My Personal Principles/quotes

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Recently I posted a popular blog "Danisms" about chess terms I have created to help me in my instructions. Since this proved to be popular, I thought I would follow it up with a blog about principles or sayings that I have either made up, refined, or at least helped make popular:

  • You can't play what you don't see - This can refer to several things, such as you can't play a move if you don't consider it as a candidate, or you can't analyze a move if you can't visualize it correctly. Andy Soltis used this on p.269 of his book The wisest things ever said about chess.
  • You have to lose your fear of a rating before you become that rating.
  • Consider the forcing moves: checks, captures, and threats - I don't know if I started that one, but I seem to be at least a popularizer. I do have a link to shirts and hats using this logo, designed by some members of our Main Line Chess Club after my persistent use of this principle at our chess club: Smile
  • Any opening you know sufficiently well is good no matter what its reputation - this was quoted by Alburt and Lawrence on p.133 of Chess Rules of Thumb.
  • Time management is an important skill in chess; having 15 minutes left when your opponent has five is worth about 200 rating points! - another Chess Rules of Thumb quote from p.133, and the latter half was echoed by Hesse on p.63 of his wonderful new book The Joys of Chess.
  • The more you are winning, the more you should think defense first. This one appeared on p.290 of The wisest things ever said about chess. This quote is often (usually!) misinterpreted as suggesting that someone who is winning should play passively or defensively, but neither is true. It has to do with the setting of your priorities in your thought process when you are way ahead.
  • Don't play the opening like the middlegame - unless a fight breaks out (which you should not do unless the position calls for it, ala Steinitz), follow the main goal of the opening, which is to activate your entire army quickly, safely, efficiently, and effectively.
  • Always play with aggression, confidence, and respect for your opponent's moves and ideas. If you go into a game thinking you will lose, you enhance your chances of doing so; if you go into a game overconfident you will win, you will enhance your chances that you will be careless.
  • Think of a draw offer as an offer to remain ignorant of what you would have learned the remainder of the game. Bobby Fischer turned down almost all draw offers before his opponent could finish the sentence.
  • Never start a game without the intention of using almost all your time, assuming the game is not cut short by a blunder. You second most important goal in a game (after winning/having fun) is to do your best/use almost all your time.
  • If learning chess was that easy, everyone would be good.
  • Don't know what to do? Good! If you knew what to do on every move, chess would be like tic-tac-toe and no fun.
  • Your rating doesn't mean anything.  Your playing strength is the only thing that matters; in the long run your rating will follow your playing strength.
  • Don't be afraid of losing.  Be afraid of playing a game and not learning something.
  • The most important principle in chess is SAFETY; second is ACTIVITY; everything else on the board is relatively unimportant.
  • It is good for most developing players to play the King's Indian Defense and the French Defense for a while, since you cannot avoid their pawn structures in many irregular openings anyway.
  • The goal of studying basic tactis repeatedly is not to be able to solve them; we assume most players can do that easily. The goal is to be able to quickly and accurately recognize them when they show up in a game, unannounced.

A much larger set of guidelines/principles can be found at