By templedf on Jan 29, 2006
A while back, I blogged about the Opening Explorer on ChessGames.com. It's a great tool that lets you walk through a chess game and see, at every step, the next possible responses ordered by popularity, and a list of games that start out the same way. It's nice because it lets you see if the next move your planning is crazy or plan for what your opponent is mostly likely to do next. I've always found, though, that it lacks context. I usually end up playing through some of the listed games to get a feel for why the moves are happening.
This morning I found another great tool that fills in the gaps. It's ChessOps - A Basic Guide to Chess Openings. ChessOps allows you to walk through the classic openings and gives a running commentary on why each move was made. It also gives you pointers about transition points, such as transitioning the (Smith-)Morra Gambit into the Alapin variation. ChessOps is more limited than ChessGames.com because it restricts you to the classic games. If you try to make a move that doesn't fit the established pattern, it tells you that you can do better and tells you to try again. However, for those of us still studying openings, this site is perfect. I wish I had found it six months ago.
On a side note, last night Firefox pointed out something interesting. GameKnot, my favorite online chess site, offers your current game list through an RSS feed! I now have a live link on my toolbar that tells me whenever it's my turn to make a move in one of my games.