Beginner not blundering to unknown openings (how many openings to know and how deep?)

TheOnoZone

I have found myself in a losing position recently in the first five moves after playing e4. I found myself up against the Alekhine and Scandinavian specifically and I had never seen those openings and fell into a terrible position in the first few moves.
As a beginner I know I shouldn't* spend a lot of time on openings but I want to expand my knowledge so I don't find myself in an unknown situation on move 3. 
I play e4 as white, does that mean I need to know how to play against all of the following?

  1. …c5 (Sicilian Defense)
  2. ...e5 (Kings Pawn Opening)
  3. ...e6 (French Defense)
  4. ...c6 (Caro-Kann Defense)
  5. ...d6 (Pirc Defense)
  6. ...g6 (Modern Defense)
  7. ...d5 (Scandanavian Defense)
  8. ...Nf6 (Alekhine’s Defense)

As black I have started learning the Sicilian Dragon against e4 and the King's Indian Defense against d4, but what if my opponent plays the Closed Sicilian?

So the question I guess is, how familiar do I need to be with the e4 responses as white? How many lines should I know? 
And as black how do I even go about knowing what variations are possible against me playing Sicilian and KID? 

nklristic

Openings are not that important for beginners. Opening principles are. Eventually through time you will learn little by little about openings you play.

So yes, if you play e4, that means that you will learn some moves against everything you have mentioned. As black, you will learn something against open sicilian, closed sicilian,c3 sicilian, smith morra...

How will you do it? You will build your knowledge slowly like building a house. When you analyze your game, you will see where you have made an inaccurate move thanks to the engine and opening database... That way you will play that variation a bit better next time.

That way you will learn openings without actually learning them. Only when you get a lot stronger, you might want to seriously study opening lines.

NikkiLikeChikki
There is a basic, fundamental problem with learning a lot of theory when you’re a beginner: your opponent doesn’t know theory and plays weird moves.

Theory revolves around known a set best responses to a set of best responses. When, not if, but when the lower rated player makes a weird move, usually just a few moves into the game, you’re on your own to figure out how best to respond. You can’t write a book on best responses to stupid moves because the set of stupid moves is nearly infinitely large.

That’s why it’s more important to play well rather than memorize theory.
Nerwal

There are openings which are a bit inferior but works very well against an opponent who has no idea what to do against it. The cure is either to study the theory or to use cope out lines, moves not best but playable. You have to develop your chess common sense to find those, but it's a useful skill that will help you develop as a chess player, finding logical moves in an unknown situation.

Against the Scandinavian maybe Bc4-d3-Nge2 is more safe to play than d4 lines. Against the Alekhine there is no question about it, White should just play 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 then Be2 with a solid position (which is the main line, somewhat unfortunately).

Onlysane1

Don't worry about specific openings. Instead, look at the board and make educated decisions on what moves to make, not just memorized openings.

catmaster0
TheOnoZone wrote:

I have found myself in a losing position recently in the first five moves after playing e4. I found myself up against the Alekhine and Scandinavian specifically and I had never seen those openings and fell into a terrible position in the first few moves.
As a beginner I know I shouldn't* spend a lot of time on openings but I want to expand my knowledge so I don't find myself in an unknown situation on move 3. 
I play e4 as white, does that mean I need to know how to play against all of the following?

  1. …c5 (Sicilian Defense)
  2. ...e5 (Kings Pawn Opening)
  3. ...e6 (French Defense)
  4. ...c6 (Caro-Kann Defense)
  5. ...d6 (Pirc Defense)
  6. ...g6 (Modern Defense)
  7. ...d5 (Scandanavian Defense)
  8. ...Nf6 (Alekhine’s Defense)

As black I have started learning the Sicilian Dragon against e4 and the King's Indian Defense against d4, but what if my opponent plays the Closed Sicilian?

So the question I guess is, how familiar do I need to be with the e4 responses as white? How many lines should I know? 
And as black how do I even go about knowing what variations are possible against me playing Sicilian and KID? 

No, you don't need to have serious preparation for a single one of them in fact. Stick with opening principles and avoid blundering pieces. If you think opening prep is really mattering in your games, show us some of your games where this was the case. 

Wildekaart

Develop pieces in a natural way. 90% of times you're not falling for a trap, especially at your rating range. If you see a move that develops a piece to a useful square or does not hinder the future development of another piece, go for it.

If you really feel like openings are your weakness, trade off pawns or minor pieces when you have the option. That way you will only be down by a small margin of development if you're clueless to your opponent's opening.

deafgods
I wouldn’t say you need to know so these different openings just a few variants of a could do depending what they do you can adapt to I very similar opening variant because the more you practice the opening the more patterns you’ll pick up
Moonwarrior_1
nklristic wrote:

Openings are not that important for beginners. Opening principles are. Eventually through time you will learn little by little about openings you play.

