An unexamined life is not worth living.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Book review: How to Build Your Chess Opening Repertoire

If you have constant trouble re-with your openings and lost hope to build a solid repertoire, the book I am reviewing today may help you out! How to Build Your Chess Opening Repertoire by Steve Giddins is a very useful book for any practical chess player, especially if you have enjoyed Opening Preparation by Dvoretsky and Yusupov, and are interested in getting an update that would talk more about how computers have impacted opening preparation in the last couple of decades. Several of Dvoretsky’s books came out in the middle of 90’s but were really based on the lecture that had taken place in 1991-1992, when nobody really had access to modern databases and engines, so there is practically not a word about computers in them. Giddins’ book provides a much needed update for this important topic.



Here are a few points that stood out for me from “How to Build Your Chess Opening Repertoire”:

1. Don't switch your openings too much, try to always re-use the knowledge you already gained of the opening theory and middlegame plans. Jumping between openings is dangerous, as I mentioned in my other post on opening preparation.

2. Computers have made it hard to rely on sharp lines that are easily refuted by Rybka and that has affected repertoires of many leading players. Even amateurs are probably discouraged from analyzing a line where a computer keeps indicating that their position is objectively bad.

3. Computers also make it hard to hide holes in your repertoire (say, if someone refuted your preparation in a specific tournament game), as anyone with a database will spot those pretty easily and can expose them more and more. For example, I had lost a game in a rare line around 2002, and this has affected my repertoire, giving up 1…e5 for a couple of years.

4. If our opening preparation even appears to have been insufficient and we end up in a bad position, it affects the emotional state of the player in later parts of the game. We’d tend to blame the opening for all of our misfortunes and not resist as hard as we would otherwise. Having a solid opening repertoire would allow to focus more on other parts of the game!

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