GW-KW, Point Count Chess Raw Discussion, File #9:
Part of the Advanced Beginner's Chess Guide (Section 2)

KW Replies to GW's Query about Learning Opening Repertoires,
for Control of the Center
[July 14th 2011]

(KW, July 14th) You say, "Should I see learning Opening repertoires like driving a car on different routes - you have to drive them often enough, so they become familiar, then if one road is blocked/closed, you can drive a different road and still get to your destination?"

I think there is a lot of truth to that analogy.

I went to the UK once for a couple of weeks, and did some traveling around London. Let's use that as an example.

  • If I wanted to go from East London to West London, I could take the Motorway, or I could take the city streets. Many people don't like motorways because people drive too fast, they may miss their exit, the view is always the same, etc., etc. They prefer city streets because there are always places to stop along the way, the pace is slower, you have traveled the faster routes before and are familiar with them, you can always turn off and see a different part of the city that you haven't seen in a while, etc. etc.

    But no matter which way you do things, you still need certain things committed to memory (where I am going, the general route, when to turn, etc.). A minimum of memory is required, or at every light, you would be pulling out a map and see where you are, and what way I should go next. You can't get away from it. Until the paths become natural, you will need to look at a map or wing it, and look at a map later to see how I should have gone.

    When I am going to be driving in a city I haven't traveled in before, I familiarize myself with the major routes before I enter the car. I will probably want to know more than the first few turns. Because I am in unfamiliar territory, I want to take a route that will get me there.

    I'm not concerned that there may be another route that would have cut 20 minutes off my time at that time of day, etc. I want to go from A to B, I want to be familiar enough that when the road comes up, I recognize it, and I want to turn when I should. When I have been there 6 months, I will feel pretty well at home with the paths and some detours because of construction.

The same goes with our opening as any opening. We know the first few turns (1. Nf3, 2. g3, 3. Bg2, 4. O-O), in this game I am showing you a couple of more (5. d3, 6. Nd2 with normally 7. e4), but there could be construction (roadblocks) along the way.

It could come after Move 1, it could come after Move 6 (as in our game) or it could be later. The closer to home I am, the more I should know my neighborhood. This is MY territory. I should be more familiar with it than anyone else (my opponent). A certain amount of memorization IS necessary. But not all at once.

In these lines, you will not be "forever being stuck inside a book and not developing mental flexibility once 'out of the book'".

These lines change rarely. They are not like the Sicilian Schevenigan or Richter-Rauzer or Najdorf or whatever else is the hottest thing in chess that can change daily and has hundreds of variations.

With the Barcza opening, we are reducing the amount you should at least be familiar with from thousands or tens of thousands of lines (literally) to a couple of dozen at most.

  • In the KIA Repertoire Suggestion (below) there are 8 main lines.
  • In the Reti there are about 6 main lines.

In my own copy of the KIA repertoire, I will be adding a line about this variation that Fritz has thrown our way, even though it is similar to the Long Variation or the Sicilian Connection mentioned in the Repertoire Suggestions (below). I may not travel down this path often, but next time I meet it, I will be prepared.

I think that is a good compromise. Learning a dozen or two variations until they become good friends (like walking a mile in any direction around your house), and learning typical plans that can arise in any variation (like learning the major routes of a city).

What I am seeking to do is provide you with both. Get those under your belt, and you can become as natural a player as Capablanca, or Lasker as you want. You never have to become like Botvinnik or Fischer, neither of whom seems to have ever forgotten anything they ever saw or read about tens of thousands of chess variations.

You don't need to know every variation through Move 30. In our system (Barcza, KIA, Reti) the openings are consistent, and the strategies are the same again and again, just in different combinations. You will become a more positional player.

King's Indian Attack (KIA)
Repertoire Suggestion

While searching the Internet, I have found a great site for the KIA.

The first page is a great description of the KIA even for those familiar with it. On that page is a statement:

"In this section, we will take a look at eight of the most important variations in the King's Indian Attack. Take the time to survey these lines with their move by move commentary and you will find yourself ready to tackle anything black is likely to throw at you. Here you can play through a move by move explication of a given line or variation."

His explication line by line is virtually that, so I decided that this would be a good way to suggest a Repertoire.

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