Chess Openings : Why play Opening “Main lines” ?! – Theory vs Practice – Gaining real advantages!

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Instructive game tags: Instructive game tags: Chess openings for White, Beginner, beginners openings, mastering chess openings, chess tutorial, chess tutorials, chess openings tutorial, opening principles, everything you need to know, chess opening principles, chess opening lesson, informative chess opening information, chess openings for beginners, chess opening names, essential chess opening knowledge, classical chess opening, Main line theory, advantages and disadvantages of main line theory, Sicilian defence example, open sicilian, closed sicilian, closed variation advantages over open sicilian, what is the sicilian defence main line, opening explorers help to show statistics, statistical analysis, most trodden paths, sicilian sveshnikov main line, Bb5 trend against Sveshnikov, last two year window approach, trends vs mainline, what is trendy recently vs main line throughout history, sveshnikov example, Bb5 anti-sveshnikov, waste of learning theory when people play bb5 against Sveshnikov, why do people avoid sicilian main lines, too much theory to study and keep track of, overhead of keeping up with theory, tonnes of theory, theoretical burden, main lines incur overhead of having to keep up to date with latest trends, french defence example, winawer vs tarrasch, exchange french avoids having to know theory but boring, please dont play exchange french, caro-kann exchange variation, avoiding opponents theoretical knowledge, people play everything except main line sicilian, c3 sicilian, Alapin variation to avoid theory, non-main lines give other advantages, reti gambit vs french, systems against french defence, statistical popularity for mainlines throughout whole of time, underlying theoretical basis for caro-kann mainline, black restricted to first three ranks in main line caro-kann, space advantage in main-line caro-kann, exchange off dark squared bishops in main line caro-kann, why is winawer so popular in french defence, black gives white two bishops in winawer but damages whites pawn structure, main lines create imbalances, interesting imbalances from main-lines, french tarrasch closed variation gets more space for white and aggressive pawn chain, aiming for certain fundamental advantages by using main-lines, exchange caro-kann has some advantage to it and used by Kasparov, d4 examples, queens gambit declined mainline used to be but kind of upgraded to slav defence to avoid hemming in queenside bishop, capablanca emphasised learning endgames first then openings, slav defence has become a kind of mainline vs 1.d4, avrukh quality chess recommendations, avrukh recommends catalan type systems involving kings bishop fianchetto, some controversy over what are main lines, trends recently vs throughout history, reason for main-lines, getting opponent to think and improvise by using non-main lines, marshall gambit tonnes of theory which offers white very little usually, pointless endless theory to learn without any real advantage in marshall gambit, are anti systems taking over like anti-marshall gambit, identifying your own approach and goals to the game, identifying your key strengths like capablanca recognised his endgame was his main strength, opponents improving seems a very good practical goal, using 1.g3 to get a playable middlegame position, having a strong middlegame and endgame philosophy, how opening theory fits in with personal strength and goals philosophy, commercial agenda behind opening books and dvds, practical chess goals, enjoyment goals of chess, enjoyment goals in conflict with learning tonnes of opening theory, having fun with openings, fun agenda, grand-prix attack sideline vs sicilian defence had good success in british tournaments


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  1. I think Playing Main line openings allow for clearer goals. I think they are the openings that have been analysed to death and ensures the best opportunities. Many of the lines like the Morra gambit, c3 sicilian, grand pirx. They dont offer the most advantage and if preppared against it it can even be crushed. Main lines are very clear cut( i Dont mean the position is easy)

  2. Regarding the "Main Line" question. According to the material I have seen, Opening
    main lines are called the "Main Line" because of the popularity of the opening and the fact that they win the majority of the time. Most classical systems will produce main lines because they are most familiar.

  3. Regarding the "Main Line" question. According to the material I have seen, Opening main lines are called the "Main Line" because of the popularity of the opening and the fact that they win the majority of the time. Most classical systems will produce main lines because they are most familiar.

  4. i avoid the ruy lopez on both sides, 2 much theory, i can play the marshall gambit as black but thats about it, and thats if white allows it. playing the "main line" is good if u have alot of experience in that line, KC's line in the french exchange (king bishop fianchetto) is very good in my opinion as it immediately creates an inbalance, also i to like the control of the f5 sqaure and usually always play it now, courtesy of KC of course

  5. @GavriilForEver Look at Kasparofs Videos on Sicilian, I don't know if he comments on this move, but Bd3 is many times later a bad move (surprisingly) that's what I know from his videos. Agains sicilian you don't need ani antidot, you simply need to know ideas in the opening. I for example admire Karjakin playing sicilian with white – his approach just feel right and I bet he's got perfect score agiinst it. Somewhere to go for inspiration. And interestingly his games all look very similar tomee.

  6. Main line: an opening that gets dull seeing it get played a large amount of time *coughsicilianingeneralcough* I always have prefered to play doubious openings, gambits, things people are not used to with the fact that it is unique and people do now know what to do about it all the time. I have the practice of putting myself into a worse position just to get a different game.

