It seems to have paid off as he beat me for the first time last night.
As an aside, when I read chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin's book recently, I was impressed to find him giving the same advice that the Burglar doled out in 2007. That is to say, when learning focus on end games rather than openings.
Lifetimes can be spent memorizing and keeping up with the evolving Encyclopedia of Chess Openings (ECO). They are an addiction, with perilous psychological effects. It is a little like developing the habit of stealing the test from your teacher’s desk instead of learning how to do the math. You may pass the test, but you learn absolutely nothing.
Most of my early rivals were gifted children, and they were prepared with hundreds of traps with which they could win right off the bat. Playing against these kids was like walking through a minefield, but I was good enough on my feet to navigate most of the danger. I often came out of the openings in a little bit of trouble, but then I took control. As our games progressed, my opponents moved away from their area of comfort while I grew stronger and more confident. They wanted to win before the battle began, but I loved the struggle that was the heart of chess. In both the short term and the long term, these kids were crippled [by their primary focus on opening study]
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