The Grandmaster's positional understanding, by Igor Smirnov

  • 23 months ago · Quote · #141


    Use paragraphs We R Pawns. Make it readable! 

  • 23 months ago · Quote · #142


    My idea for white would be to apply pressure on blacks isolated pawn in the centre.

    I'd probably start with Rook to c2 preparing Rd2, so I can relieve the queen from it's duty of protecting the d-file.

  • 23 months ago · Quote · #143


    The_Cosmologist wrote:

    I have read a few comments and came to know that there are many people who doubt the ability and level of Mr. Smirnov as a teacher.

    Okay then, I have a test for you. I found this game on Igor Smirnov's website.


    I believe that anyone who has studied Grandmaster's positional understanding deeply (deeply means really deep, not just watched) will have no problem finding the correct idea for white.

    It's a challenge to those who think that his courses are for beginners: #46

    Also to those who think that his courses are overpriced: #126

    It's a special challenge to those who think that the strategic principles provided in his courses are a simple rule of thumb: #125

    This game is between one of the best players of their time and anyone can find the answer by searching in any online database (and many would cheat, I know), but you not only have to tell the answer but also explain the reason of the move.

    Don't think that today's top engines would let you find the correct strategic decision in this position. They are of no use here.

    Those who already know the answer, whether through Smirnov's website or any other source, please do not post.

    And by the way, I know the forum and most of the posts here are quite old, but, I came to know about this forum recently and for me it's new.

    I like these posts!  Okay, we have a classic e3+f2 g2 h2 tabiya against isolated d-pawn, the weak b5 hole is plugged by a pawn, I don't like that, pawn nicely blockaded by the knight, but threatened by the bishop, with black to play maybe Bxd5-exd5 mutual isolated d-pawns favor knights.  Bishop pair vs. knight pair, I want to trade off minor pieces and pressure that d-pawn. 

    I'd say the position is equal, maybe slightly better for white.  Knowing that 1...Bxd5 2.exd5,Ne4 is strong for black my first candidate is 1.Nce2 opening the file for the rook while reinforcing the square in front of the isolated pawn.  What would black's plan be?  Maybe trade off lightsquared bishops or knight for lightsquared bishop leaving me weak on the light squares?  I don't see how he can viably do that anytime soon. 

    f5 looks like a good square for the knight, but after Qc7 it doesn't really do much.  To avoid the knights becoming dangerous black will need to play ...g6 covering this vital square.  A defender should defend his weakest points with the bare minimum needed and no more and make sure he keeps defensive concessions to a bare minimum as well.  By itself, this weakening isn't significant enough for an advantage, but the kingside could use further work.  Principle of two weaknesses: kingside and isolated d-pawn, need to work with these for optimal winning chances. 

    1.Nce2,Bxd4 2.Nxd4 is great for white, he likely won't exchange but it never hurts to see all checks, captures, and threats before proceeding.

    If black shuffles around doing nothing then

    1.Nce2,Kh8 2.Nf4,Kg8 3.Nf5 is quite strong, but black is in the game too and also looking for his best move. 

    1.Nce2 doesn't lose material and helps transfer it to a more active square while reinforcing the d4 point in front of the isolani so pushes clock.

  • 23 months ago · Quote · #144


    The position looks equal and quiet enough.  I know one should control the square in front of the isolated d-pawn and the knights support eachother and is more flexible from e2 than c3.  The d4 pawn is pretty solid and Nc5 is quite strong, but the lightsquared bishop is important for white or else he'd be weak on the light squares. 

  • 23 months ago · Quote · #145


    Or converting your advantage when you're winning.  Like an old saying goes it isn't what leaves that matters but what stays on, if trading an active rook for passive one leads to a winning pawn ending the trade should be initiated, but if it leaves it equal avoided. 

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #146


    I don't know. I haven't bought them, but I've looked all his videos in Youtube. While very instructional, it didn't add me anything to, say, MI Silman's "How to Reassess your Chess" book, just to name an example. I think maybe people sometimes live like... a fantasy -I'm not saying anyone here does-, but I've seen in my club players that dream of getting that "magic pill" [or any metaphor that means just not put up all the hard work], or magic book or magic course, or whatever, and then suddenly become an expert.

    I suggested to those players to be honest, look in the mirror, like myself, and accept you're not José Raúl Capablanca. You MUST put the hard work. The long hours. The countless exercises. The skip-the-friday-party-endgame study.

    Yes, it's true, GMs understand chess different from us, mere average players. But there's no magic pill to that understanding, only hard work. If you're in the middle game and you see a possible endgame that requires precise technique, how would you know if you want to drive the game into that endgame if you haven't perfected endgame technique. Maybe you could improvise or have the "intuition" that it's winning, maybe you even win the game by sheer brainpower and improvisation. BUT, like GM Smirnov himself said in a video, that's hardly the CONSISTENT way of playing.

