Lessons

Roots of Positional Understanding

Roots of Positional Understanding

Learn what to do in calm positions!

Are you ever at a loss for what to do when there are no immediate tactics available? If so, then this is the course for you! In this module, IM Jeremy Silman teaches you the basics of positional play. A chess master seems to optimally place his or her pieces with effortless ease where they coordinate well and control key lines and squares. This is because the master sees the board as a structural entity. IM and chess instructor extraordinaire, Jeremy Silman, will show you what you need to know. Improve your positional understanding today!

Here is what you will learn:

  • Learn the key plans associated with numerous openings!
  • Learn how to coordinate your pieces to work well in any pawn structure!
  • Learn from the games of top players, including World Champions!
Thematic Opening Idea

Thematic Opening Idea

In the opening White often achieves a nice pawn center (with pawns on e4 and d4) that is accompanied by a seemingly strong Bishop on c4.
1 Challenge
D.Durham-J.Shapiro, Los Angeles 1997

D.Durham-J.Shapiro, Los Angeles 1997

A normal game is in progress. White has more central space, Black is already castled. How should Black handle this type of situation?
1 Challenge
Crossing the opponent's plans

Crossing the opponent's plans

This position arose from a Modern Benoni (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5, etc.). White's correct move should be almost automatic in this kind of situation. Do you see what must be done?
1 Challenge
Expanding your possibilities

Expanding your possibilities

This well-known opening position usually occurs after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.0-0 0-0 (it's known as the Semi-Slav).
1 Challenge
Pieces working together

Pieces working together

This position (from an opening known as the Closed Sicilian) is just a few moves old (1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 d6 4.Bg2) and doesn't appear to be critical to much of anything.
1 Challenge
Plugging the holes

Plugging the holes

White enjoys a clear advantage in this position. Can you spot the factors that give the first player this pull and, if you can, how can White take maximum advantage of these things?
1 Challenge
Fischer-Gheorghiu, Buenos Aires 1970

Fischer-Gheorghiu, Buenos Aires 1970

The game (the first moves were 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 Be7 6.Bd3 Nf6) appears to be fairly equal, except for the fact that White enjoys a slight advantage in central space.
1 Challenge
Motoc-Assad, 1996 World Youth Festival (girls under 12)

Motoc-Assad, 1996 World Youth Festival (girls under 12)

Black has to come up with a useful and clear plan. This is easy to say but very difficult to do!
1 Challenge
Perunovic-Zivanic, World Youth Festival 1996 (Boys Under 12)

Perunovic-Zivanic, World Youth Festival 1996 (Boys Under 12)

White has the more comfortable position. Black would like to eventually equalize the chances but he has to catch up on development before this happens.
1 Challenge
Bhat-Paragua, World Youth Festival 1996 (Boys Under 12)

Bhat-Paragua, World Youth Festival 1996 (Boys Under 12)

Vinay Bhat, the young American Master, is a fine positional player and also excels at tactics. Here he finds a simple way to increase his advantage. Sometimes the simple moves are the most effective.
1 Challenge
Minority Attack

Minority Attack

The plan shown here is a bit advanced but is also very, very important. It allows the side using it to create weak pawns and weak squares in the enemy camp, and open files for his Rooks.
1 Challenge
Chinkevich-Anceyta Tejas, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 14)

Chinkevich-Anceyta Tejas, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 14)

White has two glaring advantages: an attack against the enemy King and potential pressure down the c-file against the weak c6-pawn.
1 Challenge
Sargisian-Bacrot, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 14)

Sargisian-Bacrot, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 14)

White has played in a classical manner (the first moves were: 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Nf3 c6 5.a4 Nd7 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Ngf6 8.dxe5 dxe5) and enjoys a comfortable edge.
1 Challenge
Siegel-Vallejo Pons, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 14)

Siegel-Vallejo Pons, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 14)

Both sides are trying to get something started in this closed, slow position. Your job is to find a Black maneuver that improves the position of his pieces.
1 Challenge
Mah-Acs, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 16)

Mah-Acs, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 16)

Both sides have a solid position, but White has just attacked Black's Bishop on c5 with Na4. How should Black deal with this threat?
1 Challenge
Smetankin-Anchev, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 16)

Smetankin-Anchev, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 16)

