Originally posted by exigentsky
On p. 265 of John Watson's Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy, he gives the following:
Haven't you seen it time and again: "Don't memorize openings; just learn the 'principles' behind them" ... "you shouldn't be trying to learn by heart; understanding the 'ideas' is what really counts" ... "young players spend too much time learning openings, when the the live or die Dragon and Poison Pawn Najdorf) What are your thoughts on this?
I can't even begin to weigh in on your question. I'm a patzer, I haven't really started trying to learn openings yet, and I don't have Watson's book. But maybe you'll be comforted a little by reading Jeremy Silman's review of Watson's book. Here's several quotes that I thought were interesting -
"How, you may ask, can an author do too good a job? Well, he stepped beyond the boundaries of the "good old boy" network by offering up information that was supposed to stay secret. By doing so, he's made liars and fools out of most masters, and he's confused the chess-playing masses to such a degree that teaching the game may never be the same again!"
"I can only guess that this chess anti-Christ doesn't quite understand what he's doing to the ordinary player. There's poor Joe Chess: He learns the basic rules, and takes to heart the golden bits of advice that we all grew up on: "Avoid bad bishops!" scream the classicists. Watson quotes grandmaster Suba: "Bad bishops protect good pawns." He then implores us to give those bad bishops the love they so desperately deserve."
"But is Watson's truth beneficial to non-professional players? I honestly don't think it is. Beginners, needing a foundation upon which to start, should embrace those rules and ignore John's intellectual ravings. Stronger players, however, will do themselves a favor by savoring everything Watson has said, and running it all through their mind for quite a long time."