Having trouble with an opening? There’s no need to buy a book on it and learn scores of variations.

Look over each of your games involving that opening and make a note of the problems that you ran into. Perhaps you didn’t know what the best square was for your Bishop or how to defend against a threat or positional pressure.

Now look up (on chessbase or chessgames.com) games in which top players won in that opening and see what they did. How did they meet each threat? Where did they put their pieces? What was there plan?

Doing this will help you understand the ideas behind the opening and see the actual moves that solve the problems. Understanding the plans is of great benefit as it will help you find alternative moves if necessary too.

Remember, don’t just follow the moves without thinking. If your opponent makes a different move you will need to consider what, if anything, has changed about the position and whether the plan is still valid. However, it is a quick way to real improvement in your opening play.

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