Practical Chess Analysis "A systematic Method for Analyzing" by Senior Master Mark Buckley. Is a good book.Try it.
There is no such thing as an "easy" road to a master title.
I think what Omar meant was "clearly defined" road to a master title. His program looks anything but easy. Great thread.
How do you evaluate 5 games going thru each game twice, the second time with an engine in one hour?
I'd personally start my game-phase practice with the endgame rather than the opening.
Frankly, I think that you miss one very critical thing. Which is why I don't agree with you. Roll over 60 random grandmaster games and you'll find that in the uttermost majority of them the game is not decided in the opening.
The first reason for starting with the endgame is that the ultimate goal is to checkmate the opponent. If you haven't any clue how to checkmate the opponent at all, then how are you going to win even one game?
Next to that, it is a matter of commonsense that if you play the endgame better, you are more likely to adopt a more sophisticated attitude in the middle-game with regards to playing toward the endgame. And if you play a better middle-game, you can base your opening repertoire accordingly. Decent theory books do not stop after 11 moves and say that "Black has equality" or "White has a slightly more comfortable position." They are displaying typical middle-game and endgame structures and cover those in detail too.
I can give you two examples of Dutch masters who got at their master title without playing the opening phase seriously. IM Manuel Bosboom plays his games as a crazy madman and still does a decent job. GM Loek van Wely only went after studying the opening thoroughly when he had obtained a 2400+ rating. And any non-opening book that's sincere will tell you that the importance of opening theory and the use of stamping it into your head is "usually grossly overestimated" (Herman Grooten, Chess Strategy For Club Players, 2009), precisely because the vast majority of games are not decided in the opening phase.
Hey omar, how do you think about the idea of saving time with opening preparation (i'm very bad at memorizing lines) by playing 1.b3 with white and 1. ... b6 with black, knowing the typical plans there quite well and not play anything else ? Goal is to get from FIDE ELO 1700 -> 2000 ?
Until what strength might this work and do I really have to switch then to the "good" openings to progress further ?
If I'm going to set aside an additional two hours a day to dedicate to further bettering myself I'm going to choose something a lot more useful than chess.
Ok thanks for the info. If not knowing what to do is the main problem with 1.b3 i guess it's ok for me; i have 3-4 standard plans there and if nothing works i continue with c4/english stuff or queen indian reversed positional play. There's no opening advantage but at least i don't get crushed in the opening and have often similar positions that the enemy does not know :) So if it's ok till 2000 i guess i'll stay with it first and concentrate on tactics/calculations/nimzowitsch/endgame :)
Where does actually playing games factor into all this? And can you recommend a database? They're the only two bits I'm not clear on. :) Otherwise, great post!