Chess Notebook, Part 2

Chess Notebook, Part 2

Feb 8, 2015, 9:37 PM |

I graduated from college with dozens of notebooks floating in my wake. In my professional career I've always attended meetings with a bound notebook in hand. The process of writing notes helps me process and integrate information. So, it was natural that I adopted the same approach when I decided to take a serious stab at chess improvement.

In my first Chess Notebook blog post I described the way I use my bound notebook for taking traditional, chronological notes on whatever chess book or subject I am currently studying. I also included a description of the adhesive labels and chess notation I use to make it neat and easy to illustrate chess positions.

Tonight I'd like to describe the second type of chess notebook I maintain. I used the word "maintain" because, unlike the bound notebook mentioned above, this one is looseleaf. This enables me to add and remove pages, or entire sections, as my needs change, allowing me to cultivate and grow the notebook over time.

The purpose of my looseleaf notebook is to collect and categorize different positions that I think are interesting or useful to remember at this point in my chess career.

Here is what it looks like.

Each page is only one sided so that I can add, remove, or move each page independently. I've tried to stick to a common format for the pages with the diagram in the upper left and the side to move in the upper right. Everything else, including solutions or explanations, is written below the diagram.
Sticking with this layout allows me to flip through the pages and analyze whatever position I want while covering up the bottom half of the page until I am ready to reveal my notes on that position.
Several chess authors tout the benefits of keeping physical notebooks such as what I am describing here. From them, I've read that it is best to look for positions from your own games that represent important themes or motifs, such as pins, isolated queen's pawn positions, sacrifices on h7 or f7, rook endings, opening tabiyas, etc.
If you cannot find a position from your own game to illustrate a particular theme or motif, choose another position that speaks to you: from a book you've read; a master game; or, maybe one that you've composed yourself. The key is that the position should be memorable and relevant to you.
Here are my current sections:
  • R+P vs R
  • K+P vs K
  • Rook Lifts
  • Rooks on Open Files
  • Bxh7(2)
  • Outside Passed Pawn
Here are some of the future sections where I am actively looking for good positions. Feel free to post one in the comments, if it matches one of these:
  • Discovered Attack (piece)
  • Discovered Attack (pawn)
  • Discovered Check
  • Double Check
  • Forks (pieces)
  • Forks (pawns)
  • Absolute Pin
  • Relative Pin
  • Skewer
  • Stalemate
  • Perpetual Check
  • Destroying King's Cover
  • Backrank Mate
  • Deflection (oveworked piece)
  • Battery on Open File/Diagonal
  • Underpromotion
  • Decoy (sacrifice and non-sac)
  • Clearance Sacrifice
  • X-Ray
  • Windmill
  • Zwischenzug (quiet move)
  • Fortress
  • IQP (advancing d pawn)
  • Minority Attack
  • Attacking Finachetto