When should one start studying opening theory?

On one of the Forums of http://www.chess.com someone asked whether it was necessary for him to study opening theory. My reply was something like:

I think players worry too much about opening theory and about learning by rote certain lines that they think will help them. Of course, at higher levels a knowledge of opening theory is pretty critical. But far more important is to have an understanding of opening principles – which you clearly do have.

Keep playing stronger and stronger opposition and if you keep winning you certainly shouldn’t worry about opening theory. I do recommend looking through some of the classic chess games of the old masters – the natural way people learn chess is to start off in the style of the old masters and then move through the 20th century. Studying some obscure variation of a hyper-modern opening is not going to be much help to a beginner or to a player starting off. If you can find some early games from pre-1900 – hopefully that are annotated and explained – and look at these it will help you in your understanding of opening principles and your tactical ability. Tactics trainer on chess.com is also very good – don’t know whether you have to pay to use it but it’s good.

Full article at
http://www.chess.com/forum/view/game-analysis/so-for-how-long-will-this-be-enough

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interesting chess blogs

There are loads of great chess pages and blogs on the internet. Here’s a short list of some of my favourite ones:

http://goddesschess.blogspot.co.uk/
Goddesschess writes mainly about the history of chess

http://jimwestonchess.blogspot.co.uk/
Jim West on Chess provides chess news and game snippets

http://www.chessblog.com/
ChessBlog is run by the 12th Women’s World Chess Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk

http://kevinspraggett.blogspot.co.uk/
Spraggett on Chess seems to give mainly chess puzzles and some other interesting things

http://susanpolgar.blogspot.co.uk/
Susan Polgar’s site is, of course, great for serious chess players

http://streathambrixtonchess.blogspot.co.uk/
The Streatham & Brixton Chess Blog provides lots of really great puzzles

The Kenilworth Chess Club provides a whole list of blogs
http://www.kenilworthchessclub.org/blogs/

What do ratings mean?

In this blog I occasionally will refer to chess ratings. What do they mean?

Well, I am normally referring to the ELO rating system. The following ‘meanings’ may be useful.

less than 2600 = Grandmaster
2400-2600 = International master
2400-2400 = Master
2000-2200 = Expert
1800-2000 = Class A
1600-1800 = Class B
1400-1600 = Class C
less than 1400 = Beginner

I play mainly on chess.com using what is effectively correspondence chess. The get an official over-the-board (OTB) ELO chess rating you have to play in official OTB tournaments. I tend not to do that these days. So the ratings on chess.com are indicative and not official. My highest rating on chess.com was just over 2000 but I am currently a Class A player. Class A and Class B are effectively the level of playing in a chess club.