So yes, if you play e4, that means that you will learn some moves against everything you have mentioned. As black, you will learn something against open sicilian, closed sicilian,c3 sicilian, smith morra...

How will you do it? You will build your knowledge slowly like building a house. When you analyze your game, you will see where you have made an inaccurate move thanks to the engine and opening database... That way you will play that variation a bit better next time.

That way you will learn openings without actually learning them. Only when you get a lot stronger, you might want to seriously study opening lines.

+1

ThrillerFan
TheOnoZone wrote:

I have found myself in a losing position recently in the first five moves after playing e4. I found myself up against the Alekhine and Scandinavian specifically and I had never seen those openings and fell into a terrible position in the first few moves.
As a beginner I know I shouldn't* spend a lot of time on openings but I want to expand my knowledge so I don't find myself in an unknown situation on move 3. 
I play e4 as white, does that mean I need to know how to play against all of the following?

  1. …c5 (Sicilian Defense)
  2. ...e5 (Kings Pawn Opening)
  3. ...e6 (French Defense)
  4. ...c6 (Caro-Kann Defense)
  5. ...d6 (Pirc Defense)
  6. ...g6 (Modern Defense)
  7. ...d5 (Scandanavian Defense)
  8. ...Nf6 (Alekhine’s Defense)

As black I have started learning the Sicilian Dragon against e4 and the King's Indian Defense against d4, but what if my opponent plays the Closed Sicilian?

So the question I guess is, how familiar do I need to be with the e4 responses as white? How many lines should I know? 
And as black how do I even go about knowing what variations are possible against me playing Sicilian and KID? 

 

You are at too early of a stage to be studying openings.  You need to understand first what you are doing.  Memorizing lines is useless.

 

Take the following example:

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 - Why did Black play this way?  Why not 1...d6 and 2...e5?  Same thing, right?  Uhm, no!  The d4 pawn is protected (by the Queen).  The e4-pawn is not and requires a reaction from White.

 

Why are 3.Nc3, 3.e5, and even 3.Nd2 better than 3.exd5?  Can you answer that?  If not, you do not understand the crux of Black's problem in the French!

 

3.exd5 opens up Black's light-squared Bishop.  His problem piece

Why is 3.Nc3 better than 3.Nd2?  While 3.Nd2 avoids the pin, it bottles up the rest of White's pieces.  The Knight blocks the c1 Bishop, which in turn blocks the a1 rook.

 

Why is 3...c5 almost obligatory against 3.e5, best against 3.Nd2, and terrible against 3.Nc3?

 

It all has to do with d5.  While c7-c5 attacks d4, the situation with d5 is unsettled.  After 3.e5, White takes a commanding lead in space in the center.  In return, d5 is no longer under pressure and is Black's strong point.  He needs to gain space, and the best way to do it is expand on the Queenside and pressure d4 while doing it to try to break up White's pawn chain.

After 3.Nd2, white is bottled up, and Black should attack the center immediately.  It is well known that a defending pawn 3 squares from the Knight is good because it stops the Knight's 2 best moves, Ne4 and Nc4.  These can also become outposts for the Black Knights.  With Nd2, it will take for ever for a White Knight to attack d5, so a trade on d5 followed by a trade on c5 or d4 leaves Black with an isolated pawn, but with no good way for White to attack it, Black gets excellent piece activity.

After 3.Nc3, c5?? Is terrible because the center has not been settled (White will trade on d5, not advance e5) and now the d5-pawn is directly hit by the White Knight, and it is easy to get other pieces into the attack on d5 as his position is not bottled up.

 

It is crucial that you UNDERSTAND the point behind the opening moves for multiple reasons:

 

1) If your opponent plays a sideline or goes out of book, you should be able to figure out for yourself what is systemically wrong with their idea.  It could weaken a key square in their camp.  It could simply be no pressure on you and you get a free game without having to worry about Defense (like playing early a3 and h3 by White).

2) Your opponent plays a weird move order that has transpositional possibilities, like in the Najdorf, the Knight almost never goes to c6, but what about 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 and now what?  4.d4 is coming anyway and he avoided the Najdorf.  Important to know these nuances!

3)  At your level, rarely are people still in book after move 5.

4) Usually you do not know all the legit responses anyway.  What about 1...Nc6, Nimzowitsch's Defense, just to name an example!

 

Go for middlegame ideas and opening CONCEPTS first.  Control the center, do not move the same piece multiple times, Queen should stay home early on, etc.