I've been easing myself into opening theory by looking at Michael Yip's Budapest Chess News (BCN). I've had a breeze through some games, and a couple of ideas have come to me from just looking briefly at his database.
The first position that grabbed my attention came from a Bird's opening. Now, I'll admit that I know very little about Bird's Opening (1.f4), but the game Capaliku-Hambleton Forni di Sopra 2013 needs very little theoretical knowledge. The game starts with the moves 1.f4 d5 (I'm with it so far) 2.b3 Nh6
- 13.Rf3 [Yip mentions this] 13..Qa5 [13..c5!?] 14.c4 f6 with advantage to black according to Michael, and I'm not arguing with him about this.
- 13.e4 [This is the move that interests me, because if white can rid himself of his weak e3 pawn, then his position shouldn't be that bad. Michael doesn't mention this move] 13..Ne3 [I don't think this is necessarily an easy move to find, but others don't impress: 13..Bxd2? 14.exf5 and white has great attacking chances on the king side; 13..Be3+ 14.Kh1 Nxd4 15.Qxe3 Nxc2 16.Qc3 Nxa1
I have found Michael's analysis and work very useful as I ease myself into the crazy world of opening theory. In fact, I have to admit that it's a bit ironic that my interest in opening theory comes just after I give up playing internationally rated chess. Oh well, with some work on my openings I might be able to make a big come back at some stage :D
The Najdorf is a favourite with theorists, and as such is a nightmare for someone who is out of the loop. For example, the last time I looked at any Najdorf theory, the variation 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 was considered a bit dubious for black. Now it seems like a viable alternative. I seem to remember white plays 7.Bc4 hoping for possible sacrifices on e6, f7 or d5. So I was a bit surprised when the game Paravyan-Mekhitarian Golden Sands 2013 continued 7..Qb6 [I think 7..Qa5 is the main move here] 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.0-0 e6
Now I'll be honest, I didn't find the 12.a3 move but I did find 10.Bxe6 while looking at the game. I checked the move with my engine, which also liked it, and asked chessbase 12 to find the novelty in the position. To my delight, 10.Bxe6 has been played before in an online game on the playchess server. Amazingly, the white player did find the 12.a3 move in the game, though the 2600+ rating suggests he wasn't a patzer like me. Anyway, the moral of the story is that studying openings can be fun, is not necessarily about memorising ideas, but rather about finding themes, and tactical ideas which prevail in certain openings. Once this understanding has been mastered, or while it is being mastered, variations can be examined, and opening knowledge can be built up.