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Miyembrong Diamond
Mula pa noong Dis 20, 2016

Interested in building a solid study plan to improve my play strength  and make friends.

***Currently being coached by Dalton Perrine*** https://www.chess.com/member/mattydperrine

STOP playing blitz, rapid, and bullet.  You will not be able to implement what you're trying to learn into your games if you're moving fast.  Play slow time controls, and Daily Chess. 

Opening Principles:

Control the center squares – d4-e4-d5-e5

Develop your minor pieces toward the center – piece activity is the key

Castle

Connect your rooks

Tactics...tactics...tactics...

The objective of development is about improving the value of your pieces by increasing the importance of their roles. Well-developed pieces have more fire-power than undeveloped pieces and they do more in helping you gain control.

Now we will look at 5 practical things you can do to help you achieve your development objective.

They are:

Give priority to your least active pieces.

Which piece needs to be developed (which piece is the least active)

Where should it go (where can its role be maximized)

Exchange your least active pieces for your opponent’s active pieces.

Restrict the development of your opponent’s pieces.

Neutralize your opponent’s best piece.

Secure strong squares for your pieces.

Don’t help your opponent develop.

There are 2 common mistakes whereby you will simply be helping your opponent to develop:

Making a weak threat that can easily be blocked

Making an exchange that helps your opponent to develop a piece

Pre Move Checklist:

Make sure all your pieces are safe.

Look for forcing moves: Checks, captures, threats. You want to look at ALL forcing moves (even the bad ones) as this will force you look at, and see the entire board.

If there are no forcing moves, you then want to remove any of your opponent’s pieces from your side of the board.

If your opponent doesn’t have any of his pieces on your side of the board, then you want to improve the position of your least active piece.

After each move by your opponent, ask yourself: "What is my opponent trying to do?"

Expand your position:

Gain more space.

Improve the position of your pieces.

Decide on what side of the board to play.

Queenside: a-c files.

Center: d-e files.

Kingside: f-h files.

            Compare, space, material, and weakness(es)

            Play where you have the advantage.

DO NOT HURRY. Regroup your pieces, and be patient.

5 Habits to learning Openings.

Understand the moves

As simple as the systems you choose to add to your repertoire may be, there is still some theory to go through. One way I have noticed to work in order to remember the moves is to try to understand why you are making that move and not another. In other words, understand the ideas in the position, both for you and for your opponent.

This way you’ll know what you want to achieve and what you want to keep your opponent from achieving. You’ll see that the right, theoretical moves will suddenly come easier to mind! Of course, this “trick” is almost impossible to apply to sharp lines with only moves.

Play through annotated games

Seeing many games gives you a wide chess understanding.

Try to include in your training not only games in the openings you play but various openings and pawn structures. Seeing how they are played and reading the explanations will help you over the board, in similar situations where you are out of the book.

Again, try to understand the ideas and how the players think in order to be able to imitate them in your own games.

Watch online games

It is important to be constantly connected to the latest games. Besides the fact that seeing many games is good for your chess in general, it allows you to stay connected to the latest trends and novelties in openings. You might come across a new, interesting idea in an opening you play that is worth analyzing and including in your repertoire.

Study the main pawn structures

This habit helps again with your chess in general – you will know what kind of plans to choose, which pieces to keep and which to exchange and how to ideally place them.

How can this help your opening?

It also gives you an overall understanding of the opening; by knowing more than one plan you will be able to adapt better to any changes your opponent might come up with and find the right continuation. 

Read chess literature

Most model games are played by classics; therefore it is very important you study them and if the games have commentaries, even better. Playing through long analyses is not the point in this case; choose written annotations where the authors explain the process of thinking and the ideas in the positions.

 

Why your openings fail.

Before you blame your losses on your choice of opening, you should first understand 2 of the main reasons why your opening could fail:

You expect too much from your opening

You don’t understand the opening well enough

Here’s the important details:

You expect too much from your opening

The opening is just the start of the game. The purpose is to develop your pieces and achieve a decent middle-game position. Accept that you cannot always get an advantage from the opening – and if you do – that’s a bonus.

