Half the variations which are calculated in a chessgame turn out to be completely superfluous.
Unfortunately, no one knows in advance which half

How to Develop a Opening Repertoire

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What makes a first-rate, grade A, number one, par excellence, top-notch player? In your mind you conjure up all the great chess players through out time and think about the special talents that each one has. They all have a considerable diversity in their styles of play. A large number of different characteristics and strengths in a large variety of ways. But there are two things that they all have in common. They all have developed an opening repertoire and a distinct style of play. What about you? Have you developed an opening repertoire and do you have a distinct style of play?

One way to develop a repertoire is to study the openings of great players and the World Champions. However to study a player whose play is much higher than yours would be beyond your understanding and not likely to be of much benefit to you. You should try to study a repertoire that is closer to your level of play, moving up in steps to more complicated openings as you progress in your play. If your at a the aamateur level, trying to memorize lots of variations and openings that require sharp play with many tactical possibilities is not the way to go.

The most important thing to do is just get your pieces into the game and castle your king quickly. The classical variation of the Ruy Lopez is a fine choice that is relatively easy to learn and execute. At the intermediate level the French Defense is a solid opening that can teach you much about opening principles and give you favorable possibilities in the middle game and end game. At the advanced levels after you have a good understanding of the dynamics of the struggle for control of the center, you can learn some of the hypermodern openings or Flank Games as they are called. The Reti Opening, King's Indian Attack, Catalan, English Opening and the Bird's Opening. The Gruenfeld is a complicated opening as are the Sicilian Defenses. More books have probably been written about the Sicilian Defense than any other defense.

If you're going to study the Sicilian it is best to start with the major Defenses. The Dragon, Scheveningen, Najdorf, Paulsen, and the Classical Variation that relies on solid and rapid development with a focus on the center of the board. Other choices may be the many variations of the Ruy Lopez, French, Caro-Kann, King's Indian and the Semi-Slav.

Below is a summarization and guide for a number of world champions to look for specific areas of study at different levels of play. The asterisk signifies a model for advice. Weaker play may be from older masters. On the internet you may find many of these games in PGN format. You can study these games using a software tool that can read in PGN format. PGN is the internationally accepted text format which can be read and edited with a simple ASCII editor. Fritz, ChessBase Light, or the Winboard interface will read in PGN format.

Here is Chess Base Light 7.0

The popular styles of the Masters

*1400-1700 Attacking. Alekhine's style of play had a razor-sharp tactical sense, combining stormy attacks with superb endgame technique.

*2400-2500 Attacking. . Anand's style was resourceful, often finding ways to draw or even win in inferior positions. Noted for attacking skill, deep calculation and tactical ability.

Andersen's style is the epitome of attacking chess. While he can play positionally, he prefers to go after the enemy king, and will generally surprise you with a lively style of play and inventive ideas.

0-1000 Unorthodox.. Bird's style offers the quintessential 19th century approach. He personality cares little for chess theory, and will gleefully choose openings generally regarded as bizarre, often ignoring positional considerations to pursue the attack for all it is worth.

Blackburne's style is what we might call a coffeehouse player, an unabashed tactician who disdains positional considerations.

Bogoljubow's -style is mainly positional, with the ability to exploit strategic weaknesses in an opponent.

*2000-2200 Positional. Botvinnik's style A profound technician and iron logician, Botvinnik will always seek the objectively best move. Excellent endgame technique and a varied, solid opening book, especially where the French Defense, Dutch Defense, Semi- Slav and English Opening are concerned.

*1400-1700 Positional. Capablanca's style is the most straightforward and classical. His personality shuns unclear complications and generally tries to keep everything under control, steering for simple positions that allow him to build on tiny advantages, often converting seemingly drawn games into wins.

Chigorin's style, unlike many modeled after those of the Romantic period, can actually play a defense, and also has an understanding of positional play. Even so, his personality is a feared attacker, and has no problem uncorking the Evans Gambit on an unsuspecting opponent.

*2000-2200 Conservative. Euwe's style is an opening expert, familiar with the entire range of opening variations. Although hypermodern ideas are often seen in his games as White, he will stick with classical lines as Black, and particularly enjoys the Slav Defense.

Evans's style is fond of the English as White and the King's Indian and Sicilian as Black. A fierce defender and avid pawn snatcher, he has been known to suffer for hours nursing a lowly pawn all the way to victory.

*1700-2000 Conservative. Fine's style has a preference for the open game. He will seek the initiative right from the first move. Fine is tough to beat because of his encyclopedic grasp of the openings, where he is equally comfortable with 1.d4 or 1. e4. Fine is also renowned for his craftiness in the endgame.

*2200-2400 Attacking. Fischer's style is grounded on extensive opening analysis and backed up by superb endgame technique. Fischer is direct, vigorous and relentlessly aggressive. He disdains draws and has an intense will to win. He will almost always open 1. e4 as White, and favors the Najdorf Sicilian or King's Indian as Black.

Geller's style was renowned for opening expertise. Geller could mix it up with the best and still come out on top. He preferred to play open games, particularly the Ruy Lopez, with White, and the Sicilian and King's Indian with Black.

Larsen's style is an unabashed original that vacillates between strikeouts and home runs. He was fond of many old and forgotten opening variations, but far from being reckless, was quite capable of solid positional play.

Kamsky's style is a tenacious, not overly aggressive, defender, the Kamsky prefers to wait until the endgame, where he was especially strong. He was quite comfortable playing cramped openings that most would find uncomfortable.

*2500+ Positional. Karpov's style is accurate positional play. Karpov hides the fact that he can be aggressive when called for. He likes to build small yet persistent advantages without incurring unnecessary risks or making mistakes, and is quite fond of 1. e4 as White and the Caro-Kann and Queen's Indian Defense as Black.

