Columns | May 01, 2009 21:07

Zen and the Art of Chess Opening Maintenance

PetroffIn two recent reports on the Grand Prix in Nalchik, my colleague-editor Michael Schwerteck wrote about how he hates the Petroff Defence - especially the way it's played by all these super grandmasters. All these boring draws - blegh. And Michael's clearly not the only one.

Let's consider what can be so hateful about the Petroff in the first place. I guess most critics of the opening as it's played on top level, would say that Petroff games have some or all of the following properties:

  • They feature too many theoretical moves
  • They often feature move repetitions or massive piece exchanges
  • They end too often in draws right after theory ends
  • They all look the same

It seems to me that these are very romantic arguments. Romantics - who, I believe, form the large majority of chess fans - like to see chess as an art or as a sport. For them, chess is beautiful when moves are either profound or spectacular, mysterious or begging to be executed. Chess is also beautiful when there has been a real fight: a clash between personalities, perhaps even a destruction of egos. Openings should be enterprising or sharp, preferrably both. The romantics usually dislike long theoretical variations and draws without a gentleman's fight. Most of all, they like chess when it's intuitive, or 'human'. They praise the talent and mock the hard worker. I believe they often prefer a spectacular but not quite correct sacrifice to a solid and safe computer continuation of the game. Hence their dislike of the Petroff, which usually features almost none of the above.

Is it possible to have a totally different - or rather: a complementary - point of view, albeit a minority one? I think it is. Chess rationalists take a much more pragmatical approach to chess. For them, what's beautiful is what works - doesn't matter if it means playing a dull move, some boring exchange or going for a symmetrical position without any dynamics in it. I think this is what Jonathan Rowson meant when he said in Chess for Zebras that it's possible to 'find beauty in ugly moves'. (Although, unfortunately, he doesn't define either beauty or ugliness.)
The 'scientists' also emphasize that chess is a rational, finite game where intuition in the end must be inferior to brute calculation. They put great value in their brute calculation friends - chess engines. Cold preparation with a computer earns you points. It's a hard, dirty job, perhaps, but someone's gotta do it.

This pragmatic approach, however, is not the only aspect of this rational way of thinking. After all, if chess is a finite game, it means truth can be attained by ruling out possibilities in much the same way 'real' science works: by trial and error, by testing, making hypotheses and falsifying them. It's not only what works that's beautiful, it's what's true that is beautiful. And this truth can be anything: beautiful sacrifices, to be sure - but also boring exchanges and ultra solid opening lines.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle MaintenanceOf course, this distinction between rationalists and romantics is nothing new: it's as old as ancient civilization itself. Often, these views are thought to be opposed to each other, or even to exclude each other. One of the books that explore these two worldviews and in the end tries to reconcile them, is Robert M. Pirsig's 1974 road novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. And since I was re-reading this book while seeing Michael's comment, some ideas in it took a life of their own when I started thinking about them in the context of chess.

In the book, the main character is making a motorcycle journey across America together with his son and his friends John and Sylvia Sutherland. He soon notices something funny with the Sutherlands. Although they love driving their motorcycles - brand new BMW R60's - they hate repairing them. Whenever something happens with their motorcycles, they just 'shut down':

[John's] eyes go completely glassy and he changes the conversation or just looks away. He doesn't want to hear about it.

Worse, instead of trying to solve their problems, they become stubborn and frustrated and angry. It is precisely this attitude - irritation and anger - that we also encouter in some reactions to the Petroff and other 'theoretical' variations. I must say I find this attitude very recognizable in many circumstances. For instance, I have exactly the same feeling when my refridgerator breaks down: it's just too technical! Too annoying! Most of all, it's just so damn uninteresting and ugly! I used to have the same feeling when I played with white and my opponent played something 'boring' like the Rubinstein French. I really hated this opening and out of sheer annoyance (and arrogance), I often played 4.f3?! instead of taking on e4.

