Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Are kids really that good at openings?

This post is in response to a forum comment, that kids are often good at openings and that if you can get through the opening and early middlegame that you have a good shot at winning (given similar ratings, of course). But are kids really that good at openings, or do they just learn a bunch of opening traps?

Having never played scholastic chess, I can't really answer that, but since I've played a lot of double king pawn openings against kids I do notice that they play a lot of romantic systems that contain a lot of pitfalls if you don't know the theory. But is this the same as knowing an opening?

For example, do kids generally understand the power of pawn breaks to increase piece activity, and what pawn breaks generally flow from which openings? Do they know on which part of the board a given opening will generally suggest they play? Do they understand the differences in the value of tempi in closed vs. open games? When I think about knowing openings, those are the sort of things I think of.

I guess the question is, are kids really educated about openings at a higher level than adults, or do they merely know more traps in the openings they play? I do see a difference, and I'm especially interested in the opinions of people who played or coach scholastic players.


CHESSX said...

Kids are good some are very good at openning traps,this does mean they understand the openning conceps.
The one thing i have noticed since teaching and watching School kids play, is that they want a quick win. Hence the lore of the openning trap.
As i said before get most kids past the openning and they are not as strong.
I once saw a 12 year old boy with an elo of 1885 play an endgame like a beginner.
A high percent of junior games are finished within 25-30 moves.
That includes top tournaments like the english primary school championship.
so kids are taught to be good at opennings.
It is easier to get kids to remember openning lines than endgame rules.

likesforests said...

I have yet to play any children, but there will be many at my next tournament. Are you serious about most children only being good at opening traps? I would've guessed they would be sharp tactically as well, and perhaps only strategy and endings would be their weaknesses.

Caeruleum Canis said...

When I say mostly good at traps, what I mean is that they know the tactical mistakes that are easy for their opponents to make. My experience has been that kids will play some pretty anti-positional moves and forgoe obvious pawn breaks in the late opening and early middlegame, which seems to indicate a lack of understanding of the opening.

This is certainly not true of all kids, and if they're 1900ish then they probably know their openings for real.

I'm talking more about 1600ish kids who know instantly if you play a move out of theory on move 12 in the Max Lange and know how to exploit it, but don't realize that allowing me to open the c-file in the king's indian can be more dangerous than their kingside attack. That sort of thing.

likesforests said...

Ahh, ok, good to know. :)