A typical example to further illustrate the point

Picture this. A chess player achieves a good middle-game position against a stronger player. However, since his opponent is a stronger player, over the course of the game his position gets worse. He eventually loses and isn’t even sure why he lost. Should he blame the opening for his loss? Of course not.

You cannot expect your choice of opening to compensate for a lack in other important middle- or endgame skills

More often than not, in games below master level, it’s not your choice of opening that fails you. Rather, it’s your (lack of) knowledge and understanding of how that opening should be played that fails you.

Which brings us to the 2nd reason why your opening may fail you:

You don’t understand the opening well enough

Memorizing the main variations of the opening you play can be useful – as long as your opponent plays the moves you know or expect. But what happens when they deviate from the moves you memorized?

The moment an opening deviates from the main lines, your true understanding of the opening will be tested.

Magnus Carlsen often makes effective use of such opening deviations. He avoids his opponent’s opening preparation by occasionally choosing a move that – even if it may theoretically be an inferior move – neutralizes his opponent’s opening preparation. He does this because he believes his strength lies in his understanding of the game. Naturally he wants to play to his strengths, so he is willing to make a small compromise if that will steer the game into a direction where his strengths come into play.

How well do you understand your opening?

You can test your understanding of your opening by checking how well you can answer the questions below:

Where do each of the individual pieces go in my opening and why are those the best squares for them?

Which side will my king castle and is this always the case? When do exceptions come into play?

Which are the typical traps and tactics that occur in my opening?

What typically happens to the pawn-structure in the center and what are the middle-game ideas that flow from it? (Because middle-game plans depends mostly on the situation in the center.)

Which piece-exchanges are usually to my advantage in this opening? Which exchanges should I avoid, and why?

Which are the key positions that I need to know if I play this opening?

That said, what can you do to improve your understanding the opening you choose to play?

If you couldn’t answer the above questions as well as you would like to, I recommend you check out a openings database and select a number of games (say 20-50 games), where your choice of opening was played by masters. Go through these games and keep the above questions in mind. You will soon start to notice the typical patterns in that opening. By studying a whole number of games in this way (and whilst referring to the list of questions above) you will get a much better understanding of the opening.

Tip: When you’re looking for an opening to learn – go for main-line openings. There is a good reason why they are called “main-line”. They are time-tested and over the course of your chess development, you will be glad you studied them. “Sideline-openings” have their place and require much less study but if you are serious about improving your chess–sideline openings will not give you a solid enough foundation.

 

Let’s take a look at when it makes sense to castle opposite sides and when it doesn't.

You should castle on the opposite side when at least one of the following factors is true:

When you are up in development and your opponent has already castled, you should consider castling in the opposite side. That way you will have a clear game plan and will also be able to capitalize on your development advantage.

When you have a damaged pawn structure (doubled paws, missing pawns, far advanced pawns, etc.) on one of the sides you should consider castling on the other side.

When opponent’s pieces are especially active on one side of the board, it is usually best to castle on the opposite side.

If you want to complicate the game you may consider this option. That may be true if you must play for a win due to a tournament situation, when the draw is not enough. Also that maybe done when you're playing against a stronger opponent, who is much better in simple/technical positions. That maybe your best bet.

You should not castle on the opposite sides when at least one of the following factors in true:

When you are behind in development and you need extra time to develop your pieces, it is usually not a good idea to give your opponent a straight forward way of launching an attack.

When the opponent’s pawns are advanced towards the side you’re about to castle, it is not a good idea to castle there (especially if the opponent’s king is castled on the opposite side). It will just give him a positional edge in the attack.

When there are open/semi-open files in-front of the side you’re about to castle, you should probably reconsider your decision to castle there (especially if your opponent has castled on the other side). That will give him more attacking possibilities, such as rook lifts, various sacrifices, doubling of pieces on the file, etc.

If you playing against a weaker opponent you may want to avoid castling opposite sides, in order to avoid sharp game and keep everything under control.

