# How to master 1.e4 repertoire from scratch

I was a hardcore 1.c4 player. But, for quite some time, the popularity of Nakhmanson Gambit, Jerome Gambit etc. has encouraged me to experiment with 1.e4.

I have read 1.e4 with backup plan before. Now I am preparing myself to master the entire 1.e4 repository [ECO B00 - C99] for white, as well as for black. Since I am completely beginner in this line, I have the following questions:

How can I understand, which opening seeks more attention than others? Should I follow the database to find the most popular reply or it's better to stick with the ECO code serially? How can I link the connection between two openings? (eg., Scotch Gambit and Urusov Gambit)

• "At least a depth of 5 moves" If you'll only study up to move 5, you'll do much better by not studying the opening at all – David Jul 15 '20 at 20:33
• It's not really feasible. From en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shannon_number: "there are 69,352,859,712,417 possible games that could have been played" after 5 moves. Even dividing by 20, since you have white's first move selected, still leaves over 3 trillion games. – Herb Jul 15 '20 at 20:59
• But, at the same time, two openings may end up to the same result. eg, 1.e4 e5, 2.Nf3, Nc6 ... is exactly same as 1.Nf3 Nc6, 2.e4,e5 and so on. In other words, move order is not important, as long as no exchange takes place on the board. Thus, I am asking, whether it is possible to link two or more openings. – Amlan Saha Kundu Jul 16 '20 at 5:08
• @HerbWolfe You don't need to study a reply for 1. e4 e5 2.Nf3 Qh4 – David Jul 16 '20 at 6:41
• Since I can't answer properly anymore, let's answer here: the easiest way to close a decent repertoire would probably be to study the Vienese Opening (or maybe Danish Gambit) against 1...e5, some line against the Sicilian (it really depends on how much time you want to spend. You can choose between Open Sicilian, Closed, Alapin... pick up the one you like the most). Against Caro-Kann you have the Panov. It'll teach you great chess. For the French, just try the Exchange variation. Learn some e4, d4, Be3, Nc3, Qd2 formation against fianchettos and see a couple of games crushing Scandiavians – David Jul 16 '20 at 6:46

The special feature of a 1.e4 repertoire is that transpositions are rare. You can have independent repertoires against each of black's replies. This is very different from 1.c4, 1.d4 and 1.Nf3 where moves can often be played in many different orders and you always have to watch out for transpositions between your various lines.

Then these are the "big four":

1...e5 -- The Open Game

1...c5 -- The Sicilian

1...e6 -- The French

1...c6 -- The Caro-Kann

Most of your time should go to those, especially the first three (the CK is also very good but not as popular at amateur level).

Then there is the rest, like

1...d5 -- the Scandinavian

1...d6 and 1...g6 -- the Pirc and Modern (there are transpositions between those)

1...Nf6 -- the Alekhine

And other lines that you can skip for now.

The reason for this is that 1.e4 puts an undefended pawn in the center, and the intended follow-up 2.d4 is hard to prevent as it will be defended by the queen. This is different from 1.d4 where 2.e4 is easy to prevent. That means all replies must immediately have some specific way to deal with that, and the different ways of doing that immediately prevent transpositions.

1...e5 -- black just does the same. 1...c5 -- black will exchange his c-pawn for the d-pawn if it arrives on d4. 1...e6 and 1...c6 -- black will also put a pawn on d5. 1...d5 black immediately puts a pawn on d5 but can't recapture with a pawn. 1...Nf6 -- black attacks the undefended e4 pawn. 1...d6 and 1...g6 -- black lets white play 2.d4 and intends to attack the center later.

Hope this helps.

