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I know you should pick openings on your style of play. How do you find openings that fit your style of play, though? Do you guys have an opinion on what openings would be good for a 1200-ish player like myself?
your rating is not important, playing an opening that leads to positions and games you are comfortabel playing is. Try some out and then when you find one you may like, play a bunch of games, live and correspondence. then look back on those games. did you enjoy them? did you do well? did the games go as you planned?
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
You find these openings by playing them. Look up some opening, look at some games by GMs, maybe look up a couple of lines. Then play them for a few months. If you think the positions you get are horrid, stop playing it. You may not win every game, but it's your feel for the positions that will let you know if it's for you.
All of this advice is really helpful.
1) dump the style idea at your level thats just useless. good players can play all styles they just prefer one type over another. To get better learn to play better.
2) play classical systems that are simple and straight foward strategically. Scotch,.. guccio piano, 4 knights all the classic e4 pawn openings we have seen in games from the 19th century.
I teach the 4 knights scotch/scotch and e4 Nf3 Bc4 stuff with a fast c3 and d4. Focus on the center and rapid development. as black play e5 for now until you get a handle on your system with the white pieces. look at 100's of games in your opening. look for typical piece maneuvers, pawn breaks,. common tactical shots. etc...
Everyman starting out: the scotch is a good place to start
For now, I'd suggest playing literally anything in the opening (experiment away!), until your tactics improve, and you start to get a sense of various strategic possibilities in the middlegame (books help for this). After you get a taste of different kinds of middlegames and the goals and types of play resulting from each, then I'd start looking for an opening. For now, experiment away with 1. e4, 1. d4, and 1. c4 as well. As long as you look out for tactical blunders in the opening, anything is probably okay until your rating hits 2000+.
Here are broad generalizations that might give you a taste of the different options:
1. e4 typically opens the game up fastest, relative to other options.
1. d4 both sides' pieces are unravelled at a slightly slower pace, although this lead to games just as exciting.
1. c4 is rarest of the three most common moves and is least ambitious in several cases. On the other hand, white often has the option of forcing the game into very similar middlegames regardless of black's responses.
Against 1. e4, black has
1. ...c5, often leading to games where pieces fly all over the place, resulting in more tactical possibilities than many other openings.
1. ...e5, starting off symmetrically. Both sides then have several choices on breaking the symmetry, and even subtle differences can be important in deciding the plans of each side. It makes sense that many teachers suggest starting with this, since this rewards you the most for paying attention to subtle differences of each side in a position.
1. ...e6, aiming to close off the center. This is good for your chess education as well, since it rewards you well for recognizing positional weaknesses of the other side, and working to exploit them. This is partly because the pieces are often blocked off by central pawns, placing a huge emphasis on piece-coordination.
1. ...c6 will eventually be good for working on your endgame, and is usually ill-prepared by the average club player. It's one of the most solid defenses, and you'll probably be rewarded the most for learning how to defend well. Don't worry, you probably won't run into draws with this for quite awhile, despite it's drawish reputation. I wouldn't recommend starting off with this, though, since you'll be slow to improve on tactics, as they don't show up as much in this opening.
1. ...d5 results in games somewhat similar to 1. ...c6 games, due to an emphasis on endgame knowledge determing the winner. However, note that tactical knowledge will get you further than endgame knowledge at first, since a winning endgame can easily be blown by dropping a piece and losing outright in the middlegame.
Against 1. d4, black has
1. ...d5 games are fairly different from 1. e4 e5 games, but stress the same thing: noticing minute differences between the positions of each side is important. Both sides have many options, once again, to break the symmetry. I think you'll be learning quite a bit about the importance of different pawn structures by playing this. I rarely play 1. d4 d5 games though, so feel free to take my words with a grain of salt.
1. ...Nf6 games introduce the hypermodern idea of controlling the center with pieces other than pawns. The idea is a bit harder to grasp, and the flavor of resulting play really depends on the variation. I believe that White gets to make the most opening decisions regarding variations in resulting positions because black has fewer pawns in the center, thus more ambiguity in terms of moves, and more transpositional possibilities. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though.
1. ...f5 is yet another common option, but I have only played one game with it, so I have little to say on the resulting play.
stick with one thing. trust me. You do want to focus on tactics and playing something simple and straight foward will allow you to do this more easily instead of losing in 20 different openings you can learn mistakes based on a standard structure. after about 4-6 months you can start switching out openings 1 at a time.so at the end of a year your repertiore will change 100% but you willplay them enough to learn something, try a LOT of blitz 3-5 min games and examine them strickly for tactics missed. categorize them and make a file if you have chessbase and save the tactics. make a collection of short games you find in your openings with fun tactics and strategies..
In starting out, play 1 e4, and as Black start with 1 ...e5 in reply, and if 1 d4 d5. As with any other subject you want to learn, start with the basics.
Don't worry so much about "openings," although it's okay to learn the names of the various popular lines, and the few first moves which define them. But stick to basic principles until you aren't losing games because of pieces you lost by not seeing the threats on them or being checkmated in ways you didn't see coming. Until you've moved that far ahead in learning and gaining basic experience in tactics, opening variations are useless and just a distraction if you really want to improve your game.
Believe me, openings knowledge is like an addictive drug. People are always searching for that special line that gives them that special "high" on the board, but it's a myth. Does not exist, period. Don't think you can smoke that crack now and then, and quit when you want to, you can't. Just say no to openings study until you aren't blowing pieces and easy endings. You will get better faster, and not ruin your life and alienate family and friends.
I dissagree with the symatry is the win all cure all way to improve, simply because beginers need to learn to deal with asymetry. thats why I would say against d4 play Nf6, as this can not only transpose, but it is flexible, as white, look up games in either 1.e4, and 1. d4, be sure to look at normal games, not just brilliancies ( it will be better for your development as a player) use the brilliancies as entertainment, (except for maybe Morphy) but that is different.
I chose e4 and am happy with it. against e4 I chose to vary between Alekhine, e5 and Sicilian.
against d4 I chose Dutch and KID. again happy with my decisions.
I've taken up the scotch as white. Leads to different kinds of games, typically being closed by better player and me ripping it open against lower rated players. I know the sicilian comes with a lot of theory and I feel lower rated players like myself can't play it correctly. Is the sicilian an acceptable opening for a 1200ish player?
The "problem" with sicilians is that there are so many of them. If you play 1. ...c5 as black, you will eventually need solid responses against each anti-sicilian as well, because some of the anti-mainlines are nothing to scoff at (intimidating as this may sound, this simply means picking your favorite line among each of the anti-sicilians and understanding the ideas behind it, so you won't freeze up and get lost if someone deviates on the second or third move). In terms of "correctness of play", I wouldn't worry about it. Who cares if you can't play the Najdorf like a world champion? You can still get a solid game out of it and you'll learn to play it better by trying.
The other way to get around with avoiding most anti-sicilians is to play an early deviation, yourself. For example, there's the hyperacceerated dragon (Here's an article by Silman on it), or the e6-sicilians that may resemble the French in terms of pawn structure.
Sicilians.... there have probably been more books about Sicilians than on chess in general. I will play Mainline Sicilian as white up untill move 5 because I know Sicilian players want The Najdorf, Dragon or Schvenigen. but rarely get to play them until they reach like 18/1900 because people below that don't do much opening study. I feel it's nice to let them use thier prep, and then make it crash on move 6 for Najdorf and Shvenigen players, but I will play mainline up to around move 10 in the dragon because that is the best way to play, unless I feel like playing the Levenfish. but The sicilian is one of those openings where black is trying for the advantage, not just equality.