Opening Repertoire

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Opening Repertoire

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1LesMiserables
des. 5, 2010, 3:36am

Just out of curiosity, do you have a few openings you use regularly and do you have any 'bibles' that inform your knowledge?

With white I am a bit of a 1.Nf3 aficionado.

With black I go for a Pirc/Modern/Kings Indian type set up.

I think the Starting Out series is quite good for giving the ideas behind the openings rather than learn by rote.

2ThrillerFan
gen. 6, 2011, 10:14am

I have played in tournaments since 1996, and my reportoire has changed constantly. I've become more "settled" with my White game. Black is still somewhat in a flux.

Currently, my reportoire is:

White - 1.c4 (English), with an occasional 1.b4 (Sokolsky). 1.b4 works real well in Quick Chess or Blitz tournaments.

Black - Currently, I'm looking at the Sicilian Scheveningen against 1.e4, Various Benoni lines, mainly the Czech Benoni, against 1.d4. For cases where White does an early Nf3, I have the Blumenfeld Counter-Gambit, played via the move order 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.d5 e6 4.c4 b5

As for books:

White - The 3 book series on "Grandmaster Repertoire: The English" by Mihail Marin (all in hardcover). It's roughly an 1100 page repertoire.

Black - Starting Out: Sicilian Scheveningen, Anti-Sicilians: A guide for Black, Start Out: Benoni Systems, How to win against 1.d4, Play 1...b6 (mainly to be used against 1.c4, the English Defense), and a couple of older books on the Hedgehog, mainly reached in my case via 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 and 3.d4 leads to an Anti-Benoni, 3.g3 b6 4.Bg7 Bb7 intending ...e6, ...Be7, ...d6, ...a6, etc, leads to the Hedgehog.

3laramonet
nov. 2, 2011, 11:47am

Hi all,
As with most players I've met in 30 years of playing chess, I've spent too much time on openings ! However, you do start to realise that it's quality time that will help after a while.

Currently I play:

White e4
c4 (with the intention of playing 2.g3 a la Marin / Kosten)

Black Caro Kann
Dutch

I've played e4 for most of the time except for a few seasons playing the King's Indian Attack. I really want to branch out and use the English. I have played it over the board maybe 15 times and I using it in correspondence on Chess.com. As Black I'd like to add an alternative against e4 and against e5. While being very happy with the Caro Kann I'd also like to increase my exposure to endgames and have therefore thought of also playing the Berlin Defence to the Ruy Lopez. I played e5 back to e4 for some time so have some knowledge of open games so this seems fairly natural.
Against d4 I've always tried to chose something I could play against almost anything other than e4. I therefore played the King's Indian for some years but found it difficult to develop a feel for the wide range of possible positions. I pushed myself to play d5 (Semi Slav, then Slav a6) but didn't settle with it. I'd like to add the QGD Tartakower as a solid alternative to the Dutch. Maybe this is because I feel I should have done this in the past to further my education in different positions. It may also be that I feel very happy with the solid Caro Kann, despite choosing the sharper lines (Capablanca O-O, Nc6 against the Panov), and want a similar feel aganist d4 and other closed openings.

How do you guys introduce a new opening ? Do you find you can add it to your repertoire gradually or do you play it exclusively for a period ?

Do you believe tailoring a repertoire towards more endgame play makes sense ?

Do you think it reasonable for an amateur (although committed !) to play two alternatives as White and as Black aganist e4 and d4 ?

All the best !

4ThrillerFan
nov. 2, 2011, 4:36pm

I'm rated about 2050, and I have changed openings a zillion times. I'm only finally trying to settle on 1 or 2 openings (2 against 1.e4 and 1.d4).

Personally, I think you should have 2 against main openings. No reason to have 2 defenses to say, the Sokolsky (1.b4 - an opening I played as White for about 2 1/2 years from 2008 to 2010).

However, I think you should play openings that some resemblance of one another. Possibly a solid defense, and a more agressive one (for those must win situations). However, to try to play 2 openings completely on opposite ends of the spectrum isn't very effective, as I've learned first hand. I never have and never will play the Colle or London as White, but a perfect example of this is to play the Muzio Gambit (a line of the King's Gambit, 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.O-O) and the London System (1.d4, 2.Nf3, and 3.Bf4 against almost anything).

