Getting better with black

Dionysus84

I'm trying to climb into 1100, currently winning 62% with white (mostly Scotch Game) and 46% with black.  As black, what openings should I focus on or what other tips should I take onboard to level my playing ability across both colors?

KeSetoKaiba

Great! 62% for White is pretty good against opponents around your rating consistently. I wouldn't worry about this statistic much though. Personally, some of my best games have been with the Black pieces - yet my statistic indicates I win slightly more with White (around 55% last time I checked). This is because I know my openings really well from the White side (I love the Queen's Gambit right now, but my go-to opening used to be the Scotch Game and I still sometimes play it for White). Because we score better with one side, that doesn't inherently mean that we are magically better with that faction; just that we score slightly better because we know more opening theory for it. 

To improve with Black, I would try investigating into deeper mainlines for White with the mindset of how to counter if you were Black. A lot of my Black pieces repertoire was created through playing that opening as White and having trouble facing x-line from Black so I switched to playing it from the Black side.

Once we escape opening theory, then chess typically shifts into middlegame and endgame motifs where positional and tactical warfare begins: luckily this is colorblind. Learning chess in general, your winrate for White and Black will likely stabilize a bit more. 

kindaspongey

Perhaps it would be a good idea to start with Discovering Chess Openings, a book about opening principles.
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627114655/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen91.pdf

"... As Black, I think that [players with very limited experience] would do well … playing 1...e5 versus 1 e4 and 1...d5 versus 1 d4. … [After 1 d4 d5, if] White plays the most important move, 2 c4, inexperienced players might want to begin classically with 2...e6 followed by ...Nf6 and ...Be7 …" - IM John Watson (2010)

If that advice sounds good to you, you could look at First Steps: 1 e4 e5 and First Steps: the Queen's Gambit.
https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/7790.pdf

https://chesscafe.com/book-reviews/first-steps-1-e4-e5-by-john-emms/
https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/7652.pdf
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.
https://www.chess.com/article/view/learning-an-opening-to-memorize-or-understand
"... 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)
"... 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)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627055734/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen38.pdf
"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)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627062646/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/heisman81.pdf

kindaspongey

"... for those that want to be as good as they can be, they'll have to work hard.
Play opponents who are better than you … Learn basic endgames. Create a simple opening repertoire (understanding the moves are far more important than memorizing them). Study tactics. And pick up tons of patterns. That’s the drumbeat of success. ..." - IM Jeremy Silman (December 27, 2018)
https://www.chess.com/article/view/little-things-that-help-your-game
https://www.chess.com/article/view/how-to-start-out-in-chess

https://www.chess.com/article/view/how-to-play-chess

https://www.chess.com/blog/michechess89/8-tips-to-increase-your-online-rating

https://www.chess.com/news/view/rapid-chess-improvement
https://www.chess.com/news/view/a-new-years-resolution-improve-your-chess-with-new-lessons

https://www.chess.com/article/view/mastery-chess-lessons-are-here
"... In order to maximize the benefits of [theory and practice], these two should be approached in a balanced manner. ... Play as many slow games (60 5 or preferably slower) as possible, ... The other side of improvement is theory. ... This can be reading books, taking lessons, watching videos, doing problems on software, etc. ..." - NM Dan Heisman (2002)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627084053/https://www.chesscafe.com/text/heisman19.pdf
"... If it’s instruction, you look for an author that addresses players at your level (buying something that’s too advanced won’t help you at all). This means that a classic book that is revered by many people might not be useful for you. ..." - IM Jeremy Silman (2015)
https://www.chess.com/article/view/the-best-chess-books-ever
Here are some reading possibilities that I often mention:
Simple Attacking Plans by Fred Wilson (2012)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140708090402/https://www.chesscafe.com/text/review874.pdf
https://dev.jeremysilman.com/shop/pc/Simple-Attacking-Plans-77p3731.htm
Logical Chess: Move by Move by Irving Chernev (1957)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140708104437/https://www.chesscafe.com/text/logichess.pdf
The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Irving Chernev (1965)
https://chessbookreviews.wordpress.com/tag/most-instructive-games-of-chess-ever-played/
Winning Chess by Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld (1948)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140708093415/https://www.chesscafe.com/text/review919.pdf
Back to Basics: Tactics by Dan Heisman (2007)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140708233537/https://www.chesscafe.com/text/review585.pdf
https://www.chess.com/article/view/book-review-back-to-basics-tactics
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5856bd64ff7c50433c3803db/t/5895fc0ca5790af7895297e4/1486224396755/btbtactics2excerpt.pdf
Discovering Chess Openings by GM John Emms (2006)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627114655/https://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen91.pdf
Openings for Amateurs by Pete Tamburro (2014)
https://kenilworthian.blogspot.com/2014/05/review-of-pete-tamburros-openings-for.html
https://chessbookreviews.wordpress.com/tag/openings-for-amateurs/

https://www.chess.com/blog/ForwardChess/book-of-the-week-openings-for-amateurs
https://www.mongoosepress.com/catalog/excerpts/openings_amateurs.pdf
Chess Endgames for Kids by Karsten Müller (2015)
https://chessbookreviews.wordpress.com/tag/chess-endgames-for-kids/
https://www.gambitbooks.com/pdfs/Chess_Endgames_for_Kids.pdf
A Guide to Chess Improvement by Dan Heisman (2010)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140708105628/https://www.chesscafe.com/text/review781.pdf
Studying Chess Made Easy by Andrew Soltis (2009)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140708090448/https://www.chesscafe.com/text/review750.pdf
Seirawan stuff:
https://seagaard.dk/review/eng/bo_beginner/ev_winning_chess.asp?KATID=BO&ID=BO-Beginner

https://web.archive.org/web/20140708090229/https://www.chesscafe.com/text/review492.pdf
https://www.nystar.com/tamarkin/review1.htm
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627132508/https://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen173.pdf

https://www.chess.com/article/view/book-review-winning-chess-openings

https://www.chess.com/article/view/book-review-winning-chess-endings
https://web.archive.org/web/20140708092617/https://www.chesscafe.com/text/review560.pdf

SoupTime4
Dionysus84 wrote:

I'm trying to climb into 1100, currently winning 62% with white (mostly Scotch Game) and 46% with black.  As black, what openings should I focus on or what other tips should I take onboard to level my playing ability across both colors?

Slow down.  Play slower time controls if you want to get better. 

Dionysus84

Thanks, all.  Re: slowing down, I don't play 5 or 3 minute except variants.  Mostly playing 10, will try to get some 30 games in as well.

kindaspongey

"... Most internet players think that 30 5 is slow, but that is unlikely slow enough to play 'real' chess. You need a game slow enough so that for most of the game you have time to consider all your candidate moves as well as your opponent’s possible replies that at least include his checks, captures, and serious threats, to make sure you can meet all of them. For the average OTB player G/90 is about the fastest, which might be roughly 60 10 online, where there is some delay. But there is no absolute; some people think faster than others and others can play real chess faster because of experience. Many internet players are reluctant to play slower than 30 5 so you might have to settle for that as a 'slow' game." - NM Dan Heisman (2002)

https://web.archive.org/web/20140627010008/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/heisman12.pdf

RussBell

Chess Openings Resources for Beginners and Beyond...

https://www.chess.com/blog/RussBell/openings-resources-for-beginners-and-beyond