Chess Training VS Chess Learning

Chess Training VS Chess Learning

Jun 19, 2016, 3:05 AM |

Chess is a game of skill just like football. And if you want to learn football, would you practice playing football or read a book about it?

Since chess is a mind game often chess players and authors think it can be learned from a book. So we see a lot of chess books in the market.


Chess knowledge is good for you to take chess quiz but not for playing chess.

In this article, I would like to give you a new perspective on chess training.

The 4 pillars of chess skill:

  1. Pattern Recognition

  2. Calculation Speed

  3. Visualization

  4. Evaluation

In this article, we will explore the first topic.

Pattern Recognition:

The essential difference between a computer and a human is our ability to recognize patterns in a way that computers can’t understand.

For example, a grandmaster can look at an endgame and know instantly that it is a draw or winning while a computer will calculate 20 moves deep and still will not come to a definite conclusion.

This is one of the most important chess skill.

Tactical Patterns

We are aware of tactical patterns and their importance to find cool combination and checkmates.

The classic and the aesthetically pleasing example is the smothered mate.

Even for something as basic as checkmating a lone king with king and queen we rely on patterns.

The conventional way to train tactical patterns is doing tactical puzzles and more you do tactical puzzles then you will get familiar with various tactical patterns. This is one of the ways to train tactics and calculation.

There is another systematic way to train tactics that is rarely explored by chess authors (except for mating patterns) which is training tactics by specific tactical themes and patterns.

Here is one good tactical book called Chess Tactics from Scratch: Understanding Chess Tactics which takes a systematic approach to learning tactics.

This book explores tactics by tactical themes like deflection, X-ray etc. But there is also need for exploring specific tactical patterns which strong players acquired naturally by doing tactical puzzles. This type of approach can be greatly beneficial but it is almost none existent in our current chess materials.

Positional Patterns:

Positional patterns are not so obvious as tactical patterns but there are lot of key positional patterns hidden inside good chess books. The main problem is that they are not organized in a way where a chess player can easily digest them.

Here is an typical example for positional pawn sacrifice which you can use it your own games.

  Botvinnik,Mikhail – Pomar Salamanca, Arturo 1962


In the above position, white would love to play f5 but in this position if f5 is played immediately it loses control of the critical e5 square and hangs the pawn on h2 with check. So it is a positional and tactical blunder.

So White played e5 first sacrificing the pawn, 12. e5! after fxe5 Botvinnik played f5. This is a great positional pawn sac.

Now the knight on c6 does not the e5 square, the bishop on d6 is blocked by the e5 pawn and it has opened up e4 square for the White knight and h1-a8 diagonal for the Bishop. This compensates for the pawn and more. White went on to win the game.

This pattern occurs in our own games and it is difficult to find this move without knowing this pattern and positional idea before. So it is key to study these patterns and have them in your mental pattern database.

Here is an International Master explaining how he used this same pattern in his own game to crush his opponent. Click here.

This is why lot of chess coaches ask their students to study strong grandmaster’s games. To get ideas and patterns used by strong players.

It will be much easier to study if they were systematically organized.

Here is one such attempt to capture the positional patterns from  Arthur Van de Oudeweetering in his book Improve Your Chess Pattern Recognition: Key Moves and Motifs in the Middlegame

This book covers a lot of interesting positional patterns but there is still lot of ground to cover in this area of chess.

Hope you enjoyed this article, feel free to let me know your opinion.

An article from Chessecrets