What determines your WIN/LOSS in a chess game?Whether or not you win or lose is determined by your opening preparation, your middlegame skills, and your endgame technique.
At the same time, the opening phase is MORE important because if you don’t play it well, you will lose sooner than you can demonstrate your middlegame/endgame skills.
How do you play an opening properly?
In order to play the opening properly, a lot of people believe that one should just study a lot of opening variations and typical ideas/tricks. Although this is partly correct, there’s actually a huge hole here.
Above we see the starting position of the Scheveningen variation of the Sicilian defense. What move can White play here? Almost anything! For instance: Be2, Bc4, g3, Be3, f4, g4,Bg5, f3, Qf3 and the list goes on…
Do you really need to study all these lines? Of course not!
The opening stage lasts for 15-20 moves and on every move both opponents can play around 10 different logical moves. Ultimately this generates many thousands (perhaps millions) of variations. Obviously there’s no way for us to analyze and remember them all.
Therefore we should learn the most logical moves only. For example, in the Scheveningen variation Black certainly should know some theory in the main lines like 6.Be2, 6.g4, 6.Be3,6.Bc4
But what about other possible options for White? Should Black learn the lines arising from6.Bb5, 6.Nb3, 6.Qf3, 6.h3, etc.?
NO! You can’t learn it all anyway. If you dig too deep in your opening study, you will not have time for mastering other vitally important skills: calculation, tactics, positional play, etc.
In conclusion, there can be 2 situations in an opening:
1) You play a theoretical variation based on your home preparation.
2) Your game turns into a sideline, or your opponent surprises you with an unexpected move. An unknown position appears and you need to find correct moves by yourself.
These 2 situations will happen equally often. Again, let’s be realistic. You can’t learn all possible opening variations; it’s an unworkable hope.
FINAL CONCLUSION: how do you play an opening successfully?
1) You need to choose the right opening variations (your opening repertoire), and learn the NECESSARY lines within them.
2) You need to know the general rules/principles of opening play, and how you can find correct moves in unknown opening positions.
Regarding the 1st item – opening variations – there are a lot of existing chess books/DVDs about virtually any opening that you can think of. Some of these tutorials are even pretty good. However, there are still some problems here:
- Studying various opening variations takes a lot of your time.
- As we’ve already discussed, you can’t learn everything anyway.
- Your opponents have access to the same tutorials that you have.
- There are opening tutorials about all possible opening variations, and you don’t know what will work best for YOU.
As for the 2nd item – the general rules/principles of an opening play – this topic is almost completely missing!
Yes, there are some well-known opening rules like “develop pieces”, “fight for the center” and so on, but these are very basic rules. Even beginners know such ideas and in many positions, it simply cannot help you.
Above we see a very popular variation of Ruy Lopez. How should White play here?
As you can see, the basic opening rules don’t help here. For example, it is true that “we should fight for the center”, but he’s already fighting. So what should he do?
Most of the modern openings lead to complex positions where you need to use more advanced rules. Surprisingly, this topic is almost completely missing in the opening tutorials.
In order to help you overcome these difficulties, I’ve created a new opening course “The Grandmaster’s Openings Laboratory”- 2.
This course contains those 2 items that you need for successful opening play:
1) Powerful Opening Repertoire
We’ve selected the best opening variations, analyzed them, removed unnecessary lines, and prepared training materials that will help you master the given openings gradually.
2) The general rules/principles of opening play
It reveals how Grandmasters find correct opening moves while playing a game. I’ll show it to you in a real-time mode using various positions. Then you’ll train it and automate these skills. Thus you’ll be able to implement it in your games right after a study of the course.
Here you can find a very detailed description of the course’s contents.
Note: I don’t mention here exactly what opening variations are presented in the course. There are a few reasons for this.
1. It’s important to understand what opening you should play and WHY it is so. If I just list the variations here, it really will not clarify anything.
2. This opening repertoire is a special weapon for our students! For this reason it should not be exposed so publicly.
Nevertheless, below you’ll find a lot of information about the materials presented in the course.
Lesson-1: Opening knowledge VS opening understanding
You’ll learn 2 main situations that can happen in an opening (playing by memory and finding the moves yourself) and exactly how you should handle them.
Many times you’ve seen that Grandmasters recommend you to play some opening moves. Now you’ll finally be able to realize precisely WHY those opening moves should be played (and not something else).
Using practical examples, we’ll analyze the 5 main mistakes that lead to opening troubles. Through these examples you’ll learn how to prevent such situations occurring in your games.
“Question of all-times”: which openings should you choose?
Choosing openings according to your style, and typical mistakes in this approach.
Lesson-2: How to play an opening
The 2nd and 3rd lessons are the KEY parts of the course and will provide you with a complete guide for finding proper opening moves in your games.
Within this lesson I’ll reveal to you how Grandmasters think in an opening so that you can do the same. More specifically you’ll learn:
- Rules for opening play
- Which openings are the best and how to decide which variation to play within an opening
- You will understand advanced positions where GMs make strange moves that seemingly break the common rules. Well, sometimes those GMs are just wrong. But sometimes this is indeed a very profound idea. We’ll analyze both cases.
- How to find the right set up for your pieces in the opening.
- Pawn play in the opening. There are 3 reasons for making pawn moves. In all other cases it is wrong. A lot of players make such mistakes and don’t even realize it.
- There are a lot of openings. But TOP players mainly play only a few openings. I’ll explain to you why it is so, and what is wrong with other openings.
- When you should fianchetto a bishop and when it is the wrong idea.
- We’ll analyze GM’s games where 1 player got into trouble and detect why this happens. Thus you’ll learn to avoid this in your own games.
