My New Opening Training Regimen

Dec 27, 2011, 7:53 AM |

To anyone who has struggled for years with trying to learn openings, as I have...

I have struggled mightily to learn openings in a way that is doable from a time and motivation perspective. I have very limited time, and am not motivated by rote move memorization. I need to be able to link ideas, move order and game performance in order to keep my interest. I have heard from numerous people that I need to know my frequently used openings out to 7-15 moves in order to make noticeable improvement. Therefore half-way attempts (as in the past) are off the table. I need something new and effective...

Here is my new opening training regimen:

  1. Source of games - I do not get to play a lot of OTB, so I supplement my game with correspondence chess, but the pace is slow. So I have recently added the occasional "live tournament" on This is where you play complete games in one sitting (hence "live") and in a 5-7 round tournament. I choose 3 min games (no delay), so the whole point will be openings and tactics, and not running out of time. A complete tournament lasts about 45-60 minutes, so I can do 2-3 per week.
  2. Source of openings - I have taken advice from a few players at my local OTB club (MetroWest Chess Club:  on and on the web ) and am using the new Lev Alburt "Chess Openings... Explained" (White and Black). I do not currently have a coach, so I am on my own to interpret what Lev is talking about.
  3. Recording openings - This is a tough nut to crack, and, for me, there is no avoiding this step. I have adopted the method used by our Club President, which is to record lines, with comments into ChessBase games, grouped into ChessBase databases, one for each major opening/defense.
  4. Training to openings - This is where I'm still looking for something better than clicking through ChessBase games. What I am trying right now is to take a ChessBase game which contains opening lines (e.g. a game with Closed Sicilian from Black's perspective), and extract the PGN, then put it into Chess Opening Wizard. From that point COW can then hide all the opening lines and play against you, choosing strongest lines, random, etc. Your job is to play against the computer according to the lines you gave it in the PGN. This seems to work well, but the test will be to do this for a bunch of lines.
  5. Loop back to more games - This is hopefully the fun part! Try the openings out on unsuspecting opponents and crush them in brutal games. Or at least hold my own - LOL :-)
I'll comment on this post as I get more practice...