chess strategies

Chess Strategies

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wadvana 29 ( +1 | -1 )
Studying Openings When the time comes to solidify your opening reportoire, theres no alternative to the vast world of opening theory.
I just wanted to know how everyone prefers studying the opening. Maybe from a database/ Encyclopedia/Software etc. And what you think is the "best" way.

peppe_l 74 ( +1 | -1 )
IMHO At my level the best way is studying annotated master games - and playing correspondence chess, of course :-)

Encyclopedia? For us ordinary mortals understanding the basics (thematic plans etc) of opening is far more important than memorizing countless lines. I have used ECO mainly in my games here at GK, I try my best to understand the moves the book suggests - otherwise memorizing them is pretty much waste of time.

Databases? I accept my limited understanding of chess - I am no GM, and therefore I see no point in pretending to be Kasparov by using same methods he is using :-) Kaspy can fully understand GM games without annotation, I cant. At my level a good book with 100 annotated games is much more useful than any 5-million game database.

ctrl-reset 54 ( +1 | -1 )
Annoted Games I would agree with peppe_l. I just got myself "Logical Chess : Move by Move" by Chernev and in my humble opinion, I think it is a very good book because it annoates the games from the very beginning until the end.

I know this has helped me a lot but maybe your have passed this stage and really want to know an opening very well. If that is the case, then why not buy books that speaiclize in openings - I would go for this method but I am far from that stage.

wadvana 93 ( +1 | -1 )
:-) I totally agree. Countless memorisation really does take the fun out of chess.
However database do contain annotated games, and these can be easily downloaded for studying.
When you get to a stronger level , however you generally cant get away with opening ideas alone.
I think a good way of studying a opening at the intermediate would be to determine the critical ideas or moves in the opening and then save these positions for review (or practice against a chess program) later on.
For example The typical Rook exchange sac for the c3 knight in the Sicilian Dragon.

Its far easier to understand opening moves when you know what plan is being implemented or what kind of setup white/black is trying to achieve. Then you can understand why certain moves are played, even if they look strange.

A database is a very good tool for learning openings and more importantly studying master games.

coyotefan 14 ( +1 | -1 )
Annotated games..... But only look at the annotation (or the next move) after trying to find the best moves yourself. Play as many games out as you can.
buddy2 54 ( +1 | -1 )
memorized openings I agree about opening memorization being a waste. Going through openings books and asking yourself why a move was played, the consequences if he did not is more effective. Also your openigns should fit your style. Some people don't have the patience to play defense, so don't choose main line french or caro, etc. If you're a positional player, i wouldn't choose the schevnikov sicilian. Reuben Fine's book the Ideas Behind the Chess Openings is excellent, but a dated. I wish they had a good modern equivalent.
achillesheel 99 ( +1 | -1 )
Memorization & An Opening Book Memorization is good, I have found, when it comes to blitz games. That's when it's good to have the first few moves down mindlessly cold (I find my blitz openings as black slower than as white b/c I know the R. Lopez and Queen's Gambit much more thoroughly).

Wadvana, I don't know how intense you wish to get with openings. I keep on hand a neat little book _Concise Chess Openings_ by Neil McDonald. It is about 4x4 inches and 300 pp. of small print with diagrams. It packs a lot of openings/lines into such a small text, even with some general discussion "What is White Trying to Do?" and that sort of thing. It is not a treatise on the theory behind chess openings. But it is a great quick reference. I got it used for $8 US. I downloaded a database but have not had the time to sit down and play with it. Maybe I will like that better.
marxisgod21 196 ( +1 | -1 )
Complete Games are Best Whatever openings you choose to play, the best books are usually ones with complete games. Its much easier to learn the theory of an opening by playing and going over many games with the same opening than it is to read a column in MCO. While "theory only" books can be excellent if the explanations are well done (for example, Khalifman's "Opening for White According to Anand" series"), however, my favorite opening books are ones that teach you the theory, ideas, and strategies of an opening through well-annotated games (for example, Ward's "Winning with the Sicilian Dragon 2" and Kindermann's "Leningrader System"). In terms of a database, you can use chessbase's free online database at or if you have Fritz, Junior, etc. whatever database included with that is usually sufficient. If you're really into openings, you may want to look into a subscription to Chessbase magazine, New In Chess, or (my personal choice). Which give you periodic updates on opening theory. probably gives you the most bang for your buck and you can choose which opening section(s) to subscribe to. The site is divided into 12 opening sections which are each done by a well-known GM/IM. The site includes GMs John Federowicz, Chris Ward, Nigel Davies, John Emms, Tony Kosten, as well as IMs Gary Lane and Andrew Martin, just to name a few! Each month an "update" comes out for each section with around 7-12 annotated games with the latest theory improvements and novelties. In addition, if you e-mail a GM/IM with a line you have questions on or even one of your own games they are more than happy to give you feedback in the next update.

