At what rating level should you start to really study openings?



I was wondering if someone could tell me at what rating level should someone start to really study chess openings. 



I don't study openings, though.


I've heard it said several times from top players that players don't need to dive into deep opening theory until 2000-2200 Elo at least. Have some basics down, sure, but there are other areas to focus on first. 


"... the average player only needs to know a limited amount about the openings he plays. Providing he understands the main aims of the opening, a few typical plans and a handful of basic variations, that is enough. ..." - FM Steve Giddins (2008)

hey mang

garden grove? do you ever play at chess palace?

nice to see some oc players

anyways i have heard coaches saying at least class a before really going deep into an opening repertoire

i use some real basic opening lines/ideas myself 1. d4 as white and almost always followed by 2.c4; i play 1...d5 vs 1.d4 and then into a 2...c6 if 2.c4; and i play 1...c6 vs 1.e4

i have some opening repertoires i use (from chessable) and refer to if i encounter something i am having trouble with after a game

"... I feel that the main reasons to buy an opening book are to give a good overview of the opening, and to explain general plans and ideas. ..." - GM John Nunn (2006)


I have gone through opening a bit with my chess coach, beginning when I was playing around 1100. I have another friend on that is a similar story, learning basic opening lines (maybe only to moves 5-8, not far at all). In both cases, these were very simple openings, like the Italian opening. I wouldn't call what I have done with openings "studying". It's more about building a comfort and familiarity with the position that arises from a given opening. For example, after a hundred games in the Italian game, I watch f6, f7, g5, and h7 like a hawk. I didn't study to do this, it has just become habit. I think it was helpful for me as I have gone from 1100 to 1400 in the past six months. My advice, find an opening you like, and play it to death, and get very comfortable with the positions that come from it. Watch which diagonals and files tend to open up, and where weak squares consistently appear.


about 1500 or so. 


unlearn to open, learn to end


I'd say basic opening principles are enough when one is below 1800.

1. Control and siege the center by placing a pawn there, e4 or d4

2. Develop pieces to safe and active squares so they ideally control central squares.

3. Do not move the same piece(s) more than once, ideally.

4. Do not move your queen out early unless there is a specific gain.

5. Castle early to safeguard your king.

6. Pawn captures towards the center.

7. Play your rooks to central files.

8. Make sure you don't lose your important central pawn(s) for nothing.

9. Develop ALL the pieces.

10. Look for possible pawn breaks.


After 1800 you should start building a more specific opening repertoire and for that specific opening books are the best solution to start with. Also playing through whole games by better players, in the openings and variations you want to play, is very important and conducive to improvement.


"It is important for club players to build up a suitable opening repertoire." - GM Artur Yusupov (2010)


Learning opening plans is most important up until master level


it really depends on a lot of things. especially chess style.  i can create a small chess repertoire that can be learned in an afternoon for a talented scholastic "natural" player that will last them till 1800-expert level.

whereas other players that want to learn and play a mainstream opening even patzers can know 15 moves in or some unorthodox opening with some narrow corridors of acceptable deviation would need to know a lot more book.


Chess Openings Resources for Beginners and Beyond...



Learn a basic repertoire then just play it and forget about the openings.


2300 is about the point where openings start to matter


You don't need to listen to master's opinion, only study opening at 2200-2300? I would study openings the moment I learn chess we have different learning capacity so its not really a good idea to emulate them. 


Study, really study, or really really study?


It might be of interest to look at the table of contents of a book like A COMPLETE CHESS COURSE by Antonio Gude.