What did National Close do for us? Mark lost 3 games. To Khai Boon and Masrin Erowan as black and to Yeap Eng Chiam as white. Both his black games could have been won if he had been more familiar with his openings and the associated play. So I told him that those opening has been stress tested to around Elo 2000. So it should hold for rated players around that level in the future if he tightens his lines further.
As for the white game he lost against Eng Chiam's response; we were outfoxed and our preparation nullified. And we had no proper answer to Eng Chiam's reply. And so our response has to be studied again closer.
I also had this conversation with Sumant. I asked for his evaluation of his Najdorf strength. He told me he has beaten Elo 2300 with it. So a "safe" assumption is that it will probably hold against a 2200. But that is not all. Najdorf is played at even higher levels and so he must continue to improve that opening. Then that becomes his tested weapon.
You see when you play an opponent, he may be 2300 in one opening and a 2000 in another. This is competitor analysis at this level. To find the gaps in their knowledge. If you add psychological profiling ie the types of game he likes and doesnt like, his strengths and weaknesses, his charateristics etc, you get closer to choosing the right weapon to play each and every opponent.
Sometimes you play a game that you like. But if you meet an opponent that plays what you like better than you then you must consider playing a line that he dislikes more than you. So the corollary is that you must have an array of openings.
In order to make those judgement calls we need to stress test our openings and grade them. And the only way to do that is in an actual tournament.
Ducking at this level deprives you of that opportunity. NC provided the opportunity to do that. When your weapons are stress tested you can play with greater confidence in the International arena.