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How deep should I memorize lines of the Sicilian Dragon? 1400s USCF The Dragon seems to resonate with me the most, after looking at all the variations. Do I need to get a book on it, or can I get by by just watching YouTube videos, looking at games, and experience?

There's a guy on Youtube, that has like 20-25 minute videos on each of the four main variations of the Sicilian Dragon? Example video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDRoBnL1gRg

Can I get by on just watching his videos, just playing it (and checking where I deviated afterwards), and playing through master games of the opening? First memorize the main variations like 10-15 moves in, and then as I gain experience, learn the sidelines?

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Your rating is in the 1400s, so you don't need much opening knowledge, although some is helpful. Try memorizing moves to move 7-10 (more if the line is sharp and must be memorized). Make sure you understand the moves and the ideas.

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As someone who recently got out of the 1400s, I think it's much more important that you figure out where you want to be developing your pieces and why certain pieces are good in certain places. When I went about memorizing a bunch of moves, I very often (then and now) played people who would do something I'd never read up on.

If instead, you learn some of the reasons and/or general plan for a given opening, I think you'll be better off in the long term.

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At the 1400s level, 10-15 moves is already too much. The other 1400s that you play aren't going to play book moves anyway. I glanced at the video you linked to and it looks like too much information (plus I couldn't handle the aspect ratio). If you enjoy watching 90 minutes of opening theory, I don't want to stop you, but I wouldn't expect to retain any of it. The one thing that might be useful is to see common themes (e.g., White's pawn storm, Black's exchange sac on c3), so you know what sort of things to look for, rather than memorizing moves. I see there are some other videos on YouTube on the Dragon that are shorter; I can't speak to their quality, but you might want to check them out first.

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  • +1 about other 1400s not following the book. If you understand the point of the Dragon, you ought to be able to capitalize on these deviations. – Tony Ennis Aug 3 '15 at 2:54
  • Really??? I was questioning if this was too little information. Well, for half of the video, or almost half, he actually went over a famous game of the variation so... – R3dder Aug 3 '15 at 5:04
  • Actually, I was wondering if I should get a book BECAUSE the videos don't have enough information. – R3dder Aug 3 '15 at 5:05
  • I've watched thechesswebsite's video on the Dragon, and it was like a half-hour that briefly touched on ALL four of the variations of the Dragon, and I thought that was a good introduction. Now I am looking at this guy's videos to gain a deeper understanding of each variation (because he's spending almost the same amount of time on ONE Dragon variation). I also take notes on the moves in my chess software, alongside. – R3dder Aug 3 '15 at 5:08
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Learn Anti Sicilians, c3, Closed, Grand Prix Attack etc and the classical, Levenfish and a little yugoslav dragon. One of the problems facing new players looking at something as complex as the dragon is that not so many people actually play the mainlines vs them as white tends to run away also. The Schiller and Gufeld book Secrets of the Sicilian Dragon is useful as it discusses plans and ideas more than others although I am sure the new Move by Move book due out in a month or 2 will be a gem also. Good luck!

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