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Expert: Openings

FM Kostya Kavutskiy & IM Danny Rensch Avg Rating: 1120 Expert

Now that you've mastered the basics of opening play - from the Beginner to Advanced Opening Courses - it's time to learn about some of the more advanced strategic decisions that one must make in the opening stage of a chess game.

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  • Trading Bishop for Knight - Advantages

    In this lesson we will see one of the possible advantages for White of trading a bishop for one of Black's knights.
  • Trading Bishop for Knight - Disadvantages

    In this lesson we will see some of the drawbacks of trading a bishop for a knight.
  • Gaining Space - Advantages

    In this lesson you'll learn about some of the positional advantages of controlling more space in the opening. Though you have likely already seen some basic descriptions of what the term "space" means in chess, but it's "opening specific" description often implies moving a pawn ahead BEFORE developing a piece behind the pawn, rather than developing a piece (usually a knight) in front of a pawn, and likely limiting your potential in the middlegame.
  • Gaining Space - Drawbacks

    In the previous lesson you learned about the benefits of having more space. In this lesson you will see some of the potential pitfalls of having too much space without a concrete plan. It is often said that "space without purpose is simply emptiness", and in chess that concept definitely applies. Empty or unused space eventually becomes the weakest part of your position...
  • Grabbing Pawns - Advantages

    Often in the opening a situation occurs where you must make the critical decision: to grab or not to grab? Winning a pawn gets you one step closer to winning the game (as material is the most concrete advantage one can obtain in a chess game, short of checkmate), but to go "pawn grabbing" in the early stages of chess is often risky as taking the pawn also means neglecting your development. In this lesson we will see a scenario where pawn-grabbing is completely justified.
  • Grabbing Pawns - Drawbacks

    Previously we looked at the potential advantages of grabbing pawns in the opening, but now we will see how things can go very wrong for the greedy side...
  • Maintaining Central Tension

    In this lesson you will learn about the concept of "maintaining the tension", which basically means staying calm and not trading pieces just because you can. It's a difficult thing for beginners to do (ie, not just make trades for the sake of making trades) - so hopefully this lesson can serve as an introduction into why maintaining the tension can be good!
  • Maintaining Central Tension - Part 2

    Here we will expand a bit on the concept of maintaining tension and explore how one should react to their opponent's central actions.
  • Queenside Castling - Slaying the Dragon!

    Although you will receive a formal introduction to the Sicilian Dragon in the next course, all you need to know for now is that it leads to some of the most complicated positions in all of chess. This is because we often get a position where both kings have castled on opposite sides of the board. Knowing about the benefits of opposite side castling is important since it will lead you to make better decisions regarding your king in the opening stage.
  • Queenside Castling - Black Crashes Through!

    Just because White has castled queenside, doesn't mean their attack will always arrive first. Here is an example of where White's opening strategy completely backfired.

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