Sunday, July 28, 2013

Time to Narrow the Repertoire

I have talked about openings a number of times since beginning this blog a few months back.

At first I wanted to play everything.  I was playing 1.e4, 1.d4, 1.c4, and 1.Nf3 depending on how I felt.

Unfortunately this only exacerbated my opening problems.  I'm already not too well versed in the openings I play, nor do I have much of a feel for the resulting positions that arise from them. So playing everything was just a way of keeping myself from having the opportunity for any real improvement.

Now that I have committed to working on openings more than I have been I see that I need to narrow my repertoire a great deal. 

This means I'm committing to going back to 1.e4 as my first move.  It also means that I need to play the same openings over and over again until I understand them and know them. 

For instance, Thursday I wound up playing the White side of the Two Knights (I will post the game at some point after I annotate it) and for the first time ever I played 4.Ng5.  Every time I had faced the Two Knights before that I played 4.d3 and hoped that my opponent would play 4...Bc5 and we'd transpose into the Italian.  But I wasn't doing it to get what I wanted on the board, I was doing it to avoid having to work on learning a new opening.

Now I'm realizing that I should just work on the new opening and leave it in place for the next few years.  I've kind of reached a point where I'm thinking that maybe I should just leave everything in place until I become an expert and then at that point perhaps begin to expand or change things.  That's because I assume that by that time I will know my openings well enough and understand the resulting positions to a degree that will make it easier for me to add new openings from time to time if I wish.

I've also had an epiphany that one of the mistakes I have been making that has been holding me back is the way that I have been approaching studying openings.  I know that I am deficient in them as a general rule, and therefore I have been trying to learn them all at once.  i.e. I've felt like I need to somehow work on the White side of the Italian, Sicilian, Two Knights, French, etc. all at once while simultaneously working on the Black side of the Slav, Scheveningen, and English.

That has been adding unnecessary difficulty to my goal of becoming proficient in the opening.  So now I have a plan to work on one at a time.  I plan on starting with the Slav.  Once I feel that I'm OK there (don't know if that will take two weeks, two months, etc.) then I will move on to the Scheveningen, and then from there, etc.  It might take me a year to really build a solid foundation, but if that's what it takes, then that's what it takes.

One thing I haven't quite figured out yet is how much of my total study time should be devoted to openings.  I know that the two things I need to work on the most are openings and game analysis, but I don't know if I should neglect other things like endgames and positional chess until I fix the openings.

I do know for sure that I will continue to work on tactics constantly along the way.  That is a must.

Until next time...

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