tactics, endings, middlegame-- exactly what I should be doing. When you face an opening that stumps you, understanding how you reacted to it is more important than knowing the book moves to it-- because once you understand how you reacted to it you can see how best to play it next time and that goes for non-book moves you face and book moves you're unfamiliar with. I think most things that stump you will probably be things that transpose into lines you're unfamiliar with (for now). The 4th move of any opening is pretty shallow water still-- you know that I'm sure. So, you have to divide your study time on openings between stuff you don't know and deepening you knowledge of what you do know (and that later part is essentially middle game/end game work probably).
Well, I'd still use a book like the one I mentioned, or MCO.
i already said i had modern chess openings in the first post....
Then use it.
I have such a fear over the possiblility that I still owe Rainbow Rising info about the Sveshnikov Variation of the Sicilian that I've till now dare not even find out.
Well from what i see so far he is only interested in memorizing the entire MCO which is going to take far more then a couple of months. He refuses to listen to reason and build a solid opening base so what you do with players like this is get then out of book and take him out to deep water and drown them. Oh and by the way USCF 1500 is not that good i'm 1846 and still have periods where i really suck.
advocating Tal's advice of taking your opponent into a dark wood where 2+2=5 and the path out is only wide enough for one to enter
In reality you'll never master an opening for some time. Even GMs screw up openings. As long as you can get a good grip on what's going on enough to have some kind of plan in your positions you'll be ok.
I think easylimbo is taking Fischer's old advice way to literally.
He's gonna be really po'd when everyone starts crushing him from even positions because he doesn't know what's going on.
and I will laugh
Don't do it. Start with the reportoire you need. The way to save work is to develop your pieces, though you may not like it. After all who knows every opening? No one. This is what I would tell you to do. Play a line, and play it out totally until the pieces are roughly developed. If there are no obvious problems at all, don't make a fuss of the theory. Save the line in a pgn file if you want. If a line does look hazardous and you can't figure it out, look up some lines and put them in your pgn file. Look over the lines and make a file for the openings you are actually playing. Remember the ideas rather than the lines. For example in the Sicilian black can play Bb7/Bd7/Be7/Bg7/Nc6/Nd7/Nf6 not counting the pawn formation. Sometimes there's even Be6 and Bb4. White can play Be2/d3/c4/b5 and Be3/g5 and sometimes f4. Knights usually go to c3/f3. Many players put their pieces on random spots, not considering where the pieces ought to be, considering the variation. Can you refute this less than optimal placement? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you can't. Most people cannot do it probably. Yet the ideas remain clear, with black playing on the halfopen c-file, and maybe hoping to break with d5. You need to play a line many times to appreciate when a piece is best placed on what square and what fits your style. Now when you have an idea of that, you actually know more than the theory. This is what you should prefer. Long and forced opening lines are not that common and mostly only useful for GM's.
I found this discussion as my chess software (Chess Position Trainer) was mentioned. In the past I have read many similiar intensive discussions about this topic (which quite often ends in hot debates). I couldn't resist to write a thought provoking blog post: "Learning Chess Openings: Thou shalt not memorize Chess Openings!?" - just to add some more fuel to the flames
You will play against far many more "non-book" moves than book moves, even in the opening. Especially, in OTB games against under 1800 opponents. Sound understanding of principals with some knowledge of most common opening themes is best. http://chessopenings.com/ gives a nice tutorial on each major opening focusing on it's theme and some variations.
Truth be known, spend most of your time working on Endings (not openings). Learning endings teaches you more thoroughly how to use each piece to win. Start with learning how to checkmat a lone King with limited material (King vs KP, KQ, KR, KBB, KBN, and KNN). Learn what "opposition" is and when to use it and when not to. Learn what the "Square of the Pawn" is. Most decent players can get to an endgame that is playable but don't know crap about how to win it...even if they have the advantage. Pandolfini's Engame Course is a great place to start. You can practice your endings against your computer engine and you should be able to beat it every time. Learn your endings and the rest of your game will improve.