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We've gone from trying to warn developing players against spending much to much time learning the openings, to pretending that a little opening study is bad in itself.
Wow Paul. I don't think anyone here could have said it better. You should seriously consider taking up a coaching job here on Chess.com
I wonder how many people read my post after the first sentence. Apparently not many...
Studying openings can help. Memorizing lines is a waste of time unless you are a strong player. Many people who are not strong players memorize lines and those people are idiots.
Yeah, that cleared things up... *rolls eyes*
.... Are you saying that white starts with the first move of a named opening and black makes a countermove which limits the opening? Then white makes a second move, and black counters with a second move, further defining the possible opening. Are the openings the result of the first 10 moves or so, and not necessarily the intended opening in white's head at the beginning of the match?
For a concrete example, consider the first few moves of a a couple of games I'm playing as black: 1.e4 c5 2.Bc4 e6. When I play 2..e6, it's not so much that I'm thinking that "this is the right move for the opening named sicilian bowdler attack" but that "OK, he wants to pressure that weak f7 with the bishop, so I'll just shut that right down for now with the pawn". You can see the moves themselves are the result of ideas and plans, not just pulled from a catalog. It's just that with only a fixed number of good ideas ideas from white, and only so many counter-ideas from black, you eventually work down to a certain number of basic openings that happen over and over before one of the players gets bored with the whole thing and starts launching some crazy middlegame attack (or at least that's what happens to me :-). This basic set of openings starts to look like a catalog but if you treat it only as a catalog, you forget that it was originally filled with ideas and plans.
Caveat - I have to say that I certainly don't understand openings very much myself - I only have a half-baked understanding of one as white and one as black, and even with those ones I lose half my games :-)
It's not my intent to clear things up for people who extrapolate a criticism of excessive memorization into an attack and insult on all opening knowledge ever. I don't give a wet slap if they understand or not because they themselves don't seem to make any effort to understand, if they aren't actively trying to misunderstand so that they have someone to argue against. Let them argue and congratulate themselves on being so smart that they recognize study is good and no study is bad. Congratulations!
Memorising openings is going to give you more wins in 10 minute blitz, because in at least some games it will save you time.
As a relatively new player...I understand that having a good understanding of opening principles is enough to get you quite far and time is probably better spent looking at mid game strategies and end game technique. Saying that I really enjoy studying and getting to grips with the principles of key openings as it makes me feel like a 'good' chess player and develops my understanding of the game. The opening sets up the mid game and having an understanding of certain openings like say the Queens Gambit..where your pieces are aiming to be and why is really helpful. As for memorising opening lines, it's probably not necessary for lower rating players, especially when your opponents are not going to know the best responses to each move anyway.
Obviously, in Blitz, and when you opponent is using a standard opening, you are going to save a lot of time if you don't need to "re-invent the wheel" Obviously you won't bother learning openings known to be weak.