Note: These are general rules, not laws, meaning that there are always exceptions to them. When you’re making a decision what side to castle you should always take your time and evaluate all “pros” and “cons” and base your decision upon your own analysis. This is a very important decision. It pretty much dictates which way the game will continue. Take your time and think twice.

 

How to solve chess tactics.

Chess Tactics are probably the most important part of the game you can work on. 

Chess Tactics are broken down into different “motifs” with the most common ones being:

Forks (Double-attacks)

A fork, or double-attack, occurs when your move makes 2 or more threats at the same time. A fork or double-attack is a powerful tactical idea because it’s hard (or sometimes impossible) for your opponent to defend against multiple threats at the same time.

Pins

The power of a pin lies in the fact that the pinned piece essentially can’t move since doing so would expose another, more valuable, target. The point is that you can often find a way to take advantage of the immobilized (pinned) piece.

Removing the Defender

When a piece or important square is defended, then that piece or square can become vulnerable once you remove its defender. This is usually done by a trade, threat or sacrifice that removes the defending piece.

Discovered Attacks

A discovered attack occurs when you move a piece away that reveals a strong threat from a piece that was behind it. The power of this idea lies in the fact that you can also use the moving piece to make a strong threat of its own.

Tempo-moves

A tempo move is a move that gains time by making a threat that forces your opponent to defend passively. This kind of move is particularly useful if you can use the tempo to achieve a tactical (or even strategic) advantage.

How do you find tactics?

Whenever you are doing tactics, you will notice that the side with the tactical shot will generally always have one or more of the following advantages:

Advantage in space.

Advantage in material.

Weaknesses in the opponent’s position. Such as weakened pawn structure.

How do you calculate tactics?

Look for Forcing Moves:

Checks

Captures

Threats

You look for these 3 things in the order given. 

Checks are the most forcing, as the King is being threatened.

Captures are next, as you are threatening to win material.

Threats are last, since they are the least forcing of the three.

Forcing Moves are easier to calculate out, as they are forced lines of continuation.

 

Start by looking for any Checks you may have.  Calculate them out as far as you can. 

Then calculate out any Captures you may have.  Calculate them out as far as you can.

Then calculate out any Threats you may have.  Calculate them out as far as you can.

Once you have found the Forcing Move you think is correct.  Play it!  Right or wrong, go with what you think is the correct move.

After each tactic, whether you got it right or wrong.  Make sure you understand the tactical motif, and why you had the correct, or incorrect answer.

 

Pawn Structures.

 Pawns on d4-e4/d5-e5.

If you OWN the center:

You have to be able to consolidate the center from attack by suitable development.

You use the center to cramp the enemy development.

You have to be ready to advance the center at the right moment to start an attack.

If you are FIGHTING AGAINST the center.

You have to place your pieces aggressively to prevent consolidation.

You have to try to destabilize the center with appropriate pawn levers.

This type of center is strong only when it is sufficiently protected and potentially mobile.

 

The Open Center, Open e, or d file.

Deploy your pieces as actively as possible. 

If you have an Isolated Pawn, you need to keep pieces on the board, and play actively.

If you are playing against an Isolated Pawn, you want to exchange pieces, and aim for an endgame.

Control the open file.

Half Open Center. Pawns on d4-e6, or e4-d6/e4-d6-e6.

Half Open Centers can lead to positions of imbalance.

Half Open Centers are not permanent and can change at any moment.

Deploy your pieces as actively as possible.

If you have a d6-e6 pawn structure, you must find a way to free yourself, or you will remain passive, and give your opponent the initiative. 

The side with the advanced central pawn will develop his pieces actively and try and start an attack.

 

Blocked Pawn Center.

What are the guidelines for blocked pawn centers?

Pawn Breaks.

What are the “good and bad” pieces?

Exchanging the “bad” pieces.

A good understanding of where the pieces should be placed.

Blocked centers lead to flank attacks.

Gain space, and attack.

 

Isolated Queen Pawn Centers.

Long term the IQP is a weakness, and the opponent should be thinking of the following:

Active development,

Blockading the pawn.