    That means that before discarting all this HARD work just because someone [even a GM himself] told you it was easy to understand the game better, you should carefully see the life ot other GMs, and how they got their craft done. And you should do this especially if that someone is going to charge you.

    I'm not saying GM Smirnov's courses are phony or whatever. Like I said, I didn't buy them. What I say is that if you want to be a strong player, you first forget of the easy way and the quick way, that is, forget the lust for ego or recognition. And be prepared to long hours.

    And, well, by the way, this space was not paid by MI Silman, hehehe. But, really, his book about imbalances of chess, along with his workbook, REALLY oblige you to understand the game better. Minor piece imbalance, space, initiative, material, development, all the sound concepts are there.

    I remember that after reading the book, I went through some of the games of my favorite player, Tigran V. Petrosian, and... it made sense. His games now made more sense. It didn't happened in a blink -you probably have to read that book several times-, but supported with other books from other guys, like John Nunn, or Angus Dunnington, and, above all, PRACTICE, you make huge progresses. Practice, practice, practice.

    So... I think I'll pass GM Smirnov's courses. Hey, but his Youtube videos, those are great! hehehe

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #147


    Wise words... however i must add that GM Smirnovs courses provide HOURS upon HOURS of tasks...homeworks...that help you..but go ahead and pass :)

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #148


    I agree with topo. I don't see anything in Smirnov's course that is worth the money he is asking for. 

    Everyone knows, in their heart of hearts, what needs to be done to improve. Smirnov's courses are pre-packaged and yet as expensive as individual lessons. To me, it would make more sense to invest in a live coach than to pay for Smirnov's courses. 

    But most people can improve even without a coach. It just takes hard work and dedication.

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #149


    Tope, you needed a mirror to realize that you are not Capablanca?

  • 17 months ago · Quote · #150


    SmyslovFan wrote:

    I agree with topo. I don't see anything in Smirnov's course that is worth the money he is asking for. 

    Everyone knows, in their heart of hearts, what needs to be done to improve. Smirnov's courses are pre-packaged and yet as expensive as individual lessons. To me, it would make more sense to invest in a live coach than to pay for Smirnov's courses. 

    But most people can improve even without a coach. It just takes hard work and dedication.

    I was curious about these courses, and bought them.  Igor Smirnov doesnt present anything new, and there is no "magic pill".  But for me at least, what he does do, is present things in a different light.  Obviously using only myself as a testimonial, i am 51 and started playing in 2009, after a 25 year break.  I study openings, middle games, and end games, buy books, watch videos, study tactics, etc.  I bought his courses last November.  I started with The Grandmaster's Positional Understanding, and am currently on his Endgame Expert course.  My rating has gone from USCF 1644 to 1805 in that time (nothing phemomenal for most die hard players).  But please keep in mind that before that i floated around the 1500's to 1600's before that. 

    I would like to stress this again...His courses offer nothing new, and they are not a magic pill for improvement.  For me, he simply presented things that "clicked" much faster, than all the other studying i did. 


    I am the occasional tournament player, so would my improvement be even better? or worse? I dont know...

  • 17 months ago · Quote · #151


    hello every one, I have not purchased Smirnovz's book, hovever I have watched several of his tutorials on youtube, and I have personally found his videos to be extremly helpful, and my chess game has improved dramatically! His tutorials has given me a deeper understanding of the game in it's entirety. although I am not participating currently in any rated tournaments, I do have the opportunity to play against very strong players and I must say that i am amazed at how well i am playing. I will be purchasing his material and I am hopeful that his work will continue to be beneficial. ps I would hate for my oponents to get a hold of Mr smirnov's videos, LOL!

  • 17 months ago · Quote · #152


    nobody is saying Smirnov's stuff is useless. what many people are saying is that it is advertised as the magic pill and, to be honest, there's no magic pill. just HARD WORK. Being really good, border elite, means many hours going through the fundamentals, with countless GMs games you have to look at -at least-, and a deep, proper understanding of Endgame, not to mention the thousand of Tactics excersises you need to be in really good shape. You can get all these with a couple of books, a free online game database (like, for example, or, a good and comfortable chair, and a nice desk lamp.

  • 17 months ago · Quote · #153


    Yosriv wrote:

    Hi everybody!

    Has anyone already bought Igor Smirnov's chess course "The Grandmaster's positional understanding"? (Igor Smirnov is rated 2496 Elo, look here


    I have Smirnov's course: "The Grandmaster's secrets" and I found it simple to understand and very practical. But if you have any ideas about the previously named course, it will certainly help me a lot. Thank you in advance

    I totally suggest it...I'll give you my testimonial :)

    After I finished the course my rating went from 1900 stable to 2000 stable.

    For your convenience, here's the link of the course

  • 11 months ago · Quote · #154


    Long thread!

    I went through all of it and here is my take. Smirnov puts people off by his advertising methods. This isnt necessarily bad, but it makes a bad impression on lots of people. I used to trade forex and its full of people trying to sell you snake oil.

