Universal Chess Training by GM Wojciech Moranda arriving 14 October!

Universal Chess Training by GM Wojciech Moranda arriving 14 October!

gmmoranda
GM gmmoranda
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Dear Chess Friends,

My name is Wojciech Moranda and I am a Grandmaster from Poland. Today I wish to introduce you to my latest book titled ‘Universal Chess Training’, which is about to be published with Thinkers Publishing as of 14 October 2020. The book represents the result of over 400 hours of my hard work and is supposed to describe a novel point of view on the training of any ambitious player.

Most of the games contained therein come from the years 2018-19, with emphasis being put on providing high-quality training material not available elsewhere. Knowledge, experience and pattern recognition (typical features of stronger players) shall be naturally of use, but because the majority of examples are, in a certain sense, innovative, what will matter most if how good a chess-thinker you are.

This book is aimed to benefit a very wide chess audience starting from 1600 upwards. The first part, titled ‘What every Russian schoolboy solves’ is aimed at players rated 1600-1900. It also includes the highest number of motifs considered ‘standard’ in modern chess-literature. The second part (‘Enter at your own risk: Puzzles may bite’) is designed for 1900-2200 players. They are, therefore, more complex in nature. The third and last section is titled ‘Grandmasters wept solving these’... and there is a reason for this.

Although I did my best to sort these games in an order based on their complexity, this division remains very subjective. Some of the exercises from the first part are not necessarily much easier than the ones designed for more experienced players. At the same time, aspiring amateurs stand a chance at solving the entirety of the puzzles in every chapter. What is most important, however, is that the solutions will not only indicate the underlying idea behind each puzzle, but shall also elaborate in detail upon both the suggested continuation and, very often, on additional problems of practical value that could also be meaningful in the given case.

To further advance the Reader’s learning curve I decided that the puzzles should not be sorted according to themes, but merely based upon their difficulty. The reason for this is that, in my view, offering a hint about the topic of a given exercise would bias the person solving them, and in so doing neutralize the learning effect. As a result, you will not know beforehand what the given exercise is all about and which of your chess skills will be useful in solving it. In other words, training with this book is meant to resemble a practical game as much as possible.

Below you shall find an excerpt therefrom explaining the foundations of my training method as well as one of the 90 games included in the book.

***

I have always considered chess to be a difficult game to learn, especially for those of us who are mostly self-taught. The literally endless number of motifs, patterns or variations may seem overwhelming for many players. And then there is the need to apply this knowledge in practice. When confronted with such a vast amount of data, people tend very quickly to start looking for more general points of reference, or maybe even shortcuts intended to put them on the fast-track to mastery.

Before reaching the GM title at the age of 21 I used to be very principled, digesting book after book. I purchased whatever title appeared on the market – this was my method. With little or no access to professional coaching services, I believed that hard work (understood as memorizing idea after idea and maneuver after maneuver) would eventually pay off. There was little or no order within this ‘learning process’, nor was there any understanding of how to apply this knowledge in a tournament game. To give you an example, I knew every single pawn-structure that was ever discussed in textbooks, but I still felt lost like a babe in the woods whenever my games diverged from these studied structures.

Only when I started training others in my early twenties, as probably the youngest coach in the history of the Polish National Youth Chess Academy, did I discover that this ‘learning process’ was not the way. I witnessed some players working as I did in the past – training extremely hard, but only seeing the fruits of their labors after a long period of time. Indeed, so long that they were discouraged from further work. This experience as a young coach taught me one very important lesson: the training regime of every single player needs to be not only organized around whatever might be taking place on the board (plans and ideas in various stages of the game), but should also cover more concrete topics pertaining to thought processes and decision making.Over time, this prompted me to develop my own training system. It enabled me to guide my students on their path to chess improvement in a systematic manner. Nowadays, and as a coach at my own chess school, I prepare the curricula of my pupils in accordance with the rule of ‘three tiers’:

Exemplary training curriculum

Tier 1:

Core Training

Tier 2:

Personalized Program

Tier 3:

Universal Chess Training

Basic elements that need to be understood by every single player, irrespective of their playing strength and current knowledge

Targeted exercises, customized to the needs of the specific player and designed to eliminate their particular flaws

Thought processes and decision making in practice, whether this infers the application of knowledge or not

Creating a distinct methodology for Tiers 1 and 2 was child’s play, but how about Tier 3? To devise something truly instructive in this area I investigated a few thousand games of my students. My purpose was to seek to establish what type of mental mistakes they made most frequently. The results of my research surprised me. I discovered that whether the given player was rated 1600 or 2500 they were all most likely to experience difficulties when making use of the following five skills:

  1. Anticipation & Prophylaxis
  2. Attack & Defense
  3. Coordination
  4. Statics & Dynamics
  5. Weakness

Statistically speaking, the above five skills were involved in more than 80% of the strategic problems my students were facing in their games. I quickly realized that mastering these five skills would mean that only 20%, or every fifth problem, would potentially come as a surprise to them. Taking an important exam and knowing upfront 80% of the material discussed therein sounds like quite a competitive edge to me!

As you can tell by now these skills are not something particularly concrete, but rather a general set of skills. Moreover, they are necessary if you are to learn the skill of handling your pieces properly. It will enable you to apply all the knowledge you have in practice. However, calling them ‘soft skills’ is not sufficient. I, therefore, prefer to speak of them as ‘Universal Chess Training’, because knowing them will most certainly help you play a good move whether the position seems familiar or not.


If you found the above fragment of the book instructive and entertaining, please do not hesitate to pay a visit to the website of Thinkers Publishing https://thinkerspublishing.com/product/wojciech-moranda-universal-chess-training/ and order it even today!

***

Wojciech Moranda (1988), Grandmaster since 2009, rated FIDE >2600 in standard/rapid/blitz. Poland’s TOP 4 player (October 2020) and FIDE TOP 100 in Rapid (2018). Member of top teams from the German (Schachfreunde Berlin), Belgian (Cercle d’Échecs Fontainois) and Swedish (Visby Schackklubb) league. Captain of the third best Polish team (Wieza Pegow) as well as the PRO Chess League team, The New York Marshalls.

Professional chess coach, running his own chess school ‘Grandmaster Academy’ seated in Wroclaw (Poland), while training students worldwide, from California to Sydney. His other notable coaching experiences include i.a. working with the National Youth Chess Academy of the Polish Chess Federation (since 2012) and the Polish National Female Chess Team (2013). In his work as a trainer, Wojciech puts special emphasis on improving his students’ thought-process and flawless opening preparation.