The narrator of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle takes a completely different attitute towards motorcycles. Instead of being afraid of it and bringing it to a mechanic, he takes his motorcycle apart himself and studies every tiny little detail until it starts to make sense. He takes great pleasure in this. To him, peace of mind comes when he's working on his motorcycle - not riding it. You can't understand the whole without understanding the parts. But in order to achieve this, you literally have to understand everything about the motorcycle - can't leave anything out. You have to see that technology isn't something scary or ugly - it just seems that way:

Technology is simply the making of things and the making of things can't by its own nature be ugly or there would be no possibility for beauty in the arts, which also include the making of things. (...) Neither is the ugliness inherent in the materials of modern technology. Mass-produced plastics and synthesis aren't in themselves bad. They've just acquired bad associations.

I hope you're starting to see certain similarities between motorcycles and chess - or at least chess openings. In chess, too, among the romantics there's a general dislike of 'technology' - computers, databases, hard-working seconds grinding meticulous home preparation on their state-of-the-art laptops during the night. But just like motorcycles sometimes have to be repaired, chess is a game where the 'ugly' is sometimes simply best.

The Petroff is a beautiful example. Why is this opening so universally hated? Because it's so effective, of course. Nobody hates the Latvian Gambit. But how can this be? It's because of the nature of the game of chess. I think the romantics are in a state of denial here: they just wish it weren't so. Deep down, they wish White would be able to just totally crush the Petroff (and a few other openings) and send it straight to hell. But chess just isn't that kind of game - just like life doesn't only consist of beautiful romantic rides through the countryside. Your cycle breaks down from time to time because the world is just isn't made for human fun. It's made of the stuff science studies: matter. It's made of bolts and plates and molecules and atoms. If you're not willing to accept this, you'll end up being frustrated about it for nothing.

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a way to reconcile both these points of views is suggested:

The way to solve the conflict between human values and techological needs is not to run away from technology. That is impossible. The way to resolve the conflict is to break down the barriers of dualistic thought that prevent a real understanding of what technology is - not just an exploitation of nature, but a fusion of nature and the human spirit into a new kind of creation that transcends both. When this transcendence occurs in such events as the first airplane flight across the ocean or the first footsteps on the moon, a kind of public recognition of the transcendent nature of technology occurs. But this transcendence should also occur at the individual level, on a personal basis, in one's own life, in a less dramatic way.

Well, I suppose to some this may sound rather vague (it isn't), and there's much more to be said about it. Pirsig's book is one of the most difficult and rich treatises I've ever read, and I don't presume to make the comparison fit all the details. In philosophy and science, the differences between a rational (or 'Western', or Aristotelean) and a harmonic (or 'Eastern', or Taoist) point of view are still heavily debated.

Yin & YangWhat's important for the chess analogy is that I'm not saying the romantic chess view is wrong - just like a romantic way of life isn't wrong. This is actually one of the things the narrator of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, who starts out as a classic 'rationalist', comes to realize and appreciate in the course of the book. It's not a matter of which view is more superior. That's the trap most people fall for. Both are equally valid ways of looking at things. Both are necessary, both are true. Together, they may form the sign of the Tao.

In chess, I don't think the romantic point of views needs much defending, so here I want to suggest the other way of looking at the Petroff. Look, my dear romantics! Black is fighting in this opening, too! He's fighting for his right to have an equal share in our royal game! Who can blame him? And for what? For playing 1...e5? For developing a piece and attacking a central pawn on move 2? For regaining it at move 3 and 4? For continuing to develop pieces in a harmonic way?

Playing and studying the Petroff is in fact one of the most principled ways of dealing with the nature of chess. It's also a very rewarding way - once you open your mind to it. It's great to be part of this great debate. In my case I realized this when I took on the hated Rubinstein French with black - and played so many interesting games (including the draws) with it!
Everybody wonders: what is the evaluation of the beginning position? Well, unlike people who play, say, the Sicilian, Petroff (and Rubinstein) players are trying to find an answer to this question in every game! If the Petroff is a draw, then chess is a draw, or at least 1.e4 is. How is this not interesting? Doesn't it justify all this hard work, however superficially tedious it may be? This is the ultimate chess opening maintenance - we can't leave it out. So we might as well embrace it.


