Are you confused with so many chess openings you need to know? In this article, I'm going to share ideas on how many chess openings we need to learn.
If you're starting with chess, you will find that there are a lot of things you need to learn.
You need to learn tactics, strategy, endgames, and so much more.
One of the most important things to learn is openings. By now, you surely know that there are so many chess openings to choose from.
There are so many of these that it is impossible to memorize every single one of them. This brings up a big question, how many chess openings should you learn?
How Many Chess Openings You Need To Learn?
Ideally, you should memorize all the sound openings. You should be ready to face anything that your opponent throws at you. Unfortunately, we are humans, not computers.
Our brains just can't memorize all the openings and their nuances. Even the best chess players today can't remember all the best moves for every opening. Instead, what you should do as a beginner is to focus more on the ideas.
Don't focus so much on memorizing the exact moves, but rather try to grasp the concepts behind the openings. Once you know the purposes, you will know how to play any opening despite not knowing the best move orders.
That being said, it is always a good idea to have some favorite openings.
Studying a few openings in depth will give you a significant advantage every time it's played in your games. With an in-depth knowledge of an opening, you will catch even your opponent's tiny mistakes, and you will be indestructible in defense.
If you watch top players, you will notice that all of them have a few of these. One example would be GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who is well known for his brilliance in both the Sicilian Najdorf and Grunfeld openings. In the same way, you should study 2-3 openings until you know them by heart.
What is the Strongest Chess Opening?
The next question you might ask is, “which openings should I study?” Having a favorite opening is a great idea, but how do you choose which one to study in-depth? You might conclude that you should review the “strongest” chess opening.
You want to consider the opening that is proven to give you the most significant advantage possible. This way, you will always crush your opponents.
Unfortunately, there is no real “strongest” chess opening. No one chess move order is guaranteed to give you a significant advantage. There is no line that you can just memorize and move without thinking that will lead you to victory.
If there were, all players would simply play this line and win the game. There would be no opening struggle, and chess would lose a lot of its beauty.
Also read related article about shoud you “memorize chess openings“
That being said, there are a few chess openings that are statistically better than others.
Of course, this doesn't guarantee you anything, but perhaps you just want a place to start studying. The opening with the best performance for white is the Queen's Gambit (1. d4, d5 2. c4…) and the Spanish Game (1. e4, e5 2. Nf3, Nc6 3. Bb5…).
As you can see, the game can go anywhere from here. This, by no means, ensures a win or even a better position. You'll have to study the lines well to get a chance joining the 40% of Queen's Gambit and Spanish games where white wins.
For Black, win percentages are a lot lower. However, there is a more definite answer to the question when playing as black. At a 34% win rate, the Sicilian defense (1. e4, c5) is the most effective weapon black has in its arsenal.
But be careful, Sicilian games tend to get crazy. You should never go into the Sicilian just because it is statistically the best opening for black.
The Sicilian leads to some sharp tactics that are sure to catch the unprepared and kill them instantly. Instead, study the Sicilian well first. Even though the win rate is only at 34%, this is statistically your best option.
So what is the most durable chess opening?
There is none. The most durable chess opening for you is the opening that you choose to study. The more you play, the more you start to develop a playing style. Depending on what that style is, several openings are going to suit you more than others.
For example, we know that Sicilian is the most effective opening for black. However, if you are a positional player, you are just going to suffer and lose if you try to play the Sicilian.
So get a feeling of what you enjoy in chess, and learn the openings that will give you the types of positions you do best in.
Also, you may want to check out our article about “chess positions”
Finding your style and finding an opening to go with that style is essential. However, things are different for beginners. For beginners, it is necessary to learn the basics first.
You shouldn't try to jump into an opening that suits your “style” when you haven't been playing long enough to know what your style is. It's tempting to follow the footsteps of your favorite players and copy the openings they are using, but this is a bad idea.
Unlike these grandmasters, you haven't studied these openings for years. It is imperative not only to memorize the moves but also to know why exactly you are making those moves.
And that is precisely what the basics will teach you, so stick to them first.
The basics are simple: control the center, develop your minor pieces, don't bring out your Queen early, and get your king to safety by castling.
Follow these rules of thumb, and you should get a good opening even without memorizing moves or knowing the ideas behind openings.
Playing “random” moves that follow these rules is a lot better than going for a well-known opening that you have no idea how to play appropriately.
So what is the best opening for beginners?
The best opening that beginners can go for is one that follows these opening principles closely.
A lot of strong players enjoy playing dynamic openings that stray away from the rules of thumb. They can get away with this because they know exactly what they are doing.
For beginners, it's best to play something like the Spanish game.
The Spanish game is an excellent opening for beginners playing as white or black.
The battle for the center you get from Spanish games will be very instructive to newer players. It is one of those openings that follows the rules of thumb so closely, making it perfect for beginners. Spanish game is also great because there is a lot of depth in it. This is why this opening is also used a lot at the highest level of chess. It is an opening that beginners can start with and stick with all the way through as they get better and better.
Another excellent opening for beginners is the Queen's Gambit.
It's arguably just as good the Spanish game, and it also follows the principles of the opening closed. Queen's Gambit isn't as popular for beginners because it tends to lead to more positional types of games.
It's quite hard for beginners to find a distinct goal in positional games. However, it is an excellent opening that also is used at the top level as well.
Who knows, you might just find that the positional games you get from playing 1. d4 are going to be your cup of tea.
How Important is the Opening in Chess?
In chess, a lot of emphasis is put on openings. It makes you wonder, “just how important are openings exactly?” Chess games are divided into three parts: the opening, the middlegame, and the endgame.
Learning how to play well in each of these stages is vital to becoming a better player. However, since the opening comes first, mastering it becomes that much more important.
No matter how good you are at the middlegame, you will never be able to take advantage of this if you get a terrible opening. The first few moves are the ones that will determine the entire direction of the game.
To learn how to get an advantage straight out of the opening, and both the middlegame and endgame will be much more pleasant for you.
One frustrating thing that you might encounter as a beginner is losing to players who are terrible at openings.
It's undeniable that they have no idea what they are doing out of the opening, yet they still beat you. This might lead you to believe that learning openings aren't worth your time.
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What's the use if you always lose to players who don't know a thing about the opening?
However, you should know that your opening studies are all going to be worth it later. The more you play, the more you will be able to avoid simple tactics.
Eventually, you won't fall for cheap tactics anymore, and you're going to come away with an enormous advantage over players who don't study chess openings.
There you have it!
I do hope you were able to understand the concept or idea about how many chess openings you need to learn…
The answer is straightforward, and I hope you can come to understand that it's not learning a lot of opening but picking the best chess opening against your style of playing.
You must go through the blog post above and read the essential subtopics to better assess yourself on what openings you should be learning.
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Again, I hope this article is helpful to you and enjoy playing chess! 🙂
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Gary FloresGary is a chess enthusiast and has three children who also enjoy learning the game. He is a co-author of the "Chess Fundamentals" book's ChessDelights Edition. He founded ChessDelights.com in order to brush up on his understanding of this tactic and strategy game. He also enjoys encouraging those who are learning, re-learning, or instructing their children in the game of chess.
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