Based on what I've seen you list that you play, you appear to be more of a positional player than a tactician. I would NEVER recommend the King's Indian Attack. You get the exact same position, and I got an easy draw the last time I faced it. I asked him "why this move?", and he said "uhm, I don't know, I just play it every time" (EXACTLY MY POINT!)

The Berlin goes hand-in-hand with the Caro-Kann. Another you can try is the Petroff.

Against 1.d4, you didn't mention which line of the Dutch you play (i.e. Stonewall/Classical or Leningrad). If you play the Stonewall, I hope you have the book Win with the Stonewall Dutch by Sverre Johnsen, as there are cases where the Stonewall is outright bad, and you should play it more in line with the Nimzo-Indian (i.e. d4, c4, Nc3, and Nf3) or the Classical Dutch (i.e. Early Nh3). If the line you play is the Leningrad, don't even exit the dutch, and make your second line the Stonewall and Classical Dutches. If your normal line is the Stonewall and Classical, you can try the Nimzo-Indian since many lines are similar to the Dutch (especially the "Dutch" variation, which is a line of the 4.e3 Nimzo-Indian where Black plays 4...b6 and later on plays Bb7, Ne4, f5, etc.).

With your style of play, you really sound like a d4 player. Good luck with the English, but it doesn't sound like the best answer for your style of play.

As for myself:

White - 1.e4

Black vs 1.e4 - Ruy Lopez (Berlin), looking to add the Petroff, also know some of the main lines of the Ruy, like the Chigorin, Breyer, and Zaitsev. Notice it's all e5 stuff, not jumping all over the place.

Black vs 1.d4 - I only recently switched over from the King's Indian to the Slav. King's Indian is just a bit too much for me, but I hate the stupid bear hug effect you get in the orthodox QGD. Thus far, in my limited Slav experience, I have done nothing but win with it. Out of the Dutches, I hate the Leiningrad, but played the ...e6 dutches for quite a while. My main line was the Modern Stonewall (i.e. with ...Bd6, not ...Be7), but I played it with a flexible approach, and sometimes it wouldn't even end up a Stonewall, depending upon White.

I will say, DO NOT EVER play an opening where you are like "I'll play 1.d4 or any other move and no matter what Black does, I will do this and that and this and that". You won't get better that way. I preach to everyone, the worst openings you can play are ones like the Colle, London, English as a "system" (There are 2 ways to play the English, as a System and as an Opening), etc.

For clarification, English as a "system" is when you play with the mentality of "I will open 1.c4, and no matter what Black does, I will follow up with 2.g3, 3.Bg2, and 4.Nc3. Prime example, after 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6, 3.Bg2 is a horrible move. 3...f5!! 4.Nc3 Nf6 and White has NOTHING!. After 2...Nc6, White must play 3.Nc3, and if 3...f5, then 4.Nf3! e4 5.Nh4 and if Black ever plays ...g5, he will drop back to g2. White develops his Bishop classically in this line, even though g3 was played on move 2. That's playing the English as an Opening, not a System (i.e. Marin's 3 books).

Oh, and also, if you have a specific preference for Endings, the Berlin Ruy and Slav Defenses often lead to endgames.

5LesMiserables
nov. 2, 2011, 4:47pm

I can only give my own experience as a solid e4 player who moved to Nf3 and now interchangeably.

My biggest annoyance was the Sicilian against 1.e4

So I moved to Nf3 and became comfortable with the King's Indian Attack

Then I have mixed it up again with some 1.e4 as I now am no longer put off with meeting the Sicilian as I just play my normal KIA lines.

So I guess what I'm saying is, it might be a good idea to move to a system that can accommodate many of the same opening dynamics of your previous repertoire and allow for transpositions.

6ThrillerFan
Editat: nov. 3, 2011, 11:58am

To each their own, but I always discourage openings like the King's Indian Attack, London System, Colle System, etc.

Playing an opening that leads to the same position over and over and over again causes players to fall victim to making moves out of habit instead of having any sort of real plan.