White's pieces are more active than Black's. The proper move, a typical maneuver in these situations, considerably adds to the pressure against the enemy position.
1 Challenge
Fontaine-Fressinet, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 16)

Fontaine-Fressinet, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 16)

Both sides enjoy certain advantages in this position. What thematic idea drastically improves the Black cause?
1 Challenge
Vescovi-Banikas, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 18)

Vescovi-Banikas, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 18)

White has a big pawn center and an advantage in space. Now he must find a way to consolidate his position.
1 Challenge
Mirzoev-Baron Rodriguez, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 18)

Mirzoev-Baron Rodriguez, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 18)

Black intends to take on c3 and then, after bxc3, follow up with ...Na4, creating pressure against the c3-pawn. What plan should White adopt?
1 Challenge
Filipek-Stevic, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 18)

Filipek-Stevic, World Youth Festival 1996 (boys under 18)

This problem demonstrates a typical and highly important maneuver. White has to develop his forces, but he must do this in a way that aids future plans and pawn advances.
1 Challenge
The right capture

The right capture

Black is a pawn down and must recapture his pawn on f5. His choices are very limited and, as can be expected, only one is correct.
1 Challenge
Dealing with a threat

Dealing with a threat

This position came from a Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4).
1 Challenge
Using care when you develop

Using care when you develop

This position comes from the Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3) and is known to offer Black a solid game. How should Black continue his development?
1 Challenge
The big break

The big break

This position demonstrates a common structure and the equally common way that Black seeks to free himself.
1 Challenge
Freezing a weakness

Freezing a weakness

This problem shows us a way to freeze a pawn so that it can't move to a better position. By making it immobile, you turn it into a weakness that will need to be defended for the rest of the game.
1 Challenge
The art of restraint

The art of restraint

Find White's most promising move. If you succeed, it will show that you understand quite a bit about positional play.
1 Challenge
Claiming a square

Claiming a square

This problem shows the student the correct way to conquer a square. This may not seem important, but such a "minor" strategy is often enough to pick up the full point.
1 Challenge
Correct development

Correct development

This simple position (from an English Opening) has come up many times and, in amateur circles, has been botched on a number of occasions.
1 Challenge
Advanced maneuver

Advanced maneuver

Finding the best squares for your pieces is far harder than one might suppose. This problem takes an innocent position and challenges you to make a slight adjustment in Black's setup.
1 Challenge
How to nurture a pawn center

How to nurture a pawn center

White has a full pawn center. In general, when you own such a center you should do everything you can to protect it and make it indestructible.
1 Challenge
Getting the Bishop outside the pawn chain

Getting the Bishop outside the pawn chain

This position is a typical Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5) where Black must solve the problem of how to develop his pieces.
1 Challenge
When simple development is simply bad

When simple development is simply bad

Both sides are developing their pieces and Black has just played his Bishop from c8 to f5.
1 Challenge
Creating a proper development

Creating a proper development

After 1.e4 c6 (the Caro-Kann) 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 White must decide where his pieces belong.
1 Challenge
London System Reversed

London System Reversed

This position, typical for a London Reversed (1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bf4 Bg7 4.e3, etc.), may seem easy but is actually misplayed by many amateurs. How should White continue?
1 Challenge
Forward or backward?

Forward or backward?

Black's Knight on d5 is under attack and he must figure out the best way to deal with it. He can consider a few replies, but only one of them is good.
1 Challenge
Hitting the right spot

Hitting the right spot

White has lots of reasonable-looking moves to choose from, yet only one makes real sense. This move may prove to be harder to find than you might suppose.
1 Challenge
Subtle Threat

Subtle Threat

This well-known opening position from the Dutch Defense (1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 e6 4.Bg2 d5 5.c4 c6 6.0-0 Bd6 7.b3) gives us an excellent illustration of the importance of good and bad minor pieces.
1 Challenge
Refuting a common space grab

Refuting a common space grab

The solution will prove very useful since this kind of thing comes about in many different positions.
1 Challenge
Van Wely-Kramnik, Arnhem 1990

Van Wely-Kramnik, Arnhem 1990

This position may seem drawish but Black is actually better (and went on to win). How can Black prove his superiority?
1 Challenge
Variation of Novikov-Kramnik, Moscow 1991

Variation of Novikov-Kramnik, Moscow 1991

This is a typical type of Dutch Defense situation. Black's minor pieces are worse than White's and the first player also has a queenside space advantage.
1 Challenge
Yusupov-Spasov, Skara Echt 1980

