Study Plan For Beginners: The Opening!

  • News
  • | Aug 1, 2011

Target Skill Range: Beginner (Rated 1000-1399)

Acquire the knowledge you need to approach the opening with confidence and achieve success!


  1. Memorize the principles of the opening.
  2. Apply the principles in practice games.
  3. Learn a few "tournament" chess openings.
  4. Watch these video lessons for practical review.
  5. Read these articles for practical review.
  6. Play in an opening themed tournament on
  7. Complete an opening lesson.
  8. Take the quiz!

Every chess player takes their "first steps" in the opening stage. Here's what we recommend to get confident and put your best foot forward in every game:

1. Memorize the principles of the opening.

Every chess player must understand these key ideas before being able to play a decent opening. Even without knowing any theory or specific opening variations, following the principles and guidelines found below will have good results in most amateur games.

2. Apply the principles in practice games.

At this point a player should start playing games, always evaluating their play after move 10 and asking themselves whether or not they have followed the principles in the article from Task #1. Games should be played as often as possible. We believe that at least 100 practical games (either e-chess or live chess)—taking the time to make an evaluation as to whether or not you followed the "rules" of the opening after move 10—will be required to reach the 1400 level; however, a player should continue this practice until 1400 is reached, no matter how many games it takes. 

Get started now!


3. Learn a few "tournament" chess openings.

Experienced chess players tend to play a specific set of prepared openings. Though this list expands as a chess player improves, it isn't necessary to know every opening line at the start. For now, understanding a select few openings (or at least knowing enough to recognize them in your own games) is good enough!

Every competitive chess-player will eventually choose an "opening repertoire," but before that, every chess-player should know the following openings by sight. It isn't critical at this time to worry which variations/moves you choose once you follow the links below; simply explore & enjoy reviewing a few games by master players of the past:

Use Game Explorer to review 5 games and memorize the first 5 moves in these openings:

4. Watch these video lessons for practical review.

Enjoy these video lessons, all of which contain vital principles and good lessons about the opening. Take notes, and perhaps watch your favorites more than once to ensure you absorb the ideas!

5. Read these articles for practical review.

Grandmaster Gregory Serper's column is full of sound opening advice & instructive games. We have selected a few that we felt were most appropriate for players of this level. Read these six articles like they were a personal assignment from Gregory himself to further solidify your new-found opening knowledge!

6. Play in an opening themed tournament on has tournaments starting and ending every day. Click here and go to the Tournaments Home Page, scroll down, and find an upcoming tournament created/themed for the practice of a particular opening and join it. (These are often called "thematic" tournaments.) You will be given a position to play against the other competitors, and you will get to experience the opening from both sides of the board, playing white and black.

The main lesson here will be seeing how other, most likely more experienced, players in your event approach the given position. You will see that every opening has a specific pawn structure, certain tactical themes that occur often within the positions, and other strategical ideas specific to that opening. Learn to develop plans, not just pieces!

7. Complete an opening lesson. has many lessons on the opening; however, we have selected this specific course for learners at your level. If you can complete this course and score over 70%, you should be playing the opening stage at a 1400 level or higher. Either click the green button or follow the link below.

by GM Sam Shankland

Test your new skills.

This final section contains questions a player should be able to answer after completing this study plan!

Question 1: At what move did IM Daniel Rensch say a player should be able to castle by, even though the rule says move 10, in the Principles of the Opening -- for Beginners article?

Question 2: What "little thing" did GM Gregory Serper say would help a player to avoid many opening disasters, that he then went on to talk about in the article "An Important Lesson from My Youth"?

Question 3: In his example from the Sveshnikov opening, before he talks about the "quality" of development who does IM David Pruess say is leading in development in this video? White, black or equal?

Question 4: What does IM Daniel Rensch say is a "key" or "secret" to planning at the master levels of chess in the Principles of the Opening -- for Beginners article?

Question 5: What move did Petrosian play on move eight against Hans Ree to force resignation in GM Gregory Serper's "How to Lose a Game in 10 Moves or Less Part 2" article?


Answers: 1. move 7; 2. "common sense", 3. equal. The development itself was equal based on David's principles of purely counting; 4. the pawns; 5. 8.Qb3!


  • 5 months ago


    i am really happy to find such a course in this site. very good and keep doing such things for us. Thanks a lot

  • 5 months ago


    I agree with David1806, the initial intro. material doesn't make sense.

  • 9 months ago


    This all sounds very nice, except that none of it works!!

    The club members that I play don't know openings, and deviate from the 'book' after about move 5 or 6. And, because I'm only at beginner level, I don't have the positional skills to punish them for their errant moves!!

    Please be relevant, helpful & nice!

  • 11 months ago


    Can I not watch the videos in this course without paid membership?

  • 11 months ago


    Although I have played chess for many years, the study plans on this website has refined my approach to playing and learning the art of chess. Thank you for that


  • 15 months ago


    You will produce most of the Gratest Future grangmasters in the world


    And all of you will be latter thanked for your coments to help


  • 15 months ago


    On Thursday July 16 2015 I read this web page and enjoyed it. Thank you!

  • 17 months ago


    I'm a pretty new player too, but everything I've heard suggests that memorizing specific replies to openings is probably the least important thing to do. When the article suggests "memorizing the  first five moves", I'm pretty sure they don't even mean it literally; they just want to you have an understanding of what the opening is like.

    That said, I think openings are pretty cool, and if you find them fun to study, it can't hurt as long as you don't get bogged down in details. Try watching Dereque Kelly's videos on Youtube, which are fantastic.

  • 17 months ago


    why- the- pawn- doesn't- change- bishop?

  • 17 months ago


    Hi all

    Bit lost on #3, excuse me if I'm being dumb!

    "Use Game Explorer to review 5 games and memorize the first 5 moves in these openings:

    So I go the page 'Game Explorer' and review 5 games?  Looking at that page where do I go from there?  Which five games? Where? 

    And when it says 'memorize the first 5 moves'  does that include every possible reply?  Or, just say, for example, the Ruy Lopez, I just need to remember 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O and that's it.

    Again, sorry if I'm being a bit stoopid!

    Thanks in advance
    David Smile 
    btw, I am just a normal member, not paid up.... 

  • 18 months ago



  • 18 months ago


    I clicked on Tactics from Move One as recommended in 5. and there's nothing there. These might be *my* tactics from move one... :)

  • 19 months ago



  • 20 months ago


  • 20 months ago



  • 20 months ago



  • 20 months ago


  • 21 months ago


  • 22 months ago


    Easy plan, but interesting!

  • 23 months ago




Back to Top

Post your reply: