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I hear chess players say they have their own "system." I study the common openings, but I do have any outstanding knowledge of any one opening. The thought of adopting the London System, through buying a book on it, has been crossing my mind. Is this one of the better opening systems? And, what are some other systems do some of you more experienced players recommend?
I agree with Andre_Harding
Well put Andre. What do you think about me grabbing an E4/E5 book? I think at this point I need to go more in-depth in a certain opening progression. My middle games suffer because I have only meager knowledge of the openings past the main lines. I would like a repertoire where I know what sort of middle game strategy I plan to employ. To explain what I mean, there is a pretty strong 1850 player in my area that uses the Pirc, and seems to know his plan for the game. I, on the otherhand, get through the main lines and am left to my amatuer tactics. I would like a general idea of where I should focus, that isn't based on basic principles.
Thank you Andre. I will take your course of action.
I'd recommend learning d4 openings before e4 openings. The positions you get are generally more principled and force you to use strategic understanding more often then with e4 where aggression and tactics make up a larger portion of the game. These 'quieter' games will teach you more about chess. Then consider switching to e4 after you really understand chess.
John Cox' book 'starting out: 1d4!' is a great repertoire book, imo.
I am an opening addict. For the past 30 years I would study and try every opening that looked interesting to me--everything from hypermodern fianchetto things, to cutting-edge attacking side variations to standard run-of-the-mill stuff, and this is one of the two main reasons my development stalled at 2100 OTB.
You see, it depends on what you want. If you're young and you want to become a master, do what Andre said: "First, decide what opening you like. It doesn't have to be on the cutting edge of theory, but make sure it is played by 2600+ GMs. Second, get a book or CD/DVD that explains the main ideas of your opening and the general middlegames that arise from it. Third, play through dozens of GM games in your opening, trying to understand the play. Fourth, practice the opening in casual games. 15-minute games are ideal. Fifth, begin using the opening in tournaments."
If you simply want a solid opening and want to play better chess by having something reliable, then go ahead with the London or some other solid system without much theory, but from which your chess skills can develop. One of the worst feelings in chess, in my opinion, is getting crushed in the opening because your opponent is better prepared. That is part of the growing pains of becoming a master, but unnecessary and often confusing and frustrating for a club player.
Well, that's my opinion.
The London isn't bad and isn't theory-less. I say go for it. It is pretty easy to learn, solid, usually unexpected, and lets you develop chess skills and focus more on tactics and endgame stuff rather than opening theory. I picked it up because I was already learning too much theory for black with the Najdorf and the KID that I didn't want to juggle another opening for white. It's a good opening to start off with but once you sharpen your skills and can handle a lot of studying and theory, then you can adopt another opening for white while using the London as your backup.
Thanks everyone for your replies. But, please, keep this discussion going. What are some different systems you all favor? And, what are some study techniques for learning openings deep into the lines?
I disagree with Pellik. EVERYONE should begin with 1.e4, at least for a few years. Reply to 1.e4 with 1...e5 for awhile, and reply to 1.d4 with 1...d5. This is the tried-and-true Soviet approach, and working with young players I can say I completely agree with it. One modification I made to my teaching in the past couple of years is that instead of teaching young players the Closed Ruy Lopez (as White), I usually teach the Giuoco Pianissimo (unless they have a lot of time and/or are really ambitious).
I know a young player who plays the London System. I don't teach him privately, but he was in my chess classes in school. For awhile I begged this then-7-year-old to change to 1.e4, but he wouldn't do it. He liked the idea of being able to just "play his moves."
I know another young and promising player who plays the English! I guess his coach is okay with it, but I think this is just wrong for a young kid.
I will tell you the approach I have taken with one of MY private students:
vs. 1.d4 (we have just started working on this):
His homework is to do tactics puzzles. He has done over 1200 of these since we began working together in February (I use the Russian-approved stuff, of course).
