Jospem's Blitz Repertoire

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In this article, I examine the opening Repertoire of Jose Martínez Alcántara that he used in 2023-2024 in Blitz and Bullet games. I used only public information that anybody can find on the website
If you enjoy his concept, try it out, but make sure you know the typical plans in the middlegame!


Jospem has created a repertoire that consists primarily of sidelines leading to similar positions. One of the main benefits of this approach is that it enables you to make many moves very quickly, which is crucial for the blitz/bullet games. You will not see many tactical tricks and traps in the opening, which may give you a huge advantage quickly. The emphasis is mainly on knowing typical ideas and plans better than the opponent. Even though there are almost no tactical tricks, his repertoire has many strategic ones. Basically, you can quickly drop your advantage with white or get a considerably worse position with black without even noticing it.

1. Super solid; you cannot get crushed quickly, even if you play against a well-equipped opponent.
2. Getting maneuvering positions that rely more on knowing typical ideas rather than tactical complications.
3. Sidelines that can be annoying to face without preparation.

White: 1.e4 followed by different sidelines that lead to maneuvering positions emphasizing Italian structure, IQP, and closed center (d4-e5 vs. e6-d5).
Black: Najdorf (with an unusual move order that removes some dangerous systems) + Nimzo/Bogoindian. One of the key structures is the Hedgehog (and there is a surprise for you at the end!)

White 1.e4

Against e5, Jospem plays the Four Knights 4.h3!? I've never faced this line and didn't know any theoretical details before writing this article. Interestingly, h3 is useful against main replies Bb4 and d5 and doesn't merely lead to transpositions into main lines with reversed colors. Another interesting aspect of these positions is that most players likely will not know typical plans because very few play Bb5/d4 Four Knights themselves with white pieces.

In the case of the French, Martinez plays an exchange French. Firstly, his choice surprised me. However, it actually fits his concept of getting solid maneuvering positions with a strategic venom pretty well. Also, it is worth mentioning that Jose doesn't just play the symmetric version of an Exchanged French but rather goes for more ambitious c4, which leads to IQP positions.

If Black plays Caro, then Martinez chooses 3.e5 followed by h4 against Bf5. This forced line doesn't leave Black much freedom regarding sound reactions. Also, against the most popular Qa5+ system, Jose goes for a pawn sacrifice b4—an interesting sideline requiring precise reactions.

Against Sicilian, Jospem plays Nf3-c3 systems. Sometimes, it can transpose the game into Alapin (for example, if black plays e6-d5; However, in the majority of cases, white gets either Gioucco Piano type of positions (which Sicilian players often don't understand due to lack of experience) or unusual versions of a closed center d7-d5 vs. e4-e5.

In the case of the Sidelines, Jose is very consistent regarding the conceptual choice. Even against sidelines - he plays sidelines. When black plays Pirc - Jospems selects c3 systems, whereas white can place pieces in a Gioucco Piano style (notice a similarity with the choice against Sicilian). In the case of Scandinavian, he plays rare move Nf3, which gives Black a good position according to an engine; however, arising positions are double-edged, and Black often needs to remember a precise reaction. Against Alekhin, Jospem has endless battles vs Bortnyk in two systems: 3.Nc3 or Classical d4-Nf3

Black: d6-a6 Najdorf

Surprisingly, I've never faced or seen this particular move order. However, Jose plays it all the time. The intention is to either play Hedgehog or Transpose into unusual versions of Najdorf where white cannot play Bg5 and may face early e6-b5 in the case of normal choice. I think we can call it Jospem's Najdorf!

If white plays c4, which is the choice of an engine, the game transposes into a hHedgehog. I have to say that this version of a Hedgehog (where white gets a lot of freedom) is considered to be quite dangerous for black because white can build an attack on the kingside instead of playing on the queenside. However, two points need to be raised. First, most players just castle short and play a standard version. Second, even in case of an attack on the kingside, the position is not that terrible. Especially in shorter time controls where it can be difficult for white to maintain so much space

Against Nc3, which will be played most often, black gets what they want - Najdorf without Bg5. The plan for black will be standard: e6-Nf6-b5-Bb7-Nd7. Also, it is worth mentioning that in the case of Long Castle - black can often slow down white's attack through g4-g5 by playing h5 before white plays g4.

