HomeLearn to Play ChessImprove Your GameChess HistoryChess for FunChess Blog

Opening Repertoire : View Example Games
We combined the site's game viewer with an old idea from American master Al Horowitz.

If you've spent any time browsing this site, you've probably seen our section on 'Chess Openings : Repertoire Recommendations'. Starting from the Initial Position (see the link box at the bottom of this article), we step through the first few moves of the most popular openings.

Given the great number of opening variations and the depth of known opening theory, we can't provide more than an overview of the openings. Other specialist sites go into far greater detail and we link to these under Improve Your Openings (see the link box again).

Still, it's nice (some would say indispensable!) to know to what kind of games the different openings lead. Where our recommendations lead to a position which goes no further, we've added a few sample games to give you an idea about the type of play which arises from that position.

This is a technique we took from a book written 40 years ago : Chess Openings: Theory and Practice by I.A. Horowitz (Israel Albert, better known as Al Horowitz; 1907-1973; New York, NY). The cover of our copy of the book (New York 1964; Fireside Books - Simon & Schuster; large format paperback; 789 pages) says, 'A definitive study of all the important openings, with 2660 fully analyzed variations and 439 complete illustrative games.' The 'analyzed variations' are interspersed with the 'illustrative games' (we counted 468 games while preparing this article). For example, Horowitz's first chapter, on the Bishop's Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4), includes two games from the early 1900s.

Along with borrowing Horowitz's idea to use illustrative games, we started with a small selection of the games he used in his book. We have better technology today than was available to Horowitz in the early 1960s, so we went one step further by incorporating the games into our game viewer. The list of games available for the viewer is on a separate page 'Opening Repertoire : Example Games' (link box again).


One of the curiosities we discovered is that illustrative games for several of today's popular lines are missing from Chess Openings: Theory and Practice. This says more about advances in modern opening theory than it does about gaps in Horowitz's coverage.

  • Nimzo-Larsen Attack (1.b3) • As far as we can determine, Horowitz overlooked this very modern opening which was the brainchild of the two greatest opening theorists from Denmark : Aron Nimzovitch (born in Russia) and Bent Larsen. This becomes even more curious when we discover that Horowitz spent precious space discussing the discredited Paris (1.Nh3) and Saragossa (1.c3) openings.

  • Benko Gambit (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5) • Horowitz mentioned this under the heading 'Benoni Defense - Hromadka System', calling it 'a somewhat daring gambit'. The variation he gave continued only to move 7 and failed to give ...g6, which is a cornerstone of the entire line. Pal Benko did his groundbreaking work on the line in the 1970s.

  • Sicilian Center Game (1.e4 c5 2.d4) • This usually continues 2...cxd4 3.c3 and is called the Smith-Morra Gambit. Horowitz mentioned this under 'Sicilian Defense - Unusual Variations' (where he also treated 2.c3), naming it the Morra Gambit. The earliest game we could find by Ken Smith (1930-1999; Texas) was played in 1960. We suppose that Smith did not appear on Horowitz's radar screen in New York.

  • Scotch Game 4...Bc5 (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5) • This weapon of 2700+ players like Vassili Ivanchuk, Alexei Shirov, and Nigel Short, received two columns of 'Supplementary Variations' from Horowitz.

The next time we return to our repertoire recommendations we'll find a few illustrative games from other sources to fill these gaps. We'll also add a few more variations to the repertoire. Our biggest problem is that the deeper we go into opening theory, the more material we have to cover. Since that is the number one problem with learning the chess openings, you're probably struggling with it also!

 More of this Feature
• Openings : View Games
 Related Resources
• Openings : Initial Position
 Elsewhere on the Web
• Chess Openings: Theory and Practice