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bunta 25 ( +1 | -1 )
Opening books There are many books you can find with a particular opening variation, like a random example might be the silician nadjorf. I was wondering how do you take advantage or what is the books intention? Is it recommended for people whose opening rep is the nadjorf?
cairo 39 ( +1 | -1 )
Opening books has this disadvantage to ran "out of date" very quickly, since there is constantly is been produced new lines (novelties) in present games. However if ones like to study a specific opening deep, in order to understand the ideas behind the opening, opening books can be of good help!

thumper 19 ( +1 | -1 )
I picked up 'Modern Chess Openings' by Nick de Firmian for the very reason you suggest Cairo. I'm hoping that I'm now to the point that I can actually understand and apply the ideas behind them.
cjjpeterson 28 ( +1 | -1 )
Just got "chess openings: traps and zaps" by Bruce Pandolfini. Great book for those who want to improve their e4 repertoire. With 202 openings, it goes through many common positions that are found in a lot of games and shows how to exploit them or salvage them.
e4e6 645 ( +1 | -1 )
Better Recommendation When looking for chess books, you are better off going to a large tournament, or to a location with a heavy selection of books, like the Atlanta Chess Center, rather than ordering online. Browse before you buy.

However, there really is an easy way to truly see a book's "Intention". For example, by actually reading the back cover, and by thumbing through the book, if you see that all the notes are after one side's moves, and the other side, he gives one move and no others, it's clearly a reportoire book. For example, if it's a reportoire book for Black on the French, games will often look like what follows. Let's use the Tarrasch Variation as an example:

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5

Black hits the center since White's knight is less than steller on d2.


White has 2 other main options:
a) 4.dxc5 is insipid, and Black should have no problems equalizing after blah blah blah
b) 4.Ngf3 is more interesting, against which I recommend 4...Nf6 and after blah blah blah, Black is equal

4...Qxd5 5.Ngf3

Against 5.dxc5, Black has blah blah blah and is equal.

Etc etc.

Notice how it explains other moves for White, but for Black, it just says "play this" and "play that". Notice it doesn't talk at all about the 3...Nf6 line (The closed tarrasch) or 4...exd5 (The line of the Open Tarrasch that leads to an Isolated Queen's Pawn for Black). It is obvious that this book isn't a book on French Theory, it's a reportoire book for Black against 1.e4 based on using the French Defense.

Another way to tell that a book is a reportoire book, and not a truly unbiased book on an opening, is results. There can be some flexibility to the results and have it not be a reportoire. White doesn't have to score his usual 54% for the book to be objective. White might score 50%, or 58%. However, when you see a book where 90% of the games are wins for White, or 70% are wins for Black with the majority of the rest of the games being draws, it's also clearly a reportoire book.

Reportoire books resolve the short term problem of finding something that's playable. However, in the long run, they aren't of much use. If the line they recommend gets busted one day, you have no recourse. Also, if you try to learn chess from a narrow path, the moment you run into a game where your opponent deviates, you will have no clue what to do because you don't truly understand the opening, you just have a "system" for it.

When it comes to chess, playing White and playing Black are very different. As White, you must know at least 1 variation of many different openings. For example, if you play 1.d4, you need a like for the King's Indian Defense, Nimzo-Indian Defense (or Queen's Indian or Catalan), Queen's Gambit Accepted, Declined, and Slav defenses, the Benoni and Benko, and even the Dutch Defense. As Black, it's the opposite. You need to know 1 defense to 1.e4 and 1 defense to 1.d4, and you need to know them inside and out. All the different variations of it. That said, to me, reportoire books for Black are a joke, and should never be bought without the intention of also buying books that talk about theory objectively. As White, you can get away with it a little more easily. It's more likely for Black to get busted in a line than White, and you don't need to know every opening like the palm of you hand as White.

Therefore, I recommend books like the Starting Out series, which tend to be objective, to begin studying an opening (particularly as Black). Follow that up with books that have more in-depth coverage on the same opening. Don't buy opening books that are more than 10 years old, as theory changes in the opening unlike the ending, which a King and Pawn vs King, with the pawn in front of the King, will always be a draw. As White, perhaps start with a reportoire book while you are studying more deeply as Black (study Black before White, trust me on this). After you feel you have your Black game intact, start looking deeper into your White game.

