Learn Your Chess Opening

Chess Openings
How to Learn the Opening Moves

by Ken Smith (Trainer to Bobby Fischer)

Overwhelmed by Chess Openings?

Beginners and novices should have simple, forcing chess openings. There are two things that overpower most chess players when learning their chess openings and defensive systems.

First, we find that chess opening books contain so much material that it seems you can never learn enough. To tackle this problem, first turn to the Index and/or Table of Contents of your chess opening book. Then play through the moves over and over, then over again until you learn what the variations are. You learn the variations before you tackle the analysis. If a Table of Contents does not give the moves you need, go to each chapter and just learn the main moves. After you have mastered the variations, play over only the main line moves in each chapter. Again, repetition is the key - again and again. After the main lines are retained in your mind, start to tackle the notes.

The easiest way to play over chess opening lines again and again is by using a ChessCentral e-book. There is NO board to set-up, NO lost positions, No more fumbling through the pages.

Second, most players want to learn a complete White Opening System or a complete Black Defensive System. There are probably two ways to look at this problem:

(a) You don't start out with a complete chess system, and

(b) When you run into a chess opening variation you can't solve with a White advantage or Black equality, or can't learn how to play, you give up - and maybe give up on the complete chess opening or defense.

To solve (a) get a complete repertoire book for White, and one for Black. Turn to chess opening software in the ChessCentral catalog and pick one for each side. You are not going to like some of the variations suggested - that does not matter. Learn what you are given, then (and only then) change to something you like better. The secret is to learn a complete system - do you hear me? - a complete chess opening system. Then and only then may you slip in your changes.

To solve (b) be realistic. You are going to run into chess opening variations you don't like. You are going to have your chess opening or defense fall out of favor. Grandmasters have that problem all the time. They play a chess opening or defense until they fear their opponent is well prepared for that particular chess opening. Then they drop it until it is "hopefully" forgotten. But they usually go back to it since every major chess opening or defense is good. You do not have that problem. Pick one - I assure you it is good. Stay with it until you learn it. Don't let one or two problems in that variation stop you. Learn the best which that chess opening variation has to offer, and don't worry about a slight disadvantage as Black or equality when you are White. Research until you are completely confident.