I want to start studying a few openings. Say I am currently most interested in the King's Gambit as white, and want to play it as often as possible. (This isn't particular to the King's Gambit, I just had to name something.) Since I want to practice that opening, I obviously start my white games going 1. e4. But then black goes 1... c5 or 1... d5 or 1... Nf6 or...

Clearly I can't start studying all 1. e4 openings simultaneously, so I have to accept that some times I will be out of prep after a single move, and that game will be "wasted" in terms of practicing the opening I'm actively studying.

But I could at least study King's Gambit and, say, Sicilian at the same time, and thus be at least somewhat better covered. And then, because I will be white only half the time, maybe I should also keep one or maybe two openings in active study as black as most places where you play chess, you play black as often as you play white?

Obviously this depends on my personal capacity, and you can never know me well enough through this site to give me good, bespoke personal advice. But reflections on how this is commonly approached would be nice.

  • 3
    What playing level are you at?
    – qwr
    Aug 16, 2022 at 22:56

2 Answers 2


You should definitely study 1...e5 and 1...c5 first (these are the most common and Black's best responses).

If you do not have enough time to study Sicilian, you should go for one of the many sidelines, which are much easier to learn. I recommend going for the Bb5-Sicilians or the Closed Sicilian, but the Alapin, Westerinen Attack (b3), and other systems are also viable. You need to accept that you'll play a game of chess where you can't claim an opening advantage when playing sidelines.

Against the Caro-Kann and the French, you can play the Exchange variations where you do not really need to know the theory (after e.g. 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. Bd3) and everything else will be so infrequent that it shouldn't bother you.

  • 1
    I would argue the Scandinavian should also be on your list. Lichess gives 1. ... d5 as the fourth most popular response to 1. e4 among its players, so it's definitely a possibility. If you're looking further down the list, it also suggests the Modern, the Pirc, and a couple of others.
    – Kevin
    Aug 16, 2022 at 23:59
  • @Savage47 please feel free to improve the answer. It would be constructive to elaborate what you think is wrong with it (rather than just stating how bad it is). Then we can have a discussion and come closer to the truth and good answers. Others disagree with your opinion and upvoted, therefore you should give the reasons for your assessment.
    – Hauptideal
    Aug 18, 2022 at 11:03

My approach is to have a repertoire and then understand the thematic tactics, pawn structures, and tabiyas of the openings in the repertoire.

I prioritize studying the openings I face most often and are the most complex. Once I have a feel for the whole repertoire I focus on areas where I am not performing well.

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