How to study openings?

thekokohead
Hi. I've played some OTB and some online games, and I feel my openings are severely lacking. I've been always told the basics (develop, control the center) and I'll be fine. Now, more and more, I find myself behind in the middlegame. With the opening book on chess.com and any other resource, how can I improve my openings?
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
"... 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)

https://web.archive.org/web/20140627114655/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen91.pdf

Detailed suggestions are provided by Moret in his My-First-Chess-Opening-Repertoire books.

https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/9033.pdf

https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/9050.pdf

https://chessbookreviews.wordpress.com/tag/vincent-moret/

Opening Repertoire 1 e4 and Keep it Simple 1.e4 are somewhat similar sorts of books.

https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/7819.pdf

https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/9068.pdf

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.

http://kenilworthian.blogspot.com/2014/05/review-of-pete-tamburros-openings-for.html

https://chessbookreviews.wordpress.com/tag/openings-for-amateurs/

https://www.mongoosepress.com/catalog/excerpts/openings_amateurs.pdf

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.

https://web.archive.org/web/20140627132508/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen173.pdf

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 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

https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/7790.pdf
https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/7652.pdf

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.

https://www.chess.com/article/view/learning-an-opening-to-memorize-or-understand
https://www.chess.com/article/view/3-ways-to-learn-new-openings
https://www.chess.com/article/view/how-to-understand-openings

"... 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

Various items of possible interest:

"There is no such thing as a 'best opening.' Each player should choose an opening that attracts him. Some players are looking for a gambit as White, others for Black gambits. Many players that are starting out (or have bad memories) want to avoid mainstream systems, others want dynamic openings, and others want calm positional pathways. It’s all about personal taste and personal need.

For example, if you feel you’re poor at tactics you can choose a quiet positional opening (trying to hide from your weakness and just play chess), or seek more dynamic openings that engender lots of tactics and sacrifices (this might lead to more losses but, over time, will improve your tactical skills and make you stronger)." - IM Jeremy Silman (January 28, 2016)

https://www.chess.com/article/view/opening-questions-and-a-dream-mate
https://www.chess.com/article/view/picking-the-correct-opening-repertoire
http://chess-teacher.com/best-chess-openings/
https://www.chess.com/blog/TigerLilov/build-your-opening-repertoire
https://www.chess.com/blog/CraiggoryC/how-to-build-an-opening-repertoire

"... A typical way of choosing an opening repertoire is to copy the openings used by a player one admires. ... However, what is good at world-championship level is not always the best choice at lower levels of play, and it is often a good idea to choose a 'model' who is nearer your own playing strength. ..." - FM Steve Giddins (2008)

https://www.chess.com/article/view/the-perfect-opening-for-the-lazy-student
https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/9035.pdf
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627110453/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen169.pdf
https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/9029.pdf
https://www.chess.com/article/view/has-the-king-s-indian-attack-been-forgotten
https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/7277.pdf
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627104938/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen159.pdf

https://web.archive.org/web/20140627052905/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen175.pdf
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627022042/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen153.pdf

"... 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)

https://web.archive.org/web/20140626180930/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/heisman06.pdf

"... To begin with, only study the main lines ... you can easily fill in the unusual lines later. ..." - GM John Nunn (2006)

"... 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)

"... I think people tend to be afraid of the main lines. They think: ... sure, I'm going to take up (say) 5 Bg5 against the Semi-Slav, once I've got time and learned it properly. ... My advice is - don't bother. The more you learn anyway, the more you'll recognize how little you know. ... 5 Bg5 is a good move - get it on the board, get ready to fight, and see what happens.

Sure, there will come a time, whether on move two or move twenty, when your knowledge of theory runs out and you have to decide what to do on your own. ... sometimes you will leave theory first, sometimes your opponent. Nothing will stop this happening. It happens in every well-contested GM game at some point, usually a very significant point. This is a part of the game: an important part, something you have to get better at. ... to improve you have to challenge yourself; ..." - IM John Cox (2006)

"... 'Journey to the Chess Kingdom' ... is primarily intended for children ... Chapter five deals with opening principles, while chapter six provides an overview of the most popular chess openings. Importantly, the emphasis is on giving insights and explaining ideas and principles as opposed to advocating mindless memorization of long lines. ..." - WGM Natalia Pogonina (2014)

https://www.chess.com/blog/Natalia_Pogonina/book-review-quotjourney-to-the-chess-kingdomquot

VanAnatoliy

есть Русские

PawnstormPossie

Annotate an example game of yours, post it here, and ask specific questions.

