How to study Openings

Here is a well-known method to study openings, assuming you are serious about it.

  1. First, Experiment in rapid and blitz to see what you like. You may be able to skip this having past experiences with openings, but it might be useful. Note: No opening book.
  2. Once you have a working framework, you want to familiarize yourself (refresh) with the openings by playing through about 40-50 pro games in that opening, not really going through the annotations, but more at a decent pace. This will give you a refresher on how the middlegames and endgames come about from your opening, and give you an idea of the main lines and what is being played. Note again: no opening book.
  3. Next, try the opening(s) out in friendly or club games and experiment with them yourself. Even against a chess computer will be fine. The idea here is to experience the opening "under fire" and get more comfortable with it. Make note of where the game goes sideways in the opening. Note again that you have not opened up a chess opening book yet.
  4. Next is when you will examine in detail (read: annotate) your games and compare your game scores to opening theory and develop a deeper understanding of what it is you are lacking in your knowledge. You DO NOT do this unless you have done the previous steps. If you do, it is putting the cart before the horse. This is where you make corrections to your opening play and is the first time you will consult an opening book.
At this point you have:
a-Developed what openings you wish to play;
b-examined 40-50 games to familiarize yourself with how the opening plays out into the middle game and end game;
c-played the opening against live or computer competition;
d-compared your play to the current theory of the opening for a deeper understanding and as a correction mechanism.
Now, it's rinsed and repeat: Repeat steps 3 and 4, make corrections, and do it again, several times.
The final step is to play competitively in tournaments, or events held at your club. You will be able to play the opening with some level of confidence, and most likely will be more prepared than your opponent if you follow these simple steps. And be sure to analyze your games afterward.
Chess is hard. There are no short cuts. Put the work in. Love what you do. That makes it *not* work.
Good Luck.


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