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I want to learn the French, but don't know what's the most efficient way.
First, it's important to learn the main ideas and plans behind the opening. A good way to achieve this is to analyse master games in which the french defense was played.
Moreover, It would be helpful if you buy a book about the french because a good author should illustrate these ideas.
If you learned this plans it might be good to create a variant tree which you can memorize. For this step it is helpful to have an opening tree like this:
1.Knowing the main ideas behind the French.
2.Choosing a line.
3.Testing your line in blitz game.
4.Testing your line in standard game.
5.Choosing another line if the line is not suitable for you.
6.Improving your line and looking for your problems in this opening.
7.Reading a book about the French or searching it in the web to solve your problems.
Everything Hellocheese mentioned, plus play an unrated online game with a friend (3 days per move) to allow for study while you play. A couple friends of mine allowed me to study while we played, and it deepened my understanding of various openings.
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