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A flexible chess opening repertoire

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The following is a suggested repertoire for sharp or solid play. All or some of it can be used, even by an intermediate or advanced level player wishing to specialize. Much of it I have played myself:

White: 1.e4 (only)

vs. 1...c5:
Sharp option: (chosen in spite of any homework since anti-Sicilians generally far less potent)
Open Sicilians, including:
Sozin (Bc4) setups (i.e. if Black aims for Classical, Scheveningen or Najdorf Sicilian),
Yugoslav Attack vs. Dragon (9.g4 suggested to minimize homework; if 9...Be6 10.Nxe6),
Play the clamping c2-c4 when it's at all potent (including Maroczy Bind vs. Accelerated Dragon, 5.c4 vs. Kan, 6.c4 vs. Kalashnikov, and 2...e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4),
Play some major line vs. the popular Sveshnikov (a known piece sacrifice on b5 is suggested if fun or surprise are desired)

If 2.Nf3 a6 3.c3 (a good version of a c3-Sicilian), and if 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3, possibly transposing to a Steinitz French line to be used, minimizes memory work against a rare line.
Solid option:
Alapin (2.c3) Sicilian (can even be reached by 2.Nf3 e6/Nc6 3.c3 if desired).

vs. 1...e5:
Sharp option:
Evans Gambit plus 4.d4 against Two Knights Defence (4.Ng5 is a backup choice that takes more work and definitely requires defending).
Solid option:
Italian game with d3 and c3 (in either order depending if 3...Nf6 or 3...Bc5).
Against misc. 2nd Black moves:
Could learn 3.d4 against the Petroff, and, to save memory work, 3.d4 vs. the Latvian
(other 2nd moves even more rare and less difficult to handle).

vs. 1...e6:
Sharp option:
3.Nc3 and if Winawer 4.e5 intending main line with 6...Ne7 7.Qg4 (if less study time available for such fun lines, 7.Nf3 or 4.a3 are possible), or if 3...Nf6 4.e5 (Steinitz) Nfd7 5.Nf3!? c5 6.dxc5.
Solid option:
3.e5 intending 3...c5 4.c3 - can be transposed to from Alapin Sicilian (Exchange variation via 3.exd5 or 3.Nc3 Nf6/Bb4 4.exd5 is a backup).

vs. 1...other: (choices less common at club level, perhaps, so generally I reduced homework)
Sharp options:
Austrian Attack vs. Pirc/Modern (an early e4-e5 can at least be a surprise choice),
2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 vs. Caro-Kann (3.Qf3!? is a backup or surprise choice),
2.e5 Nd5 3.Nc3 Nxc3 4.bxc3!? vs. Alekhine's (Exchange Variation is a backup, but often expected).
Solid options:
Classical System vs. Pirc/Modern,
2.c4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.cxd5 vs. Caro-Kann (Exchange Variation is a backup, but often expected, whereas Panov may take more memory work to understand and play well),
2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.c5 vs. Alekhine's (can be transposed to from Alapin Sicilian eventually).
Against perhaps even less common first moves at club level:
Learn 1...d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 (or 2...Nf6 3.Bb5+!?) 3.Nf3!? (3.Nc3 expected by specialists!), and, to save memory work, 2.Nf3 against the Nimzovich, hoping for 2...e5 (other 1st moves even more rare and less difficult to handle).

Black: A universal system of defence based on ...e6 and ...d5 (only)

vs. 1.e4:

1...e6 (French)
Sharp options:
vs. 3.Nc3 play Winawer, hoping for Poisoned Pawn (or Black can deviate to save homework)

vs. 3.Nd2 play Guimard (3...Nc6),
vs. 3.e5 play 3...c5 and if 4.c3 Qb6 intending ...Bd7 or ...Nc6 next,
vs. King's Indian Attack: main line with ...b6, possibly intending ...0-0-0.
Solid options:
vs. 3.Nc3 or 3.Nd2 play Rubinstein (3...dxe4),
vs. 3.e5 play 3...Bd7!?,
vs. King's Indian Attack: lines based on playing ...0-0.

vs. 1.d4 (or vs. most flank openings, excluding King's Indian Attack):

Sharp option:
QGD Tarrasch formation.

Solid option:
QGD Orthodox, Classical Variation formation (can use vs. Catalan).

Link to opening preparation blog of mine:

Links to 2 other repertoire ideas of mine:

Updated 09-12-2015 at 10:55 AM by Kevin Pacey

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Chess opening repertoire discussion