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Arne Moll's picture
Author: Arne Moll


Jeff's picture

Great article. I actually obtain my most wins playing the petroff (or petrov) as black. It seems to be the best way to neutralize the first move advantage that white has. Personally, that seems pretty awesome. Like your article said, it may be that the opening is just better than we would like it to be.

Noam's picture

No comments yet to such an interesting article?!?
As I see it, Zen in this context means to live in peace with technology and with the required hard work to master it. That's a beautiful lesson for life - to overcome the difficulties instead of just having fun every moment.
The analogy with short draws in chess is less convincing here. If being scientific means finding the best moves for both sides in order to solve the basic question of chess: "Should white win in the opening position or should it be a draw?" - then short draws that are made of 20 moves of theory and 3 moves of repetition do not contribute to this, and do not show any hard scientific work made by the players. If there is an important novelty at move 21 that changes the evaluation of the position and which requires deep thinking - that I can understand, but not simply repeating what's already known. From a scientific point of view, every single game should contribute to the basic question.
There are often more practical reasons for the "Petrovian" style of playing: the players are being cautious, they want to keep their turnament standing and their rating without risking too much in every single game, they can't work hard in every game and need a rest. See what happens to players who risk too much - like Ivanchuk and Morozevich. In a chess environment dominated by results and rating points their style of play cannot be rewarded.
Being scientific does not mean repeating known theory. The best scientists in history were also the most CREATIVE. You can be creative also in opening theory, and with the help of computers also strive for perfection at the same time. Some home-made novelties are spectacular even from a romantic point of view: Murey's 4...Nc6 in the 3.d4 Petrov (yes, Petrov!) against Timman in 1993 was hilarious and opened a new trend at the top level until it was refuted a few years later.
Noam Sivan

Call Zorbin's picture

Excellent Article!. For all Petroff haters out there I recomend Rustam Kasimdzhanov's ChessBase DVD on the Petroff. It is a lovely introduction. It changed my own views of this openingand now I fully agree with the article that studying the Petroff is a fine way to enhance your chess undertanding.

Call Zorbin's picture

A little taste of the DVD I was talking about:



aesthetics's picture

What if you were offered ten million dollars to play a match against some chess champion?
"I only play Fischer Random, period. I'm finished with the old chess, it's rotten to the core" Bobby Fischer.

Jeans's picture

Hi Arne,

You mentioned Chess for Zebras. I remember that you wrote a review on it a few years back. Or was it about Seven deadly chess sins?
Is it possible to give a link to that review? I would really like to reread that.

Thomas's picture

"Peter Leko did me a great favour by beating the Petroff – a very rare occurence! Serves Boris Gelfand right for giving up the Najdorf!" (Michael Schwerteck, Nalchik R10 report)

"After many years of playing only the Najdorf variation against 1 e4, I added the Petroff defence to my repertoire. ... The Petroff has the reputation of being a dull opening ... . However, as my experience has shown, it can be no less exciting than the Sicilian." (Boris Gelfand, "My most memorable games", Game 47 Grischuk-Gelfand, Corus 2002)
The featured game is a spectacular fighting draw (in the line with 6.-Bd6, a more lively and more risky branch of the Petroff, apparently a bit out of fashion by now). Generally I think Gelfand really means what he writes. Well, a boring/eventless draw wouldn't make it into the collection of his best games - and another story is how credible a similar statement would be from, for example, Kramnik ... .

Louis's picture

Great article, Arne.
By the way, didn't he (Pirsig) turn crazy in the end?

Peter Doggers's picture

@Jeans That review was in Dutch only, and unfortunately not online anymore. Hopefully at some point we'll have the opportunity to translate the original one day.

