Chess is a time-consuming game to learn. Some positions and sequences, including as particular checkmate patterns and endgame approaches, must be memorized in addition to understanding strategic principles and developing tactical skills. But nowhere is this more important than at the start.
What’s the use of memorizing openings? Well, I’m not advocating for written memorization per se — understanding the principles of the introduction is far more important – but it’s crucial to remember that we “stand on the shoulders of giants,” to use Isaac Newton’s phrase.
That is to say, many grandmasters and other good players have spent many hours working out the optimal opening moves, and we should at least take heed of what they’ve discovered. Not only that, but in a genuine game, memorizing might save you a lot of time. Over the board, don’t try to come up with Sicilian mainline theory by yourself!
But there’s a lot to learn, so how can we make the most of our time? Here are four helpful hints for learn chess openings:
#1 – Locate Appropriate Openings
Before we move on to the main suggestion, it’s vital to note this caution. As I indicated at the outset, examining vacancies takes time, so don’t waste your valuable time on the wrong one! It’s such an essential topic, in fact, that it’ll be the subject of its own blog article. In the meanwhile, I’d like to provide some fast and practical advise.
For starters, I wouldn’t propose hypermodern openers to a beginning or lower-intermediate player. This includes any opening that begins with 1.Nf3 or other openers in which you first relinquish direct control of the center (the Pirc, Modern and Indian games are all good examples). The reason for this is that these openings are extremely intricate and demand extreme precision, and they frequently have the ability to transpose to other openings.
It’s also critical to choose and stick with an opening that you enjoy. It’s not a good idea to switch openings all the time until you reach a high level. As a result, you should select and perfect a beginning that appeals to you. While being well-rounded has its advantages, consistency is far more critical in this scenario, at least at the starting and intermediate levels.
#2 – Become familiar with the pawn structures associated with that particular opening.
As previously stated, memorization is essential, but understanding the rationale behind the movements and the broader plan is even more so. It’s hard to recall all of the moves from every possible version. In any case, no opening course or book will prepare you for every possible variation, so you’ll need a master plan to guide you when you’re unsure what to do.
The pawn structure serves as a guiding light. The “skeleton” of the position is carved out by the pawn structure, which generates strong and weak squares for both sides, which become targets for plans.
The Minority Attack, which can be found in the Orthodox Exchange pawn structure – a frequent pawn structure in the Queen’s Gambit Declined and other openings – is an excellent example. You won’t see this plan in every QGD you play, but it’s the ‘go-to’ plan for White most of the time. Here’s a Queen’s Gambit Declined – Exchange Variation with and without the pieces to get you thinking about pawn structure.
#3 – Repetition in the classroom and in games
This may appear to be two separate points, yet it’s a symbiosis! When you’re studying and playing, you should repeatedly practice your openings. “Repetition is the mother of learning,” as the Russian proverb says.
Chessable is an excellent tool for learning openings, which is one of the reasons it was invented (but it’s useful for other aspects of the game!). You can use spaced repetition to not only learn the rationale behind the maneuvers, but also to test your grasp of them.
But it’s also crucial to put your knowledge into practice, because practice will eventually vary from theory. I tend to agree with former world chess champion Mikhail Botvinnik that blitz chess is not favorable to learning, but it is really good for studying openings since you get to play the opening so many times. I propose using a 5 minute timer with a 3 increment — it’s quick enough to get numerous games in a day while also allowing you to ponder.
But don’t just go on a blitz binge when you’re playing. After each game, take a moment to reflect on how the first few minutes went. Is this what your Chessable coach or instructor recommended? Have you messed up any sequences? Is this something that was even mentioned in class? Take your time to get it correctly the first time so you don’t develop negative habits. In the long term, it pays off handsomely.
The wonderful thing about Chessable is that if you don’t understand something or find a variant that isn’t covered in the course, you can make a remark in the course and the instructor will usually respond soon to answer your issue. In many situations, your question will aid in the improvement of the course in a future update, which will benefit others as well.
#4 – Take a look at the Master Games with Descriptive Annotation.
My final bit of advise is to look for master games using that opening and play them. Take a look at how the pros tackle that opening and their strategy. It’s even beneficial to memorize some of them; by doing so, you’ll be able to construct a mental library of locations and methods that you may employ when playing across the board.
Make sure there are descriptive annotations explaining what’s going on. Many notable Chessable opening repertoire tutorials, such as NM Bryan Tillis’ Master the French Defense or GM Alex Colovic’s Najdorf Sicilian: Simplified, feature a part that provides model games with similar annotations. However, there are several publications that accomplish the same thing, as well as excellent YouTube streamers who can lead you through the game. Keep in mind that we are standing on the shoulders of giants!
Lastly, I’d like to express my gratitude to all of you who have taken the time to
The theme is repetition, repetition, repetition. However, it is an active repetition rather than a mindless one. Take the opportunity to pause, reflect, and make any necessary adjustments to your openings. Make sure you spend time analyzing your games, taking into account both what succeeded and what didn’t.
Regardless of whose opening you choose, if you follow that easy technique and stick to it, you will receive winning results. All you have to do now is put in the time and effort. There are a lot of solid openers out there, and if you put in the effort to learn them, you’ll be tournament ready in no time.
Fortunately, thanks to Chessable, learning openings is lot easier and takes a fraction of the time it used to! Check out the plethora of Chessable opening courses available to assist you. Nowadays, there are a plethora of high-quality courses available from some of the world’s best educators — and many of them are free. Some of them are pretty huge, but don’t be put off by this; with Quickstarter chapters and Short & Sweet versions, you may play the beginning fairly well with very little time spent.
Continue to research your opportunities, I hope to hear about your successes soon!