- There are a lot of things you need to think about while you are considering the right move: center, development, pawn structure, good/bad bishops, king safety etc. How can you handle it all?
- How do you attack in an opening? When is it suitable, and when is it a premature attack? How do you deal with an opponent’s early attacks?
- How to choose the openings that are easier to play
- How to detect the best positions for your pieces in the opening
- The main tactical task of an opening: A simple guideline idea that helps you understand the strategic ideas of (and thus to play well) the Ruy Lopez, Queen’s gambit declined and 90% of all existing openings.
Lesson 3: Advanced rules
In this lesson we’ll deepen your opening understanding. This time we’ll analyze really difficult, complex positions. You’ll learn how to play openings on a Grandmaster level! For instance you’ll learn:
- Why White can’t beat “Marshal counter-attack”
- When you may sacrifice material in an opening
- We’ll analyze advanced ideas and complex opening positions where common rules do not work.
- What you should do if there’s no good way for developing a certain piece.
- When you may ignore the development of your pieces: There’s only 1 alternative idea, which is good. In all other situations it would be wrong.
- How to recognize an opponent’s opening mistakes, and how to make use of them.
- When pawn moves a3 and h3 are useful in an opening, and when it is a waste of time.
- When you may leave your pieces on their initial positions for some time
- When both players do similar things in an opening (develop pieces, fight for the center etc), how does one get an ADVANTAGE?
- Modern GMs often push flank pawns forward at an early stage of the game. This looks strange as books teach us to develop all the pieces first. You’ll know when those GMs are correct, and when it is a mistake.
- What to do if your opponent delays his development.
- How to win a winning position. Let’s say you have an opening advantage. How then do you convert it into a WIN?
- There are different opening rules for playing in open/closed positions. You’ll learn them all.
- When you should advance central pawns, and when it is wrong
- When is it fine to take an opponent’s pawn, and when it is a mistake that will give him an attack?
- One strategic idea that will be a guideline for you in most of the opening positions
- How Black should try to equalize a game and how White can save his opening advantage
- Imbalanced positions and how to play them
- Practical tips for playing an opening quickly and avoiding mistakes.
Lesson-4: Modern opening trends
Due to modern technologies (computer, Internet) and through competition amongst chess players, opening preparation is rather different nowadays. In this lesson you’ll learn modern trends that will help you to be on the cutting edge of the best technologies!
- Which 2 factors determine success of your opening play.
- The right approach for studying and playing openings.
- Successful techniques of opening preparation used by Kasparov and Carlsen
- Which openings you should play against stronger opponents
- How to introduce NEW openings (that you never played before) into your opening repertoire easily
- 7 main ways to break your opponent’s opening preparation and confuse him
- How to detect which opening are bad
- How to TRAIN your opening play
- How to prevent opening mistakes
- 2 cases when you really need to avoid opponent’s opening preparation.
Lesson-5.1 Opening Understanding in Action (part-1)
Lesson-5.2 Opening Understanding in Action (part-2)
This is another KEY part of the course. It’s is simply not enough to just know about something. To truly know it you must introduce it into your practical games.
For example, everybody knows about a positional sacrifice. But how often you really use it in your practical games? For most players, the answer is: almost never! Such “knowledge” is completely useless.
My approach is different. I help you train the SKILLS, and to do it right during the course’s study. Thus you’ll be able to implement it in your practical games straight away!
Here we will be analyzing different games and opening positions. You will use your new knowledge to detect the right moves. Then you’ll compare your thoughts with the actual game. After that I’ll explain whether your thoughts were correct or not. If not, I’ll then show you how you should have done it.
After passing this training, you have will have no chance but to understand the right way of finding powerful opening moves.
The practical part contains an extensive analysis of different openings. Together with the openings from my previous opening course, “The Grandmaster’s Openings Laboratory”, this will form your complete opening repertoire on an IM/GM level!
It’s NOT just a bunch of variations. It’s a special system of study that will help you master a new opening gradually, starting with the base ideas, and then going deeper. Ultimatelyyou’ll become a real expert in these openings who is familiar with all of the specific variations, as well as their typical ideas and plans.
It contains 2 levels of study: base and advanced.
- For beginner/intermediate players it allows a study the base level only, and does not waste time on complicated lines they don’t need anyway.
- For advanced players it makes the study of an opening easier. Firstly you’ll study it on the base level. Then you’ll deepen your knowledge by studying it at the advanced level.
Some additional characteristics of the practical part:
- It’s not just variations. It contains detailed text explanations of why the moves are so.
- For each opening variation we provide fully commented games that explain how to play it.
- Also included are additional games that illustrate typical plans and tactical motifs.
- The opening repertoire is available in pgn format, thus you can open it with the chess program of your choice (one such program is included for you in the course). Hence you’ll be able to review a certain opening quickly and easily whenever necessary (for example, when you are preparing for a game).
- Only NECESSARY lines and variations are included. We eliminated tons of variations that you don’t need really.
- You’ll study the BEST variations. We’ve chosen the lines very accurately, and analyzed them thoroughly. This ensures you will not get into an opening trouble, because the line is just RIGHT.
- We’ve made an extensive analysis of the openings. You’ll find a lot of interesting ideas and moves that never happened in the games yet.
- You’ll learn from “Theoretical summary” files that help you systematize and digest better all the info you’ve learned about an opening.
- In addition to studying the openings, in the practical part you’ll perform 1 other thing.You’ll complete some special training in order to detect your opening mistakes and eliminate them. We don’t want to wait until you lose a game. It’s a lot better to detect your weak points IN ADVANCE and correct them.
Now you can purchase the course “The Grandmaster’s Openings Laboratory – 2“
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