Let’s say you make note in every game of the point where you are “out of book” – which move is it, how much time you have used, the Fritz evaluation of the position, and your familiarity with relevant positional and tactical themes.
Familiarity is more approximate than the other metrics, but imagine a scale from Totally Unfamiliar (no experience in the line, haven’t played through any GM games, generally no clue what you’re doing) to Very Familiar (you recall several approaches, know which one will be more appropriate depending on which tack your opponent chooses, and are aware of several tactics, trades to avoid, and/or favorable endgame structures that could arise).
So let’s imagine you average these measurements over 20 games with each color. You find that with White, your “out of book” average is
- Move 9
- 10 minutes elapsed
- .02 Fritz in your favor
- Somewhat unfamiliar
And with Black, because you spend more time on those openings:
- Move 12
- 9 minutes elapsed
- .01 in opponents’ favor
- Somewhat familiar
Opening study in this day and age can be rather overwhelming. (You’ve heard this song before.) From this POV, though, it’s maybe a little less so. You don’t have to rewrite your entire repertoire to improve your results. All you have to do is make incremental improvements.
If ON AVERAGE with the white pieces you can get two moves further, with two more minutes on your clock, and land in slightly (additional +.25) more favorable and/or more familiar positions, it stands to reason your results are going to improve.
That doesn’t sound so terribly daunting.