Yusupov-Spasov, Skara Echt 1980

The position looks quiet and neither player appears to have anything to attack. How can White drastically change this assessment?
1 Challenge
Variation of Yusupov-Spasov, Skara 1980

Variation of Yusupov-Spasov, Skara 1980

Neither side is burning down any bridges, but White enjoys an edge thanks to his nice Bishop (compared to Black's undeveloped Knight).
1 Challenge
Yusupov-Timman, Tilburg 1986

Yusupov-Timman, Tilburg 1986

This position is full of tension and difficult strategic ideas. One could easily get confused here, but White's next move is thematic is such Benoni positions.
1 Challenge
Yusupov-Timoshchenko, USSR ch. 1982

Yusupov-Timoshchenko, USSR ch. 1982

This position came about from a Caro-Kann (by transposition). Black mistakenly allowed the center to be opened.
1 Challenge
Yusupov-Wirthensohn, Hamburg 1991

Yusupov-Wirthensohn, Hamburg 1991

Black is badly tied up but White doesn't have too many pieces left to play with. How can White continue his drive for a victory?
1 Challenge
Botvinnik-Keres, USSR ch. 1952

Botvinnik-Keres, USSR ch. 1952

Keres was trying to win this game so he placed his Bishop on the dynamic d6-square (it usually stays on e7), ignoring the pin on the f6-Knight.
1 Challenge
Gottschall-Nimzovitsch, hannover 1926

Gottschall-Nimzovitsch, hannover 1926

How did the legendary Nimzovitsch improve his position? This problem teaches us the virtue of patience and the usefulness of small gains.
1 Challenge
Wang Zili-Yusupov, Novi Sad (ol) 1990

Wang Zili-Yusupov, Novi Sad (ol) 1990

Black has a clear advantage, but me saying this and you proving it are two very different things. First try and figure out what Black has that will annoy the opponent. Then find a way to make use of it.
1 Challenge
Botvinnik-Zaguriansky, Sverdlovsk 1943

Botvinnik-Zaguriansky, Sverdlovsk 1943

This type of isolated d-pawn position is very common. Usually its owner plays for piece activity while the opponent (in this case White) tries to exchange minor pieces.
1 Challenge
Rubinstein-Takacs, Budapest 1926

Rubinstein-Takacs, Budapest 1926

Black is in big trouble but he has managed to create an adequate defense to the threats against b7.
1 Challenge
Petrosian-Suetin, USSR (ch) 1960

Petrosian-Suetin, USSR (ch) 1960

The great World Champion Tigran Petrosian was known as a very safe player who would slowly tie you up in an unbreakable embrace.
1 Challenge
Ilyin Zhenevsky-Ragozin, Leningrad 1929

Ilyin Zhenevsky-Ragozin, Leningrad 1929

Ragozin was a strong Soviet player who could beat anyone on a good day.
1 Challenge
Fischer-Petrosian, Buenos Aires 1971

Fischer-Petrosian, Buenos Aires 1971

This well-known game shows why many players compare Fischer to Capablanca.
1 Challenge
Uusi-Simagin, Gorky 1954

Uusi-Simagin, Gorky 1954

At times we have several choices of plan and can base our decision on personal style or taste. More often, though, the correct path is already laid out.
1 Challenge
Spassky-Simagin, USSR (ch) 1961

Spassky-Simagin, USSR (ch) 1961

The great Boris Spassky didn't lose many games in the 60's, but here we see the relatively unknown (outside of the USSR) Simagin take him apart in nice fashion.
1 Challenge
Sokolov-Brunner, Oakham 1988

Sokolov-Brunner, Oakham 1988

After the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 (the Nimzo-Indian Defense) 4.e3 0-0 5.Bd3 d5 6.cxd5 exd5 7.Ne2 c5 8.a3 cxd4 9.exd4 Bd6 10.0-0 Nc6 we arrive at this position.
1 Challenge
Sokolov-Wilder, Haninge 1989

Sokolov-Wilder, Haninge 1989

This is a fairly simple position where White's space advantage gives him the better of it. The question is, how does one play simple positions?
1 Challenge
Sokolov-Korchnoi, Novi Sad (ol) 1990