If you play a KIA vs Sicilian game, and somebody actually asked you for the reasoning behind your 9th thru 15th moves (I'm assuming your first 8 are, in some order though not this exact order, e4, Nf3, d3, Nbd2, g3, Bg2, O-O, and Re1), could you do it? Like if you play 9.Nf1 or 9.c3 or 9.Qe2 or 9.h4 (all typical 9th moves), can you give a legitimate reason, based on the first 8 moves played by Black, as to why you made that move? Or do you just make the same 9th move every time assuming it doesn't just hang a piece or pawn regardless of what Black does, with the answer of "I don't know, I just make that move each time", in which case White has no real clue what he or she is doing?

I see way too many KIA players that can't answer the question as to the reason behind their 9th move, keeping in mind that by 8 moves, Black has numerous possible setups by now. I wouldn't be hessitant to ask one player that question about their 9th move, and then 2 rounds later, when they get White against somebody else, who plays a different setup, ask them the exact same question, and unless Black made the same first 8 moves, I'd expect a different answer. No different answer = no clue what they are doing.

If you happen to be one of the rare few that truly could answer the question every time, then the KIA may truly be for you, but for every 1 legitimate KIA player I see, there are at least 10 that have no business playing it that do only because they feel like it's a cheap way out of having to do hard analysis.

7laramonet
nov. 4, 2011, 10:29am

Hi all, Many thanks for the replies.

ThrillerFan,
I have played the Leningrad but am now playing the Classical including lines with the Nimzo-Dutch feel.
From your description of your repertoire (Berlin / Petroff, KID -> Slav) are you moving towards more positional tastes ? From your first entry on this thread I guess it was a typo when you wrote that you now play 1.e4 as white. I take it this was intended to be 1.c4.

LesMiserables,
I too went through the phases of e4, e4 with KIA, KIA starting with Nf3 and then chose to return to e4 proper with Bb5 against the Sicilian. Your development plan sounds sensible but what about my situation of playing a solid e4 repertoire and wanting to learn 1.c4. There is no sensible relationship between the two. Is it too sudden to just drop e4 and immerse myself in c4 ? Or is it too much to try and keep both viable ? I am even thinking of playing c4 when I am in an individual competion and keeping e4 for team competition.

8ThrillerFan
nov. 4, 2011, 4:45pm

No, not a typo. I played c4 from April of 2010 to June of 2011, and then made the transition to 1.e4. I was having some issues with the Reti (i.e. 1.c4 e6 2.g3 d5 or 1.c4 c6 2.g3 d5) and so I decided to try 1.g3 briefly. I ended up transposing to a Closed Sicilian a couple of times, and the game played itself. So then I slowly switched back over to 1.e4, and have played that since mid-summer.

I also drifted away from c4 as correspondence results seem to be horrible for White, myself included, with 1.c4, kinda questioning the validity, since correspondence is where you have all the time in the world to figure out the situation, run an engine, etc.

So no, not a typo. Now I don't play wild and crazy lines with 1.e4. I play the Advance French, Closed Sicilian and Tikiakov Sicilian (maybe one day will play the Open Sicilian), Ruy Lopez, etc. Not wild gambits against the French, King's Gambit vs e4, Morra Gambit, and other wild stuff.

My game takes on a more positional, though not dull, nature.

1.e4 and 1.c4 are doable together, but you can't say one is like the other. It's double the maintenance. Also, playing c4 properly will also end up transposing to d4 openings occasionally, especially the KID as there is no real way for White to avoid it if Black plays the KID setup and be able to maintain the advantage.

9LesMiserables
nov. 4, 2011, 4:46pm

If you play the positions of the KIA, especially with the Kings Indian Bishop and Knight on f3 then c4 is a natural enough move. I know many players who have actually combined e4 and c4 through a maroczy-bind set up and done very well with and their is also the possibility of transposition into an e4,d4,c4 set up, but then you are moving into new ground.

Do what you feel comfortable with. If you want to lay 1e4 as you like say the Ruy Lopez etc, then play it. If you come up against anything that you don't like you can transpose to a KIA and playing c4 is not out the question. In fact in many OTB games, the average player on the black side would be thinking hard new territory against these positions.

My advice to you would not be too bothered about thinking along book lines as I have said before. Think positions that you are comfortable with.

