I was browsing a 17 year old issue of Chess Review the other day and came across an interesting comment by GM Joel Benjamin. A reader had sent in a question regarding a theoretical novelty he had faced in the K-Indian and had asked Benjamin’s comments.
The specific question is not important, but Benjamin’s comment was very revealing. He said, “You appreciate the strategic elements pretty well…I like your sensible approach to this opening problem. When confronted with a new position relate it to known theory and try to figure out what the differences mean.”
This reminded me of a correspondence game I played a few years ago where my opponent, rated ~2500, played a move that was new to me and I was unable to find in any database. By knowing the correct strategic goals of both sides I was able to determine whether or not his move was a reasonable attempt to accomplish the task. It was. So, I was able to work out a reasonable reply. I don’t remember the final result of the game (which probably means I lost!) but at least I was able to get out of the opening with a playable game.
The point is that Fine’s book is still worth looking at in order to get a perspective of the general strategic goals of any opening you play. That way you'll have a sense of whether any new move you see is reasonably good or not. Either way you'll have some sense of direction.