Practicing openings


Does anyone have any ideas about the best way to study openings?  I usually try to play logically and this seems to work quite well. But when an opponent stays from the normal path I would have no idea how to take advantage of any inaccurate play.

All (polite) suggestions gratefully accepted :)


I have the same problem. One suggestion is to not automatically ASSume that anyone who "strays from the normal path" is making a mistake you can take advantage of. In fact amateurs do come up with improvements or at least new opening moves difficult to refute quite frequently (or at least in my games they do!) At this point if you can't find a specific refutation it's back to basics (including GM Fine's 15 Endgame Rules, believe it or not)



Lasker's rules for the opening (from Common Sense In Chess)

1. Do not move any pawns in the opening of a game but the King and Queen pawns.

2. Do not move any piece twice in the opening, but put it at once on the right square.

3. Bring out your knights before developing your bishops, especially the Queen's Bishop.

4. Do not pin the adverse King Knight (ie. by Bg5) before your opponent has castled

GM Reuben Fine on the opening:

1. In the initial position White, because of the extra move, has a slight advantage. Consequently:

2. White's problem in the opening is to secure the better position, while...

3. Black's problem is to secure equality.

Fine's rules for the opening

1. Open with either the e-pawn or the d-pawn.

2. Wherever possible, make a good developing move which threatens something or adds to the pressure on the centre.

3. Develop knights before bishops.

4. Pick the most suitable square for a piece and develop it there once and for all.

5. Make one or two pawn moves in the opening, not more.

6. Do not bring your queen out too early.

7. Castle as soon as possible, preferably on the king's side.

8. Play to get control of the centre.

9. Always try to maintain at least one pawn in the centre.

10. Do not sacrifice without a clear and adequate reason, eg.:

* it secures a tangible advantage in development * it deflects the opponent's queen

* it prevents the opponent from castling * it enables a strong attack to be developed

Fine's two last questions to be asked before a move is made:

* How does it affect the centre?

* How does it fit in with the development of my other pieces and pawns?

Nimzovitch's Seven Axioms (from My System)

* Development is to be understood as the strategic advance of the troops toward the frontier line (the line between the fourth and fifth ranks).

* A pawn move must not in itself be regarded as a devloping move, but merely as an aid to development.

* To be ahead in development is the ideal to be aimed for.

* Exchange with resulting gain of tempo.

* Liquidation, with consequent development or disembarrassment.

* The pawn centre must be mobile.

* There is no time for pawn hunting in the opening, except for centre pawns.

Suetin's four principles for advanced players

* The fight for control of the centre

* The striving for the quickest and most active development.

* The creation of conditions that permit early castling.

* The formation of an advantageous pawn structure

GM Hort's 13 rules for all players

* Take advantage of every tempo.

* Develop flexibly!

* Do not make pawn moves without careful planning.

* Begin the game with a centre pawn, and develop the minor pieces so that they influence

the center

* Develop harmoniously! Play with all your pieces

* Do not make aimless moves. Each move must be part of a definite plan.

* Do not be eager for material gain. The fight for time is much more important than the fight for material, especially in open positions.

* A weakening of your own pawns may be accepted only if it is compensated by a more active placement of your pieces.

* With the help of your pawns, try to get an advantage in space and weaken your opponent's pawn position.

* Do not obstruct your pawns by grouping your pieces directly in front of them; pawns and pieces must work together.

* During the first few moves, pay special attention to the vulnerable KB2 square on both sides.

* Remember that the poor placement of even a single piece may destroy the coordination of the other pieces.

* With White, exploit the advantage of having the first move and try to gain the initiative. With Black, try to organize counterplay.

GM Portisch on forming a repertoire:

"Your only task in the opening is to reach a playable middlegame."



GM Fine's "15 Basic Endgame Rules" (from Basic Chess Endings)


Doubled, isolated and blockaded Pawns are weak: Avoid them!


Passed Pawns should be advanced as rapidly as possible.


If you are one or two Pawns ahead, exchange pieces but not Pawns.


If you are one or two Pawns behind, exchange Pawns but not pieces.


If you have an advantage, do not leave all the Pawns on one side.


If you are one Pawn ahead, in 99 cases out of 100 the game is drawn if there are Pawns on only one side of the board.


The easiest endings to win are pure Pawn endings.


The easiest endings to draw are those with Bishops of opposite colors.


The King is a strong piece: Use it!


Do not place your Pawns on the color of your Bishop.


Bishops are better than Knights in all except blocked Pawn positions.


Two Bishops vs. Bishop and Knight constitute a tangible advantage.


Passed Pawns should be blockaded by the King; the only piece which is not harmed by watching a Pawn is the Knight.


A rook on the seventh rank is sufficient compensation for a Pawn.


Rooks belong behind passed Pawns.




Thank you NimzoRoy! That info, plus Exeter Chess Club's website is very impressive and will be very useful!  Laughing


Wow, thanks NimzoRoy.  I came across this doing a google search of how to practices openings in chess.  This is a great compilation!  


Thanks - very useful stuff.


Indeed. All of the above advice works, but for me the best is just keep studying & playing. Playover games with the same opening and try to analyze move by move. Annotate your own games. Referrence other prominent players with similiar opening style. Often, application of ideas are harder than losing a game.