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I remeber when I first really got into chess (probably 18 months ago or so), I wanted to know everything that there was to know about Ruy Lopez! I just thought it would be as simple as picking up a book and repeating everything over and over and over again. I didn't know at the time that there are a gazillion lines to it and a lot of them go upwards of 20 moves! So, I had to change strategy... I started looking at the ones that I really liked as black and as white.
Some I discarded as too slow, some as being too cramped or over-extended, and picked and chose one line at a time, and in time I couldn't tell you every line that there was or blurt out every move of that line but I had the IDEAS down for almost every play. I knew about how to counter on the queenside as white with a4, and how to manouvre the b1 knight to g3, and why white plays c3 (for d4 usually, not for Bc2... that was a revelation at the time!). I got frustrated as black with only playing the Archangel and New Archangel, and I discovered the Marshall attack as a nice, extremely active change of pace, and learned about how devastating the pin on the f3 knight can be for white. Slowly but surely, I learned the basic goals of the variations as white and black, and when to recognize that these goals existed, even if I couldn't tell you the name of the line. This same strategy worked for some King's Gambit lines I wanted to know (Muzio, in particular).
Now I'm going to try and learn everything I possibly can about Chirgorin's in QGD. And you know what? I bet that if I use the same idea, I'll get the same results. And you probably can too.
Good Luck, and just enjoy it!
Good idea. Just start with your favorite opening and take it one step at a time. I'm working on the King's Gambit like you did the Ruy Lopez.
WOW. Thank you so much, everybody; if I could, I would give you all a group hug. :)
I'm still a little confused as to how I learn the main ideas behind openings. I know BigTy and some others recommended memorizing, but I have a feeling that I'm going to go blank once I'm out of book theory. I'm planning to memorize the main variations AND learn the ideas behind it, as Shakaali and PFCwintergreen wonderfully recommended.
BUT how do I learn the ideas? I have the opening books that I need, but they don't explain the ideas very well - it's mostly lines. And as for annotated master games in the opening that I play (as hicetnunc and mnag so helpfully recommended), that ideas sound great but I don't know where to find annotated master games in the opening variations that I play. (And if I do find some, should I just look at games in the general opening or the specific variation. EX: If I play the bayonet King's Indian Attack as White, should I also look at King Indian master games or just Bayonet King's Indian Attack games?) Thank you so much everybody.
Do you have access to a database? There are plenty of games there. You could even try annotating them yourself to try to understand the ideas better. Make sure you take a lot of time trying to figure things out though, and only use a computer at the end to check tactics.
Perhaps the opening books you have are targeted to players who are already quite familiar with those openings. Look for something with more text and less variations. The "starting out" series by everyman might fit the bill, or maybe you could go for some books that give the general plans of all the openings without bombarding you with variations. I think Watson wrote a good series of books like that, but I don't have any of them.
I have never been "good" or even "adequate" in my openings
Neither have I...one advantage to playing correspondence (or "turn-based" or whatever you want to call it) is that you don't have to worry about this so much.
I think in general you should memorize quite a bit of stuff in the openings (and endings as well)...but if you don't understand what you're memorizing, it's not going to help you at all. Somebody just gets you out of the book with some unassuming move or other, and that whole "main line" structure comes tumbling down like a house of cards. The real point is (and I'm mainly talking about OTB play here) a GM can come up with the "book" moves in a line he's never seen before, but it's going to cost him time on the clock (a most valuable commodity, especially when you don't have it).
The London System is just about the dullest thing imaginable (and I don't just say that as a KID player who hates to face it...although in truth that is a pretty good reason). I really think you should play a lot of turn-based games with openings you haven't played before in order to learn them, and see whether you're comfortable with them or not (that's always been one of the prime uses for correspondence play btw).
I memorize lines and it works for me. Buy modern chess openings an amazing book
MCO is just a bunch of lines...it's not very likely to help you at all (by itself).
Noodlex you can go to chessgames.com and find a lot of stuff there. You just type in opening and you can have access to more games that you will know what to do with.
I've been struggling on and off with the task of learning openings.
I keep telling myself that the solution is to move to Fisher Random Chess (Chess 960). I feel it's just a matter of time before I give up regular chess and completely move to Chess 960 - but I'm still resisting this ultimate fate.
Everyman Chess publishes so called "Starting Out"-series on openings where each volume is intended as an introductory treatment of some particular opening system (for example STARTING OUT: THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT DECLINED is one title). These books should apparently contain more textual explanation than your average opening book. Now, I haven't actually read any of these books but I've heard good things about them and you may want to check few to see if you like them. These days there should be other literature also containing explanation of ideas - the opening books are really much better than they used to be.
Annotated games can be found on chess magazines, books, many websites (chessbase, chesscafe...)... Of course not all games in these sources are in your openings and the standard of analysis greatly varies but one can find plenty of good material there. Perhaps you can also consider purchasing an annotated game collection from a GM regulary playing your openings. Incidentaly, one good idea that I've seen often mentioned is to pick a famous player whose style you like and then copy his/her opening repertoire or at least part of it. Then by going through this players games you also get more familiar with your own openings.
But really the most important thing is to put in some hard work and think using your own brains. One can figure out many secrets about openings without anybody's explanation just by analysing and making good use of databases - and if your own brains faill you can try to consult computer, your chess playing friends, chess.com forums etc.). Imo the main purpose of learning openings should not be to learn zillions of concrete variations but rather to get familiar with arising positions - for this purpose analytical work is essential.
1. I don't think that your approach of trying to memorize everything will work. Your opponent can simply deviate from the theoretical line and then what? In general, it's good to learn the main line of an oppening only when you know why that line is the main line.
2. At your rating of ~1000 in blitz, do you think it's worth spending so much time on openings? I'd suggest you forget about opening books, go out, play anf have fun!
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