The Road to ELO 2000 - the New Unknown in My Chess Journey

The Road to ELO 2000 - the New Unknown in My Chess Journey


Another week is gone - you might have recognized some site improvements and fancy images, such as the white pawn. By the way, the White Pawn App for the ChessNut Air e-board is great, but that’s content for another blog post.

In my previous post, “The Road to ELO 2000 - Unlearning and Rediscovering Openings”, I started the journey of unlearning and rediscovering openings to elevate my chess game. And it is not a big surprise; it’s all about building a new repertoire that fits your personal style.

Personal Statement

Already in the process of developing a repertoire, one should create one’s signature. The psychological factors also play a not insignificant role. Behind all variants hides a rational core. Memorizing any openings to the fullest is unnecessary, as with Chesssable, where people learn and memorize moves, for example. I tried Chessable for a while but found it a stupid and boring way to learn. Yes it might be it’s my learning style because others embrace it.

Ask yourself: which picture would I like to have to start the middle game? Which position suits my style best? Even in-game practice, only some things always run in theoretical directions, even between high-class chess players.

Embracing the Unknown

Now, let’s take a closer look at the potential new black repertoire in response to the most common openings for white: e4 or d4. The thought process and insights from my lost games led me to find openings that align with my style of play while offering flexibility and transposition to get a position familiar with. For e4, I settled on the Pirc Defense—a choice that might not be frequently seen at the GM level but was even favored by the legendary Bobby Fischer in the “Match of the Century.” The Pirc is the King’s Indian Defense without White’s pawn on c4. Plans and ideas are very similar, and learning one defense is easier if you already know the other.

Reflecting on the Path Traveled

Reflecting on my journey toward surpassing the ELO 2000 barrier, I am reminded of the valuable lessons I’ve gathered. Shedding deeply ingrained opening patterns was both challenging and profoundly rewarding. It provided me with a fresh perspective, free from the constraints of routine moves. The Reti, English, King’s Indian, and Pirc openings became my canvas, and I charted a new course with determination.

Also, the Modern defense, the Philidor, the King’s Indian Attack, and the Reti are like brothers of the Pirc.

The Creative Adaptation

This blog isn’t a comprehensive opening strategy guide — I’m neither a grandmaster nor a coach. However, I hope my approach can offer insights to help you elevate your own game. The fundamental idea in response to white’s e4 and black’s Pirc Defense can be summarized as follows:


And black’s response


That’s the main line and main idea. And it comes with some risks for sure. Giving up the center in the first approach requires carefully developing the pieces.

This approach has not only enriched my strategic toolkit but has also injected an element of unpredictability into my games. For a detailed breakdown of this strategy, I recommend checking out the ChessBase YouTube show “Svitlana’s Smart Moves,” where the concept is explained alongside iconic games like Kasparov vs. Topalov and Fischer vs. Spassky.

Svitlana's Smart Moves

Svitlana’s Smart Moves - The Pirc Defence

I highly recommend to check out more episodes of “Svitlana’s Smart Moves” with Svitlana Demchenko and Arne Kaehler. It’s so well done!

Building a Repertoire for Black

Here is an example to showcase. White’s response is called the “Austrian Attack - I. A. 6. e5 Nfd7

Source: Aleksei Suetin, Lehrbuch der Schachtheorie Band 1, page 326

For my repertoire, I entered all variations like the above into the pgn, analyzed them, and added the line to my repertoire database.

  • Austrian Attack - I. A. 6. e5 Nfd7
  • Austrian Attack - I. B. 6. Be2 c5!
  • Austrian Attack - I. C. 6. Bd3 Nc6!
  • Austrian Attack - I. D. Be3 Nc6
  • Austrian Miscellaneous Systems - II. 5. Bf4 Bg7
  • King’s Indian: Sämisch: 6th move deviations incl. 6.Be3
  • Pirc Defence: Classical System - IV. 5. Be2 0-0

ChessBase will save your game with the variations already stored in the repertoire database and will suggest merging the two games in the repertoire database if the game is very similar to an existing repertoire game. You can let it do so or overrule it and save the game as a separate entry. If your game contains an entirely new line, the program will keep it as a new game. It will suggest a suitable name (e.g., “Pirc Austrian Attack”).

If no repertoire database exists, ChessBase will automatically create one and add an icon to your database window.

While working on my repertoire, I had a good laugh when I came across the following statement on the website:

The Pirc Defense is relatively new and not as heavy on theory as other classical openings.

Dear, do your homework! This opening was already utilized in the 18th century. Back then, such a style of play was considered unconventional. It was in the late 1930s that it started gaining more attention. In the former USSR, Ufimtsev explored it, and in the then Yugoslavia, it was Grandmaster Pirc. The opening gained popularity during the 1960s.

Earliest games Pirc Defense - Austrian Attack:

No. Result Players Year
1 1-0(23) Marshall 2570 - Pillsbury 2630 1904
2 0-1(28) Richter 2525 - Lokvenc 2490 1938
3 0-1(60) Honfi 2560 - Koberl 2560 1950
4 0-1(39) Teschner - Tartakower 1951
5 1-0(32) Matanovic - Tartakower Birmingham 1951

You can then take it from there, build your repertoire matching your style and thoughts and do your repertoire training showcased in this YouTube video:

Repertoire Training in ChessBase

If you need to learn how to build your repertoire database - yes, another of those not well-documented functions - this will be shown in another blog. Even on YouTube, you need help finding such how-to videos for the amateur.

While embracing the unknown has its rewards, it’s challenging. There were moments of uncertainty and setbacks, and a move I had not encountered left me pondering for minutes. However, these challenges are integral to growth. Every encounter with the unfamiliar is an opportunity to learn, adapt, and improve. And with time, I became more confident in navigating unexplored openings. I also modified the standard path and adjusted it based on learnings.

You might want to check out such a game in my blog Amici Sumus: Finding Unity and Strength in Chess - My Journey at the Peace Open Tournament.

Roberto Pinos Rubio’s feedback to me was golden and spot on.

Famous Game Example: Fischer-Spassky - Match of the Century 1972

Looking Ahead

My chess journey is far from over. Pursuing improvement is a lifelong endeavor, and with each milestone reached, new horizons open up. As I continue to evolve as a player, I’m excited to dive even deeper into the uncharted waters of chess openings, strategies, and tactics. The road ahead is filled with growth opportunities, and I’m excited to learn more and improve.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my journey so far. Your support, feedback, and camaraderie mean the world to me. If you have questions or topics you want to explore, let me know, drop me a note.

Stay tuned for more updates, analyses, and insights as I venture further into the world of chess. Until then, may your games be inspired and your moves with purpose.

Keep evolving, keep playing, and keep discovering.

Amici Sumus

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