• Thank you so much for the order. But, how can I link two different repertoires? For example, Scotch Gambit can be transformed into Nakhmanson Gambit. So, how can I link those two lines, while creating my repertoire? – Amlan Saha Kundu Jul 16 '20 at 8:36
• @AmlanSahaKundu: that's for you to figure out. If you decide you want to play 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3, and then go for the Scotch gambit if black plays 2...Nc6 by 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4, then one of the things you need an answer for is 4...Nf6. Apparantly the "Nakhmanson Gambit" (never heard of it, doesn't seem like a good idea, but OK) would involve playing 5.0-0 there, and if black takes the pawn with 5...Nxe4 then you'd play 6.Nc3?! and apply your knowledge from there. But there are also other options at every move that you could also think about what you'd play if you met them in a game. – RemcoGerlich Jul 16 '20 at 10:10
• Actually Nakhmanson Gambit [ C56; 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. O-O Nxe4 6. Nc3 ] can be obtained when the opponent doesn't want to accept Urusov gambit. And, the beauty of this gambit is: since it is quite uncommon, players (even 2000+) did easily fall into the deadly trap. That's why I am trying to cover such deadly lines into my repertoire. – Amlan Saha Kundu Jul 16 '20 at 10:26
• I would also add, just play ruy lopez and see against e5. Most time should be devoted to sicilian foremost and then french and then e5. Said my 2600 trainer ;) – David Miedema Jul 16 '20 at 22:08
• If you want to focus your study on French and Sicilian, the Ruy Lopez is probably your worst option. – David Jul 17 '20 at 7:06

Adopting e4 is a huge undertaking. Since you played the English, I recommend you incorporate the King's Indian Attack into your repertoire as you can play it against anything you haven't studied yet.

A gambit repertoire is not a bad idea either. You might be able to link lines like: 1.e4 d5 2.d4 dxe4 3.Nc3 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3

1.e4 c5 you can play 2.c4 and head for some kind of English or The Smith-morra gambit, and Grand Prix Attack are good alternatives. Otherwise, Main line Sicilians would take a couple years to learn.

There are plenty of e4 repertoire books/videos, and they try to link lines/simplify things.

• Thanks for your answer. Actually I prefer English because it has a few lines to remember and at the same time quite uncommon. That's why there is a fair chance for the opponent to do mistakes at the very beginning. On the other hand, according to the mega database, 1.e4 is the most popular move. So, will it be okay if I prepare a gambit repertoire without studying the mainline ? – Amlan Saha Kundu Jul 16 '20 at 23:37
• "I am preparing myself to master the entire 1.e4 repository [ECO B00 - C99] for white, as well as for black." I don't think King's Indian Attack is what OP is looking for. – David Jul 17 '20 at 7:02
• The King's Indian Attack recommendation is as a temporary substitution to openings that one hasn't studied yet. And since he played the English it should be suitable for him in that regard. – Ywapom Jul 27 '20 at 17:25

The easiest way to close a decent repertoire would probably be to study the Vienese Opening (or maybe Danish Gambit) against 1...e5, some line against the Sicilian (it really depends on how much time you want to spend. You can choose between Open Sicilian, Closed, Alapin... pick up the one you like the most).

Against Caro-Kann you have the Panov. It'll teach you great chess. For the French, just try the Exchange variation. Learn some e4, d4, Be3, Nc3, Qd2 formation against fianchettos and see a couple of games crushing Scandiavians

• "some line against the Sicilian"-- Sicilian itself has 15+ active lines. So, can you please specify, which lines do require more attention than the others? – Amlan Saha Kundu Jul 16 '20 at 8:41
• @AmlanSahaKundu If they were only 15... Pick Alapin if you want something simple that kinda works. Closed Sicilian can lead you to interesting attacking positions but won't be very harmful against prepared opponents. Open Sicilian is objectively the best and will teach you a lot about chess, but often requires a lot of dedication – David Jul 17 '20 at 7:01

I have been playing Pirc, even so I can learn different lines.

I even bought some interesting books, one in Spanish "La Defensa Pirc y Fianchetto de Rey" and another in English that I don't remember the name now, but I'll get the name on the website I bought.

Pirc can vary from very simple lines to some of great complexity, where both sides can have advantages.

At first I started playing so I could have something different in my repertoire and maybe catch some opponent off guard.