From Garry Kasparov's MasterClass

Openings - Part 2

What happens when your opponent plays your opening? How do you find a satisfying opening both psychologically and strategically? Is there such a thing as universal opening advice?

Topics include: When Your Opponent Plays Your Opening • Is There Universal Opening Advice?


What happens when your opponent plays your opening? How do you find a satisfying opening both psychologically and strategically? Is there such a thing as universal opening advice?

Topics include: When Your Opponent Plays Your Opening • Is There Universal Opening Advice?

Garry Kasparov

Teaches Chess

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It's an interesting question what happens if your opponent takes your own choice against you. And I have to say that while I did fairly well against King's Indian-- when I play King's Indian and it was chosen against me, or against neither, there was some kind of discomfort. It's inconvenient because you have to play against something that you believe is such a good choice. I've been a devoted King's Indian player for many, many years. That's also from the early days to almost 1997. And then I just lost to Kramnik. Actually, I didn't do well against him in King's Indian. And I stopped playing altogether. So I moved to Grunfeld, and to other openings like some of the Queen's Gambits, and Meran. Some of the other openings. But somehow, King's Indian didn't appeal to me. And there was nothing wrong with this opening. Because it was just about your feelings. And that's reminded me of Efim Geller switching from King's Indian to Queen's Gambit Declined. I haven't played, by the way, Queen's Gambit Accepted against Kramnik, which was not a perfect choice for me, but it did well in the world championship match, especially in our friendly match in 2001, in both in blitz and in rapid. I also remember that in the early '80s, from qualifying from interzonal to candidates, I have to think about my openings against strong opponents. I played Beliavsky, Korchnoi, and eventually Smyslov in the final. And I came up with an idea, probably it was some kind of connection with my childhood, because another book that I had at home was a book about Spassky- Petrosian match 1969. And Spassky won the match. He played better, but also he chose tower of defense, which many thought was a bad choice against Petrosian because it creates an isolated pawn. But Spassky did it extremely well. So he actually found out that Petrosian was quite slow in playing his positions. And the isolated pawn served Spassky well. So I looked at this opening, and I decided that probably a nice idea to play it as well. So that's one of the classical positions. So with isolated pawn, and I had this position many times. So I played against Beliavsky. And it worked well. I played it in Niksic in the tournament against many strong players, like Seirawan, and Miles, Nikolic, also, Larsen, worked perfectly. I played against Korchnoi. It didn't work as well. I played against Smyslov. It also didn't work. And then I made a big mistake. I played it against Karpov. And that was not a smart idea. Because Karpov liked it. He just got so excited, the weak pawn. It's not that something was wrong with the opening, but psychologically, it was a wrong choice. And I lost. Both games were very good at decent positions. Game seven and even game nine, that I defended well. But that was a wrong choice. And I played twice. Lost two games, and stopped playing it with Karpov. And I switched t...

Elevate your game

At age 22, Garry Kasparov became the youngest world chess champion. After beating Bobby Fischer’s peak rating, he outranked his fiercest competitors for over twenty years. Now, Garry is ready to share the chess strategy that made him a six-time world champion. Through detailed lessons, including his favorite openings and advanced tactics, you will develop the instincts and philosophy to become a stronger player.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I learnt that I have to immediately spend more time on studying end games, learning all patterns possible and study the games of past World Champions and learn how to use their ideas in my games. It is long hard work.

It was a great series of lessons that include tactics, endgame strategies and certain keypoints in a few openings. Kasparov teaches well and has given us a lot of ideas to work with and explore and study in greater depth.

Kasparov is excellent. An experienced world champion. A legendary GM

It was very enjoyable to hear and see Kasparov talk about the game. I most appreciated his style. His fascination with the complexity and of chess is infectious. Trying to improve at the game is hard work. The biggest takeaway from this class for me was that you can and should continue enjoying what you're doing.


Henry Irwin P.

At the moment I am finding that the most important first step of improving my game lies in the opening. I'll have to study the different styles. I also like the fancy names they come with. But I understand the key concept is to keep it simple and confident.

Dylan W.

Really good lesson. I took away a lot of good tips and theory behind the openings.


I enjoyed every minute of this lesson. I would recommend without hesitation.

Michael O.

The advise " play what you are comfortable with" resonates with me. Being a weak player, I know I have a learning curve. As the saying goes, you can't eat an elephant in one bite. Flexibility is important.

Fernando M.

Excuse me for my bad English, it no is my birth language. Everybody understood the same that I: The Sicilian defense is better than Ruy lopez for him? And the best openings for Gary are Queen gambit, English opening, and Ruy Lopez with white? And the best defenses for him are Pirc, King indian, sicilian and Caro Khan with black? For me it was very strange that he did not about the Queen Indian defense and the Londres opening, he used sometime, with great result, and I think that it had a great reputation!!! somebody think that? or can tell me sometime opposite about it?


I am a nubie as well, I was wondering if anyone as read Gary's book who is taking this class and if it helped?


I know the rules of chess and some basic strategies etc. but I get lost when he talks about the names of certain openings. For example, Sicilian, or Dutch defense. Can anyone recommend a book that would explain these terms and how to use these strategies?

Steve C.

"Pawns cannot go back." So basic, yet I'd never thought of this idea nor the strategic importance of it. My takeaway on this episode is that chess takes years of work and acquired wisdom. There are tested methods, but no formulas. Gary's overall advice - not articulated very well - seems to be to play the openings that are comfortable for you, learned only through experience. My chess life is now almost exclusively on the Chess Pro app. I just recently raised the ELO from 1600 to 2030 to see how I did. Naturally, I get crushed quite a few games, but remembering the insights Gary's classes led me to has made me a more sharp player and I've won quite a few games since I increased the difficulty 2 days ago.

Jason B.

I am nearly shocked he said nothing about trying to Control the Center with regard to Universal Opening Advice; or putting minor pieces etc on squares best suited to accomplish this end. Am I missing something here?

Eric D.

Openings are such a personal thing. I think the main point made is "find your feet" in the opening. Many people tell me to work on tactics and end game (for club players like me). I find studying openings very satisfying. Memorizing - no (except those sicilians). Getting the gist of an opening is very calming when actually playing and understanding the strategy. Kasparov's books are good. I think the one he was referring to was his "Revolution in the 70s" part one of his Modern Chess series.