I am revisiting this issue again after 3 years because once again I have to deal with it.
2 of my students have just enrolled in the National Junior Squad. I have not fixed what they should play as black, but I see disturbing signs such as this.
There were many such examples.
My suspicion is that they were asked to play the Sicilian Defence during the first training day. As I have stated my viewpoint on choosing openings which should be, in Mark Dvoretsky's words : "
Your choice of openings should be made primarily in accordance with your own tastes and style of play. This rule may sound obvious, but all the same it is quite easily broken,even by strong players"
For those new in chess, Mark Dvoretsky is the world's top chess trainer. Having groomed world junior champions like Arthur Yusupov and Valery Chekhov, Sergei Dolmatov and Zvagintsev, I won't even dare challenge his views.
Forcing players to go against their innate character and play openings that run counter to their style of play cannot bring results, in my opinion.
Now that there is a new National Coach in GM Zhang Zhong, perhaps he can shed some light on this matter and review the policy of having students play openings that they may not have the temperament nor the character disposition for? Can there not be an assessment exercise done to examine the games of the trainees and determine what suits them best before imposing the one-size-fits-all approach ?
Strangely, the Russians on the contrary advocated 1..e5 to 1e4 as the mainstream learning opening for most junior players before venturing to other openings, as opening principles can be learnt and reinforced from young. These principles will further guide their style of play as they move on to the semi open games (1 e4 others) and closed games, pending on their taste and style. I see nothing wrong with this approach, which is accepted as conventional wisdom now among trainers worldwide.
It would be a shame to cripple young talents that we have to represent the country when such policies shackle the players' interests and inclinations. I sincerely urge the SCF to review this before we really see a significant talent drain.