Building A Opening Repertoire

Basic Ideas In The Opening

Opening Training

Progressive Training Openings

How to Develop a Opening Repertoire

How to Master a New Opening

Here is a list of the most popular openings GM's past and present prefer.

Caro-Kann Defense
Dutch Defense
English
French Defense
King's Indian Defense
Nimzo-Indian Defense, and the Leningrad Variation
Queen's Indian Defense
Ruy Lopez
Semi- Slav Defense
Sicilian Defense, Najdorf
Tarrasch Defense

Here is a recommendation of openings for your level of play.
Journeyman 1200 to1499 FICS Standard

White Repertoire
Giuco Piano

As White you should start out with 1.e4. If your opponent plays 1e5, then play 2.Nf3 and head for the Italian Game (Giuco Piano) After 2Nc6; 3.Bc4 Bc5 , use the Classical Variation with 4.c3, and if 3Nf6, then just play 4.d3.
Against the Sicilian Defense, use the Closed Variation with 2.Nc3, which is very easy to play because you just develop pieces and then attack.

In the other semi-Open Games, play the Exchange Variation. This works well against the Caro-Kann and the Alekhine, and against the French you can squeeze a little more out of the position by choosing the Delayed Exchange, forcing Black to break the symmetry of the position. If Black plays a Pirc or Modern setup, just develop your knight at c3 and f3 and play Be2, and then castle (the Classical Variation)

Black Repertoire
Queen's Gambit Declined

With Black, it is important to choose openings which actively contest the center. The most suitable openings are the symmetrical ones against 1.e4 and 1.d4. The classical variation of the Spanish Game (Ruy Lopez) is a nice choice because it is simple and easy to execute. Defending the Queen's Gambit Declined can be handled in a number of ways, but the Orthodox Variation is the one which allows you to keep the most solid center. The Flank Openings or hyper modern openings are rarely seen at the beginners level so you probably won't have to worry much about a defense to them. But as in the Intermediate level The Tarrasch Defense in the Queen's Gambit Declined can be played against all Flank Games.

Intermediate levels 1500 to 1599 FICS Standard

White Repertoire
Queen's Gambit

After you have been playing for a while you will want to explore some of the other opening strategies, so why not switch to 1.d4 as White? This will bring you into a whole new world of possible structures. In the Queen's Gambit, you can react to acceptance of the gambit with 3.e4, staking out important territory in the center and regaining the pawn quickly. If Black declines, or plays the Slav, then the Exchange Variations clarify the central situation quickly. Against the King's Indian, the exchange Variation of the Classical Variation holds very little risk and creates some tactical possibilities for you. The Grunfeld is a complicated opening, so the sideline 4.Bf4 is a good way of avoiding the most difficult and challenging lines. Similarly, the Benoni and Benko Gambit can be ducked after 1.d4 Nf6; 2.c4 c5 with 3.Nf3, the Anti-Benoni.

Finally, on 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 you invite the Nimzo-Indian with 3.Nc3 and on 3Bb4 you select the main lines with 4.e3. It is not necessary to master the theory of these openings, because they are all rather quiet and as long as you develop your pieces on sensible squares you will achieve a decent position.

Black Repertoire
French Defense
Tarrasch Defense

For Black, the French Defense offers a solid opening which can lead to favorable middlegame and endgame positions. If you haven't previously played the French or the Queen's Gambit Declined, then the French offers a good chance to learn all about "Bad Bishops" lessons that will serve you well as your skills increase. Against 1.d4, the Tarrasch Defense in the Queen's Gambit Declined is an excellent choice, providing good piece play and introducing you to another important middlegame formation; the isolated d-pawn position. Another advantage of the Tarrasch is that it can be played against all the Flank Games too.

Advanced Levels 1600 to 1699 FICS Standard

White Repertoire
English
Reti
Queen's Gambit
Sicilian

When you fully understand the dynamics of the center, then it is possible to adopt a more hypermodern approach. As White, the English Opening and Reti are useful, but 1.e4 and 1.d4 are still the top choices. Now however, it is time to master the main lines. If playing 1.e4 you must spend a lot of time studying and playing the Sicilian Defenses, since they hold the key to quick wins against your opponents and if you are not properly prepared with them can lead to quick wins for your opponents. If 1.d4 is your preference, concentrate on confronting the King's Indian and Nimzo-Indian in the main lines. The Queen's Gambits need less attention, except in the ultra-sharp lines like the Botvinnik Variation of the Semi-Slav.

