How to play an opening?

Comments: 6497

Let me start the lesson with a question. Do you know what determines your WIN/LOSS in a chess game?


Whether you win or lose is determined by your:

  • opening preparation
  • middlegame skills
  • endgame technique

It’s quite obvious that the opening phase is MORE important, because if you don’t play it well, you will lose before you can demonstrate your middlegame/endgame skills.

Then, here’s the next question you need to think about – 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. Let me give you an example.

White’s turn

Above, we see the starting position of the Scheveningen variation of the Sicilian Defence. What move can White play here?

Almost anything! For instance: Be2Bc4g3Be3f4g4, Bg5f3Qf3 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 analyse 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.Be26.g46.Be3, 6.Bc4.

But what about other possible options for White? Should Black learn the lines arising from 6.Bb56.Nb36.Qf36.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: calculationtacticspositional play, etc.

Therefore, there can betwo situations in an opening:

  • You play a theoretical variation based on your home preparation.
  • 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 two situations will happen equally often. Again, let’s be realistic. You can’t learn all possible opening variations – it’s an unworkable aspiration.

FINAL CONCLUSION: how do you play an opening successfully?

  •  You need to choose the right opening variations (your opening repertoire) and learn the NECESSARY lines within them.
  • You need to know the general rules/principles of opening play and how you can find correct moves in unknown opening positions.

If you’ve watched the video I published a few years ago, “Professional Opening Preparation” (LINK), that’s good for you!

Regarding the opening variations – there are a lot of existing chess books/DVDs about virtually any opening 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 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 general rules/principles of opening play – this topic is almost completely missing!

Yes, there are some well-known opening rules like “develop pieces”, “fight for the centre” and so on, but these are very basic rules. Even beginners know such ideas and, in many positions, they simply cannot help you.

Let me emphasise this with another example.

White’s turn

Above we see a very popular variation of the 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 centre”, but he’s already fighting. So what should he do? 🙂

Most modern openings lead to complex positions, where you need to use more advanced rules. Surprisingly, this topic is almost completely missing in opening tutorials.

So what is the solution?


To overcome these difficulties, I recommend you to study the opening courses I’ve prepared for YOU. You’ll find solutions to all these questions in the courses

  • GM’s Opening Laboratory – 1 (LINK)
  • GM’s Opening Laboratory – 2 (LINK)

Some of my students have already studied these courses. Moreover, after studying them, they had some questions and sent them to me. Therefore, I have answered them all in the BONUS pack (LINK).

If you really want to have SUCCESSFUL opening play, I recommend you to buy the Opening Bundle which has both parts of the Opening Lab course, including the BONUS pack.


<<Get the Opening Bundle NOW>>

In this case, you will get both of the courses and the bonus pack for just $143 and SAVE $33DISCOUNT!

P.S. We’re nearing the festive season – Christmas and New Year. As usual, there will be some huge OFFERS and DISCOUNTS for you. 🙂 Stay tuned for the updates.
Comments: 6497

Comments 5

  1. So , when is the new course releasing 🙂 ? I guess it is done by RCA with GM Maxim Dluggy.I believe that the course name is ” Unlocking the Grandmaster’s mind”

    It was expected to be released in Dec 1 week na 🙂 ?

    1. Hi Madara,
      We are working on this course at the moment. Stay tuned, as usual we’ll be publishing our news in blog-posts.

      Prasaadh / Student Support Officer

  2. We are working on this course at the moment. It’s hard to state the exact date of release, but we’ll try our best to finalize it this year. Stay tuned, as usual we’ll be publishing our news in blog-posts.

    1. dear igor,i saw your lessons of anand gelfand wcch match 2012 i was just fantastic.i am amazed how you prove that commentators leads us into wrong path sometimes..i also saw the commentary of parimargan negi and daniel king wcch match 2014 anand carlsen live.they are not like you explaining every thing going on the chess are just fantastic…

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