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I'm only a middling chess player, but:

> (Though I have a suspicion that it's a question of ‘rinse and repeat until I remember all the openings anyway’.)

Its not that. There's a lot of interesting principles to learn, after 'how the pieces move', without just learning openings. Most people will say not to focus on openings until you are at least intermediate.

Most chess books will do what you ask, just Google for recommendations and reviews.

Example book: Play Winning Chess, Yasser Seirawan

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