ChessWorld Openings Learning Center!

"We think in generalities, but we live in details."
Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)

Chess Opening Tips and Quotations

How to Choose an Opening

"Q. What is the best chess opening? Since I am just beginning to learn the different openings which one is the best?

A. You should not just willy-nilly pick any old opening. First decide what type of game you like. Closed with a lot of positional maneuvering or sharp tactical positions. If you do not want (or do not have) a lot of time to spend on study then you will want to avoid highly theoretical openings and play "systems" instead. e.g. I do not like sharp tactics and prefer positional chess and endgames, so I am not going to be playing the King,s Gambit and Sicilian. Also, once you get a couple openings you are comfortable with do not try to memorize every detail. Play over as many games as you can stand to get a feel for the types of middlegame positions that are likely to arise. Pay attention to the recurring strategies and they will be familiar in your games. By playing over games I do not mean blitz chess or playing an engine. Play over master games and see how they handle things.

There is no "one size fits all" opening. Not even a "system" like the K-Indian Attack. If you play it correctly you have to know how to meet basic formations Black can set up. Black can adopt formations resembling the Sicilian, French, K-Indian, Queen-s Gambit Declined and many others against the KIA. Each Black setup will require White to alter his strategy specific to that formation. The same applies to any opening.
8. a2-a3 in the Fried Liver Attack

"The usual sequence of moves in the Fried Liver Attack is 1. e2-e4 e7-e5 2. Ng1-f3 Nb8-c6 3. Bf1-c4 Ng8-f6 4. Nf3-g5 d7-d5 5. Ng5xf7?! Ke8xf7 6. Qd1-f3 Kf7-e6 7. Nb1-c3 Nc6-b4. At this point, Whites most challenging responses appear to be 8. a2-a3 or 8. Qf3-e4. 8. Castles?! is too peaceful, as after 8. ... c7-c6! Black shores up his pinned Knight and should emerge safe with a material advantage. (Also see my previous tip entitled "Fried Liver Attack.")"
Damiano Defense :-(

"PLEASE - if you take no other advice of mine - DONT play the Damiano Defense (1. e2-e4 e7-e5 2. Ng1-f3 f7-f6??). The weakening of the diagonal leading to g8 is fatal because White can quickly stomp on it with 3. Bf1-c4, depriving Black of the right to castle. White can also advance strongly in the center with d2-d4 (a defect similar to that with the Philidor Defense: 1. e2-e4 e7-e5 2. Ng1-f3 d7-d6 3. d2-d4) and take a decisive space advantage if Black does not fight back energetically. There is no point in shooting yourself in the chessplayers foot this early. Play 2. ... Nb8-c6 or even 2. ... Ng8-f6 instead."
Giuoco Piano IQP

"The potential drawback of playing an early d2-d4 in the Giuoco Piano is that White often gets an isolated Queens Pawn (IQP) in the center. A central IQP is advantageous in securing center domination for White PROVIDED he is familiar with the fine points of how to keep an IQP adequately supported. If he neglects his IQP, Black will break through the center (usually by winning the IQP) and seize the initiative. "
Queens Gambit Accepted

"In the variation of the QGA where Black plays ... a7-a6, ... b7-b5, and ... c7-c6 against Whites a2-a4 and Nb1-c3, Black must remember that his a-Pawn is potentially pinned against his a-Rook by Whites a-Rook. White can win a Pawn by capturing the Black Pawn on b5 successively with his a-Pawn and c3-Knight."
Nb1-c3 with 1. d2-d4

"When White plays 1. d2-d4, it is generally not good policy to play Nb1-c3 until after White has advanced the c-Pawn. The c- and d-Pawns typically advance together in order to take greater control of the center, and White hampers himself needlessly by blocking the c-Pawn."
Premature Rook Pawn Advance

"Central Pawns must be advanced before wing Pawns. Dont waste time with premature a- or h-Pawn advances (e.g., h2-h3 or ... h7-h6). Youll just concede the center to your opponent."
Delayed Staunton Gambit?

"If you are going to play a Staunton Gambit as White, do it right away on the second move (1. d2-d4 f7-f5 2. e2-e4). Delaying the gambit will probably only lead to loss of material without adequate compensation."
Keep It Simple

"If you are unsure of how to proceed in a particular opening, dont wildly court complications. You can easily lose your way and eventually a piece and the game. As in life, the best procedure is to KEEP IT SIMPLE."
3. ... f7-f6?! in Philidor Defense

"Philidor Defense (1. e2-e4 e7-e5 2. Ng1-f3 d7-d6) is already hard enough to play because White takes an immediate central space advantage with 3. d2-d4, but Black certainly does himself no favors by following up with 3. ... f7-f6?! This just weakens the diagonal to his King and allows White to go thunk! with 4. Bf1-c4, attacking f7. It is unlikely Black can survive the ensuing assault. (Also see my previous note "Damiano Defense :-( .")"
Early f-Pawn Advances

"As long as your King is still in the center, it is dangerous to move the f-Pawn early if it means exposing your King to a check from the opponents Queen on h4/h5. If the opponent can advance other pieces safely together with the Queen, your King may be exposed to a quick attack. Unless you are familiar with the opening you are working with (Dutch, Schliemann, Latvian, and the like), it is prudent to hold back the f-Pawn until your King has castled to a spot safe from attack."
Scotch Mieses

"If you play into the White side of the Mieses Variation of the Scotch Game (1. e2-e4 e7-e5 2. Ng1-f3 Nb8-c6 3. d2-d4 exd4 4. Nf3xd4 Ng8-f6 5. Nd4xc6 bxc6 6. e4-e5 Qd8-e7 7. Qd1-e2 Nf6-d5), you must carefully guard the far-advanced Pawn on e5. If this falls, Black will come out swinging with his Queen and Rooks down the open d- and e-files, and if your King is still in the center, you are toast."
Bf3-d3?? or ... Bf8-d6??