Coco Loco's picture

This must be the first of Arne's opinion pieces I agree with!
Although for some reason (...) I never quite took to Pirsig's famous book.

Michael Schwerteck's picture

Let me explain a bit more clearly why I dislike the Petroff: In my view, it's basically a very primitive opening - Black just copies White's moves without developing ideas of his own, hoping that this leads to a more or less symmetric, dull position, where he's only very slightly worse. This a purely destructive approach I don't like. Of course, there are other openings which aim for a draw, but none of them are based on such a primitive strategy. I feel that such things just aren't supposed to work; somehow it's an insult to the depth of the game. It's just painful to see dozens and dozens of games of the world's most brilliant players who just can't make a dent against this "stupid" approach. It doesn't feel right.

I read somewhere that Grischuk spent something like three months trying to refute the Petroff and was very depressed when he didn't manage. I understand this very well.

Call Zorbin's picture

Michael, with all due respect. If we consider your argument valid we will have to eliminate or "ban" many opening variations (ie: Symetrical English, etc.). What White players need is to embark on more creative approachs and probably to take more risks if they themselves want to improve their chances against the Petroff. The article is beautiful in making the point of how revealing to Chess is an opening that you precisely consider awful....

Castro's picture

:-) "Refute the Petroff"??
Not even the Damiano (2. ... f6) is properly "refuted"!!

MvE's picture

4. Nxf7...

Aahh... long live the Petroff!!

Arne Moll's picture

Michael, your argument reminds me a bit of the creationist's point of view that natural selection (which is in part based on chance) can't be true because it's an insult to the depth of God's planned creation. But the fact that natural selection is true, and that despite the role of chance there is still such a beautiful nature around us, is actually proof of the richness of evolution!
So it is with chess: the fact that an opening such as the Petroff is so hard to refute is proof of how complicated chess is. If it were merely an attacking game or something, where such a 'primitive' (I prefer to call it 'sound') setup would never work, chess would in my view be definitely less interesting than it is now!

Peter Doggers's picture

@ Michael Apparently you criticize the Petroff for a fifth reason, not mentioned by Arne, which is the fact that Black is copying moves and therefore acts in a primitive way. I think your view of the opening is a very limited one. Not even mentioning the fact that the whole copying business already stops at move three, Black is simply making moves on the same, healthy assumptions as White makes them, which his opening diagonals for queen and bishop, and then developing a knight with tempo. The second move is simply saying: why protect my pawn if I can attack yours? Simply a different concept.

And I especially don't agree with "Black just copies White’s moves without developing ideas of his own, hoping that this leads to a more or less symmetric, dull position, where he’s only very slightly worse". I've spoken to Gelfand in Nalchik, mentioning this upcoming column. He, and many top players with him I'm sure, said that besides a number of short draws, he has played a lot of very interesting games with the Petroff. He's certainly not playing "without ideas" and certainly not hoping for a "dull position"; he's hoping for an acceptable position.

A last note: often one could easily blame White for not creating an interesting game in the Petroff, as it's often his/her moves that lead to the more dull lines in this opening...

Thomas's picture

@Peter Doggers: So Gelfand hasn't changed his mind since he wrote his book (see my quote yesterday 21.35)
@Michael Schwerteck: "Destructive approach", hmm ... a former clubmate of mine called the Grunfeld a destructive opening, formally he is right: here black's strategy allows white to build up a pawn center aiming to DESTROY it later on. Anyway, if black keeps the Petroff symmetry for one more move (3.-Pe4:??), then the concept is (self-)destructive :)

AljechinsCat's picture

Copying moves in the opening simply means to put the beginner´s advantage to a later stage of the game and to leave this path when its not acceptable anymore (eg 1.d4-d5 2.c4-c5?!). There is nothing to blame the Petroff players for that approach from the chess point of view,
If the motivation of the player itself is in question, I even got the impression to see more boring draw play when other "hot" openings are applied. For the tournament in Naltschik, I remember Karjakin repeating 38 drawish moves in a Sweshnikow against Iwantschuk, while Leko was was outplaying Gelfand and Kasimdshanov in the Petroff in great style.