Sokolov-Korchnoi, Novi Sad (ol) 1990

It doesn't look like White has anything special. Surprisingly, one move destroys this illusion and cements White's advantage.
1 Challenge
Sokolov-Beliavsky, Belgrade 1991

Sokolov-Beliavsky, Belgrade 1991

Things seem a bit complicated and some players might panic about the attack on b2. How should White deal with this?
1 Challenge
Tukmakov-Karpov, Leningrad 1973

Tukmakov-Karpov, Leningrad 1973

Karpov is considered to be one of the greatest players of all time.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Kuzmin, Leningrad 1973

Karpov-Kuzmin, Leningrad 1973

When Black has an isolated d-pawn (as he does in the present position) he usually must play for a kingside attack or a ...d5-d4 advance.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Gligoric, Leningrad 1973

Karpov-Gligoric, Leningrad 1973

Gligoric was Yugoslavia's best player throughout the 50's and 60's and clearly one of the strongest players in the world.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Spassky, Leningrad 1974

Karpov-Spassky, Leningrad 1974

This game is the 9th from Karpov's match against Spassky. Spassky, as former World Champion, was favored to win, but the young challenger showed his talent.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Korchnoi, Leningrad 1974

Karpov-Korchnoi, Leningrad 1974

This 24th match game would decide who was going to meet Fischer in a match for the World Title.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Andersson, Stockholm 1969

Karpov-Andersson, Stockholm 1969

Karpov's victory in this event gained him the coveted title of World Junior Champion.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Zaitsev, USSR Championship 1970

Karpov-Zaitsev, USSR Championship 1970

This game had been a wild affair with White's King running from e1 to e4 (!) and finally to safety on b1.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Parma, Caracas 1970

Karpov-Parma, Caracas 1970

White can't claim any advantage in this position but it's still important to come up with a plan and make whatever gains are possible.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Bagirov, Riga 1970

Karpov-Bagirov, Riga 1970

White stands better, but just how great is his advantage? A glance might suggest that Black's isn't doing too badly, but Karpov feels that Black's game is already beyond salvation!
1 Challenge
Karpov-Stein, Leningrad 1971

Karpov-Stein, Leningrad 1971

Karpov, the 12th World Champion, is well-known to all chess fans. However, Leonid Stein is largely unknown to the younger generation.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Mecking, Hastings 1971/72

Karpov-Mecking, Hastings 1971/72

Brazilian Grandmaster Henrique Mecking was considered a serious candidate for the World Championship when he suddenly withdrew from chess.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Huebner, Graz 1972

Karpov-Huebner, Graz 1972

Huebner has been Germany's strongest player (and a candidate for the World Championship) since the early 70's.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Uhlmann, Madrid 1973

Karpov-Uhlmann, Madrid 1973

Germany's Wolfgang Uhlmann was once one of the World's best players. In the present game he is subtly outplayed by Karpov. Your job is to find Karpov's idea (not easy by any means!).
1 Challenge
Karpov-Unzicker, Nice Olympiad 1974

Karpov-Unzicker, Nice Olympiad 1974

Karpov has obtained a position where he enjoys a spatial plus thanks to his advanced pawn on d5 (Karpov was always very fond of territory).
1 Challenge
Typical Maroczy Bind decision

Typical Maroczy Bind decision

This position comes about after 1.e4 c5 (the Sicilian Defense) 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 (the Accelerated Dragon) 5.c4 (known as the Maroczy Bind).
1 Challenge
Karpov-Spassky, USSR 1975

Karpov-Spassky, USSR 1975

Former World Champion Boris Spassky was a great master of the correct use of isolated and hanging pawns.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Gligoric, Milan 1975

Karpov-Gligoric, Milan 1975

Svetozar Gligoric is a legend in his home country of Yugoslavia. A World Championship contender for many years, Gligoric was known to always play the Ruy Lopez as Black versus 1.e4.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Unzicker, Milan 1975

Karpov-Unzicker, Milan 1975

Though Karpov won this game quickly, it's important to build the attack in an accurate manner. How did the legendary 12th World Champion handle this position?
1 Challenge
Karpov-Portisch, Milan 1975

Karpov-Portisch, Milan 1975

Black is in big trouble (he went on to lose this game) since his pieces aren't anywhere as active as their White counterparts.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Vaganian, Skopje 1976

