How to Reassess Your Chess - Deepstash

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About The Author And The Book

Jeremy Silman is an International Master in Chess and a world class teacher, writer and a playey who has won the American Open and many other tournaments. This book deals with mainly the middle game part of a chess game where a player can win the game based on the position in the board. It requires not just thinking, but deep observations and calculations. Whereas capturing the opponent's king is the ultimate objective in chess, one should not neglect the minor details of the position of game at an instant that can make you won game winning or losing game into drawn one.

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The Concept Of Imbalances

Definition: Imbalance is any significant difference in the two respective positions (white side and black side)

Main imbalances are

  • Superior minor piece
  • Pawn structure
  • Space
  • Material
  • Control of a key file
  • Control of a hole/weak square
  • Lead in development
  • Initiative
  • King safety
  • Statics vs Dynamics

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The Concept Of Imbalances

  • Imbalances are the roadmap that shows each side what to do.
  • It helps in planning
  • It helps in observing traps, threats and tactical themes.
  • Chess engines usually show the right moves and taking their help sometimes useful but they are fatel to improvement because they don't usually show why a move is right.

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Superior Minor Pieces

  • Knights (N) and Bishops (B) are the minor piece and have the same value of 3.
  • Knight requires support point by pawn or other pieces where it can safely land without being attacked by enemy pawn. It is short range piece so finding such a square to put it is important.
  • Knights gain in strength based on the ranks they stand. On 1st and 2nd rank, it is a defensive piece. On 3rd and 4th rank, it can defend and attack flexibly. On 5th and more on 6th rank, it attack the enemy pieces furiously. On 7th and 8th rank, it has less power and does tactical or search or destroy operation.

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Superior Minor Pieces

  • Knights are the best blockaders as it doesn't lose its mobility when sitting in front of an enemy pawn. It is the only piece that can hop over other pieces.
  • Knights are short range pieces and Bishops are long range pieces. Knight requires at least 4 moves to stand on a square which is diagonally two squares away, bishop require only one move.
  • Knight can attack or defend both colored squares however bishop stuck on one color only.
  • Knight loves closed position and Bishop loves open position.
  • Bishop, outside the pawn chain and doing defensive or dynamic tasks, is the important piece.

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Superior Minor Pieces

  • Bishop, trapped behind its pawns is a tall-pawn, is unhelpful.
  • Changing pawn structure or moving even a pawn can affect the activities of the Bishop. Don't place pawn in front of it if not necessary.
  • The tall-pawn should be moved by moving the pawns or moving the Bishop out of the pawn chain or exchanging it with other minor piece.
  • Having Bishop vs knight situation, trading all other pieces to move into endgame helps as long range of Bishop outsmart the short range knight.
  • Bishop can restrict the knight on the rim by being 3 squares away horizontally or vertically.

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Superior Minor Pieces

  • In the endgame with all pawns on one side of the board, the Knight is superior for having access to both colors than the Bishop.
  • In a situation B + B vs B + N, trading one of the enemy Bishop to lead to B vs B or B vs N is more beneficial of the side having the knight.
  • N + N do not work well, exchanging them for N or B is beneficial.

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Rooks

  • An effective Rook needs an open file
  • Although it has 5 points, it is inferior to 3 points of Knight and Bishop when it is not in an open file.
  • The Rook strategy: creating a open or half open file, exerting pressure on the pawns or pieces on that half open file, fighting to dominate it, penetrating into the enemy position on them
  • Rook on 8th rank can do tactical or attacking actions, back rank mates.
  • Rook on 7th rank restricts the opponent king and targets all the undeveloped enemy pawns

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Psychological Meandering

  • Depending on the position, material needs to be collected or rejected or sacrificed with out attaching fear or other emotions to it.
  • Material advantage can give an edge on middlegame and winning chances in endgame so a free pawn or piece should not be neglected if no direct attack in found.
  • Sacrificing material requires great courage, if you believe the position is correct to sacrifice some piece or even the queen, you should go for it. Don't fear, play like Tal.
  • Both gaining and sacrificing material are just an imbalance like the superior minor piece etc and should be assessed similarly.

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Mental Breakdown

  • Never accept an enemy threats unless it is proved as dangerous.
  • Preventing a false threat is actually helping the enemy to win.
  • Always believe in your own position
  • Stick to your move and check if the move still work against enemy's threats
  • Analyse the possible loss of ignoring or preventing the threats
  • Don't waste moves
  • Instead of thinking "I missed it, I must be doomed" about a surprising move, think "How can I punish this? "

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Macho Chess

  • Best attitude is "I will do what O want no matter what you say".
  • Don't fall for "I have to" mindset, don't be on autopilot or mechanical. Challenge it and let him know that the only agenda that's going to be pushed is yours.
  • Macho Chess is Jeremy Silman's style of saying "Initiative" which means pushing one's own agenda.
  • Grandmaster games can help to build this initiative.
  • A key position is the one where you sense that the correct move or plan will have a major impact on the game but the right move or plan isn't clear to you.

