A Case for Playing the Main Lines

A Case for Playing the Main Lines

16 | Middlegame

My last tournament in Brazil was a bit of a disaster, but I still played a few games that I think will be of use to show. In the first game I want to show you, my opponent played one of the oldest known openings, the Giuoco Piano. However, the line he chose has long since gone out of fashion. I actually used to play this same line growing up, but especially at this level, the line is not a good choice.

Question 1: What would you play here as Black?

There are a lot of sidelines that are fine to play - you don't have to copy the repertoire of someone like Topalov, Anand, or Kramnik to have confidence in your lines. But playing a line like the one Borda did means you're digging yourself a bit hole at the start of the game - in the off chance your opponent doesn't know the theory, then you might score a quick knockout. But if s/he knows the line, then you're in a virtually lost position after the opening!

In this next game, from the same event, my opponent chose a very topical line of the Moscow Gambit variation of the Semi-Slav. By posing real problems for me, he was able to get a mistake and then he pounced. Admittedly, he didn't put me away in the optimal fashion and so I escaped with a draw, but still, his opening choice created opportunities that Borda never had.

Question 1: What would you play after 16.Qe2?

Question 2: What would you play after 18.d5?

Question 3: What would you play after 22...Qe4?

Question 4: What would you play after 34...Be7?

So in the end, I managed to save a draw from this game. However, the opening choice promised a full fight where I was given the opportunity to make a mistake (or two, or three ...). Given that somebody has to mess up for you to win the game, this seems to be the right approach. You need to pose problems for your opponent. In a way, it's like they (mistakenly) say, "If you build it, they will come."
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