Castro's picture

Complaining about the Petroff has the same (little) meaning as not complaining. Thousands of players (me included) never complained. It only became fashionable to many others to say (quoting some masters) "Oh another Petroff. How uninteresting! Probably a draw"
Peter is right: "It's primitive, Black is copying moves..." it's a sad (and wrong and primitive) thing to say! And also that most of the guilt in dull games is White's!
As for "the richness of strategic and tactical ideas", I doubt one can easily put the Sicilian ahead the Petroff (or the Caro-Khan, the English, or the whole Queen's Gambit, and so SO on). I believe one can sometimes have that kind of feeling, but to prove it...
By the way, why not condemning the whole 2.Nf3 aproach (or, for Black, the 1. ...e5)?? What the hell is white doing manouvering knights, when he can go directly to the King's Gambit? It's perfectly plausible that the latter has far more "richness of strategic and tactical ideas" than any Najdorf (or someone defending that).

Michael Schwerteck's picture

Guys, I don't get it. For ages nearly everyone has been complaining about the Petroff, and now suddenly it seems to be cool to defend it. Of course, it's not impossible that an interesting game arises from the Petroff. It's still mainly about the players, not about the about the opening and I did already write this in one of my reports. But simply compare 50 top-level Petroff games with 50 Sicilian games. Compare Gelfand's Najdorf games with his Petroff games. Compare the richness of strategic and tactical ideas. It's just not the same. The Petroff has produced an incredible number of dull games, which all looked very much alike. You're seriously telling me this is interesting? Come on.
Anyway, what point is there still to prove? Yeah, the Petroff works. Fine, we understood that. We don't need another hundred boring games.

Castro's picture

By the way, can someone tell me if there are more Petroff or Caro-Khan draws?
How to re-direct your hate, in the case Caro-Khan should win this contest? :-)
And by another way, is it posible that some of the Petroff draws are due (more than in other openings) to lots of games where the intended result was rightaway a draw, and the players went for the Petroff (sometimes as a sight and) precisely because it has simpler and quicker ways of drawing IF both oponents want?
Could it be?

Castro's picture


4.Nxf7 ? What's that? (Hope it's not some try on "refuting" the Damiano! Specialy because it requires Black to put some piece there for you to take ;-) )

Castro's picture

* I meant
"as a sign" (not "as a sight")
two posts ago...

Arne Moll's picture

Michael, you seem to define 'interesting' solely in a romantic way. This is not a bad thing, but the point of my article was that there's also another way to look at the concept of 'interesting'. You seem to ignore this way completely. It's not the dull games that are interesting, of course, but the preparation that went into it and the implications they have for chess (opening) theory. If the Petroff works so well, perhaps chess is a duller game that you would like to think! Then the opening or the players shouldn't be blamed, but chess itself. You can't blame the second player of Tic Tac Toe to make a draw, can you? Have you considered this?

Bacus's picture

A lot of coward players play the Petroff cause they want their safety. I pity them, they're unable to plunge into the chaos of chess. And chess isn't "scientific" nor "logical" , that's nerd's crap frankly, I hate to tell you methodical, studious players, but there's chance in chess, oh yes! there's a lot of chance and gambling in chess! So you better look for another safe game because I announce you here: chess is dangerous, chess ain't safe, chess is very chaotic!
Naturally there's logic, but don't get fooled a second, there's more than your safe and beloved logical moves in this game called chess.

You want a completely logical game? That's not chess. There's more to chess than follow the rules.

And I think you know it, yes, you methodical players, I think you know perfectly what happens always on the chess board, you know very well that there's more on a chessboard that logical moves, things like will and luck and zeitnot and suddenly your logical game dissapears.

