3 Tips for Chess Opening Preparation

Chess Openings / By Andrew Hercules

Today, it’s extremely important to be well prepared for a chess tournament game. Computers make opening preparation an extremely powerful weapon. That’s why professional players usually spend from 2 to 6 hours on their pre-game preparation. That’s why we created this list of the 3 best tips for chess openings!

If you are unable to neutralize your opponent’s opening preparation, you’ll probably be in huge trouble! The aspect of opening preparation has become so important that it’s really a huge separate topic that should be mastered by every modern chess player.

In this article, I will give you some brief practical advice to help you prepare your chess openings. Let’s look at three important tips for mastering opening preparation.

Here are 3 tips for chess opening preparation

  • Don’t play dubious openings
  • Break your opponent’s preparation
  • Play something new

1. Don’t Play Dubious Openings

In the near past, it was normal to play openings that are not totally correct. Some people would play the King’s Gambit beginning after 1.e4 e5 2.f4 or the Centre Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.d4. Not to mention the Bird’s opening with 1.f4.

King's Gambit

In that time it was okay to play these sorts of openings. But now it’s certainly a wrong way to play the opening. When you use such an opening line one time, your next opponent will expect it from you and will prepare against it. If your chess opening is not objectively good, your opponent will really find some unpleasant ideas for you.

With most gambit openings like the ones I mentioned, players often run into trouble and start losing. Eventually, they’ll stop using these openings in the future due to the number of losses they encounter with these dubious openings.

To better know what opening is right for you, you should simply play normal openings which correspond to the basic strategic ideas; then you may not worry about your opponent’s preparation. If you play openings that go with the general principles of chess, then no one can refute them. Not even Magnus Carlsen would be able to refute your choice.

This leads us to the question…

How can you detect whether a given opening is good or not?

In general, you should orient on your general strategic understanding. However, for most beginners, it may not be so clear to you what some of the basic strategic ideas and principles are. In this case, it’s recommended that you detect how many players over 2600 rating play this opening. Therefore, you may just believe in their strategic understanding and in their practical experience.

If you see that a lot of strong players play a given opening line regularly, it certainly means that it is good. However, if strong players use the opening occasionally or don’t use it all, then you should consider another one.

2. Break Your Opponent’s Preparation in Tactical Positions

You are playing a game and your opponent is making his moves very quickly. He is obviously using his pre-game preparation. What should you do then?

Most times, players often get nervous and start thinking hard to find some strange move to break their opponent’s preparation. Some of these strange moves can simply be a mistake. That’s why players often get into trouble in these situations.

My advice is to NOT be afraid of an opponent’s preparation in strategic positions, but you should break his preparation in tactical positions as soon as possible. The bottom line is that we should neutralize an opponent’s computer preparation most of all.

It’s a huge mistake to go into a tactical operation when your opponent is better prepared. Computers are very strong at tactics and so your opponent can sometimes win the game very quickly simply by following his computer analysis.

An opposite situation happens in strategic positions. Though computers are extremely powerful, they’re not so good at positional situations. Another important thing is that there are no forcing lines in strategic positions. Therefore, your position can’t be refuted.

We can conclude that a strategic understanding of both players is the most important factor in strategic positions. That’s why we may not fear an opponent’s preparation.

Chess Opening Tips

3. Play something new against an unexpected move

You have prepared for a game and are ready to play against your opponent’s opening. When the game begins, an opponent suddenly plays something totally unexpected. Again, it is obvious that he has prepared this line, especially against you. What should you do then?

If you’re not ready for such a situation, you will not feel very comfortable there. You want to play your opening line which you know very well. Moreover, you may not know otherwise well enough to use them. On the other hand, you want to avoid your opponent’s preparation. So what are the solutions?

I recommend if your opponent plays something unexpected, you should not play your usual openings, but turn to something new as soon as possible. Let’s say your opponent plays his pawn to d4 but in all his previous games he has played pawn to e4. Certainly, you can realize that he has prepared something against you here.

Usually, you would play King’s Indian defense against 1.d4. But of course, your opponent has studied the King’s Indian and has probably prepared for all these lines.

Therefore it makes no sense for you to go there unless you want to fight against his computer preparation. The better idea is to play something totally new after 1.d4. For instance, you could play the dutch defense, Nimzo Indian, or anything else that you have never used before in official tournaments.

Maybe you’ll play the line that you are not well versed in. However, you should not be afraid of it because your opponent won’t know it either. Therefore, you’ll both be in the same situation and the stronger player will win!

Opening preparation is an extremely important thing nowadays. In this article, I’ve told you a few simple practical pieces of advice about the best tips for chess openings. Be sure to use it to dominate your future chess games!

Related Post: 6 essential principles in the opening

Andrew Hercules

Hercules Chess, launched in 2020, is a website that teaches you about chess. We started as a chess blog and became a chess training platform in early 2022.

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