In the case of sidelines, Jospem doesn't really play anything unique. The only line that stands up for me is 2...e6 against Alapin. I believe that the idea is to get positions with IQP and not pay much attention to the fact that white can transpose into French, because they very rarely do that. Also, I added my recommendation against 2.Nc3, which is 2...a6!? I think this moves fits the concept very well and doesn't allow venomous lines, like Nc3-d4 against 2...d6

Black: Nimzo + Bogo-Indian

In the case of d4-c4-Nf3 systems, Jospem is consistent, goes for systems that look similar to the Hedgehog, and often tries to place the bishop on b7. Obviously, against 1.d4, it is difficult to play a hedgehog; however, Jose found an interesting way to do it. He plays the combination of Bogo Bb4+ followed by c5 and the Nimzo. In both systems, blacks mostly get to place their bishop on b7.

In the case of Nimzo, Jose plays the d6 system against 4.Qc2 (the rare line that gives black quite an easy play without entering into the forced lines), and against Nf3, the choice is pretty obvious 4...b6. If white selects the classical approach - e3, Martinez plays the delayed b6 line and starts with d5-dxc4 first.

Against 3.g3 or 3.Nf3, the choice of Jospem is Bogo-Indian. In the case of 4.Nd2, Jose doesn't play b6 and goes for the KID-like positions. Some versions of the line that Martinez plays - the engine really hates, but the line itself is quite playable. Against 4.Bd2, Jose selects the move 4...c5, which basically guarantees the placement of the bishop on b7 later and gives a pretty straightforward game through the dark squares.

I find it pretty unusual that Martinez doesn't play the pure hedgehog against c4 or Nf3; however, the line c5-g6-Bg7-d6-e6-Nge7-b6-Bb7 gives a similar impression. The only challenging line for black against this concept is e3-d4(which is not played often), where the game may transition into a weird version of Benoni with a decent counterplay for black.

Against the sidelines, I can point out only the choice against London: an aggressive e6-b6-d6-h6-g5 line or Trompowsky, where the concept is Similar: e6-c5-cxd4-b6. In the case of Jobava London, for example, Jose doesn't have a consistent weapon. At some point, I'm going to publish an article about Bortnyk's blitz repertoire, where you will be able to find all the details!

Bonus! Match vs Kramnik

This article is published right before the Clash of Claims between Vladimir Kramnik and Jose Martinez Al Cantara. It is an open question whether Jospem will play the opening lines mentioned in this article. The problem is that in the case of preparation, some of them lose a significant part of their real strength (which is the nature of venomous sidelines). Probably, it is quite unrealistic that Kramnik will not prepare specific reactions against Martinez's repertoire. However, I hope this happens because it will represent the nature of online blitz more vividly. Opening is an important weapon of established blitz players, who "feel" their repertoire very well after playing countless games in the same line.

I analyzed Kramnik's accounts and repertoire, and I think these are the major scenarios:

When Kramnik plays white, I believe the most likely territory for the battle is Jospem's Najdorf d6-a6. In this case, Kramnik will likely prepare the c4 line and then some aggressive and challenging version of a hedgehog. I believe that Jose will try his system first, and if it doesn't work - then deviate. The question is - Where? I would probably recommend going for the main Najdorf (because Kramnik doesn't play Bg5 lines) and then trying to transpose into e6 concepts. Another interesting choice would be the e6-a6 system. The point is that Kramnik will likely still play c4, but in this case, playing aggressive systems is more difficult for white than in Najdorf move order (also 2...a6 is a similar option, but the point is to force c4 and avoid Bd3 lines against e6-a6, if they happen). So, I believe there are many layers in Sicilian where Jospem can try to play the Hedgehog and avoid a specific preparation.

When Kramnik plays black, we will most likely see battles in Sicilian as well. In that case, I believe that Kramnik is going to prepare 2....Nc6, because then the c3 system seems to be the least effective. probably, an optimal choice against Nc6 will be the Rossolimo Sicilian 3.Bb5. Mostly, Kramnik plays Siclians 2...e6 or 2...d6; however, he has a poor score against Jospem there, and I'm not sure whether he will want to repeat it (unless he thinks that OTB Jose has no chances). If he plays d6/e6, I don't think Martinez needs to change anything and can play this repertoire. Another interesting problem can arise in Four Knights h3, where Kramnik can prepare forced lines after Bb4. In this case, it can be best to deviate and play something like 5.Bd3 instead of a3. White still gets non-standard positions and, more importantly, avoids a prep.

Also, there is a chance that Kramnik will test Jospem throughout the whole perimeter of his repertoire. Will this repertoire stand strong in this case, or will Martinez have to deviate and play lines where he doesn't have that much experience to surprise Kramnik? We are about to find out very soon!

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GM Gordievsky Dmitry