Game Spotlight: Building Your Repertoire/The Theory of Two Plans

Opening theory sits in a strange spot.  On the one hand, knowing your openings well isn’t going to win you many games — that’s going to be your positional skills in the middlegame, your tactics skills, and your endgame skills.  But on the other hand, not knowing your openings can certainly lose you games, whether it’s by falling into traps that proper theory would help you avoid, or simply by getting into bad situations through poor development choices.  When you consider this with the fact that there’s so much information out there about openings that it’s not possible to know it all well, what’s a club player to do?

I find one of the more sensible ways to approach things is to pick opening lines that tend to lead to the same kinds of positions.  As an example, one of our members always starts the game with d4, trying to play the Queen’s Gambit, but gets lost in the Nimzo-Indian Defence.  So, it would be nice to get a Nimzo-Indian to look like a Queen’s Gambit.  Fortunately, we can.  Enter the Reshevsky variation:

So, we have an opening that does what we want — it takes the tricky part of the opening seriously, and gets us into a familiar middlegame.  Of course, we also need to know what to do now, which is where the Theory of Two Plans comes in.  In the kind of position we got, the Knight being on e2 instead of f3 makes some ideas more difficult to accomplish for White.  That said, there are still two reputable plans: the so-called “minority attack”, pushing the a- and b-pawns and trading them off to create a weak Black pawn on the queenside to go after, and breaking in the centre by pushing f3 and e4.  Sometimes, your opponent will just let you do the one you want.  But more often, it’s useful to make some overtures towards doing both, then pushing through the plan your opponent isn’t defending against well enough.

The Jamhuri Cup is coming up.  If you want to play in this small tournament, don’t wait too long.  A surcharge comes into effect next Thursday.  Also, you can sign up for membership at the same time.  We’re changing membership this year to better serve you.  Not only will it go until the end of December, 2019, Chess Kenya membership is now included.

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