DaniilKalabukhov

Hey! Basically from beginner to mediocre levels you'll need to know 3 openings and it'll be enough. So I suggest you studying one opening for White (preferably a system) in order to be confident when you are going to play with white pieces, and learning how to respond against 1. e4 (one more opening) and 1.d4 (yours last opening - overall three) with black pieces. You may ask me - how can you study them? So the answer is, first, you need to watch video series about the opening you've decided to pick up in your opening repertoire. Second, I recommend you to find a decent book about your opening - so after reading it you'll be fully equipped. And the last but not the least advice is using databases to study recent master games.

Overall studying an opening theory isn't an easy thing, so if you'll need help - feel free to send me a message. I'm an experienced chess coach and my hourly price is 10$.

IMBacon
thekokohead wrote:
Hi. I've played some OTB and some online games, and I feel my openings are severely lacking. I've been always told the basics (develop, control the center) and I'll be fine. Now, more and more, I find myself behind in the middlegame. With the opening book on chess.com and any other resource, how can I improve my openings?

Ordinarily i would say forget about studying opening at your level, since openings do not decide your games.  Blunders, missed tactics, and not following opening principles does. 

But...since no one wants to hear that,  Find a few openings you like to play.  Try and get an understanding of "why" the pieces, and pawns go where they go.

DaniilKalabukhov
IMBacon wrote:
thekokohead wrote:
Hi. I've played some OTB and some online games, and I feel my openings are severely lacking. I've been always told the basics (develop, control the center) and I'll be fine. Now, more and more, I find myself behind in the middlegame. With the opening book on chess.com and any other resource, how can I improve my openings?

Ordinarily i would say forget about studying opening at your level, since openings do not decide your games.  Blunders, missed tactics, and not following opening principles does. 

But...since no one wants to hear that,  Find a few openings you like to play.  Try and get an understanding of "why" the pieces, and pawns go where they go.

That's completely wrong. I think it's better to develop your skill from all chess sides. For example when I used to teach beginners at local chess club I've seen quite a few games where solid tactic players were unable to win a simple endgame because they didn't know the theory. So, in my opinion knowing at least 3 openings is an essential knowledge for a beginner. Of course I don't suppose that learning a lot of opening theory is a great investment of time but knowing only opening principles isn't enough to feel confident in a game against the opponent of the same level or above.

IMBacon
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
thekokohead wrote:
Hi. I've played some OTB and some online games, and I feel my openings are severely lacking. I've been always told the basics (develop, control the center) and I'll be fine. Now, more and more, I find myself behind in the middlegame. With the opening book on chess.com and any other resource, how can I improve my openings?

Ordinarily i would say forget about studying opening at your level, since openings do not decide your games.  Blunders, missed tactics, and not following opening principles does. 

But...since no one wants to hear that,  Find a few openings you like to play.  Try and get an understanding of "why" the pieces, and pawns go where they go.

That's completely wrong. I think it's better to develop your skill from all chess sides. For example when I used to teach beginners at local chess club I've seen quite a few games where solid tactic players were unable to win a simple endgame because they didn't know the theory. So, in my opinion knowing at least 3 openings is an essential knowledge for a beginner. Of course I don't suppose that learning a lot of opening theory is a great investment of time but knowing only opening principles isn't enough to feel confident in a game against the opponent of the same level or above.

The problem with telling someone its ok to learn openings.  They hear "I have to memorize 20-30 moves of theory" with absolutely no understand of why those moves are made.

We will agree to disagree then, but in my experience.  Opening Principles has gotten people to USCF A class.

DaniilKalabukhov
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
thekokohead wrote:
Hi. I've played some OTB and some online games, and I feel my openings are severely lacking. I've been always told the basics (develop, control the center) and I'll be fine. Now, more and more, I find myself behind in the middlegame. With the opening book on chess.com and any other resource, how can I improve my openings?

