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How to choose opening?

Hello Everyone!

The topic I would like to discuss today is an opening choice. What do you think, how should person choose an opening? Which are key factors? Personal characteristics, coach advise , or something else?
Please, feel free to share your thoughts. 

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Sriram M

Sriram M 2 years ago

I read somewhere that until 2000 ELO, one should play openings that are attacking in nature or lead to more dynamic play but after that one must study openings based on the pawn structure one is comfortable in playing.
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GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan

GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan 2 years ago

Interesting Opinion!

I am more thinking that opening choice is probably a matter of taste. Some people like attacking active positions, some prefer a little bit quite and positional play. Seems like rating is not so important, and personal characteristics makes more sense.

Brad Pevehouse

Brad Pevehouse 2 years ago

What if you like both?
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GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan

GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan 2 years ago

Good Question!

Anyway you are going to face all type of positions, as even sharpest lines have continuations were it's gonna be more positional battle. 

But being able to play in both styles is giving a great possibility to have larger opening background!

Giorgos Kechagias

Giorgos Kechagias 2 years ago

For me, the opening choice is basically caused by one's charachter. Personally I love to play sharp and complex positions. As Siriam has said, until 2000 ELO, sometimes players who do not have the required theoretical knowledge, choose openings which do not "fit" their playing style. One of my friends is so inspired by Morphy's games, he almost always chooses the italian game, although he gets crushed by me (his lichess ELO 1420). That's why I believe that an opening choice can arise is one's mind accordingly to his opponent.
Jay Garrison

Jay Garrison 2 years ago

I play what my coach tells me! heh

In all seriousness, when choosing openings on my own, I was all over the place with style, and was following the latest fads. I played the Trmpowski and the London System with white, and I played the Pirc and Philidors Black Lion with Black. I had experimented with the Najdorf, the Caro-Khan, KID, Nimzo-Indian, and many others looking for the "fix" to my game. 

Once I started with Chessmood I accepted the recommended openings and drop all the ones I was playing before (This was hard for the Tromp, as I had been playing it for 20+ years and was quite comfortable in all the positions) However, by doing so, I have found my own style because of the ChessMood openings. A very aggressive attacking style that fits my personality :). I will continue to use them until Coach tells me otherwise. 

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Giorgos Kechagias

Giorgos Kechagias 2 years ago

Ιnteresting answer, Jay! ;)

Marc Sicina

Marc Sicina 2 years ago

Hi, Interesting question.  I have spent a lot of time on this...  tooo much time!!  To my detrament as a player I have lost too much time with this question.  The best and simplest answer is this: (I should  have accepted the answer from the late Mark Morss.  I would be a better player) . 1.e4 as white and play open positions!  vs 1.d4 he recommended Tarrasch as leading to open positions.  I believe that is a decent answer.  Why because it handles 1.c4 and 1.Nf3.  maybe better is the QGA with the book by Delchev and Semkov and their book on how to play vs 1.Nf3 and 1.c4.  The QGA and the corresponding Delchev and Semkov book.  And vs 1e4 play 1...e5 and play open positions.  play open Ruy Lopez.  The idea BEHIND this is not to master the QGA or the Tarrasch.  BUT to master open positions.  Why open positions?  Main reason: they can never ever close up on you.  Why learn say the complicated KID with closed structures when you may have memorized where the pieces go but once the position opens up you loose.  Why?  You never learned open positions.  Mark Morss a Chess master and I think IM in Postal??  Would say play open positions till 2000 or better yet till you are knocking over NM or higher.  I think 1800 is pretty good, maybe.  The idea is that chess builds, just like Math or Physics.  Gotta learn to count before calculus.  Better know your Sines and Cosines ect ect....  Then at 1800, play semi open positions.  Then 2000 level  play Closed positions.  At 2200 play whatever you want.  You will now know what positions you like and don't like.  Very easy for 2500+ players to say openings are a matter of taste, often times they started at say 6 and by the time most of us started to drive they were better players with higher ratings then we will ever achieve!!  Also, if you haven't reached many of position types how do you know if you like and can play them.   Often times we also get our emotions into chess.  One issue, for example, is we want to play like Kasparov so we play Najdorf and we haven't learned to play say even Scandanavian with Qd6.   We hang pieces ect.   We must learn the basics first.  One teacher tried to show me this but I was blind.  Serving in Tennis, read at the top of his article(what the hell does this have to do with chess I thought??  I am the next Fischer!!).  We all want a devastating, leaping, killer serve.  We try throwing up the ball and it hits the net.  Net again.  Same with chess.  Develop the basics, the fundamentals!!  Another chess issue is thinking you play like Kasparov when really, you play like Karpov.  Not an issue.  I mean if you are 3000 rating who cares what style you play in, you are 3000!!  Most players I have seen have learned how to attack at first and then developed a style.  Karpov played 1.e4 when he started and only changed to 1.d4 after Kasparov.  Kramnik played very sharp.  He played Sveshnikov, Semi Slav and main line 1.d4 lines like Bayonette in KID (scaring most players away from KID for a while) and Rb1 in exchange Grunfeld!!  Soo, Tonight I will learn the Fundamental openings.  1.e4 with scotch, Nc3 vs sicilian, exchange caro.  And yes Benko and Accelerated dragon as Black.  So learn to attack.  Learn basic fundamental principles.  (Oh by the way even Mikhail Tal got caught watching  "basic" chess programs on TV, when asked I think he said he still learned from them or at least gotta keep in shape!!) .   But I still think open positions before closed, is a fundamental idea in chess.  Also, I think till you learn all the basics and are like say over 2000 you have no style.  You have lack of knowledge.  Even at 2000 people have attained that without knowing when to play say the move a4 as white to attack or stop b5 pawn.  They just want to attack.  If your coach can honestly say you know all the principles of chess and you have like a 2000-2200 rating then by all means pick a style.  By the way most GM's i think will say they have no style or  that theirs is a Universal style.  If you are so good in one you must be lacking in the other.   Just an opinion.   Thanks for reading!!  
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Richard Dickinson

Richard Dickinson 2 years ago

I strongly feel you should play openings that you like and have success with. To do this well, does not just mean learning the first 10 moves from memory alone, but actually trying to understand the ideas and chess principles related to the openings you play. A good tip I also have, is it helps to learn and play an opening with both colours (eg GM Bobby Fischer playing Sicilian as White & Black with great success).

