I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with a ChessBase user the other day in which he dropped what for me has become a frequent “bombshell” question: how does a player develop an opening repertoire? It’s an interesting (and, for many players, a crucial) question, but one without a simple answer. How does one go about creating an opening arsenal for oneself?
Let’s go back to my original wording of that question, when I asked “How does a player develop an opening repertoire?” When we search for an answer, the key word in that question isn’t “how”; instead it’s “develop”. The process doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time and is thus an evolutionary (rather than a revolutionary) process. I know that type of answer doesn’t go down well with some players, especially in light of the present-day culture of “instant gratification”, but facts are facts: unless you’re willing to blindly and unquestioningly follow the recommendations given in a repertoire book, CD, or video (a repertoire which may or may not – most likely the latter – suit your personal preferences and strengths as a player), it will take time to develop your own preferred set of openings.
By the way, the process never really ends. I’ve been playing chess for decades and I’ve added several openings to my repertoire comparatively recently; my opening repertoire today bears little resemblance to the one I preferred as a teenager. I rather suspect it’ll change a few more times before I’m pushing up daisies.
Assuming you don’t want to blindly follow the impersonal recommendations from some book or DVD, how do you settle on a set of openings? The best way to jumpstart the process is to get at least somewhat familiar with as many openings as you can. After you’ve been exposed to a broad range of opening choices, you can begin the task of picking out the openings upon which you want to concentrate.
That process of “exposure” is the entire point of a new series of ChessBase tutorial DVDs. The first in the series is called Openings #01 – The Open Games. On this DVD, a quartet of chess instructors (Adrian Mikhalchishin, Lawrence Trent, Lars Schandorff, and Valeri Lilov) present over five hours of video on the 1.e4 openings.
The DVD isn’t one you watch on a television; it’s part of the FritzTrainer series, which uses either ChessBase Light (which comes on the DVD, so no additional purchase is necessary), ChessBase, or Fritz as the interface for providing the instruction on your computer screen.
(For the step-by-step instructions on how to launch a FritzTrainer video, see my previous two posts to this blog.)
Openings #01’s DVD contains twenty-four separate videos on the Philidor, Petroff, numerous variations of the Ruy Lopez, the Giuoco Piano, Evans Gambit, King’s Gambit, the Scotch Game, the Two and Four Knights’, the Vienna Game, and interesting sidelines like the Bishop’s Opening. A booklet with some general info on each opening is also part of the package.
The videos typically run between ten and fifteen minutes in length (a couple of them are a wee bit longer). The beauty of the approach is that none of these openings is covered in microscopic detail: each is intended as a general overview of the basic ideas behind the opening in question. You won’t find in-depth analysis going twenty moves deep into sub-sub-variations, just a short introduction to each of the openings discussed. The DVD also contains a database of one hundred sample games (many of which are acknowledged classics) so that you may explore these openings a bit more on your own.
So what does this do with developing a repertoire? Everything. ChessBase’s new opening DVD series quick exposure to a variety of openings through short “bite-sized” videos which discuss just the fundamental ideas of each debut – this allows you to decide fairly quickly if a particular opening is worthy of your time and further investigation.
Have fun! – Steve
Copyright 2011, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.