September 9, 2009

About Openings | Rules and Tips | How to Learn

[*See: Chess Openings for Beginners - All Lessons]

Next lesson we will go directly to learning the main chess openings and their main variations. The first one will be Bishop's Opening... But before this, it should be useful for you to have more statistics, information, rules, and tips on chess openings - all in one place. This will help you know more on chess openings and choose which method is the best for you to learn...

Lesson 21 consists of the following 2 parts:
I. About Openings
II. How to Learn
This is to give you a general picture on chess openings and some practical advices...

I. About Openings

• Learning chess opening is one of the most difficult topics in chess.
• More than 50% of all chess books are dedicated to learning chess openings.
• For the winning probability, it does matter which color you play the game.
• The recorded games of chess masters show the following average probability for all openings: White Won-38%, Black Won-30%, Draw-32%.

• Without the drawing results, the average game winning probability is: White Won-56%, Black Won-44%.
• It is so because White begins the game. Moving first, White has more chances to be first in developing, getting the center, providing the King safety, and preparing attack.
• Each chess opening has its own winning probability. The winning probability of Bishop's Opening is White Won-41%, Black Won-29%, Draw-30%; that of Sicilian Defense is White Won-37%, Black Won-34%, Draw-29%.

• Some of the most successful openings for White are: Queen's Gambit, Ruy Lopez, Bishop's Opening, Benko Opening, Vienna Game, Centre Game, English Opening, Scotch Game.
• Some of the most successful openings for Black are: Sicilian Defence, Nimzo Indian, Alekhine Defence.
• Some of the most drawing chess openings are: Bogo-Indian Defence, Petrov Defence, Nimzo Indian, Four Knight's Defence, Grunfeld Defence, Reti Opening.

• The most common chess openings are: Sicilian Defense, Ruy Lopez, Italian Game, French Defense, Caro-Kann Defense, Pirc Defense, Queen's Gambit, Indian Defenses, English Opening, Reti Opening.
• Each chess opening has its own popularity. The most popular chess opening is Sicilian Defense, and its popularity is around 17% of all the games played.
• All Open Game openings have the popularity of around 11% of all the games played.
• There are few types of chess opening classifications.

• The simplest and unofficial one is the following division: - Open Games (1.e4 e5); - Semi-Open Games (1.e4 other); -Closed Games (1.other other).
• The second and official is the following one: - Open Games or Double King Pawn (1.e4 e5); - Semi-Open Games or Single King Pawn (1.e4 other); - Closed Games or Double Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5); - Semi-Closed Games or Single Queen Pawn (1.d4 other); - Flank openings (1.c4, 1.Nf3, 1.f4, and some others); - Openings with unusual first moves for White.

• The third and official one is the ECO Code classification. Read more on this Lesson 17: What are ECO Codes?
• The ECO Code classification is usually used by chess experts and professionals.
How many chess openings are there in chess? The answer depends on what you mean by that question...
• If you mean all possible variations to begin the game, without any names, it is exactly 500 chess openings as defined by the ECO Code classification: A00-A99, B00-B99, C00-C99, D00-D99, E00-E99.

• If you mean chess openings by their names, it is around 100-110 depending on how to count.
• And if you mean the chess openings which are really used in practical chess game, the number in this case is around 60.
• Chess opening is like building foundation. The better foundation, the stronger building.
• But having won the chess opening does not mean winning the chess game.

• Many chess schools teach the beginner the chess endgame first, the chess opening last.
• It is impossible to remember all chess opening variations in full.
• But it is very important to know the Chess Opening Rules and Tips.
• A Chess Opening Rule: Playing chess opening, always try to follow 3 main strategies: Development, Control of the Center, King Safety.

• A Chess Opening Tip: At the same time, try to prevent your opponent from following the same 3 main opening strategies.
• A Chess Opening Rule: If your opponent breaks any of 3 main opening strategies or an opening variation (line), you may too.
• A Chess Opening Rule: Develop first your minor pieces (the minor pieces are the Knights and Bishops).
• A Chess Opening Tip: Many chess experts advise to develop Knights before Bishops because Knights are the only short-range pieces.

• A Chess Opening Tip: Try to move the minor pieces to a best place in one move.
• A Chess Opening Tip: Good squares for Knight development are c3, f3, c6, f6.
• A Chess Opening Tip: Good squares for White Bishop development are e2, d3, c4, f4.
• A Chess Opening Tip: A chess piece may stay at the initial position and be developed if its line is open.
• A Chess Opening Rule: Complete your development before moving a piece twice or starting an attack.

• A Chess Opening Tip: You may move the piece twice or starting the attack if the piece is being attacked or your opponent made a blunder.
• A Chess Opening Tip: There are 2 ways to Control the Center: by placing your pawn(s) into it or by attacking the Center by your pieces. Try to use the both methods.
• A Chess Opening Tip: The best way to provide King Safety is to make the Castling Move.
• A Chess Opening Tip: At the same time, try to deprive your opponent of making the Castling Move.

