Mastery: Openings

Now What?

Now What?

Learn what to do after the opening!

You’ve learned your openings. What’s next? Far more important than memorizing moves is understanding where your pieces belong and what the plans are for both sides. Legendary chess instructor IM Jeremy Silman walks you through the plans in many openings and gives you the tools you need to face the middle-game with confidence!

  • Learn the key plans for both sides in many openings.
  • Find the openings that lead to middlegames you enjoy.

"I think Mr.Silman is awesome. I love chess but didn't understand what it is really about.  I dominate my friends with his simple teachings about imbalances. Now, I have been studying some very precise openings and principles and I think I'm learning at an incredible rate and I owe it all to Jeremy and this site because the tools they offer help! If you apply yourself, you will grow as a player and a person!" - Chess.com user HarpersFerry7

  • Accelerated Dragon: Doubled a-Pawns Are My Friend!

    Many amateurs play the Accelerated Dragon vs. 1.e4 because it's fairly easy to learn, it offers some nasty traps that lots of opponents tend to fall for, it's sound and doesn't allow White to generate an easy mating attack (as in the normal Dragon), it...

    • 4 challenges
  • The Minority Attack

    The Minority Attack is one of the most important plans in chess and is so straightforward that anyone from 1200 on up can easily make use of it. Of course, this means that you have to play openings that lead to the pawn structures that allow this effective...

    • 4 challenges
  • Key Defensive Formation

    Every opening has various key lines and key setups designed to challenge almost every enemy plan, be it an attack or positional scheme. However, instead of memorizing one situation and its set of moves, it's far better to remember the enemy plan/setup...

    • 5 challenges
  • Slow & Steady

    When playing any system, it's important to know if the resulting positions are, in general, static or dynamic -- do they need to be slow played (static) or fast played (dynamic)? Of course, either can occur in any opening, no matter how wild or calm its...

    • 4 challenges
  • Block His Plan, Push Yours

    When playing any opening, you should be able to tell anyone -- with no thought whatsoever -- what the philosophy of your system is. For example, in the Alekhine's Defense (1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5) the idea is to let White build a big center and then use that...

    • 5 challenges
  • A Square to Love and Fear

    Every opening has its key positions -- situations that both sides know whether to seek or avoid, or situations where both sides have their pluses, and where the stronger player will have every chance (as either side) to outplay his weaker foe. These positions...

    • 4 challenges
  • Monster Mash

    When a player makes 1...g6 the system of choice vs. 1.e4 and 1.d4, that player understands that one of two things will likely drive his whole game philosophy: 1) Tearing down White's pawn center. 2) Turning the dark-squared Bishop into a monster that...

    • 4 challenges
  • Two Jans Dancing Cheek to Cheek

    Key positions abound in the Ruy Lopez, and a firm understanding of them is a must if you want to be successful with either side of this opening. One of the most common (and a Fischer favorite) appears after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7...

    • 5 challenges
  • Laser Beam to the Outside Corner

    Once again we'll be looking at a typical Ruy Lopez motif. When Karpov brought it to the public's consciousness in this game, it was considered a brilliant positional stroke. Now his maneuver (in this and other positions) is common knowledge and every...

    • 3 challenges
  • Hyperdrive

    Certain openings tend to create tactical positions and others positional situations. But no matter what opening you play, things can go dynamic or static at the drop of a hat. Our latest example shows White making this kind of decision and, once that...

    • 6 challenges
  • The Big Idea

    Many openings (or the typical pawn structures that come from them) are all about "the big idea." If you know it then you will be fighting to achieve it as soon as the right pawn structure arises. Or, if you are playing the other side, you will also be...

    • 4 challenges
  • The Formula

    At times an opening variation can be very popular, when suddenly someone figures out how to deal with it. This formula then becomes common knowledge and a must know for both sides in that particular system. Of course, aside from the practical implications...

    • 4 challenges
  • Early Structure Knowledge

    In every opening there are "basic" structures. This means that there are certain structures you want to avoid, and others that are to be embraced. These structural basics must be known if you wish to be even mildly conversant with the opening you're playing.

    • 3 challenges
  • The Ideal Position

    In every opening there are basic ideal positions you know are good (or bad) for you. Clearly, you need to have this knowledge to aspire to these situations, and once you know what you want, you also have to have the force of will to find a way to actually...

    • 4 challenges
  • Working on the Cut

    Most openings can be "mastered" as much as most people need simply by learning the basic moves, understanding the opening's concepts and main ideas, and memorizing a few typical positions/structures and the plans associated with them. This lesson will...

    • 5 challenges
  • The Catalan Bishop

    The term "Catalan bishop" refers to the financhettoed g2-Bishop found in the Catalan opening (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.g3, or 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2). However, one can also refer to a particularly powerful g2-Bishop from other openings as a Catalan bishop...

    • 4 challenges
  • Know Your System's Strategic ABCs

    When studying an opening, it's crucial to become completely familiar with the little things that make your system attractive to you. Does your opening give you space and, if so, how was that space used by grandmasters in the past? Does you opening offer...

    • 5 challenges
  • Terminate! Terminate!

    Quite often you'll make the first couple moves of your favorite system, only to be confronted by something that looks more like an alien life form than a real chess idea. If this occurs early, then all your saved up plans and positions might not count...

    • 4 challenges
  • Attacking Patterns

    Knowing the key strategic ideas in openings that feature quiet, positional situations is a must, but it's just as important to be aware of key attacking ideas in sharper openings where time and initiative are king.

    • 4 challenges
  • Nutcracker Ballet

    During a game, and often during the opening phase, one is left with basic questions to answer: Should I grab space? Should I let my opponent grab space? Should I leave my King in the center or get it castled as quickly as possible? These are just a few...

    • 4 challenges
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