# Theory, e4 vs d4

Hi fellow chessplayers.

I've been having a little bit of an extensial crisis over the last few days, and it's on theory. I'm not at a level where theory is of any real importance yet, I've won games in sharp Sicilian battles on generall grounds and just calculation, and it seems there is still a bit of a climb before theory really sets in.

However, I can't decide upon 1.e4 or 1. d4, I enjoy them both immensily, so I've decided that the deciding factor will be how theory heavy they are.

1. e4 has the Sicilian, there is also the Spanish, but the spanish doesn't concern me, the theory there is easy to digest, and except for in a few cases, it's not to tactical.

What does 1.d4 has that is equally theoretical and sharp? I know there is alot of theory, but how is it shaped? I'd imagine that the gruenfeldt, like the sicilian has alot of lines that you just have to memorise, is the kid the same? Or can I get away with knowing ideas, plans and so forth? I do realise that at a higher level, I will have to learn exact lines and move orders, if I ever do reach that level.

So basicly, which move is the most theory heavy? 1.e4 or 1.d4?

1.e4

Basically, if you play the mainlines of the Ruy Lopez and Sicilian, thats basically ALL of the theory of 1.d4 just for those two openings.

Definitley, but it is more interesting.

it depends - u can play simple systems in d4 or e4 with very little theory (exchange variations, four knights) but u can play ridiculously complex theoretical variations as well, such as the botvinnik system (d4 game) or the yugoslav attack (e4) which are both very sharp.

rob9258 wrote:
Fiveofswords wrote:

theres more theory in 1 e4

I don't agree -- look at the Gruenfeld, the Nimzoindian, and the Semi-Slav, just for starters. The Botvinnik Variation in the Semi-Slav is crazy with theory going way into the middlegame.

And you think this doesn't apply to the Ruy Lopez? With at least 10 mainlines for black (just in the closed!) with 100 years of theory behind each of them. Or the Sicilian, possibly the most analyzed opening in chess? No queen pawn opening has a learning curve like these two openings do. To say nothing of the french, Caro, Pirc/Modern...and a billion other things too.

To the original poster: This is not to say that you shouldn't play 1.e4, but playing the mainline against EVERYTHING can be a little crazy.  I suggest a happy medium approach. For example, play the mainline sicilian, but don't play the absolute sharpest line against everything (6.Bg5 najdorf, Bc4 Yugoslav Dragon, etc...) pick some easier lines like the very thematic english attack, or some nice classical Be2 or fiancetto stuff. And against 1...e5 maybe consider the scotch or something like the Worrall attack in the ruy or even the exchange!

Speaking for myself, the reason I don't play 1.e4 is because I never found anything besides the Ruy Lopez that I really liked vs. 1...e5. But I wasn't and still am not willing to put in the theoretical work required to play the mainline Ruy. Ah well, I still bust out 1.e4 from time to time when I know my opponent will play a Sicilian.

I've played both e4 and d4. e4 definately has more theory thanks to the sicilian. Semi-slav is nothing in comparison. Sure semi-slav lines might be 20 moves deep but they are not 20 moves broad. d4 also much more transpositional play and is not as forcing and predictable as e4 lines. This is the reason, from what I've understood, why GMs nowadays go towards d4 rather then e4. Harder to prep forcing lines.

1.d4 can lead into the Semi-Slav Botvinnik, Nimzo-Indian Rubinstein or Gruenfeld Exchange, all of which are pretty theory heavy, but I agree that many 1.e4 openings run pretty deep in the main lines, especially in openings like Sicilian Najdorf Poisoned Pawn, Ruy Lopez Marshall or French Winawer Poisoned Pawn.  You can of course choose one of the Anti-Sicilians, eg. Closed, Alapin, Grand Prix, Big Clamp, and other side lines if you want to avoid the theory.

what's 'theory'

rigamagician wrote:

1.d4 can lead into the Semi-Slav Botvinnik, Nimzo-Indian Rubinstein or Gruenfeld Exchange, all of which are pretty theory heavy, but I agree that many 1.e4 openings run pretty deep in the main lines, especially in openings like Sicilian Najdorf Poisoned Pawn, Ruy Lopez Marshall or French Winawer Poisoned Pawn.  You can of course choose one of the Anti-Sicilians, eg. Closed, Alapin, Grand Prix, Big Clamp, and other side lines if you want to avoid the theory.