  7. Good video kc. I would have to agree with your somewhat jokingly made statement that GMs are looking to amateur games for ideas. I am an amateur myself and have played several GMs and FMs online at 5 minute games and usually they play several games against me. One even asked me to keep playing against him because the lines that I played against him he had never seen before. I later saw him beat a fellow GM with one of my novel attacking ideas. So, although you jested there is some truth .

  8. @lostextremeable some of what you stated is contextual, for example, moving pieces twice. see two knights defence, some grands play multiple pawn moves in debut ans still win convieniently, see krakkarak, bird opening( on my subscriptions list)

  9. @kingscrusher reversed stone wall is called bird opening

  10. I try to avoid all main lines whenever possible. That is why I use the Bronstein variation of the Scandinavian against 1.e4. It is a dynamic position, I know it 10x better than my opponent, and I know that If I play good chess I can win. What more could you want?

  11. To me Chess is an extension of one's personality!

  12. @exclamaforte Brilliant comment and example – I have done a Bronstein annotation of an innovative idea he once played which is Game 1 of my Bronstein book – do you have the book in question : "David Bronstein" – Chess Improviser. I am sorry I didn't get your nickname right. But you inspired the video response video this morning.

  13. @Electromusicaus Yes – maybe there is something to that – because if the Opening fits your personality, maybe you will be more motivated as well to work hard during the game.

  14. @thechessstick Yes I think also innovations can come from correspondence games too. I guess the online blitz chess is like an experimental hotbed of ideas played without risking one's official rating. Maybe some of the ideas aren't so bad from that "brainstorming".

  15. @maltebricht1 I believe this is what Bronstein felt in the 1950's – please see my reply video this morning.

  16. @mikedoyle1982 Yep I like playing that fianchetto as it injects something new into an otherwise sterile symmetrical pawn structure. I do have good results with it, and can also advance my kingside pawns later too 🙂

  17. @pistraurder That maybe having something to do with playing players who are generally more tactically resourceful or stronger positionally. I personally believe for most players, advances in their middlegame and endgame skills might pay much higher dividends than investment in trying to know more opening theory.

  18. @cuevasdecamuy But unfortunately 2.c3 against the Sicilian is on the rage at the moment. It has its own fast evolving body of "theory" now.

  19. @TheNamesBettyNyahhh I think statistical popularity breeds more statistical popularity. But I think we need to look at the underlying imbalances and trump cards which are really being generated, in order to avoid being a slave to what is statistically the most played lines.

  20. @tevans2737 This isn't strictly true (e.g Chessgames opening explorer) – a lot of the time the sidelines have statistically higher win rates than the more popular moves. An example of this is: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfe7 and here the Alekhine Chatard Gambit move 6.h4 is statistically doing much better than other lines but it has less games trodden on with that. Bxe7 is played 760 times with a success rate of 45.7% but h4 is played 331 games with success of 53.8%

  21. I quess you are right in that respect. I know you are not a big fan of the slav, but 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 dxc4 was frowned upon because of 4.e4, a Friend of mine who is a Master woulndt even giving me advice about dxc4 because he wouldnt playet himself(I guess his chess ego),well some "new theory" came out nd he lost against that line.So you might be right,there might not be such thing as "Main line",it might just be what is popular at the moment. Computers can revive old "Unsound" lines

  22. I don't know much about main lines. But, I have always thought of "Main Line" openings as guideline tools to help us understand the specific opener. After that, the side lines can be understood better. In other words, learning the main line is only the first step in being able to deal with side line openers. Thanks for posting the Lopez/Marshal openings.

  23. "mainline" is a more sound, flexible line in a specific opening, oftentimes considered the better or best line in regards to ideas of an opening.
    players tend to avoid mainlines bc if you do not fully know or understand the theory or system, it is more difficult to play correct plans or realize an opponent's mistake.
    more decisions to make, more skill is needed to control the outcome. 1 plan 1 defence is easier, but also easier to draw.

  24. 1:39 closed sicilian is a mainline in the sicilian defence system just like any open sicilian variation. 5:46 same with the exchange in the french, it's also a mainline (1 of 6).
    i'm confused with the main line=popular line definition. for me "mainline" is a chess theory term which is independent of popularities.

  25. @realCevra Well I Just found this as a Wiki defintion of "Main line" : Main line
    The principal, most important, or most often played variation of an opening or piece of analysis. For example, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 is often referred to as the main line of the King's Indian Defence

  26. Thankyou so much for presenting your ideas. i am stimulated by them and always want to know more! My response to "Why the main line?" perhaps because they are the most efficient way to develop all your pieces on efficient squares and so give you some starting advantage which may lead to your sort of chosen tactics and strategy which will work for you.

  27. Interesting discussion video here about #Chess Main Line Opening theory – Please add to favoiurites if you like it! Cheers, K

  28. I don't know if this comment can be viewed as anything other than personal preference but here goes;

    I used to play in USCF tournaments but life got busy. I still loved chess however and would read through games and eventually began to play online games [FICS].

    I found that my tastes led me to study tactics and endgames. They were the most fulfilling branches of study for the limited time I had to spend on chess. I avoid deep opening analysis in my games as I hate to memorize variations.

