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My idea of an impeccable composite repertoire fit for Super GM play

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Based on an old post of mine on the CFC Discussion Board:

I'd recommend, for the viewer's own comparison purposes, doing a 2700+ vs. 2700+ player database search, for either a few recent years only, or for a longer period of time, to see what the most popular defences/openings are, and for the wins-draws-losses (or overall-percentage) percentage results achieved with each. Better yet might be to do a computer vs. computer games database search, assuming the programs involved were at least as high rated.

One could do, say, a 2730+ vs. 2730+ (or higher) player database search to narrow top player preferences/results down even further, but then less games would be involved, and the number of players involved reduced (making personal style/bias possibly a more acute factor).

I did a rather similar search of my personal TWIC database for TWIC games that I downloaded between about mid-2004 and mid-2007 (in the hope of constructing what might be deemed an ideal [i.e. composite] repertoire, based on including defences that won at least once with Black in top chess, were widely respected, and that were otherwise the most popular at the top). I then put together the following 'anti-1.e4 repertoire' back around that time (who knows, I might actually switch entirely to it, along with the rest of the repertoire with/vs. other first moves, given below, some day):

vs. 1.e4:
7 defences total, as follows:

Najdorf Sicilian
Sveshnikov Sicilian
[Anti-]Marshall Attack (Ruy Lopez)
Berlin Defence (Ruy Lopez)
Caro-Kann Defence
French Defence

Note: these are roughly in order of best results & popularity combined, for mid-2004 to mid 2007, in 2700+ chess

Similarly, I put together such a Black repertoire vs. other fully respected first moves, though in some cases I used slightly less top-level-popular (but still impeccable) choices that made all 1.d4/e4 and all flank opening defences 'fit together'. I made the repertoire so that White would never always have a compelling reason (in my own mind) to play a certain first move to bypass, say, a 1.c4 defence clearly advantageously, by transpositional means, assuming White had in his repertoire all of the arguably best five White first moves (1.e4, 1.d4, 1.c4, 1.Nf3, and 1.g3):

vs. 1.d4:
6 defences

Nimzo-Indian+Queen's Indian/(Ragozin QGD)+Catalan/(3.g3 c5)
King's Indian
Queen's Gambit Accepted

vs. 1.c4:
6 defences

1...Nf6 intending ...e6
1...c6 intending ...d5
1...e6 intending ...d5
Symmetrical English
1...Nf6 intending King's Indian (especially with ...e5)
1...e5 excluding King's Indian formation

vs. 1.Nf3:
6 defences

1...Nf6 intending ...e6
1...d5 intending ...c6
1...d5 intending ...e6 (or if 2.g3, 2...g6 is a way to hope for Neo-Grunfeld)
1...Nf6/c5 including Symmetrical English
1...Nf6 intending King's Indian formation (especially with ...e5)
1...d5 including 2.c4 d4, and 2.d4 Nf6 (hoping for QGA)

vs. 1.g3:
7 defences

1...d5 intending ...e6
1...d5 intending ...c6
1...d5 intending ...g6 hoping for Neo-Grunfeld
1...Nf6/c5 including Symmetrical English
1...Nf6 hoping for g3-King's Indian or g3-Pirc
1...e5 hoping for 1.c4 e5 English
1...d5 without quick ...e6 or quick ...c6 (corresponds to QGA roughly)

As for White, there are five impeccable first move choices, as I mentioned earlier (I'll leave it to viewers to fill in the variations White might use):


Note: in case the philosophy behind my so-called ideal repertoire isn't clear, as far as what I think is the objectively best defence (say vs. 1.e4), the answer is that I don't think there is one single such defence, just that there may be about a half a dozen defences that are impeccable (i.e. clearly faultless), though some usually do better at just drawing, rather than winning, in top level chess.

In the case of trying to reach a Grunfeld after 1.c4/Nf3, White can reduce Black's winning-attempt defence to almost clear drawishness at Super GM level, e.g. after 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Qxd1+ 7.Kxd1, and so I avoided such an inconsistency with this repertoire. Similarly the [Anti-]Benoni might be argued to be less unreliable (even by 2004), but the Modern Main Line pretty much lets White keep the game under control as far as losing chances go in top play, which puts a damper on this otherwise winning-attempt defence.

In the case of the QGA, Black has some hope of winning, in top play, in the line 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bg4!?, although it is hardly used at Super GM level, and so I allowed the QGA to be considered an impeccable winning (or more definitely, drawing capable) attempt defence in my own eyes, at least. In the case of the Petroff, Black's drawing chances are so good (in high level play, at least) that I included it, even though all the other 1.e4 defences arguably can be used as winning attempts, at least with fairly acceptable risks taken IMO.

Link to opening preparation blog of mine:

Links to 2 other repertoire ideas of mine:

Updated 09-12-2015 at 11:59 AM by Kevin Pacey

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Chess opening repertoire discussion