3 Ways To Learn New Openings
Learning a new opening can be a challenging but rewarding task. Once you have gotten used to a certain variation (e.g. the French Defense or the Catalan), it can be difficult to switch to playing something else, but at the same time it will expand your understanding of different pawn structures and middlegames.
Here are three tips to help you learn a new opening:
- Study classical games played by the masters of the past. Most openings have a few "pioneers" who worked on developing the middlegame ideas behind each variation. By studying older games, you'll be able to see the main strategic ideas of your opening fleshed out in their purest form. For example, if you were learning the King's Indian Defense, studying the games of players such as Fischer, Bronstein, Gligoric, and Stein, to name a few, would be a good place to start.
- Make a mental list of thematic ideas. Every opening has various strategic and tactical themes that often take place within a certain set of structures. When studying new games, look for common piece maneuvers, pawn breaks, and tactical shots and gradually remind yourself of these ideas to look for in your own games. Your goal in learning a new opening is to familiarize yourself with common strategic and tactical motifs as much as possible.
- Play lots of training games (and learn from them). The most important thing is to play lots of games, preferably G/15 or longer, so that you can gain some experience with your new opening. The key is to try to learn something from every game you play, whether you won or lost, to see how you could have handled the opening and the ensuing middlegame better.
If you want a jumpstart on learning a new opening, try searching for it within Chess.com's library of videos and articles. Be sure to also check out Chess.com's opening explorer here for a full database of all opening variations.