In Defense Of Chess | Chess | BoardGameGeek: "penings and Endings
I've heard some complain that too much of the game is merely memorization of the openings and endings of the game, and as such, the interesting portion is a tiny series of moves in the middle game.
I want to respond to this charge in two parts. First, openings are acquired gradually as you play. If you begin your chess career by memorizing openings, you will lose. If you spend your energy reading books of ending, you will lose (although perhaps less horribly than those reading the opening books). Opening, at the level played by most players (i.e. 2 or 3 moves deep), are mostly common sense. In Settlers, don't put a settlement on a desert to start unless you have a very good plan. In chess, don't move you 'a' pawn as your first move unless you have a very good plan. Yes -- correspondence and master level chess (and good club) players know many variations of the Caro-Kann and Sicilian and King's Indian and whatever else to ten or more moves. The average player need not."