Opening workshop 2018

Opening recommendations for beginners
    • Your choice of opening will rest (or should rest) on several considerations: your style and temperament as a chessplayer, your time and aptitude for study, and your ambitions as a player.  The standard recommendation for a junior with little experience is to play open, attacking lines with 1.e4 with both colours -- this will let them some fun, will get their eye on for important basic tactics, and instil a sense of the importance of activity and development that should last them the rest of their lives, and they will likely enjoy learning a few lines and traps.  But for an older player, perhaps more interested in getting a playable game while doing as little study as possible, then the Colle System or London System might suit better as White, and the French or Caro-Kann and Slav as Black.  For someone with more affection for attacking chess, the Vienna and Closed Sicilian could suit.
  • Do you need a second-string opening?
    • All else being equal, yes!
    • This does not mean, mugging up on a new system the night before (many risks to this)
    • It means, keeping a second opening system simmering in the background (friendlies, occasional serious games) all the time
    • It helps if your second-string system is:
      • Low on theory - nothing sharp
      • Easy to learn - using a similar set-up in each game
      • Related to systems you already play
    • Because of this last point, it isn't easy to recommend one for everyone, but:
      • Low on theory/easy to learn: Colle, London, King's Indian Attack, Closed Sicilian; Fort Knox, Stonewall, Scandinavian, Old Indian
      • Related to systems you already play: e.g. Worrall Attack for a Ruy Lopez player, Keres Defence for a Nimzo/Bogo player, King's Indian for a Modern Defence player, Accelerated Dragon for a Dragon player,
  • Playing White against the Budapest Gambit
  • A non-standard line for Black against Bird's Opening
    • From's Gambit (1.f4 e5) may not be satisfactory -- and you have to be prepared for a transposition to the King's Gambit with 2.e4 -- while White can be relied upon to know the main lines with 1...d5.  What else is there?
    • Richard Palliser recommends in Beating Unorthodox Openings to play either 1...d5 2.Nf3 Bg4 or 1...d6 with the idea of an early ...Bg4 and ...e5.  This system is missing from Taylor's popular book.
    • Just generally, I think that's the right sort of line to try and find: the main lines will be familiar to your opponent and there is more to learn, even if they are the best lines. Something sound but offbeat shouldn't be too hard to find. For similar reasons, I have recommended 1.b4 c6
  • How do you not get mated against the King's Indian?
    • First, let's see the problem. In the main lines, we get a fixed pawn centre where Black is more or less obliged to hack down the King's-side while the Queen's-side burns.
    • 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7.O-O 7... Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9.Ne1 Ne8 10. Be3 f5 11. f3 f4 12.Bf2 g5
    • You can just try and get better at defending, as that Queen's-side attack is very appealing. But if not?
    • The Benko line tries to tie up the King's-side before pursuing Queen's side play
    • 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7.O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9.Ne1 Ne8 10. f3 f5 11. g4 *
    • A line with a similar idea is the old Petrosian main line:
    • 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. d5 Nbd7 8. Bg5 h6 9. Bh4 g5 10. Bg3 Nh5 11. h4 *
    • The Averbakh line is directed against Black's ...e5 idea
    • 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 O-O 6. Bg5 e5 7. dxe5 dxe5 8. Qxd8 Rxd8 9. Nd5
    • The Samisch rather fancies some King's-side aggression for White:
    • 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3
    • Paul likes the Smyslov Variation: if Black insists on lashing out on the King's-side, then all they may achieve is a position full of targets:
    • 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Nf3 O-O 5. Bg5 d6 6. e3 Nbd7 7. Be2 h6 8. Bh4 g5 9. Bg3
    • More steady play by Black can result in a position where they have no easy plan:
    • 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Nf3 O-O 5. Bg5 d6 6. e3 Nbd7 7.Qc2 c6 8. Be2 h6 9. Bh4 g5 10. Bg3 e5 (10...Nh5 11. Nxg5) 11. O-O Re8 12. dxe5 dxe5 13.Rfd1 Qc7 14. Rac1)