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I think this is the problem a lot of amateur (yes I realize that is the third way I've spelled that word of them has to be right!) chess players have. There are so many variations, how can you memorize them all? Especially considering that one opening can easily morph into another one because there is no scripted way that you have to reach a certain position.

I'm reading a book on openings now, basically just for illustrative purposes and to try to see if I can follow what some major advantages and disadvantages are. Does one set of openings lead to a closed game or open? Are there certain imbalances opening X tends to create that I know well and find favorable to play with?

One of the reasons I'm so intrigued by the Smith-Morra Gambit is because you are playing with a material disadvantage. I figure that if I can practice up on playing with a material disadvantage and use other imbalances, it will help me down the road understanding how to work with position rather than material when I'm playing against someone that I'm losing the material battle to.

One of the reasons 1. d4 is so interesting is because many chess players do not know how to respond to it. I certainly don't, and I want to teach myself how to.

I think it's worth memorizing many openings if you are a very serious player and looking to work your way to expert level and potentially make a living of playing the game. If you're not, more than likely you'll either play the opening by the seat of your pants; or read a book or two on them, and start to pick up a good number of them along the you see them more often. That's certainly the way I'm learning right now.

What's truly amazing is that, knowing that chess was invented more than 500 years ago and how many millions of games have been played, there are still a good number of openings that people do not understand how to react to or are still working out the implications of.

Example: This opening led to the game that I used for my puzzle #1 with my father (who played as white)...
1. e4 c5; 2. Qh5 d6; Bb5+
Does anyone know what to do with that opening? My guess was to jump either the knight or bishop (depending on if you want a straight trade or a bishop vs. knight battle) to guard the king, and then jump the g knight to f6 to chase the queen and take the lead in development. So many opening possibilities...none will ever fully be discovered, and many will likely rarely ever get played because they could be so lop-sided.

One of the first thing the book notes is how statistical analysis on openings is meaningless because of all the different factors that must be taken into consideration. Example, an opening could be found to be an incredibly powerful one in which one side nearly always comes out the victor. Hundreds of games get played and recorded like this until someone finds the one way to completely counter this opening, and it's discovered that playing said opening is actually suicide due to the counter. In such a case, the statistical wins may be very high for the one opening, but because it can be proven to be easily refuted, it is nearly never played, keeping those statistics high.

It's an amazingly complex subject. The whole game of chess itself is. I'm not going to make a living of this game, so I'll read a book on openings and pick them up along the way.

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