Ordinarily i would say forget about studying opening at your level, since openings do not decide your games.  Blunders, missed tactics, and not following opening principles does. 

But...since no one wants to hear that,  Find a few openings you like to play.  Try and get an understanding of "why" the pieces, and pawns go where they go.

That's completely wrong. I think it's better to develop your skill from all chess sides. For example when I used to teach beginners at local chess club I've seen quite a few games where solid tactic players were unable to win a simple endgame because they didn't know the theory. So, in my opinion knowing at least 3 openings is an essential knowledge for a beginner. Of course I don't suppose that learning a lot of opening theory is a great investment of time but knowing only opening principles isn't enough to feel confident in a game against the opponent of the same level or above.

The problem with telling someone its ok to learn openings.  They hear "I have to memorize 20-30 moves of theory" with absolutely no understand of why those moves are made.

You're right. But from the other perspective of view - somebody who doesn't know essential opening theory at all will face really passive and unpleasant positions most of the time. Anyway I believe It's better to learn openings within reasonable limits

IMBacon
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
thekokohead wrote:
Hi. I've played some OTB and some online games, and I feel my openings are severely lacking. I've been always told the basics (develop, control the center) and I'll be fine. Now, more and more, I find myself behind in the middlegame. With the opening book on chess.com and any other resource, how can I improve my openings?

Ordinarily i would say forget about studying opening at your level, since openings do not decide your games.  Blunders, missed tactics, and not following opening principles does. 

But...since no one wants to hear that,  Find a few openings you like to play.  Try and get an understanding of "why" the pieces, and pawns go where they go.

That's completely wrong. I think it's better to develop your skill from all chess sides. For example when I used to teach beginners at local chess club I've seen quite a few games where solid tactic players were unable to win a simple endgame because they didn't know the theory. So, in my opinion knowing at least 3 openings is an essential knowledge for a beginner. Of course I don't suppose that learning a lot of opening theory is a great investment of time but knowing only opening principles isn't enough to feel confident in a game against the opponent of the same level or above.

The problem with telling someone its ok to learn openings.  They hear "I have to memorize 20-30 moves of theory" with absolutely no understand of why those moves are made.

You're right. But from the other perspective of view - somebody who doesn't know essential opening theory at all will face really passive and unpleasant positions most of the time. Anyway I believe It's better to learn openings within reasonable limits

"...within reasonable limits."

If only we could get players to fully comprehend that,

DaniilKalabukhov
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
thekokohead wrote:
Hi. I've played some OTB and some online games, and I feel my openings are severely lacking. I've been always told the basics (develop, control the center) and I'll be fine. Now, more and more, I find myself behind in the middlegame. With the opening book on chess.com and any other resource, how can I improve my openings?

Ordinarily i would say forget about studying opening at your level, since openings do not decide your games.  Blunders, missed tactics, and not following opening principles does. 

But...since no one wants to hear that,  Find a few openings you like to play.  Try and get an understanding of "why" the pieces, and pawns go where they go.

That's completely wrong. I think it's better to develop your skill from all chess sides. For example when I used to teach beginners at local chess club I've seen quite a few games where solid tactic players were unable to win a simple endgame because they didn't know the theory. So, in my opinion knowing at least 3 openings is an essential knowledge for a beginner. Of course I don't suppose that learning a lot of opening theory is a great investment of time but knowing only opening principles isn't enough to feel confident in a game against the opponent of the same level or above.

The problem with telling someone its ok to learn openings.  They hear "I have to memorize 20-30 moves of theory" with absolutely no understand of why those moves are made.

You're right. But from the other perspective of view - somebody who doesn't know essential opening theory at all will face really passive and unpleasant positions most of the time. Anyway I believe It's better to learn openings within reasonable limits

"...within reasonable limits."

If only we could get players to fully comprehend that,

I agree with you again. Actually this is what a good coach should teach his students. As Romans said: "Reasonable will understand". So if players can't understand these simple principles so may be chess is not for them.

