In these days of computer databases and ever stronger engines, preparation is becoming an increasingly important factor. And it can be a particular problem if your games are on a database, for example at 365 Chess or Chess-db. Some players might even pull your games from internet servers if they know your handle there.
So how should someone avoid preparation? Here are a few ideas:
Be The Ultimate Expert
Many players go this route, aiming to stay ahead of their opponents’ preparation with ongoing research into what they play and studying their own games more thoroughly than their opponents will. In this way they hope to get their ideas in first or have answers ready for anything their opponents throw at them.
Play Openings Which Are Hard To Prepare For
This is perhaps the simplest way. If you play openings that simply lead to a balanced and interesting middle game it will be very hard for your opponents to prepare. The best openings for this are based on plans and positional ideas rather than sharp tactical lines and include the French, Queen’s Gambit Declined and Stonewall Dutch.
The drawback is that not everyone will like such lines. In this case the next idea may be more suitable:
Become A Moving Target
A narrow repertoire makes it easy for your opponents to prepare, a wide one makes it virtually impossible. Of course you have to be able to play lots of different openings and position types, but some players are able to do this successfully. The prime example of this approach is Magnus Carlsen.
Play Under A Pseudonym
If your internet handles are known your games can be plucked from the servers. So a number of well known players choose to play under a pseudonym, and in this way experiment in secret.
Don’t Let Your Games Go To The Databases
This last one is perhaps the best of all, but it can be difficult to implement. Yet Evgeny Sveshnikov has managed to keep many of his games off the databases by agreeing this with tournament organizers beforehand, and I must say I have great sympathy with his approach.
Of course you might have to be a famous Grandmaster to pull it off, unless of course attitudes were to change…