  29. Hi. enjoyed all your videos.. these is stimulating. I am a hobbyist of the game as it poses lots mental challenges for a player.To answer 'why the mainline?', simply because, it offers a wide range of possibilities within the equilibrium of the game. Positional play, seems direct and simplified way of playing. However, ones must be prepared of gambits and other sidelines, as effectively countering such will exhaust opponents ideas. Soon, ones better prepared are in great position, theoretically.

  30. I really enjoyed this discussion. Regarding Queen's Gambit v. Slav is very interesting. Hans Kmoch, somewhat presciently I think, wrote in 1959 that Black's play against the minority attack in QG "is at any rate difficult (so that he probably is better off in meeting 1.d4 d5; 2.c4 with 2…c6 rather than with 2…e6)." That is, he gave an "underlying theoretical basis" for the preference of 2…c6 over 2…e6: sidestepping White's minority attack.

  31. mainlines often are the strongest or the better moves, not always though. thats why ppl plays them. because if you go for a line that you actually dont know how to follow you might actually lose

  32. How can people be rated 2000+ and play all these different openings? A few 2000+ players ive played against will play 3 or 4 different kinds of defenses against my e4 and I cant understand how they can play all those different defenses equally well. I play e4 in 100% of my games and I always play 1 defense against whites openings moves and im about 1700 and its taken me 2 years to get that good just knowing 1. How can anyone know 4 or 5 different openings and play them all equally good?

  33. I hate playing against Sicilian, I try to use Grand Prix or Alapin, but never seem to do well with these, any suggestions?

  34. iv been playing for about 6 months now around 1200 mark and dont think iv played a main line yet. I guess at some point at some level it just becomes the thing to do as routine, especially when you start playing blitz mainlines just save you time i guess

  35. "an opening parrot"….implying a parrot is a computer…

  36. Main Lines are played by Grandmasters because with the level of technique today anything that is even slightly unsound or even just too passive (or aggressive) gives the opponent much more chance of getting a serious advantage than a main line where the theoretical advantage is negligble. For amateurs it doesn't really matter, just play whatever you like..

  37. The main line is simply the best move for each side–the move that gives the greatest advantage at that moment. It doesn't matter what a given player knows. (I used to play the Sicilian Four Knights if allowed. I loathed it when a lot of players started playing 3. Bb5). –Fwiw, non-GMs back in the 80s were already looking to avoid main lines. When opening theory was taking a lot of variations out past 20 moves, the opinion was that chess was becoming too little chess and too much memory. Another option was playing obscure versions of main lines, getting out of the main line by move 7 or 8 or 9, sacrificing a small advantage in order to cut down on memory work and getting one's opponent into likely unfamiliar territory.

  38. Very fruitful question, especially in the way you brought it up! Keep up, KC!

  39. Mainlines can't be at the expense of your enjoyment of the game. I suspect you kinda stumbled onto that gem there, but I rather like it : )

  40. 3 is pronounced three with a TH not F. why are you pronouncing TH like F ???????????😠😠😠😠😠

  41. I believe that we only play main lines after we understand why people do not play otherwise. If there is no clear disadvantage for either side, no matter how recondite or unusual it might be, it should have the capacity to serve as a main line. Conversely, a main line will fall out of favour or cease to exist altogether whenever some obvious or overwhelming advantage or disadvantage is discovered on either side. Afterall, a main line is only CURRENTLY the most BALANCED case reached after both sides put all their might on their own side and that basically means new wits, change everything anytime.

    I believe those who do not play main lines are just experimenting with new wits or exploiting the fact that the opponents have limited memory and the ability to think fast and clear enough under time pressure. Of course, they fail bitterly when these are all proven otherwise.

  42. Practice is the best over memorizing all moves, theory 🙂

  43. I'm totally in agreement with this video. And I don't think that in 100 years people will consider any of the current main lines as the main lines of their time (at least not exactly as they are today). And I totally agree with Capablanca's view on endgame study to improve your game.

    Maybe Main lines reflect the "most correct" way that you can follow to get from any opening to into a forced draw but still maintaining that big advantage for white, and sidelines are lines that you are playing a bit "wrong" on purpose so that your opponent plays even "wronger" and lead into a position where someone has to win or to a forced draw but with the cost that now white won't have an endgame advantage and barely hold a draw against black. And ofcourse the more theory we learn the more these things change, and main lines become side lines and the other way around…

    We have to trust our intuition in this because even engines have horizon effects can cannot evaluate everything absolutely accurately. Grand Masters loose to Stockfish, Stockfish loses to A0 and Lc0 and who knows, even they might lose to a Quantum Computer playing chess… So main lines maybe just reflect what we Humans consider logical based on our current understanding of the game.

  44. Thanks for this vid, very useful 8 years later. I learned chess very young but then lost touch with the game for a few decades and am now back. I find against similarly rated players, I will throw the game away in the first 6 moves because I don't know how to respond to the openings, but if I make to the middle equal on material, or even maybe a pawn down, I usually win. There's really no substitute for knowing the main lines for the major openings, especially in fats live games.

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