IMBacon
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
thekokohead wrote:
Hi. I've played some OTB and some online games, and I feel my openings are severely lacking. I've been always told the basics (develop, control the center) and I'll be fine. Now, more and more, I find myself behind in the middlegame. With the opening book on chess.com and any other resource, how can I improve my openings?

Ordinarily i would say forget about studying opening at your level, since openings do not decide your games.  Blunders, missed tactics, and not following opening principles does. 

But...since no one wants to hear that,  Find a few openings you like to play.  Try and get an understanding of "why" the pieces, and pawns go where they go.

That's completely wrong. I think it's better to develop your skill from all chess sides. For example when I used to teach beginners at local chess club I've seen quite a few games where solid tactic players were unable to win a simple endgame because they didn't know the theory. So, in my opinion knowing at least 3 openings is an essential knowledge for a beginner. Of course I don't suppose that learning a lot of opening theory is a great investment of time but knowing only opening principles isn't enough to feel confident in a game against the opponent of the same level or above.

The problem with telling someone its ok to learn openings.  They hear "I have to memorize 20-30 moves of theory" with absolutely no understand of why those moves are made.

You're right. But from the other perspective of view - somebody who doesn't know essential opening theory at all will face really passive and unpleasant positions most of the time. Anyway I believe It's better to learn openings within reasonable limits

"...within reasonable limits."

If only we could get players to fully comprehend that,

I agree with you again. Actually this is what a good coach should teach his students. As Romans said: "Reasonable will understand". So if players can't understand these simple principles so may be chess is not for them.

A few years ago, I had a couple of students both right around USCF 500.  New to the game, etc.  the usual stuff.  While they both wanted to learn, one wanted to learn openings, and be "tactical"  While the other actually listened to me :-) And developed a good understanding of opening principles.  About a year later, the "tactical" player quit chess, and got fed up with the constant losing, and not being able to break 800.  The kid that actually listened peaked around 1600 when he just gave the game up.

Obviously this is just a micro size sample of what im referring to, but i do believe it applies to many.

DaniilKalabukhov
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
thekokohead wrote:
Hi. I've played some OTB and some online games, and I feel my openings are severely lacking. I've been always told the basics (develop, control the center) and I'll be fine. Now, more and more, I find myself behind in the middlegame. With the opening book on chess.com and any other resource, how can I improve my openings?

Ordinarily i would say forget about studying opening at your level, since openings do not decide your games.  Blunders, missed tactics, and not following opening principles does. 

But...since no one wants to hear that,  Find a few openings you like to play.  Try and get an understanding of "why" the pieces, and pawns go where they go.

That's completely wrong. I think it's better to develop your skill from all chess sides. For example when I used to teach beginners at local chess club I've seen quite a few games where solid tactic players were unable to win a simple endgame because they didn't know the theory. So, in my opinion knowing at least 3 openings is an essential knowledge for a beginner. Of course I don't suppose that learning a lot of opening theory is a great investment of time but knowing only opening principles isn't enough to feel confident in a game against the opponent of the same level or above.

The problem with telling someone its ok to learn openings.  They hear "I have to memorize 20-30 moves of theory" with absolutely no understand of why those moves are made.

You're right. But from the other perspective of view - somebody who doesn't know essential opening theory at all will face really passive and unpleasant positions most of the time. Anyway I believe It's better to learn openings within reasonable limits

"...within reasonable limits."

If only we could get players to fully comprehend that,

I agree with you again. Actually this is what a good coach should teach his students. As Romans said: "Reasonable will understand". So if players can't understand these simple principles so may be chess is not for them.

A few years ago, I had a couple of students both right around USCF 500.  New to the game, etc.  the usual stuff.  While they both wanted to learn, one wanted to learn openings, and be "tactical"  While the other actually listened to me :-) And developed a good understanding of opening principles.  About a year later, the "tactical" player quit chess, and got fed up with the constant losing, and not being able to break 800.  The kid that actually listened peaked around 1600 when he just gave the game up.

Obviously this is just a micro size sample of what im referring to, but i do believe it applies to many.