    I think the problem is with chessplayers, not necessarily Smirnov. We all want quick success and Smirnov clearly targets that. But nothing will make us succeed unless we put in hard work.

    The truth is, if you pick just a few good books, work hard on them, and improve your calculation and evaluation skills, you will surely become a strong player. Its slow going, but it can be achieved. Most of us (myself included), have great chess knowledge, but not  great chess skill. There is nothing radical in what Smirnov is saying and there is hardly any radical thing anyone can say. The issue is that we acquire theoretical knowledge but not practical strenth.

    I know more about chess than some of my opponents, but they beat me.

    I would also like to say that Smirnov isnt that highly rated  Elo 2496 but then again, Kasparov is so way above my level that Smirnov might be the better teacher.

    I recall, reading Bent Larsen saying that Euwe's books were good up to a certain level but that once you climbed higher, you felt that everything he wrote was a lie. Well, chess is about exceptions to the rule. I got punished for underating an opponent who refused to castle. Now when I see my opponent is not willing to castle, I become wary. I have also learnt not to castle automatically (this is what I mean by theoretical knowledge versus practical strength).

    I also lost several blitz games against a player who always played h4, a4, or h5.., ...a5, as his first moves. I couldnt understand it but when I later thought of it, it was clear what he was doing. He was starting a flank attack with his first moves and any attempt I made to open up the center, he would block it and continue with his attack on my castled king. I did everything the books said and I kept loosing (he was rated 2141).


    In conclusion, if we pick good material, study and practice we will become good. Even Smirnov can help.

    I wrote this for others, but also to encourage myself.

  • 11 months ago · Quote · #155


    Few said it is worse some other said very nice but if u check the rating s of other who said the course is awesome they are worse.

  • 6 months ago · Quote · #156


    The fundamentals of Smirnov's courses are that they make you think by yourself. Hence your learning is slower but it is not artificial. For example, "fork" is a chess tactic. It takes half a minute to learn this for a newbee. A GM also knows what a fork is. The difference between them is that the newbee's knowledge is artificial. 

    To learn anything in a way which is self-satisfactory you have to think yourself. Yes chess books will impove you, videos will improve you, but the improvment will REALLY be coming from thinking yourself not by the stuff that you use. 

    Smirnov takes you on a trip back into proactivity and self-learning, traits that one is born with, but unfortunately loses over time.

    The thing is that grown-ups always like to "study" something which actually just means to read, write, listen, watch some stuff etc. Whenever grown-ups get serious about something they think: 'how do I "study" this'?. Uncle philosophy I'd say.

    Keeping in mind that the real grownup meaning of "study" means reading, writing, listening etc, but not doing, not doing. Again: not doing.

    Ok, doing, but in the opposite ratio to what it should be against reading, writing etc.

    Irony being that children who are the best of learners only lose their flair when promted for "study". Its Ironic that study=losing your independence in self thinking whereas it should be = increasing your ability in self thinking.

    In a nutshell, Smirnov takes a route in which the goal is to reach a point to discover knowledge yourself, naturally, to reach the point where the teachers learned stuff. It takes you to the source. And it is subjectively more novel, original and a long term proposition.


    In the end, it depends on where you want to go. If you want to win with some friends and family, and just be called "good" you don't need Simrnov. If you want to become a titled player, learn till you become happy, and your current rating is 1200-1900 then this stuff is definately for you.

    Again it depends what your assumptions and presumptions are. In the long term Simrnov is best. In the short term he isn't.






  • 6 months ago · Quote · #157


    thanks, lon,  but your definitions for "study" and stuff sound more Uncle philosophy than the actual Uncle philosophy you claim stuff to be; they are baseless. Also, you try to paint "think-for-yourself" as completely opposite as to "study" (this would include reading and writing, watching stuff and so on) which is a straight fallacy: "study" here, is a meaning for instructing oneself about a business, while "think-for-yourself" is not a means for instruction, but a procedure in itself. You can definitively study AND think for yourself.

    Another advantage of studying (it is just my guess) is that you don't have to reinvent the wheel all the time just for the love of thinking-it-for-oneself: I'm guessing that in chess you have way too many challenges, themes, items, where you can exercise thinking-for-oneself a lot.

    I think no one here is saying GM Smirnov's stuff is useless or a plain scam or fraud. At least, from my point of view, you can get the same Smirnov teaches without having to pay for the courses (I would say, for example, Silman's books are something up to par for beginners, and Botvinnik's russian school texts also good to improve the fertile land). Others might disagree.

    Coaching, excercises and live play will never be replaced by just "studying". I am a little suspicious -perhaps a bad grown-up habit I have- of people offering magic pills so you become a GM or whatever your dream is. Reality is, I don't care if grownup or child, to master anything takes a lot of hard work and study (that little dirty word), and no magic course from a GM will replace that.

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