Looking ahead to my next tournament I am reviewing my repertoire of openings and defences. A repertoire is your choice of how to open a game, how to respond to your opponents initial moves and generally which type of positions you are aiming for. The general advice is usually to pick an move such s 1.e4, 1.d4 etc. and then to have a choice against each of the main first moves, e.g. 1…c5 against e4 and perhaps d5 against d4.
In correspondence play it may be appropriate to have the same sort of repertoire, or it may be okay to have a broader repertoire due to the availability of chess databases. However, a third option may be useful for some players and that would be to study your opponent and prepare something for each single game.
In my case I have flirted with 1.e4 and 1.d4, as Black I have recently been using the Caro Kan defence against e4 and the Slav defences against d4. I have previously used the French defence and the Nimzo Indian defence with some decent results. I never really felt comfortable with the French so switched to the Ca oKan after purchasing a great book by Jovanka Houska which recommends the following against the popular Advance Variation, 1.e4 c6. 2.d4 d5, 3.e5 c5
The basic idea behind a repertoire is that you narrow your deep learning so as to give you a better chance of remembering theory, hopefully this translates into better results.
Looking ahead I will go through my games and see what is working and what is not. In truth I should know but I don’t. I prefer to play 1.e4 but think 1.d4 does slightly better, I also prefer to play the Ruy Lopez / Spanish as White whilst as Black I like to play the Nimzo Indian against 1.d4 and the Caro kan against 1.e4.
The big questions for me:
- How does my White repertoire score?
- How does my Black repertoire score?
- How does my repertoire compare against higher rated players?
I ask the third question of myself as perhaps better opening choices may help me improve my results. I know that a lot of high players use the Sicilian Defence as Black which is not something I am often seen playing, perhaps some analysis of repertoires will help me decide how to approach the next few tournaments.
Against all this it is necessary to remain aware that a decent database will allow any opponent to effectively combat any opening surprises you may choose, hence it is probably best to stick to what suits your style, not choose something hoping to catch an opponent out.