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spurtus ♡ 49 ( +1 | -1 )
lesser lines I have a particular dislike for main lines and a particular interest in some of the 'lesser lines' one can play in chess, there are gems of interesting positions that are off the beaten track.

It seems there is a certain chess snobbery going on when we stick to refining the main lines. I was just wondering if there are any works or learning materials in which it focuses on the merits of 'steering' the game into challenging lesser lines for the unprepared opponent?

ionadowman ♡ 347 ( +1 | -1 )
spurtus... ... I have a great deal of sympathy for your attitude. I found early on that I was "out-theoried" in openings that I liked, especially as Black, and cast about for something to play that wasn't so well known.

My approach was to use "systematic" openings, in which there wasn't a huge amount of theory, but it was pretty clear what I was supposed to be doing. Move order wasn't critical for the most part.

From 1971 through to 1986 when I played my last OTB tournament, I played the English Opening 80-90% of the time. I didn't much care whether my opponents "prepared" for it, as I made it pretty clear I didn't mind transpositions in the slightest (though King's Indians did present a slight problem only partially solved by my adoption of the Four Pawns Attack. A better choice would have been the Samisch).

For Black against 1.d4, I used to play the Nimzo-Indian -so-called - or the Queen's Indian, but never got the hang of it. I don't think those openings suited my style at all, but it took a while for me to realise this. So I switched to the King's Indian or the Modern Benoni. Now these are highly theoretical (though at the level I played at fairly forgiving), but you can limit this.

The fiirst is to play the Benko Gambit. Get hold of Benko's book if you can. Unusual in that it is a positional gambit, it is sound and "systematic". Black's early strategy is clear and to the point. POSSIBLY THIS IS A DRAWback as well, as White at least knows what he's up against. An alternative is the Albin Countergambit. I don't know a lot about it, but if you troll back through fairly recent threads you'll find some material on it. Looked bally good to me!

Against 1.e4 I dearly loved the Two Knights' Defence in all its forms: the Main Line, the Fritz, Ulvestad's Variation, the Wilkes-Barre - fascinating stuff. I got hold of Yakov Estrin's book on it, but a good deal of it will have dated in the 30 years since it was published. Of course, I ran into the near-refutation of the Two knights' - it's called the Ruy Lopez. What to do about that?

I gave up on the Sicilian - too much theory. Took up the French instead, playing the Winawer aganist 3.Nc3 and the Guimard against 3.Nd2. I didn't get to play the Winawer very often. So the French featured in a lot of my games. If I did play 1...e5, then it would be the Latvian Gambit or the Schliemann Defence against the Ruy Lopez (or, very rarely, the Marshall Attack - I had a fair bit of success with that).

Finally, it's not a bad idea sometimes to revivify old lines of play. When faced with a Sicilian (on the rare occasions I switched from the English), I used to play Keres's Attack:
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6
6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd3!?
The idea is to bring the Q over to the K-side (g3 usually) to reinforce a K-side attack.

Which reminds me that sometimes one's opponent has the same idea to spring a surprise. In a tournament in Auckland, 1979, my last round game began like this:
White: Self Black: L.C.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6
6.Bg5 Bd2!?
Seeing nothing untoward with this, I carried on:
7.Qd3!? Rc8 8.Be2 Qa5 9.f4 Nxd4 10.Qxd4 ...
And now Black revealed his hand:
10...Rxc3! 11.Qxc3 Qxc3 (what the...!!) 12.bxc3 Nxe4
13.Rb1 Nxg5 14.fxg5 Bc6 ...
Look at it, will you?
White is R for B+P ahead, but how is he to play this game? What a shambles! As it turned out I won the thing, but only after several ups and downs, and then my opponent losing a piece trying to win, late in the game.

Not a bad line to adopt for Black...
ketchuplover ♡ 5 ( +1 | -1 )
You could always study unorthodox openings.
spurtus ♡ 41 ( +1 | -1 )
thanks, I'll check out the Benko.

I can see now why you end up playing systemic openings, they are not main line but perfectly valid openings.

I was kind of hoping there might be some material out there that more or less talks you through the merits of playing some refuted lines, I'm not a GM so I don't expect to have to play cutting edge theory! I guess that is why I like the Blackmar Diemer Gambit.

doctor_knight ♡ 64 ( +1 | -1 )
there is a guy in our chess club who stopped official competition as an A-class player but still plays a lot online. He uses the Blackmar Diemer Gambit too with pretty good success even against experts and I think occasionally a master or too.

There's all kinds of interesting ways to open and avoid mainlines. I like the Nimzo-Larsen Attack. One book that talks about building your repertoire to suite you properly and such is Andrew Soltis's "Grandmaster Secrets: Openings." He makes a lot of suggestions of different openings and gives examples and stuff. I liked it a lot (plus it is in a very readable format as well).