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States Of Chess Consciousness

  • Player with the large center has to defend it, if he can make it indestructible, then the center rules.
  • Lines that suit your personal comfort level, your style or that particular situation should be choosen.
  • Slowly improve your pawns and pieces until everything is optimally placed instead or attacking recklessly.
  • Before playing too quickly, Pay Attention.

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Weak Pawns

Play against an isolated d-pawn

  • Trade off all the minor pieces
  • Play for Q + R vs Q + R (better than Q + 2 R) since presence of Queens makes it far too dangerous for the defender's king to come forward and join in the defense of the pawn.
  • The rook blocks the isolated d pawn and the queen behind it stop the pawn to advance.

Play against backward pawn

  • Make sure the backward pawn remain backwards
  • Trade minor pieces and pile up with rooks and queen.

Double isolated pawns and Triple isolated pawns are worse and can be blocked by single enemy pawn.

Make king safe and create more weaknesses.

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Weak Squares

  • Allows Rook and Bishop to slide and dominate
  • Weak squares on 4th, 5th Or 6th rank allow a knight to outpost
  • Weak squares can be turned into artificial support point.
  • Chess is a team game, placing a piece on a square where it doesn't work with the rest of its army is a bad idea. Everyone should have one same goal.

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Dragging Down The Central Enemy King

  • Active play at the center against the uncastled king is required.
  • Don't allow it to castle safely.
  • Bring more pieces to the battle area and penetrate.
  • Rip open more lines.

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Statics Vs. Dynamics

Statics are long term pluses, positional factors.

  • Holes
  • Weak pawns
  • Material deficit
  • Space

Dynamics are short term, use them now or die factors.

  • Active pieces
  • Attacking possibilities based on a vulnerable enemy king
  • Tactics

It's critically important which factors the position wants.

Transformation between imbalances are possible.

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Space

Space is created by the expansion of pawns, the territory behind the most advanced pawn.

Side with less space is passive.

Playing for superior minor piece can be a useful for space gain.

Side with more space should avoid unnecessary exchanges.

To play against opponent's space advantage

  • Exchange pieces
  • Use pawn breaks
  • Find weak squares created by pawn moves
  • Space gaining enemy pawn is the target
  • Don't wait until opponent grows the center
  • Create space in other sector of the board

When center is closed, play has to be on the wings.

Play on the side where you have more space or pawn chain point to.

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Passed Pawn

A static powerhouse and/or a dynamic game winner.

A pawn majority's ultimate goal is creation of A passed pawn.

A passed pawn, even A protected passed pawn can often turn out to be a serious disadvantage when

  • It does not contribute to the main gameplay
  • A successful blockade reduces its power.
  • A weakness to be protected

Passed pawn in K+P or K+Q endgame is usually winning.

Side with the passed pawn should

  • Exchange all the minor pieces
  • Leaving both sides with R+Q
  • Queen should remain to prevent opponent king from defending.

Side playing against passed pawn should

  • Create blockade
  • Active play of pieces

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Imbalance In Opening

To face and fix weakness and create a temporary learning repertoire

  • Choose openings that don't suit your style/temperament (Tactical player choosing positional openings)
  • Choose openings that focus your chess weakness
  • Vulnerable, insecure and mostly losing but ultimately learning from mistakes.

Imbalances and general ideas from the openings need to be understood.

For long term learning, choosing the openings based on own playing style matters the most.

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Appendix

High level chess demands the balance of tactics and positional skills.

Making a plan

  • On the part where you are stronger.
  • Activities of the pieces
  • 2-3 move operations based on imbalances

A grand plan is possible when

  • Stronger side has A huge advantage and the defender is hard passed to stop opponent's intentions
  • Clearly defined strategic elements like good bishop vs bad bishop Or bad knight.

Planning should not be based on personal decision or desires, it's what the position wants or the only way to play.

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Creating A Study Program

  1. Learn from tactical patterns
  2. Create a basic opening repertoire
  3. Positional play
  4. The endgame
  5. Learn from master games.

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IDEAS CURATED BY

santanuborah

Learner, thinker, dreamer

CURATOR'S NOTE

For chess players, winning a game is everything. To win, one must checkmate the opponent king. But there are not always the opportunity to checkmate the king, instead there are positions whose intricate details can help him conquer the opponent. This book talks about those details that a beginner chess player can understand and an intermediate to expert level player can improve his ratings.

Santanu Borah's ideas are part of this journey:

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