Ron Luther on Openings


Why are Openings so important?

1. Faster time controls. So you can spend more time on the middlegame and tactics.

2. To reach a playable middlegame.

3. Remember most games are decided by move 30 (even though it may take some more moves to finish
the job) so middlegame and endgame knowledge won’t help if you lose before you get there. If you
get to the middlegame material down or in a bad position you will be fighting an uphill battle.

4. The peace of mind and self-confidence that you can have in a familiar position will win you many


How and what should I study?

1. Pick openings that fit your strengths and playing style. [e.g. active, solid, wild etc.]

2. Avoid too detailed openings and lines at first; you can always add new ones later.

3. Pick openings that fit your time schedule and current strength to improve your game before tackling
more detailed ones.

4. Try to purchase books (CDs) that explain the ideas and themes of the opening you want to play.

5. While an overall opening book (MCO, ECO, etc.) looks nice because of the many openings it covers
remember that space constraints keep it from detailing the opening you may want to play.

6. Books that give complete games on the openings you plan on learning should be chosen over those
that just give variations. Also try to choose authors that play the openings you are trying to learn.
    a. This will give you a feel for the middlegame that comes from that opening.
    b. You want to see what both sides are trying to do.

7. Study as many complete games of the opening you want to play as you can. A database such as
Chessbase can be very helpful here as well as a strong program such as Fritz.

8. Specialize until you MASTER the openings you want to play. Remember that if you have completely
studied an opening then you are a master of that opening regard less of your rating!

9. Pick a specific time each day or week for quiet study.

10. Practice and track your results. Internet chess and blitz play can be great ways to see how well you
know your openings. If you have trouble with one of your openings, first see if it can be repaired or
needs to be scraped.


Advice on Openings!

1. If under 1600 avoid 1…e5 or 1….c5 as well as the King’s Indian Defense as these give white to
many choices and would require a long time to study them all. Try to limit the lines that you have to
study, you can always add on later.

2. Work on defense first since a slip with black usually means disaster.

3. Remember that while there is no perfect opening, some are sounder than others.

Remember: Study + Practice = Results!