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  1. #1
    CC FIDE Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    drown or swim in opening theory

    It is quite obvious to anyone taht there is so much opening theory that nobody has the time or money to learn even a fraction of it all.

    Hence, a general strategy has to be adopted to try to find a useful part of the theory and ignore the rest. This is even more pressing an issue now in my correspondence games.

    What resources exist?

    [1] The internet :
    There is a schess base site where you acn get any master level position that has cropped up over the last 100 years. There are also many short articles by opening theorteticians at sites such as

    [2] Books. Some of theses are really lousy. The worst book I ever read on openings by Bill Hartson. It was pathetic. He dismissed teh Queen's Indian and Dutch in about a page each as being "too slow". GM Nick De Firmian has also written some stinkers . That last one was total database dump: utter trash. I go for any book written by Max Euwe. The only problem with that is that I tend to play all these "old-fashioned " lines such as the ....c5 against the Nimzo Rubinstein etc.

    A good book on an opening will consider the IDEAS of the opening first and foremost rather than bashing out variations. There will also be some attention given to the resulting endgames. A book that does both of these things is "How to Play The King's Indian Defence" by Kevin O'Connell. Sadly, it is out of print like just about every good opening book I have ever borrowed from libraries.

    This raises the other point of swimming in the openings ocean. Do you go for the ideas/general patterns or the variations/moves? I go for the ideas. Howewver, the volley of repertiore books and database dumps such as Nick De Firmian's stinkbombs show that my approach is not the fashionable one.

    How does anyone swim the opening oceans? What is a good life jacket or sailing boat? And pleeease don't tell me to get MCO; if I want a regurgitated collection of Russian tournamnet games I will go to chessworld.

  2. #2
    CC Candidate Master
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    In the chilly depths of Dis.
    I've more or less decided what works for me and bought a couple of books on most of the systems that I typically play. I've aimed at the low-end rather than the books aimed at stronger players. The Everyman "Starting Out" series is variable but I've found a few of them absolutely brilliant. Ever since I bought the one on the Dutch by GM McDonald, my score with black against 1. d4 has improved considerably.

  3. #3
    CC Grandmaster
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Melbourne, Australia
    It all depends on your level. For 1300-1500 rated players, i would advise focusing on general principles rather than on memorizing opening lines. Also, get your coach to advise you which openings are suitable for your playing style and go through some games with him. Once again, the focus should be not on memorizing opening moves but on understanding the middlegame positions that arize from these openings

  4. #4
    CC FIDE Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2006


    But if one's opening style is to be a suicidal train wreck...

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