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The so called chess 'theory' is basically exploration of games tree. Starting with some position one can study what happens if... So this knowledge is very specific. There is also some 'common' knowledge about moves that are generally good or bad. For example, knowing that usually isolated pawns are bad, and doubling your rooks is good, one can save time when searching for the next move. Do you know of a book which discusses such generalized 'rules of thumb'? Do you follow such 'rules' in your games?
Depends on how you define the terms. "Theory" in chess, as it is currently understood, refers to specific knowledge of opening lines and endgame positions mainly, as well as thematic concepts of playing specific pawn structures.
"isolated pawns bad, doubled Rooks good" is more "general principles" than any sort of "theory." These are ideas which can guide your thinking, but every position contains its own peculiarities which can override those principles, usually tactically but also sometimes strategically. So you must use "concrete analysis" before applying the principles.
But this is not to say the principles can't be a good guide: before you weaken your pawn structure voluntarily, you should be sure you get some compensating advantages which outweigh the weakness. Without the principle, you wouldn't even know it was weak!
But there is more or less a proven "theory" of playing with and against the isolated d-pawn specifically. It can be an advantage in the middlegame, with open files on either side for Rooks and a generally easy development, as well as the constant threat to advance, even to sacrifice the d-pawn for open lines. If you waste your time fretting that it is "weak" by general principle, you will miss those opportunities; you need to know the theory.
Estragon, I totally agree with you. But you don't always have all the time to consider zillions of positions like engines do. You have to prioritize your moves in some way, especially if you're under time pressure. Also, games below certain level are not totally creative and not all of the moves have to be brilliant. Sometimes you just need to play 'safety moves', etc. So I wondered if there is a book titled something like '100 tips to improve your chess game' or sort of that
One way to do this would be to translate the code that chess programs use to evaluate positions into words. However, I suspect that there are a few aspects of positional evaluation that human chess players use that the programs have not (yet) been programmed with.
But they use calculation for evaluation, something humans can't do systematically like engines, so we need pointers to compensate
a good example of this is your statement "isolated pawns are bad"
actually they CAN be targets or an asset depends on the position.
Guidelines is a better word since rules do not have acceptions (you can not castle while in check is an example of a rule)
The tricky part is that sometimes concrete factors override generally good guiding principles. You also get conflicting principles such as knights on the rim are dim and moves like Na6 in the king's indian, Na5 in the two knights defense. Nh6 in french positions etc...
My advice is follow principles always unless you can prove them wrong for a concrete reason. Its better to create a good habit and thought process than run haphazard through positions.
Solits has some great books on these 'rules of thumb' His How to choose a chess move is great as are his other non-opening books.
I am currently reading a book by Beim "back to basics" that i am enjoying.
Isolated pawns are not bad.Saying that means you haven't study middle-game(see Botvinnik's games then we discusss again how bad isolated pawn is) and I bet you haven't studied endgame too.
Chess starts from endgame.Learn as much lines as you like , learn as much openings as you like.If you don't know endgame , you don't know anything.
Michael-G, isolated pawns were only a random example. What I meant was 'isolated pawns are bad unless...'. General guidelines can help you if you haven't come up with something better. They can be viewed as patterns that can be followed or rejected, but I guess it is better to know them than re-invent them in every single game.
TonyH, thanks for suggesting the books! They seem to be quite close to what I wanted.
You can't have general guidelines.Isolated pawn can be an asset and can be a liability.The conditions under which can be an asset are practically endless.The same for the conditions that can be a liability.You have to evaluate the position and to do that correctly you have to study a lot of games with isolated pawn(for example) and from the best.
Guidelines do exist but it seems to me that you are looking for the easy solution.Applying principles you don't understand is useless because you can't understand when to "sacrifice" them.You don't know what to get as compensation.So guidelines simply become a way to play mechanical uninspired chess.
Michael-G, you are right, I possibly can't invest too much time in chess, but I want some starting points. For example, if I know that such thing as 'isolated pawn' exists, it will be easier for me to track various outcomes of isolated pawns in my own games and some other games that I'll be watching or analysing. If I don't know anything about 'isolated pawns' I won't even notice they are isolated. Again, that was just a random example.
101 tips to improve your game by Kosten might also be close to what you're looking for.
hicetnunc, thanks! =D
soltis - pawn structure chess is probably the book your looking for covers a large number of basic structures and the basic plans for each side. Its in descriptive but you can learn that easy enough
:) thanks Alex
I would study something like pawn structure chess by solits
This gives the big picture to the structure of middlegames then graduate to the opening essentials series. Which provides a bit more detail about openings and the specfic plans for each of them. a very good understanding of these will take you to 2000 with some added specifics on your particular opening desires
Then Watsons books which are more 2000+ across the board up to IM/GM level. (my guess but seems to be what most reviews have said)
The Wisest Things Ever Said About Chess, by Soltis, is a wonderful book that's exactly what the OP is looking for.
sapientdust, thank you very much!
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