The Catalan?

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The Catalan?

Post by hoopy on June 12th 2009, 4:06 pm

We've talked about helping each other on this forum. I need some help!!

I've now played the Catalan closed twice now & immediately I have been taken out of ICS "book".

Anyone know reponses to
1) d4 Nf6
2) c4 e6
3) g3 d5
4) Nf3 Be7
5) Bg2
a) ....c5
b).....b6

Neither seem mentioned in ICS.
c) Also why is 3)....D5 forced according to ICS? Is it simply to prevent e4?

Thanks all you opening buffs!!
I will respond in kind I promise!


Last edited by hoopy on June 12th 2009, 4:07 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : TYPO)
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Re: The Catalan?

Post by Hank on June 13th 2009, 12:10 am

hoopy wrote:

We've talked about helping each other on this forum. I need some help!!

I've now played the Catalan closed twice now & immediately I have been taken out of ICS "book".

Anyone know reponses to
1) d4 Nf6
2) c4 e6
3) g3 d5
4) Nf3 Be7
5) Bg2
a) ....c5
b).....b6

Neither seem mentioned in ICS.

I know nothing about the Catalan so I'm not qualified to give any advice from my own experience, but I thought I'd mention a nice tool that I like to use - it's the Opening Tree explorer at ChessOK.com (the people who sell Rybka):
http://chessok.com/?page_id=352

It's a very nice front end interface for a 3 million+ game database of games by strong players, which lets you move the pieces around on the board with "drag and drop" functionality, as you step through a particular opening line. At each juncture, it tells you what moves have been played next, how many players have played that move, what percentage of wins for each side and draws there were after that move, and what the highest ELO was of the White and Black players who played a game with that move. It's actually based on the opening database that they sell as a commercial product, along with some training modes, etc, so it's a high quality DB.

So for example when I put in your move list above, ending with 5...c5, I get:

-- Most common reply by White is 6.O-O (played in 47 of 85 games in the DB), played by at least one 2550 ELO player.
White won 51.1% of those 47 games, Black won 12.8%, and 36.2% were draws. The most recent game with that move was in 2007.

-- The 2nd most common reply by White was 6.cxd5 (played in 31 of 85 games in the DB), played by at least one 2545 ELO player.
White won 54.8% of those 31 games, Black won 16.1%, and 29% were draws. The most recent game with that move was in 2006.

And when I put in your move list above, ending with 5...b6, I get:

-- The most common reply by White was 6.O-O (played in 43 of 71 games in the DB), played by at least one 2638 ELO player.
White won 53.5% of those 43 games, Black won 25.6%, and 20.9% were draws. The most recent game with that move was in 2007.

-- The 2nd most common reply by White was 6.cxd5 (played in 10 of 71 games in the DB), played by at least one 2535 player.
White won 80% (8 games) of the 10 games, Black won none, and there were 2 draws (20%). The most recent game with that move was in 2005.

-- Note also that I think the database is based on positions arrived at, rather than specific sequences of moves, so some of games with this position would have arisen out of transpositional move orders...

-- Note also that these 2 moves (5...c5, 5...b6) are relatively rare 5th moves for Black after 5.Bg2, with 42 and 40 games, respectively, in the database. The most common the move for Black, by a gigantic margin, is 5...O-O, with 8288 games in the database! (The 2nd most common 5th move for Black is 5...c6, with only 267 games in the DB!)


I hope this DB reference will be of some help for people who don't have their own large opening database to consult at home.
I like the web interface so much, that I usually consult http://chessok.com/?page_id=352 when I have some offbeat line to look up which won't be in MCO, because I'm just too lazy to fire up Chessbase to search through Powerbook 2008 when I can get answers faster from the web DB...

Best,
Hank

pirat

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Re: The Catalan?

Post by hoopy on June 13th 2009, 10:36 am

Fantastic. Exactly the kind of advice I need. Very Happy
Greatly appreciated. Hoopy gives you 4 hoops for your response!!
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Re: The Catalan?

