Learn Chess Openings the Right Way

When you start to learn chess openings, the idea of memorizing lines can be daunting. A better approach is to start with the goal of first understanding the new chess opening.

3 Easy Steps to Learn a Chess Opening blog image

Understanding provides you with the knowledge you need of your opening so you can build upon it.

Memorizing every line, including rare sidelines, will hinder you more than help you learn chess openings.

Understanding the opening will allow you to find the right strategy and moves if you are taken out of theory!

This is the first step when you learn chess openings, and it is the step all the others build on.

If you go about it methodically, you will find yourself enjoying learning chess openings because you will be doing it the right way.

IM Anna Rudolf has helped many club players learn chess openings. This is an excellent skill because almost every chess player will change their opening repertoire as they progress in chess.

Of course, before you learn an opening it is good to know how to choose an opening that fits you. Once again IM Anna Rudolf will show you how to get it right.

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Table of contents

3 Easy Steps to Help You Learn Chess Openings the Right Way

Fortunately, learning chess openings only involves three simple steps. The three steps are:

  1. Prioritize understanding over memorization.
  2. Analyze on a chessboard.
  3. Find games from strong players who regularly play the opening.

Step 1: Prioritizing Understanding Will Help You Learn Chess Openings

When you begin to learn a new opening, you must understand why these particular moves are played. Unless you know what you are aiming for, you won’t know which piece exchanges to avoid.

For instance, in an isolated queen pawn position, the light-squared bishop on d3 is a vital piece in White’s attack. Understanding the importance of this piece will help you remember to play a3 and stop Black exchanging it with …Nb4.

Without this understanding, you might think playing Bc2, and Qd3 is a good plan because you are attacking h7. However, if you neglected to play a3 first, Black can attack both the queen and bishop with …Nb4.

Understanding your new chess opening is how you begin to learn an opening. This understanding must not stop with the opening but extend into the middlegame and endgame too.

Your knowledge of the strategies, structures, and essential pieces in the middlegame will help you tremendously to gain an advantage. Being more familiar with the middlegame and endgame positions will allow you to take advantage of your opponent’s mistakes.

Step 2: Analyze on a Chessboard

We all know the path of least resistance is to use the mouse and click through the moves in a game. However, the physical act of getting out a chessboard and playing the moves by hand will automatically keep you more focused.

Even if you are using an electronic chess book or a chess video training course, it is still best to set up a chessboard and place it next to your computer. Using a chess book or video will make it easier for you to return to the main position after exploring different variations since you will have an image of the position.

Another benefit of using a chessboard is that it helps you remember how the opening looks in 3-D and not the 2-D online images we are so used to playing nowadays.

Step 3: Find Games From Strong Players Who Regularly Play the Opening

When you learn chess openings from a book, you will often come to a point where the plans might not be clear. A chess book cannot cover every possible line, so you are pretty likely to find yourself wondering what to play in a particular position.

This is when following the games of strong players who play the opening can help. GM Gawain Jones, GM Mihail Marin, and GM Vladimir Kramnik are top chess grandmasters you can follow if you are learning the Pirc chess opening.

When a move doesn’t appear in your book or games, there is a reason it isn’t played. A chess engine can be a valuable aid in showing you the drawbacks of a move.

The moment you learn why the move is terrible, turn off the chess engine and return to it later when you are studying specific lines.

At this stage of learning an opening, your focus is on learning the strategies you will play in your new chess opening. The deep analysis will get done later after you know the opening plans and structures.

Remember to start with games that result in victories when learning chess openings. You want to have fun and feel excited about a new chess opening, and nothing does this better than a win for your side.

Final Thoughts on Learning Chess Openings

The beauty of chess lies in the challenge its complexity provides. You can choose how deep you want to go when learning chess openings. 

These three steps will provide you with enough information to test the opening in rapid or blitz games and get a feel for if the position suits your playing style. The best time to learn an opening isn’t for you is before you get down to working on the specific move orders.

Deciding to learn another chess opening now will save you from losing time. By playing through chess games, you will learn something even if you don’t continue with that particular opening, and knowing what positions you dislike is essential information as you move on in chess.

Act now! For a Limited Time get 50% Off! The Anna Rudolf Method Although the opening is important there is a lot more you need to learn to become a well-rounded chess player. In her 15 hour Master Method course IM Anna Rudolf covers everything you need to know to improve your game. Act now and get instant access to all this chess wisdom for a mere $39.95!

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