Karpov-Vaganian, Skopje 1976

This position appears to be very complicated. To many, it may not be clear who's better! How can White clarify this question and demonstrate a clear plus?
1 Challenge
Uhlmann-Karpov, Skopje 1976

Uhlmann-Karpov, Skopje 1976

Chess is all about the creation of weaknesses and this game is no different. Karpov, playing Black, is famous for creating weak points in the enemy camp. See if you can figure out how he does it.
1 Challenge
Torre-Karpov, Bad Lauterberg 1977

Torre-Karpov, Bad Lauterberg 1977

This position arose after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.c4 Qc7 6.a3 Nf6 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.Be3 Be7 9.Rc1 Ne5 10.Be2 Ng6 11.0-0. White has more space and appears to stand better.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Gheorghiu, Moscow 1977

Karpov-Gheorghiu, Moscow 1977

This position may look simple enough, but both sides must solve some very definite problems before they can accomplish their goals. What is White's correct path?
1 Challenge
Tatai-Karpov, Las Palmas 1977

Tatai-Karpov, Las Palmas 1977

See if you can find the knockout blow.
1 Challenge
Karpov-Smyslov, Tilburg 1977

Karpov-Smyslov, Tilburg 1977

Ex-World Champion Vassily Smyslov (playing Black) appears to have an excellent position. How can White change that assessment?
1 Challenge
Anand-Inkiov, Calcutta 1986

Anand-Inkiov, Calcutta 1986

Anand is the strongest player to ever come out of India and, at present (1998), is the number two player in the world.
1 Challenge
Anand-Ninov, Baguio City 1987

Anand-Ninov, Baguio City 1987

This tournament, the World Junior Championship, was ultimately won by Anand, who caught fire after this game.
1 Challenge
Anand-Benjamin, Wijk aan Zee 1989

Anand-Benjamin, Wijk aan Zee 1989

Black has won the White Queen and it appears that the second player will have excellent chances. However, Anand (playing White) has seen further.
1 Challenge
Tal-Anand, Cannes 1989

Tal-Anand, Cannes 1989

In the present game Tal is quite lost, but the young Anand still has to prove the win. What's the best way of doing so?
1 Challenge
Anand-Spassky, Cannes 1989

Anand-Spassky, Cannes 1989

Black had actually resigned the game on the previous move, but what had White intended if this position had been reached?
1 Challenge
Kuijf-Anand, Wijk aan Zee 1990

Kuijf-Anand, Wijk aan Zee 1990

White (Kuijf) tried the unusual Ponziani opening, no doubt hoping to catch his opponent by surprise.
1 Challenge
Petursson-Anand, Manila 1990

Petursson-Anand, Manila 1990

It looks like Black is in trouble, since two of his pieces are hanging. However Anand, who is known for his tactical prowess, had prepared a nice answer. Can you find it?
1 Challenge
Beliavsky-Anand, Munich 1991

Beliavsky-Anand, Munich 1991

White's pawns on d5 and e5 look very threatening? Does White stand better? How should Black handle this situation?
1 Challenge
Kasparov-Anand, Reggio Emilia 1991/92

Kasparov-Anand, Reggio Emilia 1991/92

Kasparov has dominated international chess for many years, but lately Anand, the number two player in the rating lists, has earned a growing number of fans.
1 Challenge
Anand-Bareev, Dortmund 1992

Anand-Bareev, Dortmund 1992

Bareev is a great specialist in the Black side of the French Defense. Here he tries a popular variation but still falls victim to some of the opening's positional flaws. Can you spot these flaws?
1 Challenge
Anand-Bareev, Linares 1993

Anand-Bareev, Linares 1993

I've heard many descriptions of Anand's style. Some see him as a tactical player (and his tactical sight is extraordinary!). Some simply call him a "natural talent."
1 Challenge
Anand-Izeta, Madrid 1993

Anand-Izeta, Madrid 1993

This problem explores a simple but very useful concept: should one place the Queen in the middle of the board or should it live on a safer square?
1 Challenge
Opening line of the Slav Defense

Opening line of the Slav Defense

Try and figure out the best way for Black to develop in this position. The first moves were: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.e3 b5 6.b3.
1 Challenge
Typical Sicilian idea

Typical Sicilian idea

This problem demonstrates one of Black's main ideas in the Sicilian Defense. It's not rocket science, but it is extremely important if you play either side of this opening.
1 Challenge
Anand-Kamsky, Las Palmas 1995

