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Why Stronger Players Minimize Openings

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  • Why Stronger Players Minimize Openings

    GMs say even Masters don't need to know openings. Masters say Experts don't, Experts say Class A players don't etc. Why?

    They notice they're winning their games not based off of opening preparation (but sometimes yes), but because they outplay their opponent.

    Irina Krush was preparing for a game against Nisipeanu; she was planning to play 1 d4 and 2 Bf4 or so. Her second (name eludes) monitioned against it: such strong GMs prestidigitate an advantage out of "equal" positions. It's magic when 2700+ players do it because the errors a 2600 player is making are minuscule. The errors my opponents make are bit more obvious, and it's clear I didn't win because of a theoretical opening advantage.

    If I'm playing someone significantly weaker I'll confidently go into an imbalanced, but theoretically drawn position, knowing I can understand the imbalance better than they and outplay them. The same goes the opening (although selecting openings based on what imbalances I can understand better than my opponents is consistent with this—and should be one of the rules of opening study).

    If a Master were always playing Experts, they wouldn't need opening advantages. They can play into a reasonable position and outplay their opponent later. This goes for all levels. Which is why they realize that the theoretical opening advantage they invested study-time in back when they were Expert didn't actually matter: "I won my games back then when my opponent would blunder in the ending."

    But they always think "But now that I'm at this level, and those mistakes don't happen anymore, I need to focus more on openings." Little do they realize in another 200 rating points they'll look back and say the same thing about mistakes in the middlegame/ending, and only now needing to study openings.

    (An objection: why can a Strong player play ignorant of theory with confidence? Because they've seen enough openings to understand what are reasonable moves. Opening study does matter—?

    Studying openings has value, but it's misunderstood as to gain the ± advantage in Mondern Chess Openings, and not the actual understanding.)

  • #2
    I've only met one 2200 who said he never studied openings. It might work for a precious few, but I still stand by my opinion that they are super important. After all, it's 1/3 of your chess game. It would be just silly not to study all aspects. If you lose in the opening, you won't need endgame skills.
    Alexander Alekhine is my chess hero.

    An eerie chess short story: The Empty Chair

    My newest chess story: Gamble: A Supernatural Chess Tale


    • #3
      I think how much you should study opening, depends on your overall strength in middle game, tactics and endings. The weaker you are in these fields ,the less attention you should have given to openings. What's the use of an opening advantage, if you don't understand how to play in from then on? What's the use of opening, if you will just blunder or misplay the position? There are many opening positions where there are many variations, but the evaluation is only a slight advantage or equal. If you are weak on other aspects of chess, you won't get that much from these positions. There are also many opening positions where evaluation changes.

      Now there are sharp opening lines(or forcing lines) that give clear advantages and are easier to exploit. If you are gonna start opening study, study openings that give clear and easy to understand advantages. Study openings where you understand how to play the resulting positions. For example , if you don't know how to use well the bishop pair, what is the use of studying opening positions that gives you bishop pair? I will suggest first you study how to handle positions with bishop pair, before you tackle this opening line that gives bishop pair.

      As you get better overall all, you can increase your opening study.
      Last edited by ryan_c; 05-24-2016, 02:38 AM.
      " Deep calculation is not what distinguishes the champions. It does not matter how far ahead you see if you don't understand what you are looking at. When I contemplate my move, I first must consider all the elements in the position so that i can develop a strategy and develop intermediate objectives"

      -- Garry Kasparov--

      "Tactics must be guided by strategy"

      --- Garry Kasparov--