Originally posted by der schwarze Ritter
Studying master games is essential, especially older games up to the succession of Alekhine. One Russian GM told me that beginners are taught in his country to not study anything but classic games for the first two years. Studying contemporary games without having studying the classics is a bad idea because you will lack the foundation that contemporary GMs have built upon.
Essential! I wish I could have read this wonderful advice a few years ago, as I had immediatly started studying and going through modern games, and felt extreme frustration in some of the more positional games from the GMs. I have recently "discovered" Capablanca and Steinitz, and have a great time going through Morphy and his era. The battles are much more straight forward, and give you a sense of fighting over key areas on the board. Capablanca was a brilliant natural player, studying his games can be very illuminating. Lets face it, most of us "class players" are not at the level where we need to know more than 10 moves deep in most of the openings we play, we never get there- our opponents drift out of opening theory very early, and then we are in a battle where the person who best understands the needs of the position will come out on top. Studying classical games develops that BASIC positional sensibility, and clearly defines many of the tactical justifications for the moves we make in our favrorite openings, and the typical middlegames that these openings lead to. Our modern opponents(class players) are more likely to play moves like Anderssen (attack early, attack hard) than play like Petrosian (positional build-up and prophelaxis). Study these early games, and you are more likely to say WOW! and AHA! rather than HUH? and "what were those last two moves getting at?"