A great example! But now I can see some drawbacks of this type of learning chess. So basically when I began with chess (I was a kid) I didn't really learn any opening theory at all - I studied chess overall: tactics, endgames, strategy and so on and so forth. But after a few years when I started to play against stronger opponents and my rating was around 1900 FIDE I began to lose constantly because of the lack of knowledge in the opening theory. And that's why I've quit chess. But I recently made a comeback to chess. And my first goal is to become CM and in the future FM or even GM. And from my perspective learning openings is difficult (especially if you don't know any theory at all) and time-consuming but if you want to become somebody bigger than just an mediocre amateur you have to study it. Now I'm far more better with the opening theory and I start to feel really confident in the 2000 elo in blitz and bullet while before I used to struggle really hard around 1800-1900 elo.

IMBacon
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
thekokohead wrote:
Hi. I've played some OTB and some online games, and I feel my openings are severely lacking. I've been always told the basics (develop, control the center) and I'll be fine. Now, more and more, I find myself behind in the middlegame. With the opening book on chess.com and any other resource, how can I improve my openings?

Ordinarily i would say forget about studying opening at your level, since openings do not decide your games.  Blunders, missed tactics, and not following opening principles does. 

But...since no one wants to hear that,  Find a few openings you like to play.  Try and get an understanding of "why" the pieces, and pawns go where they go.

That's completely wrong. I think it's better to develop your skill from all chess sides. For example when I used to teach beginners at local chess club I've seen quite a few games where solid tactic players were unable to win a simple endgame because they didn't know the theory. So, in my opinion knowing at least 3 openings is an essential knowledge for a beginner. Of course I don't suppose that learning a lot of opening theory is a great investment of time but knowing only opening principles isn't enough to feel confident in a game against the opponent of the same level or above.

The problem with telling someone its ok to learn openings.  They hear "I have to memorize 20-30 moves of theory" with absolutely no understand of why those moves are made.

You're right. But from the other perspective of view - somebody who doesn't know essential opening theory at all will face really passive and unpleasant positions most of the time. Anyway I believe It's better to learn openings within reasonable limits

"...within reasonable limits."

If only we could get players to fully comprehend that,

I agree with you again. Actually this is what a good coach should teach his students. As Romans said: "Reasonable will understand". So if players can't understand these simple principles so may be chess is not for them.

A few years ago, I had a couple of students both right around USCF 500.  New to the game, etc.  the usual stuff.  While they both wanted to learn, one wanted to learn openings, and be "tactical"  While the other actually listened to me :-) And developed a good understanding of opening principles.  About a year later, the "tactical" player quit chess, and got fed up with the constant losing, and not being able to break 800.  The kid that actually listened peaked around 1600 when he just gave the game up.

Obviously this is just a micro size sample of what im referring to, but i do believe it applies to many.

A great example! But now I can see some drawbacks of this type of learning chess. So basically when I began with chess (I was a kid) I didn't really learn any opening theory at all - I studied chess overall: tactics, endgames, strategy and so on and so forth. But after a few years when I started to play against stronger opponents and my rating was around 1900 FIDE I began to lose constantly because of the lack of knowledge in the opening theory. And that's why I've quit chess. But I recently made a comeback to chess. And my first goal is to become CM and in the future FM or even GM. And from my perspective learning openings is difficult (especially if you don't know any theory at all) and time-consuming but if you want to become somebody bigger than just an mediocre amateur you have to study it. Now I'm far more better with the opening theory and I start to feel really confident in the 2000 elo in blitz and bullet while before I used to struggle really hard around 1800-1900 elo.

If those are your goals, then absolutely you need to get crackin on openings.  I wish you well, and good luck!

PawnstormPossie

Instead of simply either/or, try both.

Understand the opening moves, the principles and the plans behind them. Develop a process for your thinking. Identify your mistakes, the reasons they were made, and find a way to improve. Rinse, and repeat.

A decent book for introduction to openings (not sure if spongebob mentioned) is Understanding the Openings by Sam Collins (Gambit).

Philip Ochman has a book, The Process of Decision Making in Chess, which is a good reference foundation for building a process.

IMBacon
PawnstormPossie wrote:

Instead of simply either/or, try both.