Black Repertoire
Caro-Kann
French Defense
Ruy Lopez
Semi-Slav
Sicilian

When facing 1.e4 as Black, choose one of the major Sicilian Defences (Najdorf, Dragon, Scheveningen, Paulsen or Lasker-Pelikan) and really learn it thoroughly, or adopt (not just one) variations of the Spanish Game (Ruy Lopez), French, and Caro-Kann are acceptable alternatives. Against 1.d4, the King's Indian, and Semi-Slav are excellent choices for everyday use.

Expert Levels 1700 on up FICS Standard

White Repertoire
Catalan
English
Flank Games
King's Indian Attack
Reti

The flank games can be tough to master because of the many variations and replies given to your opponent to counter them. Also the ideas behind them are more complex with subtitles that require a through knowledge of the ideas behind these opening.

However they are excellent for White because each one can arise or transpose from many different openings. The key word here is transpositions. For example, as opposed to opening with either 1.e4 or 1.d4 you open with 1.Nf3 and then you keep your opponent in the dark as to what you are going to do next so that he may not lay plans right away to develop his pieces for a solid defense to counter a opening you are about to use that he may have studied, practiced and played many, many times. In this way you can avoid going head to head with some one that has tried to become somewhat of a specialist in some defense that you may not be as familiar with as they are. Another words you are taking the game out of his ballpark and putting it into yours.

Even if you next play 2.c4 you still do not tip your hand on what opening exactly you are going to use next. You could be going into the Reti, English or Catalan Or you could play 2.d3 g3, or e4 next going into the King's Indian Attack, or you could play 2.c4, going into the King's English. This is how the top GM's play chess. They play a game of cat and mouse trying to hold out their intentions of what plan they have for their intended opening play, much like poker players do. This is a much shrewder and cagey way to play an opening.

All of these Flank Openings however require extensive study, practice and playing if you want to get over the hurdles and pitfalls that can occur with them.That is why we put them in the Expert level category. But because these hyper modern flank games are rarely seen at the lower levels of play you could develop a significant edge in your opening repertoire against those not familiar with how to handle them. They are called flank games because they do not try to take control of and fight for the center like non-flank openings do.

Instead they focus on fast development of your pieces and then concentrate on fixing the center and then attacking that fixed center from the flanks until they obtain a progressive collapse of the center. The idea is that what ever is fixed and non mobile tends to grow weak and vulnerable. The key is to fix the center, which means to provoke a blockade if possible, and then sap the center of its dynamic potential. This idea relies on the simple but universal truth that what ever is fixed and immobile, has a tendency to grow weaker.

Black Repertoire
Grunfeld Defense

Of all the openings for Black, there is none so flagrant as the Grunfeld in defying the principle that one should try to occupy and control the center. This defense makes use of the extreme use of the "Hypermodern" concept of attacking the center from afar from the flanks in order to control it. However the Grunfeld can be a very tough opening to master because there is the danger that White's big center will lead to a very strong attack. Yet with study and lots of practice you will learn how to sidestep the pawn steamroller and actually attack it and then as Black you can feel relatively secure.
The most direct challenge to the Grunfeld is the Exchange Variation. White will immediately obtain a classical center with attacking prospects.

The Chess Position Trainer
An easy way to learn the openings is to use the Chess Position Trainer. It will not only guide you through the opening moves but will also test your repertoire knowledge as you progress. It will show you the candidate moves, it will give you a score and evaluation on your progress so that you may keep improving to learn the opening of your choice.

When you download this free program, Chess Position Trainer, you must also download the Standard-Repertoire to a file and then load it after you have the Chess Position Trainer up and running. This will give you several PGN example file Openings listed below. You may also make up your own PGN files or use other openings after you convert them to a PGN format. The Sicilian Openings you can use using the Standard-Repertoire are: Sicilian Dragon and the Accelerated Dragon for Black.The Closed Sicilian for White.

Go here to down load the Chess Position Trainer CPT 3.2 and the Standard-Repertoire examples. Before hand make two folder files one for the Chess Position Trainer and the other for the Standard Repertoire to download to for saving your downloaded zipped files. They don't even require you to register to download it, which is nice.

  • The Chess Position Trainer (http://community.chesspositiontrainer.com/files/default.aspx)

    The Standard-Repertoire examples are used for the walk-through in the manual. It is an almost complete repertoire for White and Black. It also contains the PGN-example file (amarok.pgn) which is used in the manual to demonstrate the novelty feature of Chess Position Trainer. The following systems are used:
    White
    Closed Sicilian, Bishops Opening, Caro-Kann, Modern Defence, Pirc, Alekhine and Kings Indian Attack.
    Black
    Chigorin, Sicilian Dragon and Accelerated Dragon.

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