Chess Training Tips-Learn New Lines
Avoid getting stuck in a rut and becoming predictable; learn new lines.
Learn a new opening! Stuck in a rut? Do the "Good Ole Boys" at the local tournaments
have your number? Maybe then the best thing you can do is learn a new opening!
I have met dozens of players over the years who felt that a particular opening just was not getting the job done anymore. Either everyone had worked out a line against this opening, or best play seemed to be getting them only plausible positions. The answer may be to take on an entirely new opening line.
And you should learn the opening the right way. First get a good trap book and memorize AT LEAST a dozen traps in the line you are learning. Write down what makes these traps work and what are some of the common motifs in this opening.
Then buy a good book on the opening. Work your way through EVERY chapter!
Some of the best books I have seen for this type of study were called "Learning Opening X," or "How to Play Opening X." These were basically very simple books, with just one or two variations in each line. This process could take weeks or even months.
Then you should get your general reference book down and work you way through at least the main columns.
After this you should start playing 2-3 training games a day at say 10 minutes per side in your opening. (With computers and the Internet, no one should ever say they can't get a game.) For this exercise its best if you set your computer on a level that is very compatible with your own. (Plus or minus 1-200 rating points.) The idea is NOT to get your brains beat out and shatter your confidence, but rather just get a good "feel" for the way this opening generally develops.
A week before the tournament, play through your "How To" book one more time. Now you are ready to try a brand new opening.
A word of advice: there are two distinctly different approaches here.
One, you can add a line that is very similar to your own. I.e. if you are already playing a double-QP opening, (say the Cambridge Springs' Defense vs. 1. d4); you could try to learn another closely related line. (Say the Tchigorin Variation. Or the Lasker's Defense.)
Or the second approach is to learn something totally new. Like say going from the "T.M.B." (The Tartakower-Makogonov-Bondarevesky Variation), to the Modern Benoni. (This example would be especially difficult, as you are going from a symmetrical, classical, double-QP Opening, to an asymmetrical, Hyper-Modern type opening.)
A word of warning: Most players initially lose a lot of games when they first tackle a new opening. This is natural and is a transition period. If you give up before you get really comfortable with the opening, you will NEVER truly master an opening! My own yardstick is that it takes about TWO YEARS of tournament play, before you get really good with a line. Chin up! Don't quit!!