My current uscf rating is 1653 and though its not that big of an achievement, I wanted to share how I got to that rating in a matter of a few tournaments.
Unlike many of my peers who say that the opening phase of the game has no real value to it, I take great pride knowing all the essential openings to reach a desirable position in which i can play solidly and positionally.
The first mistake the majority of people I've encountered makes is that they play aggressive chess, sacrificing everything in their path with no real outcome. At first, I was always quite fearful that if these high ranked 1800-1900 uscf players played such sacrifices, I was doomed because although I'm a positional player, I have a tough time defending. The inability to safely guard the king often led to losses, whether the sacrifice they made was unsound or not. The first step I made in resolving such a weakness was by playing very solid, sturdy, and often boring positions where the game always had a slight advantage for whatever side I played on and where tactical sacrifices are latent the majority of the time
After establishing my weaknesses, I chose a repertoire solely on 1. d4.
Here are some of my opening suggestions for chess lovers who want to reach comfortable positions where white has a slight advantage and counterplay is extremely limited
Against the Queens Gambit declined which arises after d4 d5 c4 e6 I root for the exchange variation
This position is very easy to reach because black doesnt necessarily have any other decent moves besides them. I will explain the exact plan in this variation for white, which is to first plan to play f3 and e4 with a central thrust and if black defends well and counterplay is limited for white, opt to move the rook to b1 and and play b4-b5 and exchange on the c file which will eventually result in a backwards pawn on the black side which is much more favorable for white. The reason I like this opening choice is because its 1. easy to reach, 2. controls the center and 3. has a accurate purpose whereas black spends most of his time trying to seek an active plan and defend well.
Another thing I noticed about high rated players is that they overlook positional sacrifices and tend to think in terms of tactics, which I'm also quite frankly good at.
Avoid mainline theory, which is a must especially in highly analyzed positions such as the grunfeld and KID, where both sides are actively trying to find a solution.
In this position, which is a very common position in advanced play is far too complicated and gives black several chances to further its initiative via moving the knight and forcing f5 g5-g4 and so on while white will have to seek active counterplay on the queenside. This situation is tough to evaluate and why take risks in a chess game where you dont know who is going to win the race? This is the primary reason I switched out of Sicillian variations and focused on openings such as the caro and the french. I will expand on my insights on getting better but for now here are my few tips for success
1. Play strategically sound positions with a clear plan avoiding pawn storms and unbalanced positions
2. Avoid mainline theory and familiar setups when facing higher rated players
3. Play the board, not your opponent. Don't get intimidated when facing higher players, which leads to anxiety and nervousness. The worst thing that will happen is you will lose but in the process you will be learning what caused you to lose
4. Safeguard your king, make sure all your pieces are developed, and always have an accurate plan which you can formulate
5. Resources: Video lectures on youtube such as Varuzhan Akobian's game analysis videos, which I based most of my strategic thinking off. Unlike others, books are a waste of time for me because I am more auditory then visual. Lastly, get an engine database which is free because the paid versions are a waste of money. One of my top picks for chess program is the SCID opening program. Please leave any feedback on this edition of getting better volume 1 :))
Gawwd help us.
1. A player who can't defend well can't call themselves a positional player; fortunately, you've removed this weakness.
2. There are a lot of threads and articles here about beating stronger players (use the search function) and some disagree with you. E.g. GM Gregory 'Gserper' Serper thinks that hyperaggressive chess is most appropriate vs stronger opponents because the chance of them overlooking some tactic and losing is higher, whereas it's hard to outplay them positionally. http://www.chess.com/article/view/how-to-beat-a-much-stronger-opponent-part-two
3. If you're going with the prophilactic approach, IM Valery Lilov states that 'Gradual improvement and avoiding permanent weaknesses in your position are the two key elements of solid play' http://www.chess.com/article/view/winning-against-stronger-opponents
4. It's hard to call a 1. d4 White repertoire complete if it doesn't deal well with the Semi-Slav and QID/Nimzo-Indian (solid and common Black lines); it would be interesting to know how you approach them with White.
(Edit: one doesn't have to learn to play against the QID/Nimzo after 1. Nf3 - 1... Nf6 2. c4 b6 will transpose into the QID if 3. d4 is played, but it looks like the Maroczy Bind 3. Nc3 c5 4. e4 works better. That's basically why I'm a 1. Nf3 addict.)
why are you linking other articles which have no common purpose in my own reasoning and logic. Just because the individuals you mentioned have a professional rating doesnt necessarily mean that I Have to succumb to their training. This system of mine works flawlessly and I've had good success in otb tourneys. As far as the semi slav is concerned, in order to maintain a clear advantage what i do is play nf3-bg2-castling sacrificing the pawn knowing i will get it in the future. As a matter of fact, I am always happy to be faced with an opponent who opts to choose the semi slav variation because they dont realize how easily they can lose if you sac the pawn, there is so much pressure on the b pawn its astronomical. As far as the Nimzo indian, I tried the traditional nf3 variation as well as a3 and qc2 and i found that qc2 followed by a3 bxn and e4 comes very handy where white has a clear space advantage while black has to find some counterplay with the c pawn.