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Beginners are taught principles in a classical style: control the center and develop pieces early. To my understanding, hypermodern openings try to control the center from a distance and wait for the opponent to occupy the center with pawns that become targets. Is this style of play of giving the opponent the early center not recommended to beginners for being too difficult or tricky at that level?

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  • Are you particularly interested in Hypermodern openings (i.e. just from the white side) or openings and defences (i.e. from both sides)?
    – Ian Bush
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 9:53
  • @IanBush playing defenses as black. Actually Brian Towers edited my question and changed the meaning a little
    – qwr
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 12:41

2 Answers 2

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Hypermodern openings are typically not recommended to beginners.

  1. They disregard some opening principles (prima facie) which beginners need to understand before "breaking" them. (That is "giving up" the center; in reality the plan often is to break the center with a pawn as soon as the army is developed. So even in hypermodern openings you eventually will put a pawn into the center.)
  2. They require a lot of chess understanding to play well. Many of them can get you in troublesome (e.g. cramped) positions quickly if you do not play them well (i.e. strike with counterplay).
  3. Due to the fact that the opponent gets the central control and a free hand, he has a lot of lines that promise an advantage. You'll need to know a lot of theory. In the time you need to really learn one of such openings (KID, Grünfeld,...) you could have improved your game much more meaningfully in other ways as a beginner.
  4. Hypermodern openings tend to produce more closed positions (even though some lines don't, e.g. in the Grünfeld), see Brian Towers' answer.

Nevertheless, that doesn't mean they're never recommended or unplayable as a beginner. GM Daniel Naroditsky recommends the Grünfeld against d4 (and IM Levy Rozman says it's playable as a beginner if you are willing to learn a lot of theory). The Grünfeld has some advantages over other hypermodern openings w.r.t. beginners - it's very direct/tactical, positions can open quickly, the ideas are understandable - and you strike quickly in/at the center. I personally think that the Nimzo-/Queens-Indian isn't too bad for beginners, either.

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  • There's another factor, though, which is that if you're playing a lot of other beginners, you can get a big advantage by knowing a few openings that are outside your oppenents' knowledge and experience. Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 22:11
  • @MichaelKay that's true, one of the best performing openings on lichess is the Alekhine. Would I recommend it? Rather not. Is it underrated? Definitely!
    – Hauptideal
    Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 23:18
  • When I play the King's Indian setup, usually the opponents do not have opening traps or gambits prepared.
    – qwr
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 3:43
  • @qwr You can have that with much more beginner-friendly openings..
    – Hauptideal
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 10:22
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The standard recommendation for beginners is to play openings which produce open positions favouring rapid piece development and tactical opportunities. The reason for this is that this gives the most practice in tactics and improving tactics is the fastest way to improve at this level.

Hypermodern openings produce closed positions where tactics play a much reduced role and the emphasis is on strategy and maneuvering. Beginners benefit and improve much less with this and so it is not recommended.

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  • 4
    The Grünfeld can become very open
    – Hauptideal
    Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 22:13
  • 2
    Hypermodern openings can be very tactical - Austrian attack in the Pirc or Modern, many lines of the Modern Benoni and Kings Indian. Personally I think it's because the hypermodern openings require a bit more positional judgement for e.g. pawn breaks, and knowledge of what tactics can be used to support them, than the open lines and direct attacks of open positions. But I don't count myself a good enough player to offer that as a judgement, only as an opinion.
    – Ian Bush
    Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 22:50

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