• A Chess Opening Rule: Do not bring the Queen out too early. At the beginning, the Queen brought out may be attacked and you will loose in developing.
• A Chess Opening Tip: You may bring the Queen out early if it is a designated move of a chess opening, if your opponent does not know what is Scholar's Mate, and if your opponent made a blunder.
• A Chess Opening Rule: At a later stage of a chess opening, develop your Queen too.
• A Chess Opening Tip: A developing square for your Queen is very important. The best developing squares for White Queen are c2, d2, e2, b3.

• A Chess Opening Rule: Do not run for the pawn material at the chess opening phase.
• A Chess Opening Rule: Playing a chess opening, think about your pawn structure. Avoid isolated, doubled pawns, avoid many pawn islands too.
• A Chess Opening Rule: At a later stage of a chess opening, there should be no any pieces between your Rooks.
• A Chess Opening Rule: Consider the chess opening phase successfully finished when you develop all minor pieces, control the center, provide safety to the King, and there are no any pieces between your Rooks.

• A Chess Opening Tip: It may happens that you have already finished the opening phase and entered into the middle game, while your opponent is still at the middle of the opening phase.
• A Chess Opening Rule: Always connect the chess opening phase with the middle game, preparing plan for the middle game which is based upon the current position.
• A Chess Opening Tip: Estimate the current position taking into account the following: the material, the Kings' positions, the pawn islands, how good are your Bishops and your opponent's, who controls open lines, position specification (week squares, bad pieces, etc).

• A Chess Opening Tip: If your opponent's King position is weak, you may plan to attack the opponent's King.
• A Chess Opening Tip: If you have more material, you may plan to exchange your chess pieces and go directly to the endgame.
• A Chess Opening Tip: If you have less material, you may plan to take an initiative and complicate the position.
• A Chess Opening Tip: If you see that your opponent's pieces are better, you may plan to echange your bad chess pieces for those good of your opponent.

• A Chess Opening Rule: If you encounter an unexpected move or novelty from your opponent in a chess opening, play as your common sense tells you.
• A Chess Opening Tip: If your opponent is strong at playing chess openings, you may try to mislead your opponent by simply changing the designated move order of the opening.
• A Chess Opening Tip: Roughly, take the opening in simple as the first 10 moves of the game. But be informed that there are opening variations (lines) with 20 or even 30 designated moves.

II. How to Learn

• First of all, you are recommended to learn the designated moves and initial positions of 30-35 chess openings to recognize. To learn them, you can use this ebook Lesson 8: Download Chess Opening Puzzle eBook.
• Learning a chess opening, you must know its main variations, main correct lines of play for White and Black, and make a short database of real games on this opening.
• Use the database of real games to learn how it works in real because the correct lines of play are often broke down in the real games.

• All chess experts recommend to begin learning openings with the Open Games.
• The Open Games are more understandable for chess beginners than other types.
• First limit your chess opening repertoire with 1-2 openings for White, and 1-2 for Black.
• At the beginning, try to learn the "most open" Open Game openings like King's Gambit, Two Knight's Defense, Italian Game.

• By doing this, you will develop your combination skills and understand the opening basics.
• It is important to choose your chess opening repertoire according to your play style.
• There are many examples when chess players improved their results by simply changing the chess opening repertoire with another openings which were according to their play style.
• You may choose a chess opening by simply asking yourself you like this opening or not.

• All chess experts recommend not to learn opening variations (lines) by simply mechanical memorizing.
• To learn, you should memorize the opening variations (lines) by replaying on the chess board, analyzing the typical positions, the piece developing squares, understanding the main idea of the opening, etc.
• Learning chess opening take into account how good your memory is. If your memory is good you may go deeper, if not so good try to remember the opening variation by the main positions.

• Many chess players create their own chess opening database on computer, some use notebook writing, some use card index database.
• In the chess opening database, you should have not only the correct opening variations (lines) but also sample chess games on the same variations.
• To replay the sample chess games, the top-level chess players use shareware computer programs.
• For the same purpose, you may use a decent freeware computer program. How to download the program, see at Lesson 16: Download PGN Viewer Program.

• To find more chess games, you may use the method which was highlighted in
Lesson 19: Download .PGN Files to Learn Openings.
• Good way to learn chess openings is to read, learn, and study chess opening books.
• You may also find many useful materials to learn chess openings via Internet sources.
• Some chess players recommend to test a chess opening by playing against a computer program.

• In this case, you should pay attention to how the program is programmed to answer each your move.
• But real test for the chess opening is your playing chess games with enough time control.
• You should carefully analyze your recorded games on your opening mistakes.
• Once you feel yourself better within the chess opening environment, you may include more openings into your chess opening repertoire.

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