When talking about studying openings, I refer to the modern way of doing so, of course. And this implies using digital data. Digital files have many advantages over the rather antique format of the opening book. To be very clear: I love books, I love chess books and I read a lot of them in my life. And there are definitively many good opening books around, providing useful strategic explanations. They are a good way to get started, but their structural problems make them a second tier training tool for serious studies. Here are the problems:
- It takes ages to play through lines using book and chessboard. Keep in mind that you have to view every line several times, in order to fully understand the underlying concepts and to attach them to your memory! At least this is what I have to do…..
- There is very limited scope for augmenting or refining the content.
- You can’t directly check the information with an engine.
- You don’t have access to full games, which is important for studying the middlegame plans or to see how a line unfolds into a typical ending.
- In books, interesting analyses have to be kept very short (the author has to shorten his original analyses) due to the limited amount of space. By contrast, electronic files can provide you with the full content. This doesn’t mean that you have to process all that information, as you determine yourself how deep you want to delve into the material in any given situation.
- You can’t prepare effectively with books in the short time available during a tournament.
- Books get outdated after a some time, while digital analyses can easily be updated.
The bottom line is that books don’t allow for ACTIVE LEARNING. Only by using electronic files you can interact with the material and improve its content. But also on a more basic level digital data clearly outperforms the book. Just viewing the information is an order of magnitude faster!
Hence, the fact that I offer ChessBase- or pgn files will save you an incredible amount of time and will enable you to perform active learning, thus turning passive information into active knowledge, directly incorporating it into your understanding of the game.