Learning from a Loss: Opening Repertoire Choices

May 14, 2009, 10:19 PM |

My latest loss taught me something important about opening repertoire choices. I had made a sharp line of the Petroff part of my opening repertoire without considering the full implications of the choice. I knew the line through move 12, thinking that I would be ok because few players of my caliber would know it to that point. Yet in the following game my opponent played the first 12 moves of the line in about two minutes (since the game was on the Internet, one wonders whether he had an opening book in front of him). By contrast, I needed 10 minutes to recall the first 12 moves. At the end of 12 moves, I had sacrificed the b pawn (as expected) in return for initiative on the kingside. Unfortunately, as Raetsky and Chetvenik say in their Petroff Defence (2005), the line that begins with my eleventh move is "extremely intricate and every move must be carefully analyzed." Not having carefully analyzed the line beforehand, I simply did not have the time to figure it out over the board. I made some bad choices and lost. So, what is the lesson? If you are going to make sharp lines part of your opening repertoire you better know them well. Otherwise pick quieter lines that can be figured out more easily over the board.

In the following game. The quieter option was 11...Na5 instead of 11...Kh8.