Understanding your opening
Serious chess. This post is not for the casual player.
I believe that if you have a favorite opening, you should know it inside and out. For some people, this is how they get a favorite opening. By studying an opening so well that it becomes natural for them.
Lately, I have run across players who will make a declaration about what opening they like to play. Yet, when asked about specific variations or ideas, they shrug their shoulders.
Learning your opening and playing your opening go hand in hand. I recommend for all players to learn the first ten moves of their opening solid. I recommend that you understand where your opponent will have the opportunity to go wrong in those first ten moves. You should also explore openings that transpose into your position after ten moves.
Doing all of the above will make you a much strong player. It will also make it easier for you to learn your next opening.
Another explanation I often here from players is that ... "Players on my level don't make that move." You should always assume your opponent is going to play the strongest move. However, if you are playing weaker players. Spend a little time preparing solid answers against the most common weaker moves as well. This preparation should get you past this group and into stronger opponents.
I remember very specifically having a pet line in the Ruy Lopez. I got the idea from one of my favorite players Gata Kamsky while on one of my chess breaks(I had decided to stop playing chess for a couple years at this particular time).
I was reading the newspaper and came across his game that he had recently played. Since I hadn't been playing chess, this game became very interesting to me. I casually studied this game for months.
From that study I picked up some ideas that I really wanted to exercise in over the board play. However, what I learned is that my average opponents, where making mistakes long before I could get my home preparation to work.
I had to stop and prepare more accurate responses to weaker lines just because I was seeing them so often. I am not sure how many other players do this type of preparation, but for me it was a little frustrating.
Now that I am a little stronger, I am glad that I did preparation period. I am learning to document my ideas as much as possible in any opening that I play. Even if it is just a casual idea or a move that I would have liked to have played.
Sometimes you can get in a position and come up with this great tactic and your opponent won't even go into it or might see it and avoid it. You should still document the idea. You may find yourself in that position and again and not have your tactical sharpness ready.
Reading your own notes on ideas and games can be magical over time. I have been playing here at chess.com for almost a year and I have learned so much. Especially about my own game.
I look forward to another year of training and play. I hope you will join me.