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One of the most popular presenters at iChess is IM Anna Rudolf. Learn how to choose an opening that fits you.
Although many players fall into the trap of spending too much time studying the opening it is essential to have a way to safely negotiate the opening moves of a chess game.
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Table of contents
Getting Better at Chess By Learning the Opening Principles
There can be no doubt knowing the theory of buoyancy is a lot more helpful than only knowing how to build a raft. Understanding why a raft floats allows you to make many different types of watercraft.
When you understand how chess openings work, you will find getting better at chess openings a lot easier. Memorizing the moves works well only if your opponent sticks to theory.
How does it help you to know the first nineteen moves of the Open Ruy Lopez if your opponent plays the Steinitz variation? Maybe it is a passive defense, but do you know how to take advantage of a passive but solid position?
Fortunately, a 40% Club Member discount makes improving all three phases of the game very affordable!
As an iChess Club member you get access to a vast array of Members Only premium VECO videos on the opening. Update weekly the Video Encyclopedia of Chess Openings (VECO) will help you learn the ideas behind the opening.
Presented by top coaches and titled players you get unlimited access to the ideas, tactics and essential theory of the opening. Your iChess club membership makes it easier than ever to learn new openings or change your opening repertoire.
These high-quality opening videos free up your budget for courses to improve your essential middlegame and endgame skills.
When it comes to giving you an edge against your opponents your iChess Club membership delivers in many ways.
The Three Crucial Opening Principles You Must-Know
There are many different ways of playing the opening, but it is accepted the three main principles of every successful opening are:
- Control the center.
- Develop your pieces actively.
- King safety.
Everything else in an opening flows from these three main branches. Getting better at chess means becoming very familiar with these three principles.
Keep in mind that these principles will help you in the openings and in the middlegame and endgame too!
Many of the iChess exclusive Master Method series training courses include grandmaster tips and techniques on all three game phases.
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Great Chess Games Are Built on Principled Play
What seems like a little thing can prove the essential building block for much greater things. Using these principles as the foundation of your opening play will allow you to reach sound middlegame positions.
Imagine how much time you will save in a blitz or rapid game if you only think about three principles. Instead of trying to remember if you play …Bf5 or …Be6 on move 12, you can ask, “Can I develop a piece actively?” or “Is my king safe?”
Firstly, answering the last two questions is a lot easier during the game. Secondly, one of the easiest ways of getting better at chess openings is to reduce your mistakes.
Getting Better at Chess Openings Is All About Time
Time is a crucial component in getting better at chess in many aspects of the game. Using your time wisely at the board and away from it is essential.
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There is no getting around the fact you need to study some opening theory. Getting better at chess means knowing when and how to break the rules, and theory is your guide.
For example, if you play a gambit, you could give up a pawn for a lead in development. Knowing some theory will guide you in making use of your development advantage.
Until your rating is above 2000 Elo, your main goal in getting better at chess should be reaching a safe position. Allow the increase in your opponent’s playing strength to decide how much opening study you need.
Using Time Wisely in the Game Is Essential
In a chess game, time is a critical factor. Your material advantage won’t help you if your pieces can’t get back in time to defend your king.
This does not mean a material advantage is not important, but it is not the most important advantage.
Always consider how much gaining material will cost you in time.
Remember, it is not only the time to win material you must consider. It would be best to consider how much time it will take to get your piece back in play.
When you play a gambit for a lead in development, don’t give up your advantage in your rush to regain your material.
If you find yourself behind in development, don’t waste any more time getting your pieces developed.
Choosing a Sound Opening Helps You in Getting Better at Chess
Be sure to make full use of your access as an iChess Club member to the VECO library of chess openings. Here is IM Anna Rudolf teaching us how to go about building an opening repertoire the right way.
Unless your opponent blunders early, you will win most of your games in the middlegame and endgame. A sound and versatile opening is the Three Knights Game.
Playing an opening with a low theoretical workload gives you time to get better at chess middlegames and endgames. Here is how play might unfold.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3
3…Nf6 is best met by transposing to the Scotch Four Knights Opening with 4.d4. By using this move order, you are cutting down the options available to Black.
Apart from 3…Nf6 black has tried 3…g6 or 3…d6.
Both these moves can get met with 4.d4!
A natural response to 3.Nc3 is 3…Bb4, which is a bad move because it allows 4.Nd5 with c3 to follow.
In this game, Wen Yang shows how to play against the solid but passive 3…d6. Here is a classic example of the power you can generate by centralizing your pieces.
Wen Yang – Lan, Zilun, 1-0, TCh-CHN 2017
Black resigned because 25…dxe5 allows 26.Qc5 when checkmate on e7 is unavoidable. 25…Kf8 allows 26.Be7 leading to a heavy loss of material after 26…Ke8 27.Bxd6+ with a mate to follow soon.
Against 3…g6, Mihail Kobalia played a fantastic attacking game before transitioning into a won endgame. This against a player rated 100 Elo higher than him.
Black never managed to get his king out of the center, and it took all the chess skills of a 2700 rated player to defend until the endgame.
Kobalia, Mihail – Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar, 1-0, FIDE World Blitz 2013
Getting better at chess openings, middlegames, and endgames is not difficult if you use chess principles. These principles have stood the test of time and helped chess players become world champions.
They will form a great foundation, but mastery of anything will always include a systematic learning process and a willingness to work hard.
Many talented chess players who relied on talent have fallen aside, while hard-working players of lesser skill have become titled players.
World champions like Botvinnik and Tal spent a lot of time analyzing their games. Their effort was well-rewarded, and yours will be too!
A big part of getting better at chess is learning how to save time. Another aspect you are sure to enjoy is saving money while getting better at chess.
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Getting better at chess was never this easy nor this affordable!