Understand the opening moves, the principles and the plans behind them. Develop a process for your thinking. Identify your mistakes, the reasons they were made, and find a way to improve. Rinse, and repeat.

A decent book for introduction to openings (not sure if spongebob mentioned) is Understanding the Openings by Sam Collins (Gambit).

Philip Ochman has a book, The Process of Decision Making in Chess, which is a good reference foundation for building a process.

IN a perfect world, absolutely!  But remember you are on the chess.com forums.  Where everything is either black or white.

DaniilKalabukhov
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
thekokohead wrote:
Hi. I've played some OTB and some online games, and I feel my openings are severely lacking. I've been always told the basics (develop, control the center) and I'll be fine. Now, more and more, I find myself behind in the middlegame. With the opening book on chess.com and any other resource, how can I improve my openings?

Ordinarily i would say forget about studying opening at your level, since openings do not decide your games.  Blunders, missed tactics, and not following opening principles does. 

But...since no one wants to hear that,  Find a few openings you like to play.  Try and get an understanding of "why" the pieces, and pawns go where they go.

That's completely wrong. I think it's better to develop your skill from all chess sides. For example when I used to teach beginners at local chess club I've seen quite a few games where solid tactic players were unable to win a simple endgame because they didn't know the theory. So, in my opinion knowing at least 3 openings is an essential knowledge for a beginner. Of course I don't suppose that learning a lot of opening theory is a great investment of time but knowing only opening principles isn't enough to feel confident in a game against the opponent of the same level or above.

The problem with telling someone its ok to learn openings.  They hear "I have to memorize 20-30 moves of theory" with absolutely no understand of why those moves are made.

You're right. But from the other perspective of view - somebody who doesn't know essential opening theory at all will face really passive and unpleasant positions most of the time. Anyway I believe It's better to learn openings within reasonable limits

"...within reasonable limits."

If only we could get players to fully comprehend that,

I agree with you again. Actually this is what a good coach should teach his students. As Romans said: "Reasonable will understand". So if players can't understand these simple principles so may be chess is not for them.

A few years ago, I had a couple of students both right around USCF 500.  New to the game, etc.  the usual stuff.  While they both wanted to learn, one wanted to learn openings, and be "tactical"  While the other actually listened to me :-) And developed a good understanding of opening principles.  About a year later, the "tactical" player quit chess, and got fed up with the constant losing, and not being able to break 800.  The kid that actually listened peaked around 1600 when he just gave the game up.

Obviously this is just a micro size sample of what im referring to, but i do believe it applies to many.

A great example! But now I can see some drawbacks of this type of learning chess. So basically when I began with chess (I was a kid) I didn't really learn any opening theory at all - I studied chess overall: tactics, endgames, strategy and so on and so forth. But after a few years when I started to play against stronger opponents and my rating was around 1900 FIDE I began to lose constantly because of the lack of knowledge in the opening theory. And that's why I've quit chess. But I recently made a comeback to chess. And my first goal is to become CM and in the future FM or even GM. And from my perspective learning openings is difficult (especially if you don't know any theory at all) and time-consuming but if you want to become somebody bigger than just an mediocre amateur you have to study it. Now I'm far more better with the opening theory and I start to feel really confident in the 2000 elo in blitz and bullet while before I used to struggle really hard around 1800-1900 elo.

If those are your goals, then absolutely you need to get crackin on openings.  I wish you well, and good luck!

Thank you for your kind words! I plan to create a site dedicated to chess and film some courses for beginners. Also I think about creating a small chess learning center in the distant future. I believe after retiring from programming it will be a great way to earn decent money without putting too much effort. I think a chess title is required to implement my plans into reality. Usually people don't understand what does Grade A + or Grade B mean but the titles such as Candidate Master or International Master sound great and professional.

jfiquett

Looking at your two most recent games, I would recommend that you brush up on basic opening principles (and adhere to them religiously). Each piece moves once before any one piece moves twice, don't make too many pawn moves (max 2-3, be sure that you're moving central pawns and not wing pawns), Knights before Bishops, development is complete when the rooks are connected and our K is castled.

