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  • James Neal

2022 Sinquefield Round 6

My biased opinion of Opened versus Closed events.

Much has settled down and we are now back to enjoying high quality chess. I am watching the Firouzja - Mamedyarov game and I saw Firouzja lose a pawn after the 21st move. He has compensation for the pawn and there is enough imbalance to demand a winner. Alireza can be sharp with white but, like Hikaru, we will eventually see him adopting a solid repertoire to stay competitive in these private events. Solid openings are good for maintaining control but they tend to be dry and not much fun to watch.

The real excitement takes place during open events. I had come off a tournament in Denver where I decided to play the Shirov gambit to win the event and it was a huge success.


The professional side of me was agonizing over the risk in playing a gambit but my practical side convinced me that my opponent would never see it coming. Your average human cannot invest 8 hours a day to the study of chess so if you have a high chess IQ (me), you can really flex your flexibility.

You won’t see the Shirov gambit against a top level players and a top level player would never play the Philidor Defense. At the highest level, options are limited. Neither side is willing to take big risks for fear of being tortured in the middle game so the result is watching a matchup between two counter strikers (if you are a UFC fan)…

If you are looking to for real chess, watch the open tournaments. Those events are where you see fearless players desperate to get the win.


It will be a few weeks before my next big event but I will be studying and observing interesting ideas for my next post.


-Coach James

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