At the club where I play, I usually play against people who have no knowledge of opening theory. Therefore, I often ask myself whether there is even a point for me to study opening theory. I hope someone can answer this question for me.
162 ( +1 | -1 ) Hmmm...I do believe studying opening theory is important, and I seem to do it a lot, but don't fall into the trap of making it the most important aspect of your learning. I am sure you will hear more echoes here about how tactics is one of, if not the most, important thing to study. Studying positional play is also quite important, and between the two, a lot of openings should play themselves.
Opening theory only becomes really important when your rating becomes good enough that you are playing people of high rating where you are looking for ways to get them out of their opening repetoire... but if you are having to do that, you are going to have to outplay them tactically and positionally anyways, so... right back to square one!
Another thing you should study above and beyond opening theory is endgame theory. If you know how to get yourself into particular types of endgames, then you can improve your chances of winning or drawing a game (certainly not losing!). The hardest thing to learn, IMHO, is to look at a position and be able to instantly determine whether it should be a classic win/loss/draw. I don't feel I can do that with most endgames... I have a lot to learn here. Anyways, learning endgame theory will again help you choose how to play certain ideas in the opening... if that isn't obvious, I or somebody else can elaborate more.
Incidentally, I find myself falling into the trap a lot with regards to studying opening theory and not practicing my tactics and engame theory. It is a hard thing to fight, as opening theory is SOOOoo interesting to me :-)
(1)In my opinion, you should strive to play someone in a range of 200 rating points of you.
(2)Choose only one opening for White. I like KIA, because I can generally get in six moves without any problems.
(3)For Black, choose only one opening against 1.e4 and only one against 1.d4. Against all other openings, fudge it. Learn the main lines through move 5 or 6. I play the French and the Slav.
(4)Study the endgame at your level of play. By mastering simple endgames, you will be able to see the potential of finales during the middlegame. Also, many endgame concepts are applicable to the middlegame.
(5)Avoid encyclopedic endgame books or those of an advanced nature. They will only frustrate you. Instead, I recommend my own book (www.grucopublishing.com) or Pandolfini's Endgame Course. I decided to write my book, because I found Pandolfini's too difficult to absorb (easy to read, but hard to apply). Many, even higher rated than I, have gained greatly from my book. However, if you require an author of national master status, Pandolfini is the best I am familiar with. After Pandolfini, I would recommend Averbakh, then Alburt. I would skip Silman, and follow Alburt with Smith (Essential Endgame Vol 2). With that knowledge, repeated in large part from text to text, you will have a great endgame background to take you past 1800.
(6)After two endgame texts, you should study Silman's Amateur Mind and go on to tactics, tactics, and more tactics, until you reach 2000.
That is my humble opinion, rated 1700 GK. You should seek out other opinions from players of various ratings. Best in your chess career.
35 ( +1 | -1 ) Of courseIf one strives for long-term improvement, it is best to learn and play many different openings (to study different type of positions and gain practical experience of playing them). But if one strives for short-term results, then using only one defense vs 1.e4 and 1.d4 is a good way to save time for more important things like tactics...
59 ( +1 | -1 ) THEORYIt depends what you mean by theory. What people usually mean is learning by rote lengthy pages of moves. At almost any level that's a waste of time for two reasons: you're taken out of book by your opponent at some stage; and most of the stuff you learn will be forgotten by the time you need to play it. Best try to understand ideas behind each opening you choose and beat your opponent at chess not theory. Do this by playing through dozens(hundreds?) of games featuring the chosen openings,