 

You'll notice that theory doesn't strictly follow such a formulaic approach to development, but you'll start winning more games if you learn the principles (for now). 

 

You lost your last two games because 1) you played an early f6 coupled with too many pawn moves, and died on your light squares... and 2) you were caught up in this g3-f4 idea before your Q-side was developed (and you missed the tactical point after a6 Ba5 b5 Bb3 c4! trapping the Bishop - your opponent kindly missed it at first too). 

 

To reiterate, don't study opening lines at your level, but rather familiarize yourself with solid opening principles.  I'm happy to help if you need it.

IMBacon
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
DaniilKalabukhov wrote:
IMBacon wrote:
thekokohead wrote:
Hi. I've played some OTB and some online games, and I feel my openings are severely lacking. I've been always told the basics (develop, control the center) and I'll be fine. Now, more and more, I find myself behind in the middlegame. With the opening book on chess.com and any other resource, how can I improve my openings?

Ordinarily i would say forget about studying opening at your level, since openings do not decide your games.  Blunders, missed tactics, and not following opening principles does. 

But...since no one wants to hear that,  Find a few openings you like to play.  Try and get an understanding of "why" the pieces, and pawns go where they go.

That's completely wrong. I think it's better to develop your skill from all chess sides. For example when I used to teach beginners at local chess club I've seen quite a few games where solid tactic players were unable to win a simple endgame because they didn't know the theory. So, in my opinion knowing at least 3 openings is an essential knowledge for a beginner. Of course I don't suppose that learning a lot of opening theory is a great investment of time but knowing only opening principles isn't enough to feel confident in a game against the opponent of the same level or above.

The problem with telling someone its ok to learn openings.  They hear "I have to memorize 20-30 moves of theory" with absolutely no understand of why those moves are made.

You're right. But from the other perspective of view - somebody who doesn't know essential opening theory at all will face really passive and unpleasant positions most of the time. Anyway I believe It's better to learn openings within reasonable limits

"...within reasonable limits."

If only we could get players to fully comprehend that,

I agree with you again. Actually this is what a good coach should teach his students. As Romans said: "Reasonable will understand". So if players can't understand these simple principles so may be chess is not for them.

A few years ago, I had a couple of students both right around USCF 500.  New to the game, etc.  the usual stuff.  While they both wanted to learn, one wanted to learn openings, and be "tactical"  While the other actually listened to me :-) And developed a good understanding of opening principles.  About a year later, the "tactical" player quit chess, and got fed up with the constant losing, and not being able to break 800.  The kid that actually listened peaked around 1600 when he just gave the game up.

Obviously this is just a micro size sample of what im referring to, but i do believe it applies to many.

A great example! But now I can see some drawbacks of this type of learning chess. So basically when I began with chess (I was a kid) I didn't really learn any opening theory at all - I studied chess overall: tactics, endgames, strategy and so on and so forth. But after a few years when I started to play against stronger opponents and my rating was around 1900 FIDE I began to lose constantly because of the lack of knowledge in the opening theory. And that's why I've quit chess. But I recently made a comeback to chess. And my first goal is to become CM and in the future FM or even GM. And from my perspective learning openings is difficult (especially if you don't know any theory at all) and time-consuming but if you want to become somebody bigger than just an mediocre amateur you have to study it. Now I'm far more better with the opening theory and I start to feel really confident in the 2000 elo in blitz and bullet while before I used to struggle really hard around 1800-1900 elo.

If those are your goals, then absolutely you need to get crackin on openings.  I wish you well, and good luck!

Thank you for your kind words! I plan to create a site dedicated to chess and film some courses for beginners. Also I think about creating a small chess learning center in the distant future. I believe after retiring from programming it will be a great way to earn decent money without putting too much effort. I think a chess title is required to implement my plans into reality. Usually people don't understand what does Grade A + or Grade B mean but the titles such as Candidate Master or International Master sound great and professional.

I peaked as a USCF A player that now eternally dwells as a B player.  I have taught for years.  Thoroughly enjoy it, and have had the privilege of passing students on to better coaches.  Again, I wish you well!

DaniilKalabukhov

Thank you for sharing your experience, I appreciate your support!