10ThrillerFan
nov. 7, 2011, 11:34am

You don't want to be playing c4 in the KIA. The bishop doesn't belong on g2 in a Maroczy bind setup.

For example, in a very common case of the Maroczy Bind, namely the Accelerated Dragon, after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 (This is, of course, not the only move, and there is a line where White Fianchettos his Kingside Bishop, but then you play 5.Nc3 instead with ideas of Nde2, g3, Bg2, and O-O, in some order, often depends on when Black attacks the d4-knight).

Notice after 5.c4 that White never Fianchettos the LSB, because it will just bite on granite on e4. In the KIA, typically Black plays for ...d5, which allows either an exd5 exchange, opening up the LSB, or else he advances d4, and if he doesn't play e5 at some point, White will, opening up the Bishop, and if he does play ...e5, White can play Bh3 at some point with the open c8-h3 diagonal.

However, with complete control of d5, Black not advancing ...d5 himself, you don't want to develop the bishop in the form of a fianchetto. The LSB is your bad bishop in the Maroczy Bind, but with it on e2, it's out of the way. If White has to play f3 to hold e4, he hasn't weakened his Kingside with g3. The Bishop on e2 also makes a typical pawn break for Black more difficult, namely b5.

You also don't want to put the Bishop on d3 as the d-file is your semi-open file, you not only dominate d5, but you also put pressure on d6, and plopping that LSB on d3 just impedes your attack.

Also, in the event of a piece trade on d5 (i.e. after say, Nd5 by White and Black trades Knights), 95% of the time, you want to take back with the e-pawn. This opens up the b1-h7 diagonal for White's LSB, which can now move to d3, and it also leaves Black with a weak pawn on e7. If he advances it, you trade, and the d6 pawn is once again weak.

You can't just say "I'm going to play this pawn structure against anything, and plop my pieces in these locations against anything" and expect to win. Perfect case in point is above, where you want to mix KIA and Maroczy Bind positions, and the 2 are like oil and water, mainly because of the LSB, and the role it should be playing to prevent pawn breaks by Black in the Maroczy Bind vs a completely different role it plays in the KIA.

11LesMiserables
nov. 7, 2011, 3:42pm

> 10

Complete balderdash. You can play whatever system you want to. You also seem to forget the black side of the affair. I have played c4 on numerous occasions with a g2 bishop. I have used hybrid systems of Catalan, Reti, etc

12ThrillerFan
Editat: nov. 7, 2011, 4:52pm

#11,

What you said in message 11 isn't the same as what you said in message 9. Your message 9 mixes Maroczy Bind with King's Indian Attack. If you are mixing the 2 in your games, you will have bad results in the long run as the Bishop isn't developed right for a Maroczy Bind.

Yes, you can get a Catalan, or Fiancetto KID via an early c4 and g3, via transpositions. There are a ton of transpositions in the English. Almost everything you mentioned can overlap with each other EXCEPT the Maroczy Bind and the King's Indian Attack, which is what you mentioned in message 9.

The Botvinnik - 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.e4 with an eventual d3 is NOT a Maroczy Bind, it's a Botvinnik Structure. In the Maroczy Bind, White's d-pawn is specifically gone. The ideas are completely different.

So message 10 is NOT compelte balderdash. I have played the English for a long time. I have been playing 1.e4 as of late. I played the King's Indian Attack back in the late 90s. I know what I'm talking about.

6 Positions have come up in your messages. Maroczy Bind, Botvinnik (thru description, not name), Catalan, English, Reti, and King's Indian Attack. Many can overlap with each other (i.e. English and Maroczy Bind, for example), but not the Maroczy Bind and the King's Indian Attack, as your message 9 does.

13LesMiserables
nov. 8, 2011, 1:19am

> 12

Yes you say you know what you are talking about. Look back at your posts: full of criticism. It is easy to do that, rather than see merit.

