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Developing an opening repertoire with Anish Giri

by Stefan Liebig - 04/05/2024

To play openings like a grandmaster - that's probably what most ambitious amateurs want. The first and not so easy step is to choose openings for your own repertoire. Would you like to do this with a world-class grandmaster? Of course you would! In the new two-part video course "A Supergrandmaster's Guide to Openings with Anish Giri", Anish Giri introduces (almost) all openings in an instructive way, categorises their relevance and tells fascinating stories from the world of elite chess. The Fritztrainer is available now on our shop. Buy now if you haven't yet to strengthen your opening repertoire. Photo: ChessBase

Building up a practical opening repertoire is probably one of the most demanding tasks of a chess player. In recent weeks we have introduced many new ChessBase products such as the opening encyclopaedia, the opening ebook and the ‘usual’ special opening videos. This has been supplemented by valuable practical tips on learning the first phase of the game from world-class coaches such as Ivan Sokolov and Dorian Rogozenco.


ChessBase India head Sagar Shah visited Anish Giri at home to get a detailed categorisation of all the openings of the former world no. 3 (2015/16). In the first part of the course the two cover openings after 1.e4, in the second part they deal with lines arising after 1.d4, 1.c4 and rarer openings. In addition to providing an unprecedented overview of the current importance of the variations, this Dutch-Indian co-production is also a fascinating journey into the history of the Royal Game.


The enthusiasm with which Giri has studied the opening throughout his career is evident throughout the course. He demonstrates the importance of a good repertoire for top players and, above all, that it is fortunately surprisingly easy for amateurs to build up a tournament-ready repertoire.


It's impressive how Giri takes the opportunity to explain where many of today's insights come from: according to the Super GM with Russian-Nepalese roots, who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Candidates Tournament 2024 in Toronto, Vladimir Kramnik's discoveries paved the way for modern opening theory. "He retired after his last idea with the white starting moves 1.d4 2.Nf3 3.c3 because there was nothing more meaningful for him to discover," says the 29-year-old passionate shogi player, who was born in St Petersburg. According to him, many of today's top players use Kramnik's groundwork to find new details with the help of engines: "We are recycling Kramnik's ideas!"

Giri's approach

In this successful format, which has already been tried and tested several times, IM Shah and GM Giri harmonize with each other. The latter shows his favourite games in the respective openings. He goes into the historical background and shows current developments. The viewer learns how openings can be assessed according to the latest state of the art and how important they are in current tournament practice.

With around 3.5 hours of video runtime, the package is a comprehensive source of information. With access to the ChessBase app you can practise diligently and finally the database provides games selected for specific openings. The whole package is rounded off by access to the included e-book with all its practical features and game overviews.

So I'm going to put the material to the test: when I presented the opening ebook #01 Open Games, I "picked out" the Vienna Game for testing. This time I want to approach it from Black's point of view - let's see what Giri and Shah have to offer in the field of "my" Volga Gambit...

Test opening Volga

I click through to the 'Benoni/Benko' section in the second part of the video course. I think it's good that the two openings are dealt with together - after all, how many times have I ended up in Benoni positions that I couldn't do anything with because of transpositions? I also like the fact that Sagar Shah talks about two dubious openings - so here goes: the video is 18 minutes and 41 seconds long. Giri explains how the non-existent symmetry of the chessboard (queenside vs. kingside) affects openings like the Benoni/Volga on the one hand or the Dutch or the Budapest Gambit on the other. These explanations are typical of the course, and for this reason alone it is worth taking an occasional look at openings that you are not familiar with.

Back to the video: Next the typical pawn structures and plans for the pieces are explained and marked. It is emphasised that the gambit is about a long term initiative, which makes the opening interesting. In between, Giri talks about move-orders and transpositions. It is enlightening to see how some unpleasant variations can simply be avoided if you are open to good alternatives.


Finally, Giri gives some hints about the great masters of openings. The games of Benko and Tal are definitely worth looking at to get a feel for Benoni. The catalogue includes games by Carlsen, Chepiranov, Jobava and Vidit. I spontaneously feel much better in the Benoni area. Next I'll have a look at the opening encyclopaedia, the opening ebook and let's see, maybe I'll also have a look at other ChessBase products on the subject of Benoni/Benko.


It's becoming increasingly clear what is also mentioned in the courses and interviews mentioned above: learning an opening means looking at games - that's how you get a feel for typical middlegames and endgames. And it's more fun than swotting up on variations. The illustrative games selected by Giri show how opening advantages can be used profitably in the subsequent phases of the game.


Shah talks to Giri about two possible approaches to repertoire building: Should you perfect a few openings or should you diversify and become a well-rounded player? Giri philosophises about this question and gives prominent examples of both approaches - but leaves it open which one you should choose...


It's definitely worth watching not only videos about your own openings, but as many videos as possible. After all, Giri always has valuable and interesting advice to share:

"You have to play energetically from the start, not shying away from moves like g4 in the opening. [...] A development advantage feels to many like an advantage for the whole game - but you have to be able to realise the advantage in the game and you have to learn that time is important...."

He himself has mastered this so perfectly that he has almost broken the magical 2800 Elo barrier - so who better to learn from? The videos in "A Supergrandmaster's Guide to Openings with Anish Giri" provide the learner with first class annotated material that eliminates time-consuming research in an entertaining and instructive way. This will quickly give you a good basis for further refining your own opening repertoire.

Buy now

A Super Grandmaster's Guide to Openings Vol.1: 1.e4 by Anish Giri

A Super Grandmaster's Guide to Openings Vol.2: 1.d4, 1.c4 and Sidelines by Anish Giri

A Super Grandmaster's Guide to Openings Vol.1 & 2 by Anish Giri

About the Author

Stefan Liebig, born in 1974, is a journalist and co-owner of a marketing agency. He now lives in Barterode near Göttingen. At the age of five, strange pieces on his neighbor's shelf aroused his curiosity. Since then, the game of chess has cast a spell over him. Flying high in the NRW youth league with his home club SV Bad Laasphe and several appearances in the second division team of Tempo Göttingen were highlights for the former youth South Westphalia champion.

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