An unexamined life is not worth living.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

10 steps to a Better Chess Opening Repertoire

  1. Write it down, and then print it out. Begin by recording what you know already, and build on that.
  2. Don’t be afraid that some parts of it are incomplete - realize that building an opening repertoire is a long term goal
  3. As Mark Dvoretsky explained in Opening Preparation – openings you play should:
    1. Fit your style (open vs. closed positions)
    2. Fit your memory’s abilities. Relatively speaking, some openings require understanding of plans (e.g. Closed Sicilian), while others, such as King’s Indian defence require remembering a lot of theory as well
  4. Don’t easily give up on lines that did not work out in a game, instead try to understand what particular mistake caused a defeat. That being said, if you keep having bad results in an opening – it’s worth reviewing whether it matches your style (see above).
  5. It’s may sound obvious, but review it against books like MCO or NCO, computer databases, etc.
  6. Pay attention to move orders and understand their implications. In “Slav Defence” Matthew Sadler talks about how this is often underestimated.
  7. Understand how your openings are connected to typical middlegames and endgames. Shereshevsky’s Mastering the Endgame is a great reference on the Opening->Endgame connection.
  8. Understand the opening’s history, and how ideas developed over time - see Kasparov’s “Revolution in the 70s”.
  9. Before an important tournament - review the variations you will mainly rely on in this event (assuming your repertoire allows some variety in the first place). If you know in advance your opponent in next round – spend an hour to prepare for that specific game. Both will save you time over the board.
  10. Review all games that you played in past, online and in over the board tournaments. Did you remember your own repertoire? Did the games reveal gaps in your coverage of theory?

Good luck! I am still working on step 1 for my own repertoire …

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