My opening repertoire is currently consisting of:



Open Sicilian (5.Bg5 versus Najdorf, Yugoslav Attack versus Dragon)
Versus 1...e5, Scotch Gambit
Versus 1...e6, Tarrasch Variation: Korchnoi Gambit
Versus 1...c6, Panov-Botvinik Attack (don't know much here)

As Black:

Versus 1.e4, Sicilian Defence
Versus Anything Else, King's Indian Defence Setup

I have "Playing the King's Indian Defence" by Everyman Chess which I am currently studying back-to-back, and am planning to do the same with some book (not sure which one to get) on the Najdorf just because obviously, these openings are just so complex and have so many critical lines.

For the rest of the openings (Scotch Gambit, Korchnoi Gambit, Panov-Botvinik Attack, various Open Sicilian Lines), can I get by without a book and just research and learn thes line I want to play?

I am in the 1400's USCF.

  • I am not sure which King's Indian book you are referring to. Perhaps Gallagher's Play the King's Indian?
    – dfan
    Jul 31, 2015 at 1:13
  • Yes, Gallagher's.
    – R3dder
    Jul 31, 2015 at 1:39
  • 2
    My rating is way more than you but seems your reading on openings is way more than me, I don't have a real repretoire for opening. Maybe if you try to improve your understanding of strategy and tactics, you can improve faster. Jul 31, 2015 at 23:51

4 Answers 4


At the USCF 1400-1500 level, the amount of reading you are planning on doing is already far too much. When you play people at your level they'll leave book pretty early; when you play people 400 points higher they'll beat you whether or not you have 12 moves memorized. The theory simply isn't going to matter for the vast majority of your games. Save the detailed reading and memorization until you get closer to 1800 at least. For now just play what you like, and after your game look things up in a database or a nice survey book like Fundamental Chess Openings (and if you want to know the ideas behind various openings, FCO is a fine place to start). Take the time you would have spent studying openings and use it to study tactics and endgames.

Of course, if you get lots of enjoyment from reading opening manuals cover to cover, I don't want to stop you. But it's not an efficient way to improve your results (especially at your current level), and you certainly don't need to do it for every opening you think you might encounter.


At your level which is close to mine you should be still be focused on not leaving pieces hanging to prevent opposition from getting easy tactic attacks. Pawn structures and learning the color of the squares your knights are on and looking for two more powerful pieces to be on opposite colors or preventing your pieces from being forked. This seems to be a reoccurring theme for your level. Make a habit to notice the color and look at opposite color pieces every move if the game time permits. Until it is automatic even if you don't get caught often in this fork which is doubtful your competition will at that level. I am amazed how often i miss seeing this opportunity. To much opening line study is a poor use of time. A lot of that understanding and memorization will be done by the time you actually need it to progress further. Pick one for white and just some basic understanding of for black for one like sicillian like you have done and focus on cleaning up your blunders


Another way to learn about openings is to study annotated master games using the opening you're interested in. That will give you an idea of the typical middlegame positions and plans associated with the opening. A good annotation will stop and point out possible tactical pitfalls, and will even cover the endgame. So that approach has multiple benefits.

When the positions in the games start to look familiar to you, you'll be ready to try the opening yourself.


Yes. You can use online info instead of books.

But you should focus on ONE opening. Master it. You will need to know offshoots but you do not need to know every opening.

At only 1400s uscf I would suggest you focus on playing GM games with the openings you prefer. Play every one you can find. Get used to seeing what moves they make in the opening and what they did in the middle games. Play enough of those and you will just instinctively know what a really good move is in your games.

There are books with games from tournaments but they may not have the openings you want. Do not get distracted playing over games with openings that you do not play.

There are a number of online databases with games and they are indexed. Play everything you can find that is the opening you chose.

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