I see too many players depend on a reportoire to carry them all the way, and they never get past 1700 or 1800 tops. I am over 2000 Over the Board (I am only 1700 on here because I experiment a lot, and use this site to practice openings before playing them Over the board). Current over the board, my reportoire looks like this:

White: 1.f4 is my main move, but can also play 1.d4, or 1.e4 (in that order)

Black vs 1.e4: French (which I mostly use now against those over 2200), Caro-Kann (probably my main opening to those under 2200), the Scandinavian, and 1...e5.

Black vs 1.d4, 1.c4, or 1.Nf3: I play the Chigorin Defense, 2 Knights Tango, Dutch Defense, and English Defense. As it turns out, which I play usually determine which I play based on White's move order (due to certain deviations that occur based on move order). I play the Dutch against 1.Nf3, English Defense against 1.c4, and either the Chigorin or Tango (and working on the Czech Benoni) against 1.d4.

Do I recommend you being this diverse in the beginning? No!. I started off on square 1, playing only 1.d4, the French against 1.e4, and the Queen's Gambit declined against 1.d4. Since then, I tried almost every opening known to man kind. Figured out which ones I like, which I didn't, and narrowed it down to what you see above.

Also, once you have a solid line for each situation (i.e. played them for 2-3 years over the board), try to expand. This helps for many reasons. If you face someone a number of times, it's a good idea to deviate on him sometimes. Also, by playing different openings, it forces you to expand your though process. The problem with playing the same opening over and over and over again is that the moves start coming from habit rather than true knowledge, and then when you opponent makes a switch in move order, or plays a strange move, you end up playing your "normal" moves out of habit, and lose rather than responding as necessary to your opponent's deviation.

I know this sounds like a lot to absorb, but in the long run, it will get you up over 2000 over the board, like I am. Hopefully, one day, I'll be over 2200.
wschmidt 307 ( +1 | -1 )
Another distinction... to be made between opening book styles is that of books which provide entire games representative of the main line (these usually include the possible deviations in the notes) and those which simply provide the opening lines and branches and at some point indicate who has the advantage at move X. An example of the former is Andrew Martin's repertoire book "The Essential Center-Counter". Silman's "Accelerated Dragons" is an overview using the truncated approach. (Silman's "Winning with the Sicilian" is a repertoire using the truncated approach.) Personally, I prefer the full game approach but it's really a matter of taste - more advanced players can probably use the truncated versions more effectively than lower rated players.

I'm totally in agreement with e4e6 on the value of overview books. However, I have a more positive sense of the value of repertoire books. Let me explain.

Whether one cobbles it together completely by oneself or uses a repertoire book as a start, everyone who plays seriously plays with a repertoire. Some are large (like e4e6's) and some are small. But, in my experience, the presumption that repertoire books don't adequately explain the general ideas of an opening and leave one unprepared for deviations isn't necessarily the case. Some do and some don't, just like some overviews are better than others. In any case, whether you study an overview or a repertoire book, at some point your opponent is going to deviate from the exact lines you've studied and you're going to have to think for yourself. A good book written from either perspective will have prepared you for how to think about such deviations.

Similarly, unless one is a very advanced player, I wouldn't worry too much about a particular line from a repertoire book getting busted. At the novice/intermediate level, the chances of running into an opponent who is so booked up that they cream you with a technical novelty which they understand and you don't is pretty slight. And if, in fact, they have access to new information that kills off a portion of your repertoire, well, that happens to everybody at one time or another. You adjust and move on - it's part of chess.

One positive aspect of a well-written repertoire book is that the more you use it, the more it gets you into formations that you become familiar with and you start to see what works and what doesn't within those formations. The idea, at least with OTB play, is not so much to "memorize" the lines but to become familiar with the concepts and structures. After the game, going back to the book and seeing where the deviation came (on either side) and deciding whether an improvement could be made in the response to the deviation is part of the learning experience.

Finally - a request for e4e6. Can you expand a bit on your suggestion that one study black openings in depth before white? I'm not disagreeing - I've just never heard that before and would be interested in your thoughts about it. Regards, ws
kewms 60 ( +1 | -1 )
I'm not e4e6, or anywhere near his level, but my experience is that "just play good moves" works better for White than for Black. That is, with the advantage of the first move, White is usually going to be able to develop his pieces to decent squares and go from there. Without being heavily booked up, he may not get the best possible position, but he probably won't get blown off the board by move 15, either. Black, in contrast, can very easily get massacred if he stumbles into some natural-looking but insanely tactical line without knowing what's going on.