Post by Blue Devil Knight on June 13th 2009, 1:43 pm

3...d5 isn't forced. I see Bb4+ quite frequently, and it is a quite playable line. However, clearly white will want to get in d5 soon, otherwise he's making a major concession in the center and white should have a better game

For ...c5, the first thing I would do is see if it there are any tactics (off book moves often have tactical reasons or tactical weaknesses). Then I'll see if it is safe to continue to play the moves I want to play anyway, to increase the chances of transposition. If my database and Fritz agree that this is safe, then I'll do that.

c5 does give an interesting possibility not in the main line: since he has moved his bishop already, I would consider taking on c5 forcing him to use another tempo to capture. On the other hand, I'd be trading a strong central pawn for a c-pawn, so there is some exchange of advantage there. That's one candidate move, and it is playable (Fritz gives it top status, but that doesn't mean much for these types of positions).

Second move I'd consider is to just go on with my development as usual playing 0-0. Before playing that, of course I'd have to analyze black's response cxd to see how it fares tactically. There isn't much on it in the databases and I frankly don't like the look of this position much.

Third move to consider is to take his central pawn with your flank pawn, cxd.

All three, frankly, look playable. And because they are moves you would be likely to find OTB, and they don't seem to be disastrous for white, I guess they don't cover them as much. On the other hand, ...c5 is definitely playable for black, so it is strange it isn't covered more.

Duffington, in Game 21 of 'Winning with the Catalan', has a similar (though not identical) line with alternate moves on move six , so there are transpositional possibilities (also ICS covers 6...b6 so there is probably transpositional possibility there).

If 5...0-0 6. 0-0 c5, then Duffington recommends cxd5 (line three above).

It would be interesting to hear what others think of this early c5 line of the catalan. I frankly haven't thought through this early deviation, but I see an early "off book' c5 quite frequently in practice. Rarely does black play c6 first then later a c5, which is book. It seems to me c5 is "off book" because it lets white take a central pawn with his flank pawn, follow it up with dxc which steals a tempo, and opens up the c-file for white's heavy machinery, and generally leaves the d5 square as a nice target for e4 and the Bishop on g2. It seems like a fun open game.

One thing I like about the d4 openings (after about three weeks playing d4) is the richness and complexity. Very early in the game things can go down strange roads like this, so we are both playing chess from an early move. The Catalan is strong though, so if black plays something offbeat early, you can at least be confident he hasn't "broken" the opening. There has to be a decent line for white. It may just take some time to find it. Any of the three "obvious" moves are playable for white, which is nice.

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Re: The Catalan?

Post by Blue Devil Knight on June 13th 2009, 1:49 pm

Duffington gives a crappy, lazy analysis of this related line:
5...0-0 6. 0-0 c5 7 cxd exd and all he says is "transposes to the main line of the Tarrasch defense, which Catalan players should be happy to face." And that's all he has to say.

Really?

WTF does that even mean? Why should we be happy to enter the main line of another major opening system? God, sometimes I hate the writers of opening books.

Note there are obviously interesting transpositional possibilities with the open catalan, in which an early c5 is quite common. It would probably help to study what ICS says about such lines.

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Re: The Catalan?

Post by hoopy on June 13th 2009, 2:17 pm

Some really good thought provoking material there -thank you both very much. The analysis you provide made me reconsider my whole thought process behind openings. As mentioned earlier, I had no idea about chess training before - my youth was about memorising openings. As a result I nearly always tended to be +/= with white or =/+ with black. Of course I had no idea what to do next.

Reading your thoughts on ...c5 made me think. What I should be aiming for is not pluses or equals signs but a game in which I feel I know how to play the strategic & tactical elements that come along - I should be aiming for a position where I am confident in playing chess rather than repeating someone elses analyses.

BDK you correctly point out that there are a number of reasonable replies to these non-analysed line from simple moves to likelihood of transpositions all of which I could reasonably find OTB. Maybe this is the insight that I should be looking for - strong moves rather than outright refutations. This might be the best thing I could have learned on the whole opening course. Very Happy
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