Favorite and Least Favorite Openings

topic posted Sat, December 13, 2008 - 7:59 AM by  Cuindless
All this time I've talked about how studying the endgame is far more important than studying the opening, I've neglected to mention that every Master, Grand Master and serious amateur DOES study the opening and studies it extensively. The openings are filled with numerous tricks and traps, but that's the least important aspect of the opening. More importantly is the principle of sound opening theory, which is triune in nature:

1. Control the center! This is the fundamental principle of every sound opening. From the direct central attacks of the King's Pawn Opening to the fianchettoed bishops of the Benko Opening, every major opening has controlling the center in mind. A few obscure openings, such as 1.a3 (the so-called Anderssen's Opening, named as such because he played it in one, lone famous game), have other ideas in mind, but these are far less sound.

2. Develop your pieces. Getting knights and bishops into powerful squares and developing a pawn structure is arguably the second most important aspect of the opening. That's where all those opening axioms come in. "Develop knights before bishops." "A knight on the rim is dim." "Bishops belong on long diagonals." All these speak to the fundamental principle of piece development.

3. Protect the king. The king begins in a very vulnerable square. A king left in the center is not long for the game unless you play VERY accurately. Jeremy Silman says in "The Amateur's Mind" that a king in the center is asking to be checkmated. That's why castling is such an important part of so many openings: It is a natural way to protect your king AND develop your rooks.

Now, everyone has their favorite openings. My personal favorite as white is 1.d4 - The Queen's Pawn Opening. I prefer the following variation of the Queen's Gambit Accepted: 1.d4 d5, 2.c4 dxc4, 3.e4. It's risky, though, because after 3...e5, 4.Nf3 exd4, 5.Nxd4 Nf6 black has re-established equality. I'm not as good with the Queen's Gambit Declined (either Main Line, Slav or Semi-Slav) and I detest the Indian Defense because it's just so damn sound! As black, I like the Sicilian Defense, especially the Accelerated Dragon, against 1.e4 and the Indian Defense, especially the Nimzo-Indian Defense, against 1.d4.

As for my least favorite openings, I dislike the Ruy Lopez or any variation of 1.e4 e5, 2.Nc3 Nf6 (i.e. 2 Knights Defense, 4 Knights Defense, et cetera, ad nauseum). I'm not a big fan of the Caro-Kann, and though I like the Nimzo-Indian when I'm playing it, I hate a well-played one against me. I know the Reti Opening (1.Nf3) is sound, but I can't fathom how to play it correctly and seem to defense against it well enough. For these reasons, my opening repetoire typically consists of 1.d4 and 1...c5 or 1...Nf6.

What's everyone else's opening repetoire look like?
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