In addition, once you go over the theory and memorize it, playing games (especially blitz games) is a great way to reinforce the theory. It also helps you truly identify which lines you know and don't know.
jstack 77 ( +1 | -1 )
The databases and chess book method To understand the ideas in an opening I find it necessary to buy a book which explains the ideas well. After I understand the basic themes in the opening I play through the variations to see which ones I like best. Some of the lines I like best, the author says is refuted by such and such a line, but I am not always convinced. When I am not convinced, I do a positional search in chessbase and discover how GMs have been treating the position recently. Sometimes I find the authors "refutation" is full of holes. It has been said many times "any opening book is outdated as soon as it is published" If you understand the ideas in the opening you can make up for this outdatedness with databases. Also, you will find some ideas that aren't in any chess books.
brobishkin 55 ( +1 | -1 )
I agree... The book and board way is by far the best way... It has the complete feel and understanding when competing in tournaments... But "jstack has a valid point in which authors "refutations" is at times full of holes... But the final point in studying openings is to understand completely the characteristics of the variations of the many types of openings... I have always started with my chess library and a chess board though...

Old school hasn't been over run by the techno age... But it does have it's place in the study of the game... But (IMHO) it will never replace the book and board method...

snakeplissken 48 ( +1 | -1 )
Just play the opening you want to learn Following Alex Yermolinskys approach just to play the opening you want to learn became my preferred way - as a starting point. (Thats one reason why i like to play online chess)

When my first experiences gives me the feeling of comfort with the typical positions and that it fits to my style then i am starting the more detailed work with books, databases.

What was also helpful for me: to collect the typical traps and tricks for "my" openings.


humpty-dumpty 79 ( +1 | -1 )
Valuable source of opening knowledge For me, commented game databases like ones produced by Chessbase are a great creditable source of opening knowledge. Of course, you must choose an opening (usually one for white and one for black) which is your style-adapted and see how the best players of the globe play it, what sorts of 'underwater' dangers or traps they contain. Goes without saying, one must use those openings in tourneys on a regular basis to feel it with his fingertips. Even when some players try to hit you by some queer or unusual moves along those lines, you will be likely to meet those assaults on guard because of your deep knowledge. Here goes the rule A1: 'Never retract from your style of play whatever difficulties are in store!'
loreta 88 ( +1 | -1 )
Commonly in the chess, not only openings...
My internal feeling says that the best mine improvement is to review intensively my own games. So, I play CC games doing some kind of analysis during game. After game, when I have time, I go back to them and check to look what was wrong (or good) with my analysis during game.
For example, during game I look what could happen if my opponent goes X or Y (and so and so). Then I selected 2-3 the most probable his replies and work to looking through my further moves. And so further (as far, as time allows).
If opponent selects different move then I suspected - during review I try understand why I do not noticed that move...
As for openings - I choosed a small list of preferred openings - and watch some annotations of games played using them and try to have some books...
wschmidt 137 ( +1 | -1 )
repetoire books I like to use repertoire books, i.e. a book that gives a series of lines against every reasonable alternative your opponent might use in the particular opening. I don't try to memorize the lines though. I go through the basics, play through some of the games, and after I play a OTB game, I'll look up the line and see where I deviated from the recommended line. That way, over time, I develop a feel for the pawn structure, the strategy and the tactics of the repertoire. Beats memorization by a lot.

Of course, on Gameknot, I can just follow the recommended line until my opponent deviates from any option in the book. At that point, I generally know that the move is not very common or at least was not considered very significant by the author. So at at that point, I check some of the databases to see if it shows up there. That sometimes gives me some information, sometimes not. In any case, I'll choose a move and proceed "out of book".

After the game, I make a special point of checking out what ChessMaster has to say about what would have been a good move at the point of deviation.

