How to build an opening repertoire or
If you want to become an efficient player who produces stable results, you need to eliminate variance as much as possible. If you consider the depth of modern analysis, like in the HIARCS Book for instance, you will realize that you won’t be able to memorize even half of the lines on the openings that you are currently playing.
The key to a good opening repertoire is to reduce your workload by cutting down the number of variations that you have to memorize. Besides that, developing an opening repertoire is an on-going process. You can’t just lock yourself in a room and come out a few years later after you have found the solution to every single theoretical problem. You want to play the game after all.
How do you go about this task?
The solution is simple: The backbone of your repertoire should consist of forced draws, because the game ends right there and there is nothing else to know! Once you got the draw locked up, you can look for an advantage and replace one line after the other with something that may give you an advantage.
This approach also has a lot of practical benefits: Against stronger opponents you either force them to play more dubious openings against you or you simply gain rating-points by drawing. Against equal opponents you reduce the variance to zero and you’ll never have a bad day that way. Last but not least, against weaker players you can still go for more risky lines while they are less likely to find the refutation over the board. Look at this as your margin of safety.
Most importantly, you don’t need to be a GM to come to valid conclusions. Even a monkey can click through the variations until it ends in a threefold repetition. The true skill comes into play once your opponent deviates, but in this case you know when to burn your time and you can treat it like a chess problem: White wins!
How does it work in practice?
Let’s say you want to play the Catalan, but you have no idea how to get an advantage if black just takes on c4 immediately and you don’t simply want to end up a pawn down in an unclear position, where the onus is on you to prove compensation. Here is your solution:
Another advantage of this approach is, that it doesn’t always have to be a simple line where every move is obvious. You can add more complex forced draws to your repertoire where your opponent can go wrong more than once. Essentially you are freerolling your opponent that way. Here is an example where Karjakin forgot his preparation and wasn’t able to solve the problems over the board:
In the future, I will attempt to provide forced draws or lines that lead to more or less dead positions for pretty much every single opening. I fully am aware that playing for a draw with white is considered to be a crime against chess, but playing for a loss isn’t that great either.
Disclaimer: The lines provided on this website were all checked with Stockfish and come from games that were played on the highest level. Do I ignore interesting continuations that may even lead to an advantage? Yes, I do! The purpose of this website is to provide lines that lead to a draw. Looking for ways to win would be the next step. If you understood the overall concept and if you can read between the lines, you know where to start. Chess is a theoretical draw, so don’t be surprised if you can’t find a win. There is one exception: If looking for a draw is just as complicated as looking for an advantage, I will provide the line that is supposed to lead to an advantage. Warning: This website may also contain satire.