Hikaru's Blitz Repertoire 2023

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Learn to play practical, and tricky openings like Hikaru

In this article, I examine Hikaru's opening Repertoire that he used in 2023 in Rapid and Blitz games. I used only public information that anybody can find on the website
If you enjoy his concept, try it out, and you may also get streaks with interesting statistics someday!


As a top player, Hikaru obviously can play all openings. However, here you can find lines that he played consistently:
Black: Modern Defense (1...g6) is an all-time classic by Hikaru.
White: 1.e4 followed by Nc3 - which is something fresh. He also played the Nf3-b3 concept, but I expect that everybody is bored with this line. However, I will do a second addition if this article gets 100 likes.

The logic of the concept:
1. Lines that Hikaru chooses - have a "flow," which means that one can play similar moves against most replies.
2. The King is primarily safe, and often, there are options to target the opponent's king.
3. Sidelines that people don't remember all the time and can be hard to play without preparation.
These three factors are the key when building an opening repertoire for blitz.

White: 1.e4 followed by Nc3

The first good news is that the second move, Nc3, can be premoved. This is enough already to pick this line, but let's look at what happens next.

Against 1...e5, Hikaru goes for Nc3-Bc4 line. The main ideas include: allowing the exchange on c4, developing the knight on g3 via e2, and playing for the king side attack.

Against 1...c5, Hikaru goes for Nc3-f4 line. The point is preparation for the f5 break followed by an attack on the f7 square (Rook f1 + Bishop c4) and using a c1-h6 diagonal.

Against 1...c6, Hikaru goes for Nc3-Nf3 line, where he often gets either a KID structure of a Scandinavian one.

Against 1...e6, Hikaru goes for practical systems inside the main lines. Mostly connected with Nc3-e2 move that stabilizes d4 after closing the center or Bd2 - preventing weaknesses.

Against SIdelines, the idea is similar: second move Nc3 and so on. Often the game transposes into one of previous lines.

Black: g6 Modern Defense

Again good news! You can premove it as well...

Against d4-c4-Nc3-Nf3, Black can often target the c3 knight

Against d4-c4-e4, often the main idea is targeting the d4 pawn early on.

Against g3 lines, he just tries to give checkmate by playing h5-h4

Against London or 1.b3 - playing for early e5 seems quite effective

Against e4-d4-Nc3 Hikaru mostly goes for early a6-b5, which is typical for Modern when white tries to castle long-side

Against e4-d4-Nf3, Hikaru either goes for a5-b5 anyway (which white can prevent) or goes for 0-0 e5 plans which is more stable

Bonus! What to do against Hikaru?

I would like to suggest some lines that are not necessarily first engine choice but instead ones that prevent Hikaru from getting similar positions and can put him out of his comfort zone:
P.S. Don't get too excited - you will likely get crushed anyway.

White: The move order is crucial against Modern. I believe that d4-c4-Nf3-Nc3 is optimal against Hikaru. If he plays 4...Nf6, then white can play g3, and attacks with h5 are less effective. If he plays 4...Nc6 - then white can play 5.d5 and after 5...Ne5 - Capturing on e5 followed by e4-Bd3-0-0 gives white a comfortable position

Black: I suggest Sicilian with e6-a6-b5 because, against this line, the f4 concept seems to be the least effective. and white has to play for d4, where black gets a lot of counterplay.

  • If you want to participate in selecting the next player - follow me on Twitter. I will do a poll at the end of the month.
  • I will play this repertoire for 30 days and write an article with the results.
  • Until the next time!

GM Gordievsky Dmitry