Yeah but you can also simply play 1d4 minor lines like London System, Colle, Tromp etc aswell and skip all the theory. But just like in the minor lines to 1e4 you'll end up giving black easy equalization. So if you want to give black a run for his money you'll need to go fairly mainline and there is less d4 theory then e4 if you do that.

d4 is less theoretical but less interesting and less forcing than e4

For a newish player start with e4 and play 2 d4 against everything, dont bother learning any theory just have fun and learn to throw the pieces about.

After a while with that move over to d4

AtahanT wrote:

So if you want to give black a run for his money you'll need to go fairly mainline and there is less d4 theory then e4 if you do that.

If you know in advance that black is going to be heavily booked up, sometimes it's better to throw a little surprise in there somewhere.  Especially over the board or at blitz, a key strategy is to get your opponent out of his comfort zone.

rigamagician wrote:
AtahanT wrote:

So if you want to give black a run for his money you'll need to go fairly mainline and there is less d4 theory then e4 if you do that.

If you know in advance that black is going to be heavily booked up, sometimes it's better to throw a little surprise in there somewhere.  Especially over the board or at blitz, a key strategy is to get your opponent out of his comfort zone.

Well in blitz you can play anything obviously. Even Qh5 like some GMs do. I'm talking about classical chess obviously. And in classical chess you can try to convince yourself that playing minor lines is in your favor but at some point it will limit your progression simply because chess is about playing the best moves. Why would you want to limit yourself to playing the 3rd best move in the opening when you do not aim to do that in the rest of the game?

Also there are many other ways of getting your opponent out of his comfort zone.

Look this:

if black play some other moves,u should also do exactly the same moves.I have tryied it many times,very good opening for white.
AtahanT wrote:

And in classical chess you can try to convince yourself that playing minor lines is in your favor but at some point it will limit your progression simply because chess is about playing the best moves.

What constitutes a minor opening is obviously a matter of definition.  Lately, the anti-Sicilians have been doing a mighty brisk business even at the Super-GM level.

Also, if the argument is that one shouldn't shy away from critical lines because they may be the strongest, a case could be made that 1.e4 is more critical than 1.d4.

Both e4 and d4 have sharp lines and solid lines. I think e4 has more gambit lines than d4.

rigamagician wrote:

Also, if the argument is that one shouldn't shy away from critical lines because they may be the strongest, a case could be made that 1.e4 is more critical than 1.d4.

Not really. I don't see how you can come to that conclusion.

AtahanT wrote:

Not really. I don't see how you can come to that conclusion.

Lines that have more theory are usually the ones regarded as critical.

rigamagician wrote:
AtahanT wrote:

Not really. I don't see how you can come to that conclusion.

Lines that have more theory are usually the ones regarded as critical.

Critical lines do not imply more theory. That is not what critical means. It's like saying the earth isn't a big place because the sun is bigger.

Both e4 and d4 have tons of theory behind them, and they both have tactical and postional outcomes, but I believe that e4 has more theory.

If you have time to study and it seems like you want to get that high which means lots of study time, then 1) e4 is the choice..."best by test" someone really good once said. If I had more study time, I would continue to play e4 although I don't and the Sicilian Defense has an amazing amount of theory just by itself. I have tried 1) f4 {Bird's Opening} and it's not as bad as some would have you believe (actually it's pretty good), especially if you like playing the King's Gambit like I do. The Sicilian and the Caro-Kann is what you'll see more than anything; the Sicilian is very heavy on theory and the Caro-Kann (can be play against most openings) is a very solid defense.

If you have little or no time, I think playing 1) d4 is actually better of the two choices you asked about; not that there's no theory to learn with Queen's Pawn openings, but I think the amount of defenses you'll see is not as heavy on theory as the Sicilian. King's Indian Defense, Slav, & Semi-Slav is most likely what you'll run across. Fischer did not mind seeing 1) d4 as he used the KID to neutralize and fight for the win against it; he also regarded 1) e4 as the best try for white.

I think a lot of it will come down to how much time you actually have to study and which defenses you would not mind seeing more.