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That is if I only play online and in casual clubs as an amateur while I am already comfortable enough with starting out with Queen's Gambitish types of opening as white(by which I mean most of the time I use d4 and then c4 and work from there). Obviously I am familar with the most common openings but certainly not always by name; what i'm asking is would memorizing more help my games or just be a waste of brain space?
Memorizing is CRAP.
The only time you need to memorize is when there is some forced moves, and all other leads to worse positions. For example, memorizing the main lines of Poisoned Pawn variation of Najdorf as black is very important, but memorizing in the 4... Nf7 caro-kann is hardly usefull at all (except to know when to play h6 after 5. Ng5).
Typical plans, middlegame ideas is much more important. I think Amateur to IM has a nice chapter on the exchange variation in Queens Gambit Declined, where it shows the minority attack.
No. On the other hand if you had phrased your question as "Should I try to learn more about opening ideas?" I'd say yes. Buy yourself a copy of Fundamental Chess Openings by Paul van der Sterren and find out the typical plans in each major opening. He'll sometimes take a paragraph to explain 1 move so don't expect to get much more than 8 or 10 moves deep. There are other opening books that also explain the reasons behind moving instead of just spewing variation after variation at you but FCO seems to be the gold standard. Check out the intermediate study plans on site and notice that there are 40 or 50 common openings that are recommended that you learn at least 6 or 8 moves deep. Not that hard IF you understand why you're making your moves. I'm sure there will be others with different opinions....
If you memorize a bunch of opening lines, you'll play like a GM until you run out of memory. Then you'll play like what you really are capable of.
No...accidentally memorize them. Go through different lines with the help of text(with actual pieces...) Play through the moves and find out what the ideas are. When you are satisfied you have understood a line. Try and go back to the beginning position without looking. Did you get it all right? Did you miss the bishop was on a certain square?
If you did just take note of it. If you do this while studying ideas you will accidentally memorize some theory while also improving your calculation skills(pay attention to spots that you are missing when trying to go back to the original position. You will probably see reoccuring holes in your vision.) Ever heard a song 100 times and accidentally started singing the words. "I don't even like this song". Bring this into your chess game.....
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