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Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) When to study openings, have a repertoire? (Read 7191 times)
Sylvester
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Re: When to study openings, have a repertoire?
Reply #22 - 03/30/15 at 23:13:37
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See what IM John Watson has to say about this in Volume 4, Mastering the Chess Openings, p.289
  
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Keano
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Re: When to study openings, have a repertoire?
Reply #21 - 03/11/15 at 15:34:39
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I've never really had much of a repertoire as such.
  
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Re: When to study openings, have a repertoire?
Reply #20 - 02/25/15 at 11:41:21
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My 2c on the matter:

(a) Openings are part of the game, so it is not wise to neglect them. Even better if you have fun studying them! So I usually study a bit of everything to keep a balanced study program. However, I think it is better to keep your focus on your current studies (i.e. Silman's endgame book) and only patch things re your opening rep. When you finish with this (endgame) endeavour you could then decide on your next steps, which may include or not serious opening study (like studying the QGD in some depth).

(b) I keep a balanced opening rep. You can find almost anything in there, like gambits, closed positions, openings I play as Black & also as White, systems, transpo tricks, dynamic positions, O-O-O, O-O, endgame lines, etc. etc. In this way I don't miss on anything. If I want to change a line or opening it usually does not go wasted as I may use it as a secondary or temporary weapon (e.g. in your case, you could keep your gambit lines).

(c) All in all, I think it will be benefitial (and efficient!) for you to study openings, just keep it balanced (let's say up to ~25-30% of your study time). This is the catch really. So it is up to you to decide how to spend this say 30% of your time: e.g. each year study in depth a new opening that will become an important part of your rep, or fix the holes in your White rep (go wide instead of deep), or temporarily try sth new for development/educational purposes (like you did with the gambits).

I think you could do all of these while being consistent in building a coherent rep in the long run. But you cannot have everything in one go. Be realistic, be efficient and keep it interesting for you.  Wink
  

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Re: When to study openings, have a repertoire?
Reply #19 - 02/25/15 at 10:20:30
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ReneDescartes wrote on 02/24/15 at 19:32:20:
By the way, I hate that thing where the only players who play a line against you are better than you.

I'm about 2000, and I play the Sicilian as black. I'm just about the level where players weaker than or equal to me play all sorts of antis (against which I have a fine score), but the 2100+ almost always go for that pesky sideline with 2.Nf3 and 3.d4...
  
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Re: When to study openings, have a repertoire?
Reply #18 - 02/24/15 at 20:24:32
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Until quite recently I actually had a genuinely terrible score against the Caro, for precisely that reason Smiley

For some reason the only people who played it against over a period of a few years were really very strong players. I've got a go at a few 'normal' players recently and done much better out of it.
  
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ReneDescartes
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Re: When to study openings, have a repertoire?
Reply #17 - 02/24/15 at 19:32:20
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The only openings that would relieve you of study and at the same time make you free from opening disasters would hurt your chess, not help it--"system" openings, Colle, Stonewall, KIA, etc. So I would either keep my current repertoire--or else put in just a little, mostly strategic, study on something broadening and then jump into fresh waters. The beauty of the QGD is that strategic study will pay off, where as the Two Knights Ng5 variation is one hot pan of tactical liver.

By the way, I hate that thing where the only players who play a line against you are better than you. Very demoralizing, don't let it get you down. I know a guy who taught beginners the Caro-Kann--just imagine how you would pound them into the ground!
« Last Edit: 02/24/15 at 23:09:34 by ReneDescartes »  
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ReneDescartes
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Re: When to study openings, have a repertoire?
Reply #16 - 02/24/15 at 18:55:01
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Well, you woudn't have to memorize lines to read the relevant parts of the MacDonald book and get the strategic concepts. The book is after all made out of good grandmaster games, perceptively annotated for nonmasters--what you want to study anyway--and it highlights the middlegame plans and pawn structure themes of the QGD, which are classic. If you do want to memorize lines, you could rehearse just three or four lines leading to the main tabiyas (Soltis recommends this) of the Lasker, plus the same against Bf4, Bxf6 and the Exchange Variation . You don't have to get booked--you could familiarize yourself in a few evenings or in one weekend.


Edit: Oops, I see kylemeister beat me to it by a nose!
  
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Re: When to study openings, have a repertoire?
Reply #15 - 02/24/15 at 18:51:30
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But there are "opening" books which are essentially game collections.  Marovic's QG book would be an(other) example.  Hardly a book which presents variation A1234(b) or the like.
  
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Re: When to study openings, have a repertoire?
Reply #14 - 02/24/15 at 18:36:47
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ReneDescartes wrote on 02/24/15 at 12:47:15:
I think the QGD is a great idea. There are two really good books on beginning this--Neil MacDonald's Starting Out: Queen's Gambit Declined is excellent and mentions, with MacDonald's typical thoughtfulness, strategies against a lot of normal-looking, plausible approaches that booked players never play but class players will encounter. He also goes over traps, and covers the strategy very well. Matthew Sadler's The Queen's Gambit Declined is a long game collection featuring as commentary Socratic dialog. It is justly famous for some of the clearest and most detailed strategic discussions I've ever seen. Both are available as e-books. Study the Lasker Variation chapters--it's really not too  much theory, and you'll get your simplified positions and endgames, guaranteed! It will definitely hold down the fort while you forge ahead with your studies. Plus, it's one of the soundest defenses on the planet. And I agree it will broaden your horizons. Great idea!