14laramonet
des. 20, 2011, 10:13am

With most serious players these days preparing for their games by looking up what others play in databases, there would seem to be an argument for expanding the range of what you play. The counter argument is that the more you play an opening the better understanding you have. In order to attempt to balance these, I'm trying out the English in email correspondence chess. I have played it maybe a dozen times over-the-board but will continue to play e4 there for now. the goal is to have two options and to expand my horizons by playing a flank / closed opening as White.
As Black, the Caro Kann fits me well I think. Against d4 I'd like to add the QGD. This I'll do in correspondence games at first. in common with the Dutch it should be an almost universal answer to anything other than e4. I hope it will offer solidity, reliability and exposure to some classic pawn structures (hanging pawns, isolated queen's pawn, Carlsbad). It's also just where my interest is at the moment.

15laramonet
feb. 2, 2012, 10:59am

My plan to introduce the QGD to my repertoire has taken two steps forward. Firstly, I qualified for the second round of an English themed tournament on Chess.com. this will give me the chance to play 1.c4 e6 and 2..., d5 as Black. Secondly, I ventured 1.d4 d5 as Black this week in a tournament game; a small cheat as I knew very well that my opponent always plays the London but still valuable experience, as I find at club level at least players are much more likely to play one of the d-pawn "specials" rather than allow the QGD.
Getting to books, I'm pleased to see that an Everyman book called The Triangle System by Scherbakov will be published this month. Although I've played for more than 30 years I must admit I didn't know what the Noteboom variation was, which is the main topic. Having now found some games and played thorugh them I'm very keen to add this to my collection so I'll have a 'play all out to win' variation to supplement the Tartakower.
I recently got Andrew Greet's Beating Unusual Defences to 1.e4. this is an excellent book and includes the d4 and c4 line I already play against the Scandinavian. It will also allow me to return to the Modern line Nf3 against the Alekhine, as the Exchange I've found a little toothless.
Has anyone got the Greet book ? Does anyone have any experience of the Noteboom variation ?

16ThrillerFan
feb. 2, 2012, 12:23pm

I have the Greet book. I had a whacko game this Sunday that started 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e5 Ng4 4.d4 d6 5.h3 Nh6 6.Nc3 a6 7.Bg5, but then Black played the Whacko 7...Qd7. I had a completely dominant position after 17 moves or so, including White Knights on h7 and h5, White Bishop on h6, and was up a pawn, but screwed it up in the 20s, and the fact that my inept opponent doesn't know his endgames, I was able to get a lucky draw. It was originally R and pawns on a2 and c3 vs Light-Squared Bishop, Knight, and pawns on a6 and h3. He goes after my a2 pawn, and trades the a2 pawn for the h3 pawn, leaving him with a Light-Squared Bishop, Knight, and a-pawn, I have the c-pawn and the knight. I get my King over toward the Queenside, and sacrifice the Rook for the Knight at the first opportunity, DRAW because of wrong colored Bishop and Rook Pawn. (Who cares about White's c-pawn...take it!)

I do not play the Noteboom. I play the Slav. Even when I did play the Semi-Slav, I didn't play the Triangle defense with the King's Knight undeveloped.

17laramonet
ag. 1, 2013, 10:57am

Hi again,
Having noticed this thread after some considerable time i thought I'd post an update and see if there is any interest. I played the English over the board for a short time and went back to e4 without being satisfied. I eventually resolved to go for it. 1.c4 is now my only move and I've found it liberating. The Marin books are excellent. I can also recommend "The English: Move by Move" by Giddins and "The Dynamic English" by Kosten. While basing my repertoire on Marin, I use the others to cross-check and expand on ideas. The transpositional nature of the English is a plus but also an obstacle for getting to grips with the opening. Most of all I'm enjoying it. Experienece is paying off the more I play and I'm more settled now than I have been as White probably since I started playing.
As Black I found the QGD exchange difficult to get to grips with. persistence may have paid off but I'm using the a6 Slav or Chebanenko at present. it's more difficult to get into as although this is my second spell playing it, I find I get to the main line position very infrequently. The Caro Kann is still my trusted answer to e4. Istarted playing it in July 2007 and have played just under 100 over the board games with it. By reviewing my games in my cut-down repertoire (English / Caro / Chebanenko) I have become convinced that specialisation is the way to go. Flexibility and fear of opponent's preparation are both over-stated I feel. Developing feel and experience allow concentration on the middle and endgames. I am up to nearly 40 games with the English over the board but have only just reached 20 Slavs and 13 d4 d5 openings. these figures show I believe that time and persistence are needed.