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Openings, Midgame, Endgame, Tactics or Strategy?

Openings, Midgame, Endgame, Tactics or Strategy?

Aug 13, 2009, 6:55 PM 1

I read in a book by a GM that you should study the endgame first.  That would help you "see" how you would like the midgame to develop and then that would help determine your openings.

Silman's BookI have been thinking about this.  With all respect to a GM (and this was a book for beginners) this makes little sense.  A book by an IM (Silman, to the left) suggested that while working on skills is great, you must have a great mindset or those skills are wasted.  As a non-practicing psychologist, this made a bit of sense to me.

But the idea of studying the endgame first did not.  My goodness, I was getting killed in the openings.  And there are hundreds of named openings - not to mention thousands of continuations.  I would work on one or two openings and was still getting beat fairly easily.

I wondered -- early on I won more often.  Why?  Well, I think I came across the answer.   Tactics.   I remembered very little about openings from playing 30 years ago.  But just playing, I played OK.  When trying new openings and such, I got easily beat.

But if you have a firm grip on tactics, then openings and midgame come much easier.  If you find yourself in a tough endgame, well the study of the endgame will make that easier.

But where to start to improve?  I think the advice of studying tactics is a good one.  I played 3 games tonight.  I lost one that was very close.  I lost another on a blunder (that happens) and the 3rd is not finished but we are in the endgame and I have a pretty good superiority.

I won some live chess last night also.  I have been studying tactics and using and thinking more about tactics which I believe has really helped.  Not specific games -- but general tactics that are the basics of solid play.  

Sure you can learn a lot from following GM games.  But without a basic understanding of tactics -- and then probably strategy -- it might be lost on you if you are not 1600 or higher.

There seems to be no end to Chess books.  But when studying the basics, you do not need lots of algebraic notation of games for pages and pages.  You need the concepts.  Unfortunately, you just cannot go into Barnes and Noble and browse through the Chess books.

Chess for IdiotsMy Borders and Barnes and Noble stores had a grand total of 15 chess books if you didn't count "Chess for Dummies" and "Chess for Idiots" or the books written for kids with the basic rules.

The selection is unfortunately only really found online.  I have ordered some books that I will read in a year they are so far over my head right now.  But I have ordered some good ones, which have really helped.

The diamond membership on Chess.com and the videos and tutor puzzles have helped also.  At age 51 I have no illusions of becoming a grand master.  But I would like to play and play reasonably well.

What are your thoughts?  Tactics, endgame, openings.  What has helped you become better?

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