Does chess openings really matter if you will win or not?


[edit on post #178] And ok, what did Dan Heisman say about that? I gotta know🤔


The reason I promote opening principles is because, quite often, your opponent is not going to be playing theory.

So learning theory, especially for beginning players, is generally not a productive use of one's time.

Sure, you can explore the main lines in the Advance French, if you find it interesting and instructive. (Or if you're at an intermediate/advanced level, where opening theory does begin to surface in your games.)

But if you try to play the French Defense, and your opponents are playing openings like this:


Then what now? They're not following the lines you read in a book.

Believe it or not, many players would panic here. "Oh no! I haven't studied my 1.a4 theory!"

Some of these players lose trust in their own abilities to play opening moves, and feel that they can only play well if they've studied the lines beforehand.

This is why I protest against theory - because it's very discouraging to see players who have been convinced (often by other players) that they have to know theory in order to play chess.

These same players get terrified of the idea of finding an opening move on their own. They get afraid of using their brain to think and find their own logical opening moves, and will instead rush to an opening book, or database, whenever they find themselves uncertain.

This is why learning opening principles can be extremely useful. If you learn (or are taught) how to make logical, principled moves (moves that encourage strong centralization of your pawns and pieces) you won't have to wonder what to do when your opponent does something strange - you'll always have a set of principles to guide you.

(Besides, most opening theory is principled. So if you play on principle, quite often you're playing the best moves in the position.)


@stil1 that's a pretty extreme example, but it depends on your target audience, I suppose. And studying some theory will expose you to common themes in the opening.