It is often written that having a good repertoire is essential to be successful at chess, but what is a repertoire? Put simply a repertoire is a collection of openings & defences that a player will use regularly, something that they rely on to give them an edge. My own repertoire is pretty loose, I would suggest that I play 1.e4 as White and then as Black play c6 against e4, Nf6 against d4 and against anything else I sit and think.
I have however often turned to 1.d4 for a change, no particular reason I just go tend to go through phases of both main choices as my first move with White, whereas I am more consistent with Black and use the Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and the Nimzo Indian (1.d4 Nf6, 2. c4 e6, 3. Nc3 Bb4) or if Nf3 then the Queens Indian 3…b6.
Having said that I would not say I have a definite repertoire, by that I mean I play a few basic starter moves but anything deeper is much less defined. A repertoire would tend to form the basis for in-depth study and I would expect anyone having one to know the lines much better than I do.
The best way to start a repertoire is to understand which styles of play you enjoy most, are you a fighter or a lover when it comes to chess, do you prefer to attack or are you content to defend and then strike when the chance arises? Understanding your ‘style’ is important as learning the chosen lines will be much easier if you enjoy what you study.
One method is to find a player that you like to watch, do you have someone that you always look for to see what they have been playing? If so then why not build a similar repertoire to that player, for example if you enjoyed the Najdorf when Kasparov was playing then surely following his games would have kept you up to date with the Najdorf.
Having written the above it has made me think that I must sort my own repertoire out. My first step will be to go through my own games and see what I enjoy playing, not necessarily what gives my best results as the reason for losing may not be the opening or defence used, it is just as likely to have been poor play.
I wrote very similar stuff on the 8th August this year. Clearly this blog has gotten me to think more about my games, now I need to put some of it into action and quickly!