Using the above method, I find I get a good feel for the opening system I'm trying to learn without having to do a lot of memorizing. Of course, there are a few places in each book where there are tactical traps that one should focus on, but for the most part that's rare.
ccmcacollister 328 ( +1 | -1 )
Several approaches to an opening. Its very hard to just pickup a book like MCO and start memorizing lines. Such a text is better used when there is already a familiarity with the opening in question.
To get such familiarity I can use one or combination of the following:
A)Start trying to play it: Corr., skittles, aor many blitz games, or now many computer games of practice.
B) Study the "Key" games of that opening, annotated if possible. For EG. The Dragon; you simply MUST know the 2 key Karpov vs Korchnoi games, if you are going to play either side of a Yugoslav aka Rauser Attack.
c) study of a repetoire book. Which is also usually a good concentrated source of Key Games as well.
D)study a a GM noted in playing that opening.

AFter Phase One, the Familiarization; then an MCO like text becomes much more useful.
A)In your otb games; best use of an MCO: After playing your game, go to MCO to find where you went astray. Or for a better move. Incorporate what you find, into your future play. Then Repeat the process. ad infinatum.
B) Use your MCO in Corr to see likely game scenarios. And finding ideas transferrable from similar lines.
C) Watch for new Key Games, moves & lines being produced in Your opening by Your GM(s), by top OTB players, and by corr players. Study articles and annotated games by such.
D) When you have mastered Your opening; you will be using MCO & other popular
opening manuals to Not look for new ideas now, since you know then. Instead you will be using it to look for errors in it, of specific move errors, outdated lines & ideas, and especially incorrect position evaluations. Things that others will be following (aka "falling into")still. That you are now beyond. hopefully :)! And look for places where you can produce an Improvement in a line. Or even just TN's that will be as good as the known line, but serve to get you out of the book that your opponent maybe following, to put him on this own thinking resources and understanding.
E)Another thing useful, you can do nowadays, is use your computer to extend the lines from MCO and such, before you play. Generating that much new analysis. But beware that this may give an appearance to others that you use a computer to play, since that is what made the analysis for you ahead of time. Thus, WILL look like computer moves. At least unless you tailor it with your own assessments and improvements thrown in. To avoid such an appearance, you can use selfblitz games to add on ideas at the ends of lines, after polishing up anything interesting you uncover. Or get a study-friend to playout & extend MCO lines with you. To even make whole games, if you wish.
So anyway, that's how I do my opening study. I'm sure there are many other ways.
And maybe each of us will have some way that is best for us.

IF you DO want to learn a few openings and memorization of multiple lines and
positions , firmly committed to memory. . . I have a technique for memorizing 45 games at a time. It is in no way exceptional or braggadocious, because it is EASY & anyone can do it, if they WILL.
So if you are interested, here is how. The Easy Way.
On second thought, I've told this to a dozen players before, and no one has ever tried to do it, as far as I know. So, maybe there's something wrong with it and its not worth repeating.
ccmcacollister 151 ( +1 | -1 )
Just kidding. But Thanks for bearing with me (I hope) in allowing that little expression of exasperation. Because no one really ever has come back and said "hey that worked Great!". So maybe the idea IS Suspect. Less good than it seems? But bearing that in mind, for what its worth, here's the idea...
Playing my Postal Corr games I found it was a simple matter to commit the openings and games to memory, just by doing this:
I kept track of each game using a written game scoresheet of course, to be able to verify the games. (Besides you had to track days Used, Day Received etc.) But would not use any Postalog or other position keeper.
Instead, upon receiving each new opps' move, I would go setup a new board and remake each of the moves from the game, from the very beginning up to reaching the present position. And would follow that proceedure for every move received in that game.
Unless in a particular hurry with that move, or some games that just got too deeply into a very long endgame. But by then, for them, could start from a position well into the game that by then had already been firmly etched into permanent memory
(Just like GM's get many such positions etched into memory!!) So, there's that if anyone wants to try it.
Then I guarANtee it will work, unless it doesn't! .........[8-( ........[8-)........?/?
Regards & Wishing You Success, Craig
baseline 20 ( +1 | -1 )
Just a thought I like learning an opening by playing trough the complete games of a noted expert on the opening. I take the games in cronological order and try to learn the strageties as they unfold in the masters praxis.