are exteremely intriguing, especially applied to amateur play. I know enough about statistics to know that the term "statistically significant" can mean different things in different contexts; but here are a few gems that I extracted from Wang's tables:
1) As has been noted by many in recent years, the Sicilian Defense (1. e4 c5) scores very well for black both above and below the 2200 rating line. However,
2) Some defenses that don't do so well among masters are quite effective below 2200, including Alekhine's (1. e4 Nf6) and the Modern (1. e4 g6) which score about as well as the Sicilian for the lower rated. The same holds true for queen pawn opening with 1. d4 c5 (a less-than-usual Benoni move order) and 1. d4 d6 scoring well under 2200 but not especially so against masters.
3) 1. d4 d5 2. c4 or 1. d4 Nf6 2.c4 is the way to go for QP players of all ratings. 2. Nf3 seems to be less effective. I almost always play 2. c4 myself, not fearing the Albin, Budapest, Nimzoindian etc. However, I wouldn't be too surprised to find that some of the offbeat responses to the queen pawn score quite well under 2200.
I would be interested to hear what readers make of these stats.