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Why do beginners focus on openings so much?

  • #1

    Why are beginners so interested in learning specific openings, against the advice of more experienced players who tell them to focus on tactics and endgames.

    I have 3 theories:

    1. Intuitively, the start of the game should be the first thing to master.

    2. They think there are some secret opening moves that will give them a definite advantange if they only learn a few.

    3. They have interesting names!

  • #2

    If you make stupip moves in the beginning, you don't get to the middle or the end game, and and you don't get to do any tactical moves and after the first few moves, you lose.  That is why beginners learn specific openings IMO. 

  • #3

    it is very important to get the opening right

  • #4

    Because after only 6 moves, I can already see I'm loosing!

  • #5

    Although the middle and end games do matter, these can be easily achieved if your opening is proper

  • #6

    it feels good to play moves as a supergrandmaster.  

  • #7

    When they pay white, black is always equal. When they play black, white is always better.

  • #8

    I have a bad feeling that this thread was made about me...

  • #9

    It's simple:

    Openings are the easiest to study and arguably the fastest way to improve your game. Of course, this is a moot point. I mean, good luck hitting say 2000 on openings alone.

  • #10

    Many beginners has got the feeling they lose because their opening and so they change it often with a perpetual search of the perfect opening, that obviously doesn't exist. Never mind they lost a piece because they hang it. It  is opening's fault!

  • #11

    Because beginners want something tangible to latch onto and it appears to them that openings provide a linear path to improvement. Thing is, they don't and it's better to understand WHY things are as they are, instead of gleefully emulating openings that you do not fully understand.

    With that said, my knowledge of openings is absolutely terrible. But I like how I play because I tend to do the same set openings for black and white, and I know all of the pitfalls and traps that they provide. But I never studied them, just learned them from experience. I find this way of learning useful because you more fully understand what's going on.

  • #12

    I agree with all three theories, but i'd rank them 2, 3, then 1.

  • #13
    Phylar wrote:

    It's simple:

    Openings are the easiest to study and arguably the fastest way to improve your game. Of course, this is a moot point. I mean, good luck hitting say 2000 on openings alone.

    It only seems like it is, but memorization is only part of the battle.  You must understand the purposes behind the moves and typical imbalances, plans, and endgames from that opening too.  Some openings even require exact play or else the side that plays it loses or at least gets a really uncomfortable position.  If you play the Basman's defense for example and don't know the ideas and concepts white will simply blow black away. 

  • #14

    Well, you have so many choices in the beginning, that you need some guidance and next to that there is the problem that if you play somebody that knows his openings well, you can get into trouble quickly. The trick seems to to know enough without wasting your time.

  • #15

    Yes, beginners focus on the opening because that's where they usually make mistakes that seem like they lose the game. They make the mistake of thinking that IF they frequently seem to be losing out of the opening, then learning many variations of the specific openings they play is the best way to avoid those early game-losing mistakes.

    Their time would be much better spent learning general openings principles, a bare minimum of moves for some openings they play, and spending the bulk of the rest of the time they saved from studying openings in depth on tactics training, with a little time spent on basic strategy after they've advanced a bit (something like Stean's Simple Chess) and some time on endgames.

    I think that if a beginner learns and implements these ten rules for the opening, then most of the mistakes they make in the opening will be a result of tactical oversights or (less often) very basic strategic mistakes like letting their pawn structure get completely ruined and reaching an unplayable middlegame. They won't lose games because they didn't know the 7th book move in a main line opening, because they or their opponent will almost always have deviated long before then.

    Another reason I think that beginners obsess over openings is that study of openings gives the illusion of improvement and it's relatively easy study. It's just a matter (as done most commonly) of memorizing lines and practicing them against a computer or in blitz chess (even if this doesn't actually translate to improved performance). Real improvement for the beginner is an improvement in your tactical abilities and your ability to analyze and evaluate and be disciplined about giving everything on every single move.

    The tactical improvement is fairly simple to achieve, but it can be boring after a while. The abilities to calculate and analyze and perform at your peak on every move are far more difficult to achieve, and they require extremely dedicated effort in my experience, with lots of time spent doing difficult things like spending long amounts of time analyzing positions (e.g., what Heisman refers to as "Stokyo exercises"), analyzing your games carefully, playing "guess the move" types of training slowly for annotated master games, etc. These can be really enjoyable if one is used to working and thinking hard for extended periods of time, but I think most people find this kind of work really difficult to do more than once in a while, and so they look for easier-sounding ways of improvement like learning their openings deeper, or playing trappy openings that are very successful in blitz or even slow time controls against inexperienced players.

  • #16

    My motivation to start studying openings was to try to guarantee I would survive it.  I actually find openning theory as interesting as anything else on chess. Still, in most situations, it is problaby enough to follow opening principles and keep an open eye for tactics. If you just lost a piece for nothing, you are problaby in trouble whatever the opening is.

  • #17

    I started learning openings because that's where I was losing games. It's still the one area where I get in trouble the most.

  • #18

    Maybe they are lazy and don't want to look at their mistakes. I was terrified of a computer refuting my oppenings at one point. Now I just study oppenings too much (to the detriment of more worthy pursuits) because I am lazy.

  • #19

    Because openings are interesting and you have many options to choose from.  

  • #20

    I focus on openings mainly, because I don't know which move in the opening is gonna do me any good or doom me...

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