In theory if we draw with white and lose with black, we score a whopping 25%. This is acceptable if we play against opponents rated at least 200 points higher, but overall it doesn’t sound appealing.
Well, do not forget why we were looking at forced draws as a concept for white in the first place. The goal was to cut down the overall number of variations and to only choose the battleground where are well prepared to play for a win!
With black things become even more difficult, because it all comes down to the question: Who chooses the concrete line that will be played in the game? In order to stand a chance, we need to make that decision and it sounds like a good idea to reduce the white options as much as possible. How shall we do that? Shall we play the Dutch or the Scandinavian to force the game into our territory on the very first move? Or shall we better make “high-class waiting moves”?
Many years ago, Yermolinsky and Khalifman had a discussion on what to play against Kasparov (p. 159 in Yermo’s book).
- when playing the main lines you are standing on the shoulders of giants, repeating moves and ideas that were found by better players than you are, and that automatically elevates you to the next level;
- main lines go deeper into the middle-game than side-variations, thus the final positions are easier to handle;
- when this happens your higher-ranked opponent often faces an unpleasant choice between following a theoretical line to the end, where the final position would leave him with no chances to win, and stepping aside (could be dangerous) by making an inferior move in order to avoid simplifications.
Note: One could say that this quote is what this website is all about.
While it is certainly easier to steer the game towards a forced draw, things are not so easy with black. Nevertheless, the only viable and reasonable approach is to play main-lines, the sharper the better! The sharper it gets, the less viable choices are left for your opponent to chose from. In the optimal case, your opponent has to play a sequence of only moves that you have all analyzed with your engine beforehand, knowing it’s safe.
Let’s make a list of sharp openings with long forced lines:
- Marshall Attack
- French Winawer
There you have it! This is your list of openings to choose from. Just picking two of these openings isn’t enough though, because you also need to consider possible transpositions, especially if you want to play the Grünfeld.
In the future I will discuss the pros and cons of each choice and make some recommendations. Unfortunately it will be not as simple as the recommendations for white, because black can’t just reduce every single problem to one more or less forced line.