Understanding your opening (Part III)

Understanding your opening for the average player begins with these ideas. Are you looking for a closed position or an open position? Do you know the advantages of each type?

Knowing what weaknesses and strengths exist in your chosen opening will help you come up with plans during the game.

I often hear players talking about style. Understanding whether you favor open positions vs. closed positions is just one component of style. One is not better than the other. Some player calculate better when there is more space on the board, others with more pieces or occupied spaces.

If you are a player that prefers open spaces and lots of attacking lanes, then you need to make sure you are playing openings that favor this style.

Players who like open spaces tend to play "e4" or P-K4 openings. They may also consider some of the Indian systems or flank type openings. 

Players who like closed positions tend to play "d4" or P-Q4 openings.  Closed position players tend to maneuver more.  They will shift their pieces multiple times behind their own forces.  If you feel comfortable creating plans where you pieces stay on your side of the board for 10-15 moves then closed positions are for you.

Let's talk about what happens if you choose the wrong opening.  Let's pretend you are a positional player and don't know it.  You have decided to play a popular opening like the Sicilian.  Most of the Sicilian lines are sharp, open attacking lines.  Keeping your pieces at home is a recipe for disaster in this opening.  You will rarely win a game.

If you find yourself constantly asking yourself what should I do now? You are probably playing the wrong style for the opening or the wrong opening for your style.

Players should look for openings that are intuitive.  How do you find openings that are intuitive?  By looking at others playing live.  Jump on the live chess site and watch some high rated players playing.  If you can predict what moves they make or what plans they implement, you might want to try similar openings.

Strong chess players are constantly reviewing other strong players games. They might not look at other games for the same reasons, but they will come away with similar ideas.

I encourage you to regularly look at Grandmaster games.  Some games will excite you others will not.  Either way you should make a note of what openings they are playing and how you feel about it.

If you feel like the French is boring. Make a note. "Note to self. The French is boring." Feel free to add additional comments to the note. "I don't like the French because white always ends up attacking the pawn chain." or "They always end up trading down quickly."

Making these type notes about openings and games will help you determine your style.

Once you know what opening really fits you, you can then move on to the most important training.  That is determining what ideas exist for your opening.

Play your opening religiously.  Keep notes.  You should be able to tell at what point you made a new move.

Let's say you play 20 games with the white pieces. Every game your first 5 moves for both sides were identical. (this is a good start). On move six your opponents started doing different things.  Let's say out of 20 games 5 opponents pushed a center pawn. or 5 games your opponent castled on move six.

You should keep notes on what the best move is from move six.  You can also keep notes that reflect how many games you win based on changes on move six.

The stronger you get, the more moves you will make consistently and correctly in the opening.

You should compare your first 10 moves with grandmaster games.  How many times did you make the exact moves that they made?  When you deviated did you loose the game?  At what point did your opponent deviate? Was there move a mistake?

In Part IV we will begin to analyze the specifics of one particular opening.  Feel free to leave a comment or message me on your opening preference.  I will try to choose an opening with the most requests.


  • 4 years ago


    hey bro,awesome topic and very well explained :) i lovve closed games and i want a repertoire that allows me to play only closed games,but if i'm playing black and white plays E4 how do i close it? could i use the french defense like Andre Philidor? any advice will be greatful thanxsssss


  • 8 years ago


    As you will see this opening can prove sharp and dangerous for both sides if not played accurately.

  • 8 years ago


    I played intuitively and found an opening that suited me.. once I searched up the name I found it was called the Scotch game. I like this a lot, especially when they accept the trade of pawns an knights on d4 and White ends up with Queen and pawn on d4 and e4 whilst black has nothing out!

  • 8 years ago


    Playing style is often confused player style.  They are two different concepts.  Emulating a player can be good on several different levels.  The obvious reason you might want to emulate a strong player is for the strong move.

    However, you might not want to emulate a strong player for their style.  Strong players are contstantly modifying their style from game to game or tournament to tournament.  Look at the current World Champion for example.  He was a die hard "e4" open tactical player who has recently adopted more "d4" solid play lines to his game.

    Emulating Anand would be confusing for the beginner player.  Anand has adopted or modified his style to throw his opponent off and make it difficult for his opponent to prepare for him.  Currently you would have to prepare basically every possible response for Anand.

  • 8 years ago


    Shootfilm - I think that you've hit the nail on head regarding how a newish player should go about picking an opening. It would be nice to see some sort of list that outlines the type of games you get for each "main" defense line.

    Of course this is assuming that the player is aware of their strengths and weaknesses - for example, you may be unaware that your playing syle (or talent) is similar to a "Petrosian", but you think that you're more of a "Fischer", therefore you end up wasting time trying to emulate a player that is the complete opposite to who you are and how you think. (Obviously this could be something we're all guilty of on some level.)

    Anyway, thanks for the article, and I'll look forward to the next one...

  • 8 years ago


    I too would like to see something on the Scotch Game.

  • 8 years ago


    I like the ponziani - which is similiar to the scotch - but I'm looking for a strong scotch gambit declined game - most everyone seems to accept it.

  • 8 years ago


    Italian Game is a classical beginner's opening!

  • 8 years ago


    Scotch Game works for me!!  Looking forward to it...

  • 8 years ago


    Queen's Gambit!

  • 8 years ago


    Scotch game!

  • 8 years ago


    I think you should do the king's gambit

  • 8 years ago


    Another for the Scotch game!

  • 8 years ago


    Another one for the Scotch (anyway)!

  • 8 years ago


    3 votes for the Scotch. Must be the trend.  The scotch it is.

  • 8 years ago


    Scotch is good

  • 8 years ago


    Sounds like 2 votes for the Scotch.

  • 8 years ago


    good idea, i support the Scotch Game.

  • 8 years ago


    Thanks for the comment Grakovsky . I am hoping to get a consensus before moving forward.  That way I don't spend a lot of time in areas that might not interest the average player.

    One vote for the Scotch Game.  Any others?

  • 8 years ago


    Very nice posts, shootfilm . For your next blog I would recommend picking a straightforward opening that the average chess player could understand easily, for example the Scotch Game.

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