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Learning Chess

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wschmidt ♡ 110 ( +1 | -1 )
Novice Nook #58 This week's article is excellent. In fact, I dare say I don't think I've read a more succinct and clearly stated summary of basic strategic decisions in all my chess reading. This article and a good book of tactics puzzles could take you a long way in chess.

It's called "The Most Important Strategic Decisions" and gives straightforward, commonsense advice about 8 basic questions:

a. Keep the position closed or open?
b. Trade queens or not?
c. Trade into a king and pawn endgame?
d. When to attack?
e. Where to attack?
f. Where to put the king?
g. How should I adjust my strategy for material?
h. Do i get enought compensation for an uneven exchange/sacrifice?

And there's even a bonus question: Should I play passively and defend or give up material and counterattack?

In my opinion, articles like this are the reason Heisman is one of the best writers around for beginning and intermediate players. Very much like Purdy in his heyday.

The link is

-> www.chesscafe.com

Enjoy, and for you iin the US have a good long weekend! ws
ionadowman ♡ 36 ( +1 | -1 )
Heisman's closing comments... ... remind me of the sort of positions Bobby Fischer used to identify as time for a "Big Think". These are the critical positions in which the whole game hangs upon the move you are about to play and the plans involved in it. I think we all get to experience these moments, when something about the game tells us that now is the make or break moment...
Cheers,
Ion
cascadejames ♡ 34 ( +1 | -1 )
Helpful again As is often the case for me. Heisman's column clearly expresses and illuminates concepts that had previously been merely nascent in my mind. The value of his column is not that his ideas are startling or revolutionary. The value comes from the explicit and clear statement of ideas that were previously only unexpressed and vague.

Thanks.
cascadejames ♡ 82 ( +1 | -1 )
Another Point
These strategic considerations are important, but tactical considerations can easily outweigh the strategic ones. After reading the section on when to trade queens, I reexamined a game of mine, and realized that while the most of the strategic considerations called for declining the trade; if I did not trade, it would result in the loss of an exchange a couple of moves later. So I traded queens. I am sure that was the correct choice, and I think that it would be unusual (though not impossible) for a strategic advantage to be so significant that it would be worth the loss of an exchange.

My point is probably obvious to most readers of this thread; and Heisman makes the point indirectly in this column and directly in others, but I have seen novice players disregard it often enough, that I think it is worth repeating.
wschmidt ♡ 85 ( +1 | -1 )
I absolutely agree. All the strategizing in the world will collapse without looking at the board concretely. And that means tactics work and work on clear calculation and analysis.

Recently, a way I've been trying to improve on the calculation/analysis part of this is by reading the ten main games in "Best Lessons of a Chess Coach" by Sunil Weeramantry and forcing myself to slow down and answer the questions he asks along the way. And following the annotations in my head as far as I can and only then moving the pieces - and then retracing them in my head. Learning, I guess, to "read" chess a little better so some of the neurons exercised might go off when I'm playing a game. I just finished game 4, doing about two a week.

I think most of you who enjoy Heisman would also like Weeramantry. He hits an appropriate balance between strategy and calculation.