Opening theory

The study of so-called “Opening theory” is one of the few topics that fascinates and intimidates newbies to chess. Despite the fact that there are billions of conceivable 20-move sequences to begin a game of chess, we hear stories of Masters who can play 15, 20, or 30 moves from pure memorization.

Because of the difficulty of studying chess openings, many chess players have misconceptions regarding this crucial phase of the game:

Some people have become irritated with chess, claiming that “I didn’t understand it was merely a memorization game” (which is obviously not true!).

Some claim to have encountered chess players who “memorized EXACTLY what move to play against ANY sequence of moves I could think of – all the way to the game’s end!” (Magnus Carlsen should be on the lookout if such a player appears.)

Some people go so far as to declare, “Learning chess openings is reserved for Masters.” It doesn’t apply to amateur chess, where the majority of games are decided by tactics.”

Of course, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Chess is not a “memorization contest,” yet it is true that a rudimentary understanding of chess opening principles can get you by to a point. No one can deny, however, that a thorough study of chess openings – and the plans connected with each – is a significant advantage at any level of the game.

So, what exactly is the point of studying chess openings? And how are we going to learn them?

It’s beneficial to have a strategy in chess.

This is common knowledge. However, even for masters of the game, devising a strategy in some situations might be tough. The game of chess has captivated the imaginations of young and old for ages, but there’s nothing more frustrating than looking blankly at the board in front of you, unsure what to do!

The good news is that you’ll find yourself in this position in every chess game you’ll ever play:
We’ll be well on our way to starting off on the right foot in every chess game we ever play if we can develop a sound plan to adopt from this position. We study chess openings for this reason.

The major category is study chess openings – Learning Opening Principles

Never fear if you’re new to chess! Without remembering a single move sequence, learning the concepts of chess openings will give you a tremendous advantage over your opponents and send you on your way to rising through the rankings.

Principles of Chess Opening

It’s a good idea to keep the following opening principles in mind. Even if you start learning specific sequences of moves, these principles are still essential to playing the opening well – if your opponent plays a move you don’t recognize, you’re on your own, and these principles will save you!

  • With your pawns, you can control central space. Controlling space allows your pieces to move around freely while denying hostile pieces squares.
  • Early arrival at the castle. It will be risky for your king to be stuck on its beginning square if the center opens up. Castling your king into a corner while also allowing you to join your rooks is useful for contesting open files in the middlegame!
  • Make your pieces better. Each player begins a chess game with eight pieces strewn about their back rank. If they stay there for too long, you won’t win many games. Make pawn moves to control space as necessary, but act quickly to get your pieces into the action.
  • If you don’t have a strong cause, don’t move the same piece again. You’ll fall behind in piece development if your opponent introduces all of their pieces into the game methodically while you move the same piece over and over.
  • Make no early queen moves that aren’t essential. If you do decide to move your queen, be sure she won’t be harassed by hostile pieces. There’s a reason why knights and bishops are frequently developed before the queen — watch the video to find out why!
  • When the iron is hot, strike! If you get a significant development advantage (especially if you’re castled and your opponent isn’t), you must move swiftly or your opponent will catch up! Before your opponent’s men have left their barracks, open the center and launch a tactical battle with your fully organized army.
  • First and foremost, put your safety first. None of the aforementioned principles offer you permission to make risky plays that provide your opponent free material. In chess openings and in ANY chess position, carefully consider the safety of each move before making it. If your opponent breaks this rule, take advantage of it, regardless of what the other principles suggest – after all, it would be ridiculous to resist capturing a free enemy queen just to avoid moving the same piece twice in the opening!