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This is my favorite example.
People who play "bad" openings can go one of two directions.
Either they embrace the nonlevel playing field and develop their tactics to compensate for the shortcomings of their strategy, later often switching to "better" openings while having an extremely well developed tactical feel
Or they fall in love with the trappy nature of the chosen opening, and get a disproportionate amount of happiness from winning those games they do win and never realize that the opening is actually holding their development back.
Basically - if you're mature about your approach to the game, it really doesn't matter what you do in the opening while you're learning. It is very important that you are excited about it, and that you don't fall into a rut. If you ever get to 2000+, or NM/FM/IM strength, you'll realize the folly of always playing the so-called "bad" openings.
Thank you all for the precious information contained in this thread. By now, I have read it from the beginning. And it is most useful and thought provoking indeed. This thread and many other things I like about chess.com made me now upgrade to Diamond membership.
With my very limited experience in chess, I still dare say there is not one stage of the game more important to learn than another. All areas are important to develop.
As a weaker player, if you really suck at openings and routinely are forced to play with some material down, you should definitely devote some time to understanding opening principles, recognize what's going on and memorize some moves. Otherwise you will rarely see an endgame.
But if can hold yourself until the endgame and then cannot convert advantages into points, then of course it is very frustating. I find such loss much more frustrating than getting beaten early or by some nice tactics in the middlegame. So I guess it is a matter of where you (currently) stand in your development as a player to determine what area to focus on.
I personally find endgames generally more important. With fewer pieces on the board, the margin for errors gets smaller and the need for precision increases.
Whereas for openings, I find even just adherring to the very basic and free "openings guide" provided on this website, which you can assimilate in 15 minutes, makes you a much more understanding player. I have seen and played quite a number of games here (the majority actually) where I thought my opponent was completely unaware that there are certain sensible guidelines how to play openings.
Im sure its been said...but "study endgames" (some GM's say first, but thats not the point). I hate endgames....just got to do it though.
Stop living in a fantasy world in which computer analysis and evaluations are always superior to those of carbon-based life forms
I don't know if this applies to "most" chessplayers but it certainly applies to some members of chess.com
Or even the most basic one : stop living in a fantasy world where computers give useful analysis instead of a bunch of random variations.