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TOPIC: Building your own repertoire

Building your own repertoire 3 years 4 months ago #22

Game database management software forces you to create games where you misuse player’s name to organize different openings (sub-)systems and topics. Please unlearn this approach as CPT offers much better ways to organize a complete opening repertoire with key positions, typical middle game positions and even tactic and end game exercises. All in just one database and well-organized with proper repertoire elements.

Example repertoire
Please load the example database, which can be found in your “Documents\Chess Position Trainer” folder (if it is not automatically loaded). It has a sub-folder, where the example database can be found. You can also download it from here: www.chesspositiontrainer.com/download/exampledatabase.zip You have to unzip the database before you can load it.

In the example database the repertoire is organized like this:

It is an e4 repertoire. If Black plays 1…c5 we play the Closed Sicilian. In the same way further openings for other replies like 1…d6, 1…d5 etc. should to be added (missing in this example). You should create one opening per real opening (e.g. Caro-Kan, Scandinavian, Alekhine).

In this example four variations have been created. These variations work similar to bookmarks. They let you get to key positions of the opening with just one click (the move list will be automatically populated by the line leading to the position). However, variations don’t own their own moves and thus have no training score. Create a variation only, if it helps to visualize the opening sub-systems and if you expect to come back to these key positions frequently in the future.

Why not creating individual openings instead of variations? Actually, in the example this is done for all Anti-Sicilians. If an opening has very complex sub-systems (like the Sicilian) it is recommended to create one opening per sub-system. In this case a folder can help to visualize that they all belong together (to the same opening).

However, at the end of the day it’s a matter of taste. You could use the repertoire element Opening for all situations, but you can’t easily add and delete them as you can do with variations. Sub-Variations help to further visualize the structure of a complex opening without adding a big overhead. As for openings you have to populate them with moves. If the different openings have many transpositions you have to add either all moves to all openings or decide on which moves should be part of opening A or B. You also have to select each opening separately for training. So, depending on your goal a variation can be just enough as it gives you quick access (also for training) to the position where a key variation (or sub-system) begins and you can still maintain just one opening with moves.

Your own repertoire
CPT does not come with content (except a small example database). There are many ways to build your own repertoire and it is important to get it right from the beginning. Don’t start training a random collection of PGN games. You will have a much better learning experience if you first learn the general ideas of an opening, key motifs and arising middle game positions. CPT is not teaching you how to play an opening. There exists hundreds of (e)books about chess openings and even complete repertoires for Black or White. Unless you are using a complete repertoire book, an opening repertoire is a personal selection of opening systems and concrete lines.

Let’s have a look at a practical approach for creating your own repertoire:
  • First, finding some openings for white and black you like in general (= fits your playing style). You can do this either by searching opening databases online, going to a bookstore and browsing through some opening books or asking some other chess players.
  • Looking for chess books covering these openings and buying them (making sure you cover all potential systems which your opponent could play).
  • Reading through these books and figuring out which middle game positions you like.
  • Checking, which move orders enforce these middle games. This is actually the most time consuming and complicated part, but it is also quite interesting and fulfilling.
  • Entering all candidate moves into Chess Position Trainer (that means you only enter one candidate move for your side and all potential replies covered by the book for the opponent side).
  • Start training your opening(s) which helps to remember what you’ve just learned.
  • Going online and playing some blitz games to practice once you feel confident.
  • Running these blitz games against your repertoire and checking where you or my opponent deviated from your repertoire.
  • Unless you just forgot your candidate move you will add the opponents move and research for a good reply. At this point you start using a chess engine or game database for the first time in the process.
  • Playing your new opening over the board.
  • Analyzing your game by running it against your repertoire and using a chess engine.
  • For some critical positions you can search game databases for games played by strong chess players. This helps you to get new ideas and extend my repertoire.
You can notice that this approach is using a game database and chess engine quite late in the process. There are many other ways how you can create your own repertoire. Some people like to use played games of their openings from strong GM’s and then go through them with an engine to select their preferred candidate moves. Some are lucky and they have a chess coach, which gives them an opening repertoire as part of the training plan.

Speeding up the process: importing a professional repertoire book
You can save some time and money if you buy repertoire books. In this case the author made most of the work for you and selected the most promising lines instead of covering all moves for both sides for each position. That’s a pretty reasonable approach for non-professional chess players. You can substitute specific opening systems by something else later anyway, but you quickly get a solid repertoire and you also learn the ideas of the opening and arising middle games.

The process of entering all candidate moves is quite time consuming admittedly, but it also ensures you really go through all variations. Just by doing so you will already learn quite a bit of the opening! However, since some chess publishers are offering eBooks which come as a PGN file you can also just buy these and save time by importing them into CPT. You will have to read the authors comments though to learn the ideas of the opening.

TIP: After importing a professional ebook you can use the function Re-ordering of Candidate Moves. This will take care of positions where the author offers alternative moves for a position. It only works if the author used move assessments for each alternative though (which is usually the case). Then the program will automatically bring them in order!

Another approach: importing games
Some chess players follow the approach to import games of their preferred openings. Some words of caution about this approach. What’s your guess how many unique positions can be reached by importing just 10,000 games? Well, you might be surprised, but we are easily talking about 1,000,000 unique (!) positions here. And that is just for one opening (e.g. French with White)!

Now, you have to somehow go through all positions and decide for each position which move should be your candidate move (and delete the others). Based on which information are you going to make this decision? A chess engine would be certainly helpful, but it will definitely take some time before you are done and the egine is missing the feeling for a position, which a GM has. A professional ebook with analysis and evaluation by a strong GM guarantees high quality and you can focus on learning the ideas and concrete lines right away.

Nonetheless, if you want to follow this approach you should check the positions of your opening with the GoTo-Position type “1> candidate moves”. This let you quickly navigate to positions where more than one candidate move for your side exists. Furthermore it is recommended to import not complete games, but to limit it to the first 10-15 moves.
Last Edit: 3 years 4 months ago by Chess Position Trainer.
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