The Most Efficient Way to Learn Chess Openings

The Most Efficient Way to Learn Chess Openings‎

GM Gserper
80 | Tactics

Most people hate to memorize the countless opening variations published in chess books and magazines, and yet, this is unfortunately the most common way amongst chess players to master openings. Leaving aside the fact that it is a very boring thing to do it is also counterproductive. First of all your memory can easily play some little tricks and you can mix something up. If you are playing, say, the sharp Dragon variation of the Sicilian, you may immediately lose the game as a result. But even if you have a perfect memory and are able to reproduce any variation you ever read about, there is still a danger. After you have played the last 'book' move, you are on your own.  What use is the book's evaluation "White is better" if you have no idea what you are supposed to do next?  

I covered this problem in a number of my articles and gave some recommendations. For instance, in the article "How to Learn an Opening in One Hour," I described a neat little trick that would allow you to learn some basic ideas of the opening you are going to play in a very limited amount of time.  But what if you want to dig deeper and become a true expert of the variation?

Then you'll have to do some work. You'll need to get a bunch of the games played by a very strong chess player who is an an expert in your variation and analyze them move by move. Say, you want to learn the Najdorf Sicilian for Black, then get the games played by Kasparov who was the biggest expert there.  Looking to play the Petroff?  Then Vladimir Kramnik is your man!  After you have analyzed a dozen of the games played by an expert you learn the basic ideas and also get the feel of the opening. It is an entertaining and very efficient way to master any opening.

Last week when I was preparing the article about the games of GM Artur Yusupov, I noticed that he is a big expert of the Colle-Zukertort variation. Let me show you some of his games in this opening.

(Just like in most of my articles I give you a chance to test your attacking skills, so the games are given as a Quiz.  Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list".)


After you finished the analysis of all these instructive games, I am sure you have learned the typical attacking ideas of this variation and are ready to employ it in your own games.  Even if this opening is not your cup of tea and you are not going to play it, still I am sure that learning to attack with GM Artur Yusupov has sharpened your chess skills and will be beneficial for your further progress!

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