The Chess Player's Battle Manual - Deepstash
The Chess Player's Battle Manual

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The Chess Player's Battle Manual

by Nigel Davies

  • Non professional or club players rarely have enough time to study chess
  • They should focus on the areas that are most important
  • The biggest cause of victory or defeat in chess is that one player sees something that other has missed at a crucial point in the game.

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Most games are decided not by theoretical nuances or complex strategy, but rather by one player missing a move or idea that his opponent has see

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  • Very often we only realise our mistake when we announce our move to the world by actually playing it on the board.
  • Humans make tactical oversight all the time even if they sometimes try and pretend otherwise.
  • Residual image of pieces in the mind's eye can create problems in visualization
  • GM Kotov describes in the book "Think like a Grandmaster" how to decide on your candidate moves based on the assessment of the position.
  • Positional intuition and calculations are inseparable.
  • Many games lost because of looking for combinations that don't exist.
  • Choose only few sensible moves and calculate.

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For players having little time to study chess

  1. Solve puzzles during the time spend on bus or train or any free time.
  2. From games in books or magazines where a strong player has made some notes, play the game without looking at the game and notes, analyse this position against the clock for 30 minutes and compare the analysis with the notes.
  3. Analyse with someone stronger than you in playing strength. Discuss the variations verbally which helps visual imagination
  4. Do Post-mortem of your games with your opponent. Do not get arrogant against your opponent and be objective.

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5. Avoid blitz (5+3, 5, 3+2, 3 minutes) and bullet (2+1, 2, 1 minute) games. Here only quick moves and impulses work. Preferrer Rapid chess (10, 15 minutes or more) or Fiscer style time limit with seconds added.

6. Blind fold chess may help in developing better visualization skills but unhealthy and mentally disturbing.

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  • Direct attack on the king is not often possible, so it is better to build up a good position.
  • Understanding the position and their requirements can help in building a plan
  • Lengthy memorisation of opening lines to miss out the early planning stage of a game and go directly into the middle game in which there is a clear and simple idea is a very popular approach but often fails when opponent do not follow the opening lines.
  • Learning opening theory is not just about learning the variations but understanding the philosophy behind them.

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  • Without good understanding of chess, a player may not earn the advantage at the end of the variation.
  • Opening theory is popular among all levels because of three reasons
  1. It is an easy way to win
  2. Those who don't know the opening lines are more likely to loss
  3. Leading players talk more about preparation and theory.
  • It is far better to study all games played by the opponent before playing against them. 
  • 3-4 opening systems for white and black is sufficient for tournament play with thorough preparation.

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  • The most effective way to defeat a less experienced player is to deprive him of a clear line of action and to make the planning part of the game as difficult as possible.
  • The best way to learn an opening is to understand the structures to which it leads to and study some classic games in which those structures appear. 
  • Occasional changing of opening repertoire is refreshing but should not be done too often.
  • Names of some popular structures are
  1. Caro-slav formation
  2. Hedgehog formation
  3. Isolated d-pawn
  4. Hanging d- and c-pawn
  5. Hanging centre
  6. Stonewall 
  7. Botvinnik formation
  8. Benoni formation

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Key factors in choosing an opening repertoire

  1. Initiative
  2. space advantage
  3. changeability
  4. memorable
  5. specific preference for structures
  6. preference for attack or defense or both
  • For attacking players, 1. e4 is most suitable
  • Follow a lesser known grandmaster having attacking style with 1.e4, this may save huge amount of time.

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  • If you have the chance to advance a pawn one square or two in the endgame, then first of all advance only one square and only then play it forward one more square.
  • Repeating moves in the endgame can be very useful
  • It gains time and psychological benefit of the side with the advantage. The defender can not stand the strain for long.
  • Endgame requires patience, methodical and precise movement.
  • Better to calm the nerves by deep breathing
  • Side with the advantage want to keep the pawns. To play against them, exchange pawns, not pieces so they have nothing to promote.

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  • Possession of advanced passed pawns tend to be far more important than an extra pawn or two.
  • Rook endgames, opposite colored Bishop endgame, knight endgames are often drawish.
  • King activities matter in the endgame, the value of the king is approximately equivalent to a rook.

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  • Computer processors are becoming faster everyday and so their calculation ability in every chess positions. The engines do not follow human intuition and can win based on faster calculations.
  • Computer may fail to recognize positional pawn sacrifice and closed positions, however this is not always true.

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  • Have a good night's sleep before the game.
  • Do nothing on the day of the play
  • In team event, avoid being the captain to restrain from organizational duties.
  • Bring at least one working pen and be at the board a few minutes before the game.
  • Do not do last minute opening preparations.
  • Look over one or two games of the opponent on the evening before the game.
  • Don't try to get adrenaline thrill with motivational speeches, it is better to take a short walk in some fresh air.
  • When playing against higher rated player, play to learn and show your best skill instead of having already losing mindset.

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  • It is okay to walk during the game but never talk to anyone.
  • Food habits should be checked, no alcohol, no sweets.
  • Try not to shake during the games, that shows nervousness and blow winning positions. Take a few deep, slow breath, using your diaphragm and count slowly from eight to one.
  • Try to avoid tournaments with a demanding schedule or take a bye if these are on offer.
  • To avoid time trouble, avoid over-calculations or calculating the incalculable, some moves have to be made on intuition or prior knowledge.
  • If opponent having time trouble, don't hurry or make superficial moves, play usual

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  • Analyse your own games
  • Be objective and honest with yourself during the analysis
  • Find the turning points where the advantage occur or lost.
  • Measure the advantage of each side.
  • Make a balance between not analysing variations too far and not far enough.
  • Check up the opening from opening book
  • Best way to improve is to play against stronger players, although being beaten badly in every game does not do much for one's confidence but it surely tightens up your game whereas playing against weaker players lead to slopiness
  • Limit yourself to between 50 to 90 competitive games a year.

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CURATED BY

santanuborah

Learner, thinker, dreamer

CURATOR'S NOTE

Here I note few important points from the book. The book is mostly for club level and below expert level chess players.