Trading pieces, where the IQP becomes a weakness in the endgame.

Generally defensive ideas – slow your opponent’s attack.

 

The side with the IQP, should strive for the following:

Trade off the IQP.

Avoid exchanges.

Keeping the pressure off of the IQP.

Active piece play.

 

Doubled Pawns.

If you have the doubled pawns:

Doubled pawns can be a weakness.  You want to avoid piece exchanges, unless it benefits you.

The side with the doubled pawns will often times have the bishop, or knight pair, which allows them to take advantage of a color complex.

Doubled pawns create half open files.  The half open file can be used for active piece play.

A center pawn push can eliminate doubled pawns.

A doubled pawn can be used to restrain the opponent’s pawns, and or pieces.

Maneuver your pieces to active squares, where they can limit the opponents piece activity, and control the square in front of the doubled pawns.

 

If you’re playing against doubled pawns:

Doubled pawns can be a weakness.  You want to initiate piece exchanges.

If you can, you want to freeze the pawns so they cannot move.  This creates targets to attack.

 

Hanging Pawns.

Hanging pawns are useful in the middlegame, especially if they can be pushed forward at the right moment with pieces behind them.

Hanging pawns tend to become weaker as pieces are exchanged and can be a liability in the endgame.

When you’re playing with hanging pawns:

Keep pieces on the board.

Start an attack.

Advance the hanging pawns at the right moment, to unleash the power of the pieces behind the pawns.

When you’re defending against hanging pawns:

Attack/Destabilize the hanging pawns.

Force piece exchanges.

Pawn Chains.

An effective pawn chain can win a game for you.

Active piece play.

Attack the pawn chain at the base if possible.

Try and make your pawns work with your pieces.

Trade off your bad pieces for your opponent’s active pieces.

Use a pawn chain to gain space and cramp your opponent.

 

Passed Pawns.

Passed pawns can be used to tie the opponent down in the opening, middle, and endgame.

You always try to create a passed pawn in the endgame.

When you’re playing against a passed pawn:

You want to try and blockade the pawn.

Create counter play, by playing around the passed pawn.

Passed pawns become stronger as the endgame approaches, so you want to keep material on the board.

When you have the passed pawn:

You want to advance the pawn, gaining space, and tying down the opponents pieces.

Passed pawns become stronger in the endgame, so strive for exchanges.

 Immediately after every move by your opponent, you should answer the following two questions:

What are your opponents threats?

A mate threat, or other attacks against the King.

A gain in material.

Gaining a very good position for a piece.

Gaining control of an important square, file, or diagonal.

Any tactical. Or strategic advantage the opponent can gain on the next move.

            Evaluate which threats are real.  Only real threats should be taken into consideration.  For  example, if your opponent is threatening to gain the Bishop pair, you should evaluate the position to determine if this is really a negative. 

 

What are the consequences of your opponents last move?

Almost every move has pluses, and minuses to them.  For example, you advance a Pawn to gain control of some squares, but you also lose control of squares.  You move a Bishop to gain control of a diagonal, but you may also lose control of an important square, or Pawn.  And any of the following:

Opening a file, or diagonal.

Blocking a piece with another.

Weakening a square, or Pawn structure.

Leaving a piece undefended.

And many others things you will learn about.

 

Some of the most important elements are:

The most important consequences are given by Pawn moves because they cannot move back. With every Pawn move, you gain, an lose control of squares. Pawn moves generally open files, ranks, and diagonals.  Therefore, any Pawn move must be well evaluated.

All moves have one common, and important consequence: Time. This is why all moves should bring you closer to your objective (Game Plan)

The side of the board you castle on is an important consequence. Opposite side castling tends to lead to more aggressive play, while castling on the same side may lead to less aggressive play.  

When moving a piece, it is important to understand that some squares become defended, or attacked, while others become unprotected. This is the cause of many blunders, and or oversights during games!  By remembering this, and understanding this, you can cut down on many of your mistakes, and benefit from those mistakes made by your opponent.