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So I'm probably not at the stage where I'm ready to do this yet, but I'm curious. I know that some openings (like the Najdorf, the Grünfeld, and the Ruy Lopez) are considered highly theoretical openings where knowing the theory is very important, but I'm kind of at a loss as to how to study them. I know the idea of looking at an openings database or plugging positions into Stockfish to see what it likes, but the weakness there is I don't know the ideas that the masters/engines have and how to apply that to my own game.

So, how do you recommend:

  1. Learning both the theoretical moves and the ideas behind them; and
  2. Learning how to take advantage of non-theoretical moves by your opponent?

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There are a lot of tools on the internet to help with this (Sites like chessable, aimchess, etc). Their purpose is to do all the things you described above. Besides that, there are a lot of opening books that are well written and explain the lines and plans in detail, like why some lines are good and why some other lines are bad.

Finally, try these openings yourself in games! Experience is a really big part of learning too and can help you gain an instinct almost on what to do in critical main lines and/or when your opponent plays sub-optimal moves.

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