Chess Openings: Staying with THE Times and MY Timeline

One of the most frequent challenges of a chess player is making adjustments in playing style. With the rapidly increasing role of technology in chess, any player who does not embrace this challenge is at a disadvantage. I have never been close to an opening theoretician. My chess strength has been my tactical vision. In personal training, openings were not as high of a priority as tactics, positional strategy, or endgames.

In my earlier years, I would try to keep my openings as simple as possible. My most flagrant example of this is the use of the London system against the King’s Indian and the Grunfeld. This led to several drawn out, non-confrontational games where both players had to be very patient. While the vast majority of the games were relatively stale, I benefitted from avoiding the main lines of the King’s Indian and the Grunfeld, both of which have several branches and are studied extremely carefully by players who play these systems.

I decided it was time for me to change my openings to truly fit my style and bring out the best of myself. I began to look at e4 e5 openings for both sides. This was my first time attempting to use openings to my advantage instead of trying to limit the disadvantage of my lack of theory. Not only was I abandoning 1. d4, but I was also ridding myself of the French defense that I had played for about seven years. I immediately appreciated the combative nature of the positions and realized that e4 e5 lines suited my style very well, combining positional fundamentals with various tactical possibilities.

The precision of chess enabled by the numerous engines including Houdini, Komodo, and Stockfish have contributed to a high proportion of draws. Thus, creating winning opportunities requires a more thorough approach to theory with premeditated manipulations of the subtle details in any type of position. The deliberate style from my old openings is not suitable for the modern era of chess, especially if I want to exploit my opportunities with the white pieces to seize the initiative in the opening.