Notice how simple these systems are (except the QGD TMB, which we only began this past week, but it's time since he is over 1000 now). I have spent very little time with him on openings, just the bare minimum. He does tactics for homework, and during our lessons we study strategy, endgames, and/or he plays positions against me.
About YouTube for Chess: IMHO, some stuff is okay, but I don't feel comfortable getting everything from there, let's just say that...
Thank you so much for your help Andre.
You're welcome :-)
I think the value of playing 1.e4 is wildly exaggerated. Remember that chess is a **practical game**, played between two humans.
I played 1.e4 for several years, and everybody was booked-up with theory, making my chess life highly difficult, since I too tried to study sharp lines.
When I played 1.c4, I less often played against theory monsters, but I didn't quite like the nature of 1.c4 c6.
So I switched to London. (I play KID and Pirc as black). In London, almost nobody has anything prepared. They play "normal" moves, and often gets a rather dubious position. I more often win quickly than when I played 1.e4.
Sometimes I only get an equal position, but then the game goes on, and I have use for all the time I now can spend on the middlegame/endgame.
I think London is a fine choice. Buy the Everyman eBook.
i think the london is not a good choice against the kid, it's just my opinion. indeed the london is a good solid system when u hate to study all the replies against for example 1.e4 , but i find the london a bit boring, but that's my opinion , it has nothing to do if the london is 'good' or 'bad'. but for me it's a sound but a boring opening choise, i think there are more interesting ways to play 1.d4.
There's no "wrong" way to learn chess, unless you put checkers or poker chips on the board. Just play a lot of people who are at about your own level, and then seek out opponents who are a little better. It seem a bit overly restictive to limit yourself to books written by "2600+" players. You'll do fine, and learn a lot, from guides authored by "lowly" masters. The information may be even more accessable for you when written by good players who's ideas and ratings aren't up in the stratosphere. If you must choose an opening to concentrate on, by all means the London System is fine. But, then again, I also recommend a lot of crazy stuff, like the Latvian Gambit or the Belgian Defense. However, whatever you do, stay away from the McKay-Strazzi Gambit!
I think VolleyCheck hit it on the head. If you are trying to become a master-strength player, follow my advice. If that isn't your goal (and nothing is wrong with having a lesser goal: trying to become a master might make you lose your sanity, believe me!!), almost anything is playable.
Don't mix the two though. If you have designs on becoming a master, don't play trashy openings like the London, and especially no stupid gambits (the short list of acceptable ones at master level: Benko/Blumenfeld, King's Gambit if you really know your stuff, Smith-Morra Gambit if you study the games of Alex Lenderman and Marc Esserman...that's pretty much the end of the list, since I don't consider the QG or Marshall real gambits).
If you must play a Queen Pawn Game, at least play the Torre Attack. Study the games of Gata Kamsky from the early 1990s.
I want to become a master. I agree with you Andre. What do you think about the Foxy Chess and Roman Labs opening videos?
Well, be careful. Even though the materials are created by IMs and GMs (in Roman's case, a very strong GM in his prime), they are marketed to people who want to become strong CLUB players. That means quick-fixes and sometimes half-baked lines. You want materials that are geared towards budding masters, IMHO. I will say though that Roman's endgame stuff and annotated games stuff is pretty good.
Before I recommend something specific, what is your current level?
I would avoid a 1.d4 system like the London, Colle or Torre. I semi-regret spending a year studying the Colle and Torre systems. I could rattle off 10-25 moves in almost all the Torre lines using Chess Position Trainer (a flashcard type quiz and step-by-step quiz through your repertoire lines) but at the end of the day the rote memorization of lines prevented me from spending time doing tactics and analyzing.
Pros: You won't lose out of the opening, you'll see familiar positions.
Cons: The familiar positions in these systems can become rather dull. You may spend too much time memorizing and not enough time on developmental parts of the game that will stay with you and be applicable to all your chess.
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