In our previous article, we have given a selection of opening systems for white. Following the same pattern, we have thought of a few openings the club player can play with black. We have focused on systems that are solid and require less memorization than other purely theoretical lines. However, black doesn’t have the luxury of choice that white has and it is more difficult to rely only on strategic schemes and ideas. Here are our five choices for black.
However, black doesn’t have the luxury of choice that white has and it is more difficult to rely only on strategic schemes and ideas.
Here are our five choices for black.
The French is a very solid option for black against 1.e4. From the very beginning black challenges the white center and has a large range of options available to each of white’s responses (3.e5, 3.Nc3, 3.Ne2). Again, it is a very direct opening which means that it is easy for black to obtain the exact positions that he has prepared.
This opening is not only solid but can also be very aggressive. It is no wonder that fighting players like Viktor Kortchnoj and Arthur Yusupov employed it regularly in their careers. It continues to be played at top level and theoretically, it has a perfect reputation.
Above all, playing the Nimzo-Indian is playing pure chess. It is an opening that has been part of the repertoire of every champion and one that has never gone out of fashion from a theoretical point of view. One of the characteristics of the Nimzo-Indian is the harmonious development that black obtains and the diversity of pawn structures that can arise in the middlegame.
A good start to create a repertoire and select the lines you want to play with black is to look at the games of Michael Adams. In our opinion, he is one of the main exponents of this wonderful defense.
This would be the complement variation for the Nimzo-Indian repertoire. Our choice will depend, after all, on which knight white develops. Again, the Bogo-Indian offers a variety of plans; black can choose between complicated strategic games or aim for equality with calmer lines. Kortchnoj was also a fan of this opening and used it with great success in his chess career.
After 3…Bb4, white’s main response is 4.Bd2 and here black can choose between many options, but probably the most interesting is 4…a5 a la Kortchnoj or 4…c5. These two moves lead to complicated struggle. For the latter, we suggest you look at the games of Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu.
We suggest you take this opening in consideration regardless if you have another preference. 1…e5 is classical chess and although there is a big amount of theory to know, the plans are all quite natural and logical. Learning 1…e5 from the scrap is not an easy thing.
However, it is a repertoire for a lifetime and every player should be able to play it when the situation demands it.
This opening choice offers black a link between solid and aggressive play. It is easy to learn and contains quite a few tricks that at this level can prove useful in tournament practice. After 4…g6 white can choose between 5.c4, Maroczy type, which will lead to a positional play and 5.Nc3, which can lead to sharper play.
The main expert of this variation is nowadays the Venezuelan Grandmaster Eduardo Iturrizaga and you can start by looking at his games in this opening. The Accelerated Dragon is the most direct way of playing the Dragon. Black reserves the possibility of playing …d5 in only one move. With this he prevents white from achieving the most dangerous set-up, the Yugoslav Attack (after Be3, f3 and Qd2).
The ideas presented above can help you build a solid and durable repertoire that can be improved over time. Once you reach a certain level, you can add more complicated and aggressive lines that lead to a different type of play. We hope this will serve you as a starting point for your future repertoire and you will find the openings that better suit your style.
GM Marian Petrov has just completed his 10-hour guide to the French Defense – essential knowledge for playing both sides of this massively popular opening.