Last time I introduced the subject of preparation, pointing out how older players are often handicapped by their old fashioned attitudes with regard to databases and engines. Let’s expand on this a little.
First of all I should say that there’s little need to have very detailed preparation if you’re under 2000 Elo, at this stage you should still be building up core skills such as calculation, positional understanding and endgame skill. But the further you get beyond this the greater the need for sophisticated preparation.
Where should one start? A good place is to have a good general understanding of the openings you wish to play, and for this I would recommend the Chess Explained series by Everyman or their Move by Move titles. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have this kind of grounding, without this kind of strategic overview it’s hard to make sense out of a modern opening.
After that it should be straight into the theory together with databases and engines, and here too I think Everyman gets it right by offering books in database format. Other publishers seem to be slow to adopt this idea, perhaps because they’re worried their work will be copied. But for advanced opening work in which you add new games and use engines, there’s no point in having the book in paper format. Any interesting lines will have to be put into database form, which will of course be very time consuming.
I also offer database files of the opening moves at my Tiger Chess site so members can drill the lines with Chess Position Trainer, Chess Opening Wizard or at Chessable and develop them with their own notes.