learning all the openings?

As a beginner to chess I'm not sure what is the correct approach. Are you supposed to learn every chess opening and how to play against them, is good to learn less popular openings as white with the chance that my opponent doesn't know how to play against it. Or are openings not that important can you play against any opening at a decent level just using basic principles.

As a beginner I suggest you firstly learn the 'basic principles' eg. Control the centre, develop knights before bishops, castle early, don't hang your pieces (most importantly). Once you feel confident that you wont just lose randomly by dropping your queen or whatever then start looking at openings. Not necessary to look in depth at everything, pick 1.e4 or 1.d4 with white and then as you play games have a quick look at each new reply or line you see that you don't recognise, or causes you trouble. With black pick a reply to 1.e4 and 1.d4 and try to get to the stage where you are confident you can play it well. Or if you play several games and are not enjoying the middlegame positions you are getting then try something else. 


at your level of chess i wouldn't suggest you to study openings at all, if you know only the basic principles you will be fine. study tactics , strategy and endgames until you reach a rating of 1600 or 1500. Also Is very important to learn from grand master's games


Hi there, no, no need to learn all openings. In my opinion it is better to play mainstream lines and learn classical chess first. I only know well two opening with Black and one opening with white. What is important is to improve tactics and endgames first. Then, studying master games you will understand middlegames which are in my opinion the most difficult part to understand in chess.

waterplants wrote:
As a beginner to chess I'm not sure what is the correct approach. Are you supposed to learn every chess opening and how to play against them, is good to learn less popular openings as white with the chance that my opponent doesn't know how to play against it. Or are openings not that important can you play against any opening at a decent level just using basic principles.

As a beginner I would suggest:

1. Learn the basic principles like Strangemover has said.

2. Pick an opening which is simple(sharp openings can be played after gaining experience).

3. Learn opening and middlegame strategies.

4. Stick to one or two openings and try to master them.

5. Try to improve tactics and endgame like David has said.


This is a pretty controversial subject around here. Just about everyone agrees that one should start by learning principles. Some people think that one should at first be satisfied with reading a few sentences on the subject, but I think that one is more likely to have some degree of comfort in the opening if one reads something like the exposition in Discovering Chess Openings by GM John Emms (2006).

"... For beginning players, [Discovering Chess Openings] will offer an opportunity to start out on the right foot and really get a feel for what is happening on the board. ..." - FM Carsten Hansen (2006)

Perhaps the purpose could be served by reading the discussion of opening play in some general beginner book. The real disagreement arises on the question of when one should go on to the next step. I myself think that it is something of a mistake to think in terms of a next step. Better, in my opinion, to think of opening knowledge as gradually accumulating. I imagine that just about everyone agrees that one should not try to learn about every chess opening.

"... Overall, I would advise most players to stick to a fairly limited range of openings, and not to worry about learning too much by heart. ..." - FM Steve Giddins (2008)

One first experiments with ideas and slowly learns more about some of them. Somewhat detailed suggestions are provided by Moret in his My-First-Chess-Opening-Repertoire books.




Opening Repertoire: 1 e4 is a similar sort of book.


Openings for Amateurs by Pete Tamburro (2014) combines explanation of principles with starting opening suggestions. Of necessity, his opening descriptions are less detailed (than those of Moret) because he tried to offer choices to the reader and give some indication of how a player might choose what to try.
Some players may not like the idea of relying on the limited selection of an author. It is a pretty daunting project to try to learn a little bit about a lot of openings, but, if one wants more freedom to make choices, it would make sense to look at a book like Yasser Seirawan's Winning Chess Openings.


While reading such a book, don't forget that the primary purpose is to get help with making choices. Once one has chosen openings, I again think that there is wide agreement that the way to start is by playing over sample games. Some of us think that it can be useful to use books like First Steps: 1 e4 e5 and First Steps: Queen's Gambit



as sources of games with explanations intended for those just starting to learn about an opening. Be sure to try to use the openings in games in between sessions of learning. Most of the time, one faces a position with no knowledge of a specific move indicated in a book. One has to accept that as part of chess, and think of opening knowledge as a sometimes helpful aid. After a game, it makes sense to try to look up the moves in a book and see if it has some indication of how one might have played better in the opening. Many opening books are part explanation and part reference material. The reference material is included in the text with the idea that one mostly skips it on a first reading, and looks at an individual item when it applies to a game that one has just played. Resist the temptation to try to turn a book into a mass memorization project. There are many important subjects that one should not neglect because of too much time on opening study.


"... 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)
"... If the book contains illustrative games, it is worth playing these over first ..." - GM John Nunn (2006)
"... 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)
"... Everyman Chess has started a new series aimed at those who want to understand the basics of an opening, i.e., the not-yet-so-strong players. ... I imagine [there] will be a long series based on the premise of bringing the basic ideas of an opening to the reader through plenty of introductory text, game annotations, hints, plans and much more. ..." - FM Carsten Hansen (2002)
"The way I suggest you study this book is to play through the main games once, relatively quickly, and then start playing the variation in actual games. Playing an opening in real games is of vital importance - without this kind of live practice it is impossible to get a 'feel' for the kind of game it leads to. There is time enough later for involvement with the details, after playing your games it is good to look up the line." - GM Nigel Davies (2005)

"... Review each of your games, identifying opening (and other) mistakes with the goal of not repeatedly making the same mistake. ... It is especially critical not to continually fall into opening traps – or even lines that result in difficult positions ..." - NM Dan Heisman (2007)



From the other thread...

Basic principles for now.  It's OK to learn some typical beginner openings like the Fried Liver Attack and the Guicco Piano though.  Certainly nothing much past 6 or 8 moves since your opponent will usually be out of book anyway.  Easiest is probably just to answer e4 with e5 and d4 with d5.  After that just wing it based on opening principles.  Do a game review after and see where you could have done better.  Don't know if you've seen the free Chess Mentor lessons but they have an excellent, but gentle, intro to openings.  I'll run and get it for you....



I suggest you pick openings which display the general principles in the most classical way. i.e. 1.e4 or 1.d4 as White, and as Black 1...e5 in response to 1.e4 and 1...d5 in response to 1.d4. I am convinced there is no better way to start your chess journey. There's also no real need to learn the theory yet, as general principles alone can get you quite far in these openings. Instead you can go over annotated classical master games in these openings and focus on tactics.


Beginners are often encouraged to play over sample games. Sample games can be found in a book like First Steps: 1 e4 e5.