Getting good advice from a coach is very useful, but only if the coach knows your chess playing style. Too many coaches (imho), tell students to play the openings they (as coaches) like, which may not be the best for all chess students and chess players! With so many openings to choose from and so many opinions from "chess experts", it can be tough for lower rated and less experienced chess players to find the right openings that suits them individually and spend time specialising in them!

Amazingly, there are fashion trends in chess openings that influence players choices. Around 5-10 years ago, many GM's recommended lower rated players play the Colle opening as a sort of system opening and yet over the last 2 years these same GM's are now recommending to learn & play The London system! Sometimes the fashion depends on what openings were played mainly in the last World Chess Championship final.

Of course, the Chess Mood opening repertoire, is a really fine repertoire, as GM Avetik Grigoryan and the rest of the GM team explain the openings well and play them well also, giving a good example to follow. This is great for lower rated players like me to use, as I know they will give success if I learn and play them well. For me though, many of these are new openings to me, which means I have a lot to learn if I want to follow all Chess Mood opening courses and this takes a lot of time and effort!

Last year, before I joined Chess Mood I decided I would try & learn and play the Sicilian as Black and started with the Dragon variations. As White against the Sicilian, I usually play a Bb5/Bb5+ or some type of delayed Alapin. Now at Chess Mood I am learning the Closed Sicilian as White and may soon try to learn the Najdorf as Black. So much new work to do! Actually though, I do enjoy chess opening study and play which helps me tackle and persevere to learn these new openings. I also like the fact that as I know quite a few openings now, my chess play is versatile and has lots of variety! Now I need to learn better mid and end game play that arises from these openings, to win more games!

Final words from Jedi master Yoda: "Important an opening is. Wisely must you choose!"  So have fun all choosing and playing openings and especially the Chess Mood openings  :-)

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Marc Sicina

Marc Sicina 2 years ago

Also in choosing openings, we should find coherence.  What I mean is take the slav and caro.  Or the KID  and Pirc.  Accelerated dragon and Benko.   Now for the slav and caro, lets say the moves are 1.c4 c6 2.e4!!!  You have been move ordered from your slav to your caro Kahn repertoire.  No Caro??  you have issue.  KID and Pirc still different openings but they give you flexability.  Hate the Trompowsky, but playing Jay who has played it for 20 plus years??  Play 1.d4 d6!!  no tropowsky!!   ACC. Dragon and Benko work as you have seen in tandem with symetrical English to give a repertoire vs 1.d4, e4, c4, and Nf3. 

Also remember, Black is not white and white is not black.  You can play KIA but KID is more of a line in GM play.  Why?  Because Black is not white.  White calls the shots and creates the information on the board.  Black replies to it.  Take GM Mihail Suba's example say a number any, ok 25 well 26 I win.  The point is white has to create the Tempo and Black depending on style of play either equalizes or counter punches.  That is why 1.c4 e5 and 1.e4 c5 are different.  1.e4 takes space and threatens 2.d4.  Black says, nah I am going to counter punch and create asymetry on the board.  While, 1.c4 is flexable allows for pawns to be developed before knights (meaning you dont want to weaken kingside by 1.f4 2.Nf3 but 1.c4 2.Nc3 is better then just 1.Nc3 as you have now blocked your c pawn), creates space.  while 1...e5 counteracts that says now the game will be a game of counterattack, probably Kingside space vs white's queenside space.  Reverse of sicilian game but still 1.c4 e5 is not 1.e4 c5!!!Check theory, what lines are with 1.c4 e5?  No Najdorfs, Sveshnikov's or Dragons (well reverse dragon but still Black is not white!!) no tons of theory. 

Plan first then pick openings around that!!  For example    questions to ask yourself:  1. what types of pawn structures do I like or want to investigate?  2. Do I like sharp positions or something more plan based? 3. Be honest, DO I HAVE THE TIME???  Unless you quit work, are retired maybe Grunfeld, Najdorf, 1.e4 and 1.d4 playing open sicilians and 30 moves of Mar Del Plata should not be your cup of tea!!  3. How many openings can I remember?  That also has to do with time.  (Note the above questions can rarely be answered by Newer players, or at least players with more experience will definetly have "better" answers).  4.  Next where am I in my chess career?  Am I new?  Well why be taught how to play 6.Bg5 in Najdorf when you have not seen classical games with 1.e4 e5??  Are you like coach a GM who needs/needed to revamp repertoire and play sharper or heck less sharp???  (Look at Kramnik went from hot chess to positional!  Similar to Karpov but Karpov a lot tamer over all.)  

Only now should you choose the openings to play.  If you have a job and have played 1.e4 before and are 1800+ or so and don't like theory.  Try the Trompowsky! What can it hurt?  Or even London?   As black try if you like open games 1.e5 and open spanish and Tarrasch or whatever!!  I am just advising to plan first and then choose.  Ask the above questions then start asking what openings fit the answers.  

Thanks, Marc