*2000-2200 Unorthodox. Korchnoi's style is a defensive player who revels in ferocious counter-attacks, Korchnoi was tough and tenacious, fighting every game to the bitter end with grim determination. As you might expect, he was partial to the French Defense and the English Opening.

*2500+ Conservative. Kramnik's style is quite well-rounded, he is equally at home with 1.e4 or 1.d4 or 1.c4, all of which can cause problems for opponents not as well-versed in the intricacies of those openings. As Black, he is fond of the Queen's Gambit Accepted, is skilled at the Berlin Defense, and is prepared to patiently defend long endgames in order to blunt the opponent's opening initiative.

*2000-2200 Attacking. Larsen's style is an unabashed original who vacillates between strikeouts and home runs. He is fond of many old and forgotten opening variations, but far from being reckless, is quite capable of solid positional play.

*0-1000 Positional. Lasker's style will more often play the opponent as much or more than the board. He was a fabulous defensive player and fine tactician, equally at home in open or closed positions.

Leko's style is a cautious, solid defensive. He seldom loses but draws many games. He tends to shun sharp openings, and is partial to the Sicilian and Gruenfeld Defenses.

*1000-1400 Attacking. Marshall's style had a penchant for the attack. He employed gambits and took risks, even against the strongest of players. He had a keen eye for the purely combinative side of chess, and could amaze the competition by some incredible ingenuity in the most sterile positions.

*0-1000 Attacking. Morphy's style was most concerned with mobility, determined to place pieces on open lines and boldly sacrificing material to gain the initiative. He excelled in open games, using keen positional judgment to lay the groundwork for stunning combinations.

Najdorf's style had a varied enough repertoire that you could not expect a particular move, but did have certain conspicuous preferences. As White, he distinctly favored 1.d4 with a secondary interest in the English/Reti systems, and as Black, leaned toward more combative choices -- King's Indians and Sicilians, with an occasional Queen's Indian or Philidor Defense.

Nimzowitsch's style spawned the Hypermodern School. He believed that control of the center does not necessarily imply occupation by pawns. He liked maneuvering in closed and cramped positions, and loved having an overextended enemy center to attack.

Paulsen's style prefered to let opponents weaken their position. His style was notable in that it stresses defense, and employed several openings that complemented his counter-attacking style.

*1700-2000 Positional. Petrosian's style had a unique defensive bent not terribly popular for many fans, though connoisseurs might find subtle features to savor. He excelled in closed, constricted positions, snuffing out attacks even before foes begin to mobilize their forces, and shunned sharp lines in favor of the Caro-Kann and French Defense.

Pillsbury's style was vigorous and combinative. He was particularly adept at the Queen's Gambit and Ruy Lopez, two major weapons of the modern master. When patient maneuvering was required, however, he was less successful, and was sometimes ill at ease in the endgame.

Polgar's style is characterized by aggression, almost invariably opening with 1. e4 and striving for the initiative right from the start. However, she is far from reckless, and is a tough tournament competitor, winning a lot of points from beautiful combinations.

Reshevsky's style is very much at home in cramped positions. He was partial to 1. d4 and often defends with the Nimzo-Indian, but is also strong in endgames and has superb tactical skill. Reti's style is a hypermodern school devotee. He rarely occupied the center directly. Among his openings are, appropriately, Reti's Opening (1. Nf3), Alekhine`s Defense (1. e4 Nf6), and Fianchetto formations like 1. g3 and 2. Bg2.

*1400-1700 Conservative. Rubinstein's style. Was accuracy in endgames Although strong in openings, he preferred simplifications and quiet lines without complications.

Seirawan's style is basically defensive, with a highly refined positional style that shines in the endgame. He is fond of the Caro-Kann Defense and is very tough with Black.

*2400-2500 Positional. Shirov's style is essentially exciting chess that doesn't shrink from risk at any time in the game. He has an ability to find moves that may not be best but which often unnerve the opponent.

Short's style true to his natural attacking roots usually opens with 1. e4, playing for open positions and attacking lines. Though he will achieve brilliant wins against some of the best, he is also prone to horrible defeats to lesser players, because of an inability to compromise his style.

Smyslov's style combines the best of old and new ideas with a serene, simple and powerful brand of chess. As White, he favored the English and was equally at home in flank openings or classical defenses.

*2400-2500 Conservative. Spassky's style had a flair for lively tactics. As Black, he plays the Tarrasch Defense and as White the Leningrad Variation of the Nimzo-Indian.

Steinitz's style is the forerunner of modern positional play. He was quite at home in the closed game with barricaded pawn structures, and would even move his king in the opening to gain material.

*1700-2000 Attacking. Tal's style loves mayhem. All he needed was a chance to attack and the position would explode in fireworks.

*0-1400 Conservative. Tarrasch's style was a apostle of the attack. He would patiently accumulate small advantages until they add up to a big bang. He was champion of the Open Defense to the Ruy Lopez and the Tarrasch Defense, where the mobility of Black's pieces balance the isolated queen pawn.

*1400-1700 Unorthodox. Tartakower's style will usually try to use superior opening preparation to build up an early advantage that can later be exploited either positionaly or tactically. He played a wide range of openings for both White and Black. While he could attack when needed, Tartakower could defend as well, and was perfectly happy to embrace many of the new ideas of the Hypermodern chess movement. Known as one of the leading exponents of openings theory.

Timman's style is well versed in the openings and generally plays in a flexible but muscular manner. Over the years, he has blended deep theoretical knowledge, and a direct classical approach.

Waitzkin's style is known for fearless attacks and deep understanding of the endgame.