I have played a lot of chess in my childhood. And I'm quite a decent player as well. However I stopped playing for few years now. Only after I realized that there are lot of opening/middle/closing text book moves like 'kings Indian defense' etc. if I start fresh once again, how should I start learning these text book moves and implement it? There was no one to coach me in childhood so I never knew all this.

  • Perhaps a silly question. BUT. Many many intermediate beginners out there.
    – r4.
    Apr 8, 2016 at 14:48

4 Answers 4


When you state that you are quite a decent player, exactly what do you mean by that? Do you mean that you have been producing relatively good results in actual chess tournaments, or do you mean that you usually win when playing against casual players? If the first description fits you, then studying opening theory may bring some value. In this case, you should try to understand why the moves are played in the opening instead of just memorizing variations, as the latter won't prepare you if your opponent steps out of theory. Look at famous games played in the opening and reflect over the moves that are played. (Edit: And as r4 pointed out in his answer: don't be afraid to play the opening a lot!)

In the other case it will probably be completely pointless to study specific opening theory, as there are other things you need to learn first to become stronger. In this case it's better to review the basic opening principles about development, center control, piece activity and king safety, and follow them. In the vast majority of cases they are sound enough to give you an advantage against weaker tournament players, if you master them.

  • First of all thank you. I have been a good player during my school days... As stupid it may sound, I play chess move by move in a defensive way... Allowing the player to attack my pieces ... The moment I conquer an additional piece I start attacking... So I never had a plan and my moves were based on opponent moves and defend it... And see if I get an opening to attack...
    – user102081
    Apr 8, 2016 at 22:07
  • One doubt is that... If I study one opening ... For eg... Ruy Lopez... But opponent plays something different... Then I can't continue with ruy Lopez system... So is there like a bunch of opening system which you find it useful? Which I can read...
    – user102081
    Apr 8, 2016 at 22:09
  • @user102081 Whenever your opponent steps out of you preparation, you need to think for yourself to find the right moves, and avoid traps. This is the only thing you can do then. The basic opening principles will help you a great deal in such a situation. If you don't know ANY opening systems at all, you should not begin with studying specific openings. Then you should find a book or other resources about chess basics. For example, "My System" by Aaron Nimzowitsch contains some of this and much more. Going to a local chess club may also help.
    – Scounged
    Apr 8, 2016 at 22:17
  • Cool! Got your point...
    – user102081
    Apr 8, 2016 at 22:23

Learning by doing. This is how the mind works. Play a lot. Practice tactics about an hour every day at http://chesstempo.com/chess-tactics.html

Two extremists which I notice a lot. 1. The beginner plays too cautious. 2. The beginner plays too aggressive (king's gambit). As for openings. Forget it until you are more experienced. In your shoes I would probably play the London system as white and perhaps the Dutch stonewall as black against d4 and classically 1.e4e5. (Further explanation of openings is beyond the scope of this question). For openings I often use game collections at www.chessgames.com.

Speaking from experience I find that my play improves from physical exercise.

I want to address the advice from Scounged in his comment.

I myself have been studying the opening a lot from the very beginning. I played the Kings Indian and the Najdorf combined with 1.e4 main lines. But my tactics skills where lacking. Also, I walked in to unfamiliar positions all the time. Nothing particular bad with that, but, they were familiar to my opponents, giving me a vey hard time. Then I changed my repertoire. Then I changed my repertoire again. Clearly, what I should have done is to play 1.g3 or similar in all my games and focusing on tactics and ideas.

Unless your opponent also knows and are willing to play the main lines the positions you have been studying are not likely to come up in your games. My feeling is that opening books are addictive (to me) and is great for giving motivation (perhaps also memory training). Giving that 3 world champions reached the top without playing main lines I stand firm in the no opening theory section. The world champions are Alekhine, Capablanca and Carlsen. I do think they know the openings ins and outs and the principle behind them, however. Perhaps a middle road is better for some, but I don't think it's effective at all.

When you have reached a certain level the endgame is of outmost importance. Many coaches with ambitions students teach the endgames first. Endgames are considered the hardest part of chess.

One suggestion for a rather solid game is to play 1.d4 and the London system. When you have mastered tactics (several hundred hours) and are bored of London you go on with 1.d4 2.Nf3 3.c4 and 1.d4 2.c4.

  • 3
    Hmmm... I don't know if I agree with the King's Gambit being too aggressive for a beginner to play. Rather, I think it's good to play it at least for a period of time as a beginner to learn the value of tempo and development in the opening. Also, I' not sure it's good to advise someone to play the London system as a beginner, as it may not be to everyone's tastes. It could of course fit some players, but far from all beginners will enjoy playing it as much as other more dynamic openings.
    – Scounged
    Apr 8, 2016 at 15:07
  • It certainly is hard to understand, I can't argue with that. Nowadays I play the Ruy Lopez, but I've had many crazy games in the KGA in my youth.
    – Scounged
    Apr 8, 2016 at 15:18
  • I THINK that we just get lost in trying to give advice in openings. DON'T study the opening too much. STUDY GAMES. Your own. I myself like to study OLD GAMES. Called classics for a reason. Everyone knows them and so should you ! Morphy and Capatlanca springs to mind.
    – r4.
    Apr 8, 2016 at 15:24

One doubt is that... If I study one opening ... For eg... Ruy Lopez... But opponent plays something different... Then I can't continue with ruy Lopez system... So is there like a bunch of opening system which you find it useful? Which I can read

One relatively quick solution would be to select a repertoire where your opponent's choices are restricted and you can follow some kind of formula to get your pieces developed.

One example would be to play the King's Indian Attack as white and the King's Indian Defence / Modern as black. That way you drastically limit what you need to learn and over time you will find that you become more and more familiar with the positions and plans that come out of these openings and so you should be able to get good results and avoid unpleasant surprises in the opening.

I'm not suggesting that this would be a particularly exciting approach just that it would be effective. I believe there have been quite strong players (IM / weak GM standard) in the past who have adopted this kind of strategy. It is not one I would recommend to a junior (school age) player since they have the time to study more widely and become a more rounded player.

  • World Champions Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer both played the King's Indian Attack as White; Spassky contributed a lot to its theory. World Champion Garry Kasparov was one of the forerunners of the current field of GM's who play the King's Indian Defence; one might say he resurrected it and made it a modern fighting weapon, just as he did the Scotch Opening a few years later.
    – jaxter
    Sep 14, 2016 at 19:45

If you want to improve focus on ONE opening, don't try to learn many of them, especially if totally different styles.

You need to learn how to play endgames and tactics as well.

If you get over an 1800 FIDE rating add advanced things like pawn structures and positional play.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.