In gravity chess, the opening has significantly more immediate impact than in normal chess. Consider, for instance, the opening 1. f4:
Note how this already develops the bishop, and the opponent has not even had a chance to respond. Thus, white has a very strong opportunity; this potential is, however, quite easy to blunder if proper care is not taken against the standard defense:
1. ?? b6 2. ?? Ba6
The standard defense is not a common defense, but is incredibly useful against a white player that opens randomly. Specifically, the defense opens up the queenside bishop, threatening Bxe2. Here is a classic example of it in action:
After Bxe2, the game is lost for white. Thus, the first thing a beginning gravity chess player learns is the importance of not letting the king fall down. As a result, the white player can often approximately evaluate the strength of his opening by considering how it would fare against a standard defense. Let's use this strategy to evaluate the classical opening, 1. c4:
At this point, white must do something to protect his c-pawn, as after Ba6, it will be under attack. Since this is gravity chess, this is also a direct threat on the bishop, since a fallen bishop in this situation is lost:
In the example above, it is clear that 3. h4 was a wasted move that cost white the bishop. But what alternatives does white have on the third move? Well, white could offer a trade with 3. c5:
But as demonstrated above, this traps the bishop when black responds with b5.
All right, so it looks like 2. b3 is a weak move, since it does nothing to protect the developed bishop. White has a seemingly strong continuation with 2. c5, where black again responds with b5. This allows white to play 3. Qb3. A beginning black player may not notice the weakness of this move and take the bishop; however, this loses a rook!
The preferred continuation for black is with a5, which traps the black queen:
Or simply loses the bishop:
In gravity chess, a bishop is one of the strongest pieces—their strength becomes apparent when one considers the relative weakness of rooks. Since it cannot move dianogally, a rook can only move down, never regaining any altitude! A bishop, on the other hand, can move from the eighth rank all the way back to the first rank in the opposite file. So, losing a bishop in an opening is, to put it mildly, quite bad.
Anyways, this shows the strength of the standard defense. When I mentioned earlier that the standard defense is rarely played, it isn't because it's a weak defense, but rather that most currently played openings attempt to prevent black from having such a strong and straightforward response.
Now, let's go back to our very first opening, 1. f4. Do you see how it protects against the standard defense?
With a different line developing as follows:
It is not yet clear whether 1. f4 is a strong opening, but at least we showed that it's much better than developing the other bishop. A stronger variant may be 1. c3, but we will leave the analysis of that for next time.