I'm looking to improve my game's opening. Could any of you could recommend an app or website dedicated to this?


6 Answers 6


Chess PGN Master and pgnmentor.com are how I study openings. Download one of the large PGN files on the opening you want to learn, open it up with the viewer and autoplay through games during your downtime. I tend to stick to the games of only the players I recognize so that I am not learning from 1300s (there are a ton of high-level games in each file). This is great for learning the common themes of an opening. You don't have to understand every move but sometimes I will pause it and try to work out a particular tactic.

To memorize specific lines, I make openings files in Chessbase built from the games of today's top players (I consider anything that a 2600+ FIDE has played and my computer doesn't immediately hate to be playable for me). I then play through them, forcing myself to remember the options available for each side in the position before I make the next move.

As others have mentioned, focusing on openings is not going to help you improve very much below maybe 2000 FIDE. However, the first method I described can be used to improve at any level-you can retrieve all of the games of a great player (I started with Capablanca) and watch their moves zip past. This in my opinion is the best way to learn pawn structures. Jeremy Silman has recommended this method (though not this specific configuration) many times in his chess.com articles.


In my experience, merely memorizing openings isn't going to help you unless you're playing strictly against lower rated players. What will help you with stronger rated players is to analyze and understand your opening and all the possible moves your opponent can make. If you play 1. e4, your opponent has at least three moves he'll consider (e5, Nc6, Nf6), and that's if he isn't playing something complicated like the Sicilian (c5). Supposedly ChessTempo is working on a mobile app, something to look for and keep in mind for the future. The desktop tactics is highly recommended, I don't expect anything less from the mobile app. However in the meantime, most apps searched under "chess openings" have about four stars. You should look and see which you like best to hold you over until ChessTempo's app comes out.

  • Low-rated players will deviate more quickly from your opening knowledge than high-rated players so I'm not sure what your first sentence means. Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 18:52

As others have advised, it is not a good idea to simply "memorize" chess openings and variations, without understanding the nuances of those lines and why each move is made. Assuming, you have already done that, memorizing Chess openings is required, since that is how you remember it AT THE BOARD! Even the top GMs memorize their lines!

I introduced "iChess" to Vishy Anand and thought he might like it to practice Chess puzzles and tactics. To my surprise, the next email from him was asking me how he could practice his Chess repertoire (Openings) using the App. He just wanted to load his Opening PGN in the App, and practice his lines, so that he does not forget them when he is at the board. He wanted to make moves for HIS color, while the App should play out the moves for the other color (all moves are the ones stored in the PGN file).

Long story short, iChess (Android) allows you to practice Chess openings, exactly as mentioned above, with YOUR own PGN file. I have also written a blog post about it: http://mychessapps.blogspot.in/2013/02/how-to-practice-chess-openings-with.html

Hope this helps.

Cheers, Asim http://mychessapps.com

  • This looks like a wonderful tool. Just for clarification, would you be able to load all your PGN's in one go, and let the app randomly decide which line to play? When I want to test my repertoire, I don't want to test only a specific variation - I would like to test all of them.
    – firtydank
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 9:44
  • 1
    You can open one PGN file at a time, but have ALL your PGN files in the App's home screen (for quick access). The App can also load puzzles in Random order inside a given PGN. I generally have all my repertoire lines in a single PGN.
    – AAP
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 10:37

I suggest you focus on learning a few common openings rather than attempt to study a large number up front. In most cases, you can transpose to one of the openings you have studied with a little thought and your play will improve in this way. You should pick one or two openings for each major opening style, e.g. queen pawn and king pawn. The list I started with was Queens Gambit and the most common responses to it, Queens Gambit Accepted, Queens Gambit Declined as well as the Slav defense (exchange variation). These openings are classic openings with a lot of depth in theory but are solid foundations. I also learned the Reti because it was a hypermodern opening and the play style is more interesting and it can transpose easily into the other openings I knew well at the time. From the point of view of black, I studied the common queen gambit responses as well as the Grunfeld defense. The king's indian defense is also very interesting to explore. For king pawn openings, I studied the Giuoco Piano and the Ruy Lopez.

I found youtube to be a very good reference, particularly the videos by the St. Louis chess club. As an example, most of the openings I mentioned for white are covered by GM Varuzhan Akobian in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xh4sO1ICS_Q. I found his explanations of not just memorizing the move order but explaining the why of each move to be most helpful. The opening explorer at http://www.365chess.com/opening.php was useful for browsing openings, but once again the why matters much more than the how. There is an adroid app called Chess Openings that reproduces some of the information from the opening explorer but in a tabular format. I also own a copy of FCO but I would suggest you watch the youtube videos I mentioned and focus your studies on a handful of openings. When you are beat by someone using an opening you don't understand, use the opening explorer to figure out what opening they played, and then give it some study. You'll expand your skill set in no time.


If you need only memorization you might take a look at https://flashchess.org. You can create your own opening (for instance, by pasting PGN from lichess.org) and then the tool will ensure that you memorize it properly by playing and reinforcing it over and over again.


Give Chess Repertoire Manager a try. You'll be surprised on how big a help it can do to your quest of improving your opening game play. By the way, it is an Android app from Google Play Store. With this app, you can create and manage your opening repertoire and train with it. It has built in chess engine for analysis or playing chess games with it using your opening repertoire as opening book of the game.

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