Hi everyone, happy New Year!
Back to the site after a few years away and addicted to chess again. I love the (possibly) new games explorer feature where you can view your old games and can see which openings you prefer.
I experimented quite a lot in my openings when I first started playing but I seemed to have settled into certain openings that I really like - I like c ...[text shortened]... ticed certain characteristics about them and wondered why you chose them as the way to start a game?
Before I knew there was such a thing as an opening, before about 1990, I'd just make moves. Someone showed me the Kings Indian Attack in about 1988 and misinformed me that it was the best opening, so I'd just adopt that set up in every game. Later I started playing 1. e4, aiming for a Spanish, the open Sicilian or the Nc3 lines against the French. As black I'd play the Najdorf against 1. e4 and the King's Indian against 1. d4. In the meantime I've started playing any old thing. Recently I've come to the conclusion that a system like the following for selecting openings is the right thing to do, but I need to explain something about what the ratings system means first.
A ratings difference of 400 implies that the stronger player can expect a score of 90% against the weaker one. As the stronger player we want a simple position the weaker player will misplay. As the weaker player we want as complicated a position as possible, we need to take them into a dark forest.
A ratings difference of 200 corresponds to the stronger player expecting a score of 75%. This means that the weaker player can play for a draw as white, which can be a pain.
A ratings difference of 100 corresponds to an expected score for the stronger player of 65% (ish), so the weaker player starts needing to win with the white pieces.
It is difficult to play for a win in things like the exchange variation of the Slav defence.
A major weakness in my game is that I'm bad at symmetric positions.
I dislike the term "friendly game", since it implies that tournament games are somehow "unfriendly". Skittles games are ones where nothing is at stake, they are no more "friendly" than a tournament game.
1. Play all sorts of openings in Skittles games.
2. It's generally easier to play for a win as White, so just choose whatever opening suits you for competition games.
3. With black play something like the Dutch Defence against 1. d4 from players around 200 points weaker as it's easy to play for a win.
4. Keep it simple against really weak opponents, i.e. about 300+ points weaker, you can just outplay them in the ending. Exchange variations become attractive.
5. Play something wildly complicated like the Botvinnik variation of the semi-Slav as black when you are rated more than around 200 points less than your opponent, you only need a draw as white and can afford to lose as black so complicate.
6. Choose as complicated a line as white as you can against opponents more than 400 points stronger than you.
7. I'm not sure what to do as white against opponents in the 100 - 200 points stronger range, playing an opening you're comfortable with is probably the best plan.
So my current repetoire includes the Spanish, the Italian game, the Scotch, Birds opening, the London System, the Queen's Gambit, the French defence, the Sicilian aiming for a Najdorf, theoretically the King's Indian, the Dutch defence and a bunch of gambits - so I can choose lines depending on my opponent's rating relative to mine and whatever other information I have about them.