No, chess is not a game for the weak, I'm sorry to tell you, chess is not a game for nerds, yes they can play it, they often love it, good for them, they think this is their game. They can be proud of their vast opening knowledge, their learnt moves, they can carry and tap their last Petroff (or Najdorf) DVD on the bag, they can lie themselves thinking this is finally a safe, logical game where "if you think and play with logic, everything's going to be OK", but nothing is further from the truth, this is a violent, chaotic and bloody game. Any top GM will laugh at you if you approach him with your little shaky theory of chess as a logical game. Every top player is there not only because they possess the calculation abbility, or the positional sense, they have also something very important: they have the character and the competitiveness to go through the continuos chess battle.

Michael Schwerteck's picture

Yes, Arne, I considered it. Yes, chess seems to be a duller game that I would like it to be. That's exactly what's so annoying.
So we can continue to play hundreds of Petroff games, one duller than the other, analyze everything very deeply, and in the end we might come to the conclusion: yes, the Petroff makes a draw by force. Imagine the implications this has! A great success, very interesting indeed!
But why not enjoy life instead, for heaven's sake? Chess is supposed to be fun, isn't it? If it's your idea of fun to check whether boring lines work or not, fine. Have a nice time. But please don't look down on other people and say that their view is limited or ignorant.

Arne Moll's picture

Actually, Bacus and Michael, I tried to reconcile both points of view and plead for the necessity of incorporating both points of view in one's perception of chess. I still think this is better than being frustrated about one aspect of the game you don't like, especially because you can't change it anyway.

Thomas's picture

Indeed we cannot ban the Petroff altogether, even though the French defense was once banned from a German internal club competition - don't remember when and where exactly, it was many years ago to protest against French nuclear bomb testing ... .
Quote from Anand on his Amber blindfold win against Kramnik (and the Petroff - source: an interview at Chesstigers): "Well, every win against the Petroff is great - particularly against Kramnik. "
BTW, I wonder if complaining about the Petroff is really "of all ages" - or to what extent at present "I hate the Petroff" goes along with "I hate Kramnik" (and what came first). Of course this goes to chess fans or bloggers in general, not personally to Michael Schwerteck or Vishy Anand .... .
Final point: Interesting to have controversial but constructive discussions between several co-editors in public ... I think this is the only forum where this happens, and I like it !

Peter Doggers's picture

@Michael Don't get me wrong: I mostly agree with you. I prefer the Najdorf too, and I too find many Petroff games boring. I just don't believe that all black players going for a Petroff are looking for, or happy with, dull positions. They are probably also hoping for an interesting game, and they too probably like the Najdorf more.

Castro's picture

First, it has nothing to do with the Petroff (or any other opening) in particular. One can be a "coward player", as you call them, playing no matter what opening, and be an explosing player and play the Petroff.
As for the logical thing...
The only thing outside of chess as a logical game (finite, complete, completly available information) is human brain's limitation. What you call "will and luck and zeitnot" only matter because of the -- for us and for now -- unknown (including temporary unknown by misunderstanding, aka dogma).
And the first two ("will and luck") are even just miscalled, just human representations for completely different things we sometimes don't understand and adopt that almost religious reasuring position.
I love the chess "chaos", and maybe without it I wouldn't play so much (Imagine playing a perfect opponent: It will be interesting, but not for long, or for the same kind of pleasure!).
But that opponent is posible one day, in chess. And, as Botvinick, I think we're near that time. I'm just not affraid of it (as most people is)! I won't stop loving chess, just try to go on playing limited opponents (and also understand the "perfect play", maybe).
In cards you will ever have "luck" because by definition some part of the information is required to be unknown. Not in chess.
However you're right in that it is somewhat "nerd" to think of chess as a "safe game" and to do some kind of study and "and tap their last Petroff (or Najdorf) DVD" specialy if you don't have other much more important qualities (and pleasures about chess, I'd add).

