Learning openings for a casual+


Hello chess peeps!

I've been playing chess casually for 20+ years (with year long gaps without playing). Lately I've rediscovered a love for the game. Problem is, I don't really know any theory or openings or anything. I've always played it by ear.

I'm doing tactics training on here and elsewhere to better my understanding of that area - but studying openings is something I can't bring myself to do seriously. It's too boring.

Is there a more entertaining way to study openings than just looking at and memorizing them?

I realize there probably isn't, so I'd be thankful for any tips or tricks for learning openings!



yes there is actually an adequate method for you to learn openings at your level. Just study well annotated games of the best players (also from the players of the past) and you will learn a lot about opening strategy without just memorizing lines. Also having a coach would be beneficial as a coach can explain you the basic ideas in the opening (like obtaining the center with pawns, developing pieces and so on) in a very short time.

I wish you all the best.

Thank you workhard91! Is there a specific book you would recommend? Or some other place where I can find annotated games to study?
Noubisch wrote:
Thank you workhard91! Is there a specific book you would recommend? Or some other place where I can find annotated games to study?


Chesspublishing.com is the best online site for openings


Chessmasterschool.com is the best online site for strategy


Then, of course, there are a bajillion books out there.  I own about 400 of them.  Is there a single book that will solve your issue?  Probably not!


You can start from this one, it's a sure shot:




You can just follow the book recommendation of IM pfren.

In general look for books which do contain a lot of annotations (like game collections of past players) and not just the moves like modern opening books. Too many people nowadays below 2000 are working with those deep Opening books and just try to memorize long forcing lines which they don't really understand why it is played.

workhard91 wrote:

Too many people nowadays below 2000 are working with those deep Opening books and just try to memorize long forcing lines which they don't really understand why it is played.

And it's not just nowadays either...

Way back when I got this book while it was hot off the presses.  I was still a B player, and a near-expert friend of mine was playing a master in the Open section.  He came up to me and said, "I just played ... b4."  I told him:  "That's a '?!' move."  Then he said:  "I just took the pawn."  And I informed him that that was another "?!".

A bit later I found out that he had won.  In 23 moves with the Black pieces against a master.  Playing two allegedly dubious moves in a row.

Okay sure, Geller, Gligoric, Kavalek and Spassky would've known what to do...or at least could've figured it out (that's quite a team btw, when Kavalek is your board 4!). grin.png  Anyway, that was when I started to realize that memorizing a long list of moves didn't really amount to much in the game (and note the irony in that context of the banner running across the top).

Image result for the najdorf variation rhm books


Hey, I still have this ancient Najdorf bible!

I must admit that it did not help so much when I first read it. Actually following one recommendation from it, I won a flashy game, but that only after falling into a bad position... tongue.png



22 Kb1 was indeed a nice idea. happy.png  I also liked the computer's 16 g6 earlier (a move that never would've occurred to me, but once I'm shown it it all seems natural enough).


      I have seen an IM working with young talents and he gives the same advices IMPfren gives(not surprising at all , both are FIDE certified trainers). Yes , study games , that is the way to do it and yes annotated games is the best way to do it and yes Reti's book is one of the best in it's category , a real masterpiece.

    Improvement in chess has to do with how much you think and not how much you learn. You can learn all the lines and still not improve even a bit while understanding how to think  is certainly the most important step for improvement.  


"... For beginning players, [Discovering Chess Openings by GM John Emms] 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)
"... 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)
"... Once you identify an opening you really like and wish to learn in more depth, then should you pick up a book on a particular opening or variation. Start with ones that explain the opening variations and are not just meant for advanced players. ..." - Dan Heisman (2001)
"... 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)
"... For inexperienced players, I think the model that bases opening discussions on more or less complete games that are fully annotated, though with a main focus on the opening and early middlegame, is the ideal. ..." - FM Carsten Hansen (2010)
"... 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)


Masters of the Chessboard by Richard Reti



 I too am a certified trainer (though perhaps not in the sense you mean).

Thanks people! I have ordered the book by Reti. It had glowing reviews everywhere :)
Here are some good openings I know:
Queens Gambit, Kings Gambit, Center Game, Sicilian defence, Caro Kann defence, French Defence, London System, Italian Game, Petroff defence, Nimzo Indian defence, Kings Indian defence, Queens Indian defence, Ruy Lopez, English opening, Modern defence.

Casual+ ?!? LMAO It's not a fashion forum here. blitz.pnggrin.pngpeshka.png

Noubisch wrote:



Lol :)

I've was just trying to convey that I'm not a f i l t h y casual. I'm just a dirty one :)