This goes back to my main point, though. Part of the reason for me to pick the QGD is that I want an opening I can play without having to spend time studying it. Buying books like these and reading them defeats the purpose. I want to spend my chess study time right now on tactics, endgames, and master games, not opening books.

And even in my existing repertoire, there are many lines that I'm not entirely comfortable with. For instance, on the black side of 1. e4 e5, I'm perfectly happy facing the Ruy Lopez or the 4. d4 lines of the Two Knights Defense. But I'm still kinda clueless if white plays 4. Ng5 in the Two Knights, and I'm not entirely comfortable in the Scotch, King's Gambit, Vienna, etc. Being rusty after a couple of years of not playing is part of that - I don't remember details I studied years ago in some of these lines. And I really don't want to spend time looking them all up, because again, I feel like I've spent way too much time on openings before, and I'm trying to get away from that now.

For the most part, I think I'm content with just playing the openings I know and learning bits and pieces of new opening knowledge the hard way - playing it, then looking it up briefly as part of my post mortem of my games.

But there are some lines I need or want to change. For now, the only immediately changes I'm planning are just starting to play the QGD as black and maybe finding a solid line to play against the Caro Kann as white. Other changes can come later.
  

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Re: When to study openings, have a repertoire?
Reply #13 - 02/24/15 at 16:28:43
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By the way, regarding the Lasker QGD, it's part of the repertoire in the Yusupov "Tigersprung" books for players of Fromper's level, I believe.
  
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Re: When to study openings, have a repertoire?
Reply #12 - 02/24/15 at 16:20:10
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You must have an opening repertoire whatever your actual level is. I boosted my elo some years ago when I started working a little in my opening repertoire with white. With black everybody knows more or less his pet defence but with white...

Another story is the practical benefits of spending X time in searching an opening repertoire. Once you have ONE rep, then maybe it's more beneficial to study anything else (tactics and endgames).

Another factor in choosing an opening repertoire that is very important, imho, is to choose openings we have some material about them. For example, it's better to choose the Kalashnikov having the excellent boot by Tony Rotella (integral repertoire sith Rossolimo, Alapin...) is better than playing the sicilian dragon if we don't have any serious material about anti-sicilians.

And finally, a good/bad material would be considered in terms of how good the related middlegames are explained, not only showing the critical moves. A good series of books in that aspect (at the level we are talking about) are the "Move by move" series of openings.

Salut,
  
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Re: When to study openings, have a repertoire?
Reply #11 - 02/24/15 at 14:34:40
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In some ways, once you get to the decent club player level it doesn't matter too much what your approach is as long as you don't waste time, but it is important to have one.

Probably the most practical way to handle things is to make most of your opening study the analysis of your games afterwards, checking your moves and the opponent's against what strong players play. If you have a ChessBase program and a reasonable database, this will be easy as pie. Over time you'll have notes on most of the dangerous things your opponents can try and you'll remember what to do from having personalised your knowledge of your repertoire.

Based on what you mentioned, I would move toward the QGD (which is probably the best defence to 1.d4 in terms of getting away with not knowing the book move). If you keep the French as a back-up defence to 1.e4, you could even play 1.d4 e6 (as well as 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6) and meet 2.Nf3/2.c4 with 2...d5/2...f5 depending on what position you're after and the preferences of the opponent. Then continue with your existing plan, and make sure to analyse your games afterward - if you do it well you'll know your openings better than most of your opponents.

If you do make the switch to 1.d4 (and I wouldn't do it while you're changing other parts of your repertoire), I'd recommend combining some shortcuts with main lines so you don't get overloaded with the wide range of new positions. For example, you may opt for the Torre after 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 and play 3.c4 against 2...g6 to ease into things.
  

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Re: When to study openings, have a repertoire?
Reply #10 - 02/24/15 at 14:17:43
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No, don't take a long break from competitive play - just keep going but playing real openings Smiley You'll have a few bumpy experiences while learning of course but learning from experience is much the best way.
  
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Re: When to study openings, have a repertoire?
Reply #9 - 02/24/15 at 13:56:16
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I'm around Fromper's level. I often play opponents rated 1900 to 2100, and my current apology for an opening repertoire rarely troubles them. If I am ever to compete at that level I need to learn some serious openings; but it's only too obvious what will happen if I start playing serious openings before I have properly studied them. So it's tempting to keep playing harmless sidelines, and I never really get started on learning the serious stuff. I wonder whether to cut the Gordian knot by taking a long break from competitive play, and using it (among other things) to acquire a repertoire that I have confidence in. The trouble with that plan is that I would need to be very careful about choosing the lines to learn. It's hard to judge whether a particular opening will suit you in the long run, against tough opposition, without experience of playing it against tough opposition!
  
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Re: When to study openings, have a repertoire?
Reply #8 - 02/24/15 at 12:54:19
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I think it might have been Nikos who commented on this before. Anyway, whoever it was, I have about the same approach, which is to study a lot of openings. That gives a lot of ideas to use and exposure to different pawn structures and so on. Still, even though I study a lot of them, I don't play that many.

And I also think that below 2000, there is much more need to study middle games (even though they are connected to the opening) and endgames (not as much related to the opening, but still there are connections in many cases). Studying annotated master games is an excellent way to get better and at the same time learn about openings. I picked up Bent Larsen's best games and enjoy it and learn a lot from it at the same time.
  
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