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Chess/tournament strategy


Mr. Molden:
Thank you in advance for your time and expertise.
I am an adult player and I try to participate in about three or four tournaments a year. I usually start preparing for a tournament eight to six weeks before. In your opinion is it best to prepare with a very  narrow repertoire going to the tournament? For example vs. e4 I  play only French or Caro-Kann, and vs. d4 Nimzo, Queen's Indian, Tarrasch and lately The Modern Defense (the Modern I also play vs. c4,f4 and other odd balls such as b3 etc.) And with white I always open with d4.So then going to a weekend 5 rounds Swiss should I concentrate my efforts and preparation on only one defense for maybe two or three games, let's say French and Modern and with white the London(thanks to C. Lakdawala) which I can play vs. any black set up? Or should I take a broader approach? My next event is coming up in June and I will be in the under 1600 section. My goal is always to be very familiar with different opening positions and early deviations (ex French exchange, French Winawer, French Tarrasch etc.)and try not to memorize anything beyond the first six moves.
Thank you,

Hi Ed,

You sound very dedicated to chess and with such discipline, you should see definite improvement.

I recommend the approach where you concentrate your efforts and preparation on only one defense and one universal opening up to around 10 moves deep.  Going over actual games in a database where these openings are played between strong players is also important.

Here's some additional helpful information:




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Len Molden


Questions about specific chess openings and advice about which opening repertoire is suited to a particular style. For example, the Sicilian Defense is suited to aggressive players, while the Caro Kann Defense appeals to defensive players.


I've been studying chess since I was 12. Apart from a vast library of specialized chess opening books, I also have a huge database collection of games.

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I've been playing in chess tournaments in the United States and Canada since 1972. I've won many tournaments in both countries and I'm ranked as a Canadian Expert. I've also written articles for chess magazines and one of my best victories ever is featured here:

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