Castro's picture

Here we go again in the lost post case... :-(

Castro's picture

Peter, can you please post it for me? (It must have been got by the "spam filter" again. Not even a "awayting moderation" note apears)

forest's picture

Castro, you don't have to mention it everytime. Spamfilter is being checked quite often. I just approved it.

Castro's picture

Hi! Maybe I didn't explain well the problem, or maybe the explanation you are now giving should be different. On these ocasions, no message is given to us (like the one about "moderation") and one of two things apear: EITHER the article, again (without our post, of course) OR a browser error message.
As there have indeed been various LOST POSTS from my part in the last months(appart one "Peter-knows-what-and-we-settled-things-by-e-mail", which is, therefore, not realy lost), EITHER they haven't been aproved --- and it would be extremely odd, and anyway I should have gotten some word about them!, OR they have been realy and simply LOST, not even you people having got to pass by them.
In any case, it seems to me you're missing something crucial:
We (the people :-) ) don't get to know what happened to such a post nor what to do (wait, rewrite, forget...). To "mention it everytime" looks like the most positive thing, at least until you explain us better how to interprete those scenarios, or fix that spam filter or program it to inform what is happening.
(It's quite frustrating both this lost-post question and just get to read your "Castro, you don’t have to mention it everytime". I can apreciate and thank very much your position, but PLEASE try to understand our's.)

jussu's picture

"In my view, it’s basically a very primitive opening - Black just copies White’s moves without developing ideas of his own, hoping that this leads to a more or less symmetric, dull position, where he’s only very slightly worse."

Oy, this is just wrong! Take a look at some Petroff games - one can find some things to complain about, but symmetry is not among them. I suspect that the tendency of this opening to lead to exchanges can only be attributed to the open e-file and the ease by which both sides can occupy it ( together with the positional necessity to do so), just like in exchange French.

Ron H.'s picture

So funny: when I first saw Michael's wonderfully scathing comments of the Petroff I thought, "ah yes, so nice, someone speaking up against this.... and now soon we will hear Arne coming up with the opposite point of view, 'correcting' his co-editor's deluded views, pointing out Michael's mistaken use of words, and altogether wrong way of expressing that view and so and so forth". And, right as the mail, within a few days this 'article' appeared.
So, just for the record: Michael, of course you are right, the Petroff IS a boring opening :)

Arne Moll's picture

Yes, Merijn, and this is also exactly what Pirsig describes in his book. So at least I'm not the only one who is so predictable ;-)

Merijn's picture

The chess romantics are clearly more emotional about the whole thing than the chess rationalists :-)

Castro's picture

And I think (as to fashioned views is concerned) some of us must consider ourselves as kind of "romantically racionalists", because almost everyone seem to become too mystical...

Castro's picture


Don't you think it would be useful (maybe to all) if you could get (and give) answers to what I wrote? Maybe that kind of problems (lost posts and/or related misimpretations) would hardly apear again...

Castro's picture


Peter Doggers's picture

I'll take these ones. Browser errors - sorry can't help you with that. Lost posts - that shouldn't happen; we're trying our best to prevent it.

Castro's picture

Thx Arne for your explanation.
There remain, though, 2 questions:
- Is what you say valid even when one gets a browser "error" page? That's common on this site (and nothing wrong with the browser, nor with other pages of the site).
- I have had really lost posts (in the sense of not showing), which would be unbelieveable to have been "not aproved" (or, at least, it would be useful to know why could they be "not aproved"). Could you please enlight that (type of) situation(s)?

Arne Moll's picture

@Castro, OT but never mind: posts are never lost. They are sometimes just awaiting approval, because they either contain hyperlinks or are overlong. I don't see what's so unsual about this; it happens extremely often on sites.
So, if you post something, check if it appears, and if it doesn't, it's either one of these two things. Then just wait for approval and there you are.

Radrook's picture

I used to play the Petroff and had some initial successes with it. However, I was forced on the defensive too often, So I decided to try something ess enterprizing. . Ironically a supposedly unsound defense provided better results.

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