"Absolutely NEVER - I mean it! - develop your Kings Bishop to d3 or d6 in front of your Queens Pawn. By blocking this Pawn, you imprison your Queens Bishop! A sure-fire way to lose prontissimo. "
Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation

"If White plays the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez (1. e2-e4 e7-e5 2. Ng1-f3 Nb8-c6 3. Bf1-b5 a7-a6 4. Bb5xc6 dxc6), White cannot win a Pawn by 5. Nf3xe5 because Black responds 5. ... Qd8-d4 or 5. ... Qd8-g5."
2. ... d7-d5?! in Sicilian Defense

"The move 2. ... d7-d5?! (played after 1. e2-e4 c7-c5 2. Ng1-f3) has the same defect as the Center Counter Defense: White plays 3. e4xd5 Qd8-d5 4. Nb1-c3 and gains time by attacking the Black Queen which has come out too early. Black should instead play 2. ... d7-d6, 2. ... e7-e6, or 2. ... Nb8-c6. (Also see my last tip "2. d2-d4".)"
1. ... g7-g5??

"The move 1. ... g7-g5?? (known as the Borg, the opposite of the Grob, 1. g2-g4!?) is a terrible opening that just allows White to claim the center with 1. d2-d4 and 2. e2-e4. Avoid early side Pawn moves and concentrate in the beginning on getting your central Pawns advanced first. Black should respond to 1. d2-d4 preferably with 1. ... d7-d5 or 1. ... Ng8-f6, possibly also with 1. ... f7-f5 or 1. ... c7-c5."
Owen Defense

"Unless you are familiar with the fine points of playing 1. ... b7-b6 or 1. ... g7-g6 against a central Pawn move, avoid these. White can quickly take control of the center with e2-e4 and d2-d4 and Black is apt quickly to find himself in a cramped game."
Patzer Opening: 1. e2-e4 e7-e5 2. Qd1-h5??

"It is no accident that the opening 1. e2-e4 e7-e5 2. Qd1-h5?? is referred to as the "Patzer Opening." Need I say more? (Well, I will: go back and refer to my tip entitled "Queen Developed Too Early.")"
Portuguese Opening

"The Portuguese Opening (1. e2-e4 e7-e5 2. Bf1-b5?!) is poor because Whites Bishop is, in Eric Schillers terminology, "dangling with no useful targets." 2. Ng1-f3 should precede Bf1-b5."
Marshall Defense

"Against the Queens Gambit (1. d2-d4 d7-d5 2. c2-c4), the Marshall Defense (2. ... Ng8-f6) is poor because White can draw the Black Knight to d5 and then advance e2-e4, putting the Knight out of commission to b6 and taking control of the center. Black does better to decline the Gambit with 2. ... e7-e6 or 2. ... c7-c6, or accept with 2. ... d5xc4."
Queen Developed Too Early

"Its well-known advice that one should not develop the Queen too early in the opening, because your opponent can develop his pieces to attack the Queen and thereby gain time. Especially important to avoid, therefore, is a premature center Pawn advance (e.g. 2. d2-d4 in the Center Game) that leads to a Pawn exchange forcing the Queen into the center. Your opponent can start harassing your Queen with his minor pieces (such as his Queens Knight) and eventually crush you with his better development. "
Reti & Catalan

"The Reti Opening can transpose easily into the Catalan by a timely d2-d4 for White. If White can get this advance in at a favorable time and take over the center, his better placed pieces (especially his fianchettoed Kings Bishop) will win for him. To counteract this, Black must avoid passivity and fight to hold the center with his d- and e-Pawns."

"Never voluntarily give up the right to castle. Your King needs to get away from the center and your Rook to the center."
d-file Queen Exchanges

"Do not allow a Pawn exchange that will open the d-file and allow your opponent to exchange your Queen on d1 or d8 leaving your King stuck in the center. Even with Queens gone, a King that cannot castle in the opening is in a dangerous position. The opponent can check with his Queen bishop on g4 or g5 and then castle Queen-side and check down the d-file. Result: a huge lead in development for your opponent."
Understand the purposes of moves and the general plans in the positions

"Do not understand just reams of moves. For example in the Ruy Lopez why does the White bishop spend four moves to get to c2? A good reason is that white has the advantage in space and does not want to simplify the position. A bad reason for playing this is that is because one has seen Grandmasters doing it."
Dont pretend to be Kasparov

"Dont just copy the Grandmasters if you dont understand what they are doing. Play to your own level in order to have a grip to the motivations behind your moves. If the opponent plays an unexpected move for example, then you are in trouble. "
Choice of opening

"Look at your opening statistics and play to your strengths! "Chess for Tigers" by Simon Web suggested this as a method for improving ones results. Again the idea is not to have a perfect opening repertoire, but to have an opening repertoire which brings good results in practice. Openings which suit your style are likely to give you the best results in practice. Play these opening lines to maximise your chances of winning. Try and understand why statistically you are winning in certain openings and not in others."
Too Many Pawn Moves

"Dont make too many Pawn moves in the opening at the expense of developing your pieces. If your opponent gets his pieces developed faster than you do, you are bound to find your position fatally weakened with nothing there to protect it."

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