9

It's not a technically oriented question but rather a "psychological" one. Personally, I don't especially like to play against my own lines especially sidelines.

If I decided to play a precise line (ex : Malaniuk variation in the Scotch, but it does not matter here), it's because I consider it to be good, sound, enjoyable or whatever. But I have to play against it, I feel uneasy, like I'm playing myself. Am I the only one in this case ? Facing its own "weapons" could be an excellent way to improve though. What would be your take on this ?

  • IM John Bartholomew has mentioned this on a few of his videos - not just the psychological factor of "oh, he's playing a good opening" (e.g., "my" opening), but also the "I don't want to reveal all my tricks!" factor. Most of those comments are in passing while he's discussing other things, so this isn't an answer. – Ghotir Sep 29 '17 at 13:46
8

I actually like playing against opponents who attempt to play the same way that I play with their color.

The important part however is to not follow your favorite lines to the very end. As you said, there is a reason you consider them worthwhile. Instead, use your knowledge about which moves you consider unpleasant when playing that variation. Chances are that your opponent, who apparently likes the style of a line you like, will dislike this deviation as well and will be just as uncomfortable as you. Keep calm, and you might be the one with the psychological high ground.

Playing against your own weapons also is a good way of sharpening them. Best case, one of your chess buddies plays the same variation. Then both of you can play a lot of practice games against each other starting with this variation with alternating colors and test possible ways your opponent might attempt to counter your strategy. I think you learn more by literally putting yourself in the opponent's skin and really trying to find winning moves against your variation rather than by just assuming their moves while exclusively playing your own side in training, which might lead to some bias ("hopefully he'll continue with this move in this line..").

  • 1
    I support this answer very much: there is a clear advantage in having to play against your own variations, namely that you already know what the plans of both colours are and what the position is. Moreover, this helps to even avoid any particular tacticism or trick (because you are supposed to already know how they arise, as by hypothesis you are the one looking for them when playing the other colour). – gented Sep 29 '17 at 9:36
5

You are not alone in this:

Don't play against your own weapons

Botvinnik said a player should devise an opening repertoire so that he doesn't have to face the same variations with White that he is prepared to defend as Black, and vice versa. In this way he avoids the psychological limbo of trying to beat his own ideas.

Botvinnik followed his own advice. After adopting the Winawer variation as Black, he almost always played 3. Nd2 as White when facing the French. And when he devised his own line for the QGD for Black (1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 e6 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Bg5 dxc4!?) he took care that when he was White he played 4. e3 or the Exchange Variation and never had to face the Botvinnik Variation.

Source: The Wisest Things Ever Said About Chess by GM Soltis

  • Relevant quote! But isn't that pretty much impossible? Whatever you play as white, someone might react the way you'd do as black. – RemcoGerlich Sep 29 '17 at 9:20
  • @RemcoGerlich: I've added more to the quote to explain Botvinnik's advice – user1108 Sep 29 '17 at 9:30
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    But then what does he do when opponent plays the French Tarrasch? – jf328 Sep 29 '17 at 12:00
  • Interesting quote indeed! I should check that book. – loukios Sep 29 '17 at 13:05
  • @remcoGerlich "doesn't have to face the same variations with White that he is prepared to defend as Black" So, it seems the obvious answer is not to prepare a Black response to whatever you play with White, and devise it on the spot if you have to face it... – JiK Sep 29 '17 at 23:44

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