How and what can patzers learn from GM vids and books?


Thanks, got it on order wink.png

ed1975 wrote:

… I now have a reading list and a software plan. Reading list:

In reading order:

  1. Pandolfini's Ultimate Guide to Chess (Pandolfini)
  2. Winning Chess Strategy For Kids (Coakley)
  3. Play Winning Chess (Seirawan)
  4. Weapons of Chess (Pandolfini) [introduces positional chess]
  5. The Amateur's Mind (Silman)

To read as and when:

  1. Discovering Chess Openings (Emms)
  2. Silman's Complete Endgame Course: From Beginner To Master (Silman) ...

Looks like a good start. Once one has Silman's Complete Endgame Course, it would make sense to do some reading from it. On the other hand, Silman himself indicated that one need not undertake to read the whole thing right away.

"... if you have just learned to play, all you need to study is the section designed for beginners (Part One). After mastering the material there, put [Silman's Complete Endgame Course] away and spend your time studying tactics and a few strategic concepts, …" - IM Jeremy Silmam (2007)

Indeed, I would say that it is generally not true that one need completely finish one book before doing some reading from another. It might be a problem to intermittently work on lots of books, but two or three need not be a problem. Here are some additional reading possibilities that I often mention:
Simple Attacking Plans by Fred Wilson (2012)
Logical Chess: Move by Move by Irving Chernev (1957)
The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Irving Chernev (1965)
Winning Chess by Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld (1948)
Back to Basics: Tactics by Dan Heisman (2007)
Openings for Amateurs by Pete Tamburro (2014)
A Guide to Chess Improvement by Dan Heisman (2010)
Studying Chess Made Easy by Andrew Soltis (2009)
Seirawan stuff:


To reinforce KindaSpongey's comment above, IMO it is not necessary to read books linearly. That is, restricting oneself to, and finishing one book before reading another book, or reading books in a particular order. In fact, I recommend a process of reading portions of several books on different topics at the same time, depending at any given instant on what you are motivated by and interested in. I believe that this approach would provide a more well-rounded exposure, over time, to the various topics. 

It is also important to read books that are appropriate for one's current skill and knowledge level, which is usually reflected in your rating.  For example, while one's ultimate goal may be to become good at mathematics, it is an exercise in futility to begin your study with a book on calculus if you have not yet mastered arithmetic and algebra.  Many of the books recommended in the "best chess books" lists bandied about are of the calculus variety, and over the head of the typical chess amateur.  Particularly for lower rated players.  In that case the best books may be those written specifically for the beginner-intermediate level player audience.  One must learn to walk before trying to run.


ed1975 wrote:

Many thanks, IMBacon. Is there a collection of annotated games levelled at people of my rating that you can recommend? I.e. where the commentator isn't looking/seeing 15 moves deep?

You already got a lot of advice, so as for calculation, I'll just say that it's not usually about the player's ability, but what the position demands. Some positions demand zero calculation (yes, a GM may make a move with zero calculation). In such positions it's a waste of time and energy to calculate. It's more about small logical improvements (which is Karpov-like, AKA positional) or long terms ideas (which is Petrosian-like, AKA strategic).

For example my worst piece is the knight in the corner, so I'll move it to the center. That's positional.

Or my pawn majority is on the kingside, so I'll push my pawns there to create a passed pawn 10-15 moves from now. That's strategic.

Anyway, most positions don't require looking more than a few moves ahead... and that's just to make sure your positional/strategic idea isn't refuted tactically. (When players have to resort to calculation to find an idea, they're in big trouble.)


Actually I guess this turns out to be advice... because when you're learning about chess (whether it's books, videos, or whatever) you want to learn these ideas. In Reinfeld's Logical Chess book he isn't giving you ideas only grasp-able due to his calculation... they're just ideas you should know, zero calculation necessary.

Now, if the position still seems too chaotic, I totally get it. That's how it feels when we're new to chess right? I might lose a knight, or rook, or queen at any moment, so who cares if "the bishop on b3 controls the key g8 square" you think to yourself "I'm never going to win a game because I control g8, that's dumb."

And you'd be right. So work on tactics. A lot of strategic ideas will make sense in videos, but not during your own games until you have a basic competence in your tactics. When you start to say to yourself during a game "wow, I've done nothing wrong, material is even, but all my pieces suck, and none of my moves look good... how did my opponent get such a good position?" then it's time for strategy and positional ideas.

Of course it never hurts to learn about them. So go ahead. It plants seeds that will help change the way you see positions. But if progress becomes stalled, then mostly focus on tactics and basic endgames.


Well, that post became a lot longer than I intended it to, sorry.

I hope it gives you some insight into the basics of calculation, strategy, positional play, and tactics though.

Telestu wrote:

... In Reinfeld's Logical Chess book ...


kindaspongey wrote:
Telestu wrote:

... In Reinfeld's Logical Chess book ...


Oops, good one. I thought it might be wrong... then I thought, nah, Reinfeld sounds right tongue.png

When I was a kid I had 3 books. Reinfelds Complete Chess Player, Chernev's Logical Chess, and Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess. So those two authors kind of blend together for me. These were my dad's books.