Study Plan For Beginners: Strategy!

Study Plan For Beginners: Strategy!

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Target Skill Range: Beginner (Rated 1000-1399)

Learn to develop long-term, strategic plans and outplay your opponents!

Tasks:

  1. Improve your piece play.
  2. Learn the basics of pawn play.
  3. Learn to make a plan.
  4. Keep your king safe.
  5. Learn to use "technique."
  6. Take the quiz!

Whereas tactics allow you to take advantage of your opponents' mistakes in the short term, strategy flows from your understanding of more permanent aspects of the position. Awareness of strategic elements is vital in that it allows you to evaluate a position (tell who is better off, if anyone); more importantly, it is the foundation of planning in chess.  Here's what we recommend to improve your strategic vision:

1. Improve your piece play.

Work through these materials on the basics of piece play, strong placements (outposts), recognizing strong and weak squares, and piece activity. Learning how to coordinate your pieces is the first step toward understanding strategy and planning in chess.

Watch these video lectures on the subject:

2. Learn the basics of pawn play.

As you become a better chess player you will realize more and more the importance of the pawns, but for now we simply need to identify good and bad pawns—as well as the basic strategies of how to exploit them—when we see them in our own games.

Watch these video lectures on the subject:

Do puzzles 31 and 32 (only) in this lesson:

Endings, Openings, a Taste of the Middle by IM Jeremy Silman and NM Mike Arne

      3. Learn to make a plan.

      You don't always need to have a long term plan; often you are just fighting for advantages in the immediate position with tactics, attacking or defending against your opponent's threats, but it would be good for you to know what plans are, if only so as not to feel hopelessly adrift when there is "nothing obvious going on." Study the following material and you will already be on a decent footing:

      Watch these video lectures on the subject:

      4. Keep your king safe.

      One of the key elements in any chess position is king safety. Watch these three videos that will increase your sensitivity to this issue, and then practice defending your king in the following set of exercises.

      Do the first 6 exercises in this lesson: 

        Premature Attacks on the King by FM Joel Banawa

        5. Learn to use "technique."

        Technique is term used to describe conventional methods to convert your winning positions into won games! Of course, one component of this is learning not to blunder when you're ahead; however, there are a few important strategical things you should understand to improve your technique, with the main one being how to convert a large material advantage:

        • Read this three-part article series on converting material advantages by GM Bryan Smith: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
        • Practice this drill until you win 3 times in a row.
        • Practice this drill until you win 3 times in a row.
        • Practice this drill until you win 3 times in a row.
        • Practice this drill until you win 3 times in a row.

           


          Test your new skills.

          This final section contains questions a player should know the answer to after completing this study plan.

          Question 1: What "minor piece is dominating" the Bishop on e7 towards the end of IM Rensch's "Everything You Need to Know: Tactics & Strategy" video lecture?

          Question 2: When used "together with other pawns" what does WGM Pogonina say pawns have the ability to do in her article Strong and Weak Pawns?

          Question 3: In the introduction to his Lesson 1, what does FM Banawa say is an essential part of improving your chess game?

          Question 4: What variation from the Caro Kann does IM Rensch say is "another line that commonly reaches an Isolated Queen Pawn position" in his video lecture?

          Question 5: In Part 3 of his article series on Converting Material Advantages, what does GM Bryan Smith list as the 1st step in the "good plan" to converting the Knight advantage?

           

          Answers: 1. Knight on d5; 2. "define the course of a game"; 3. "learning how to sacrifice material to win"; 4. the Panov-Botvinnik; 5. "Centralize the King and Knight, moving them forward to strong positions".

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