Reviewing 1. d4 Nf6 after 9 Games.

The sample is too small to tell me much, but probably big enough to start spotting trends. Almost all of these games have been played against people between 1300-1500 on

The first thing that is interesting is how different the e4 vs d4 split is in my opponents vs. the database of “master” games.

Damn near 3:1 and then basically nothing else. As you’ll see below, the masters play much more balanced. I guess this makes sense, d4 is more drawish and generally less exciting. And you can’t get a scholar’s mate.

Practically speaking, this means if I’m black in half my games and playing against d4 in a quarter of those, I only get to practice my Gruenfeld in 1/8 of my games.

Alright, so checking out my 9 games, (actually I thought there were 20, but 11 of those were, ahem, bullet) we see something interesting. Let’s start with the master distribution of second moves for white:

Now what have we gotten so far?

I’ve seen what is by far the main continuation 2/9 times and the top two continuations that make up 90%+ of the master games just 33% of the time.

Let’s dive into Bf4, since this (with a tiny sample size) appears to be a preferred line for people rated 1400 on but is apparently very unpopular. Perhaps I just happened to miss some tactics in 2/3 games, but maybe I’m not replying appropriately.

I’ve been playing 2…g6 which is clearly fine, the other main option seems to be d5.

Incredibly, my opponents all played a different third move:

3. Nf3 is the clear main line. Stockfish gives near equality after black fianchettos (0.21 @ depth 23).

3. e3 is the second most common line (although <10%). Stockfish gives the game (0.08 @ depth 23).

3. h3 is total equality according to the engine.

In all cases black can continue with normal plans — castling, d5, or c5, and be just fine. Upon further review, I was ahead in the two games I lost, just bad defending in one game and bad end game play in the other. The Gruenfeld is looking pretty good.

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