Anand-Kamsky, Las Palmas 1995

How can White demonstrate a positional advantage? Black's King is open, but his pieces on the f-file appear to give him some dynamic opportunities.
1 Challenge
Anand-Ivanchuk, Las Palmas 1996

Anand-Ivanchuk, Las Palmas 1996

Endgames tend to be very difficult for amateurs to play. The reason may be that one tiny error can lead to a quick debacle.
1 Challenge
Anand-Karpov, Las Palmas 1996

Anand-Karpov, Las Palmas 1996

White has some pressure on the Black position but it's far from clear how he's going to increase it.
1 Challenge
Keres-Barcza, Sczawno-Zdroj 1950

Keres-Barcza, Sczawno-Zdroj 1950

Black threatens both ...Bxf3 (doubling White's pawns) and ...Be6 (allows Black to castle). How can White address these problems?
1 Challenge
Keres-Borisenko, Moscow 1950

Keres-Borisenko, Moscow 1950

We are in the opening phase, but Black's original play is making every decision critical. Can White take advantage of the h6-Knight's placement?
1 Challenge
Averbakh-Keres, Moscow 1950

Averbakh-Keres, Moscow 1950

Can Black equalize, or dare he try for more?
1 Challenge
Keres-Smyslov, Budapest 1952

Keres-Smyslov, Budapest 1952

This heavyweight game saw Keres, one of history's finest players, face off against the great Smyslov.
1 Challenge
Keres-Geller, Budapest 1952

Keres-Geller, Budapest 1952

White is a pawn up but the win is still a long way off. What can White do to make things easier?
1 Challenge
Keres-Korchnoi, Moscow 1952

Keres-Korchnoi, Moscow 1952

Black's last move (11...Na5?) decentralized the Knight (you should really try and keep your pieces in the center!). How can White punish this error?
1 Challenge
Keres-Sajtar, Amsterdam 1954

Keres-Sajtar, Amsterdam 1954

This problem illustrates one of the most common pitfalls Black has to face in the Sicilian Defense.
1 Challenge
Keres-Alexander, Hastings 1954/55

Keres-Alexander, Hastings 1954/55

This problem shows the importance of going beyond surface considerations. In the actual game Black thought he was doing reasonably well, but that turns out to be far from the truth.
1 Challenge
Keres-Szabo, Hastings 1954/55

Keres-Szabo, Hastings 1954/55

Black has played well in the opening thus far (1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.b3 Bg7 4.Bb2 0-0 5.g3 d6 6.d4 c5 7.Bg2 Ne4 8.0-0 Nc6 9.Nbd2) and must now make a big decision.
1 Challenge
Keres-Taimanov, Moscow 1955

Keres-Taimanov, Moscow 1955

This position was played in an earlier game of Taimanov's, in which Black did quite well.Keres had seen that game and had come prepared.
1 Challenge
Fischer-Sherwin, USA 1957

Fischer-Sherwin, USA 1957

Black's position appears to be safe and solid. How can White get something going?
1 Challenge
Petrosian-Fischer, Portoroz 1958

Petrosian-Fischer, Portoroz 1958

During Fischer's day, the players who dominated world chess were Botvinnik, Tal, Spassky and Petrosian.
1 Challenge
Pilnik-Fischer, Mar Del Plata 1959

Pilnik-Fischer, Mar Del Plata 1959

How does Black gain counterplay here?
1 Challenge
Fischer-Rossetto, Mar Del Plata 1959

Fischer-Rossetto, Mar Del Plata 1959

White's a piece down for the moment and must figure out how best to recapture on d5.
1 Challenge
Fischer-Larsen, Portoroz 1958

Fischer-Larsen, Portoroz 1958

In our problem, we are taking a look at White's reply to 12...Bxb3. Why did Black avoid this move?
1 Challenge
Fischer-Unzicker, Zurich 1959

Fischer-Unzicker, Zurich 1959

Fischer always loved the two Bishops, so he must have been happy here.
1 Challenge
Gudmundsson-Fischer, Reykjavik 1960

Gudmundsson-Fischer, Reykjavik 1960

White appears to have a promising position, due to his advantage in central space. However, a player of Fischer's caliber won't allow this state of affairs to linger. What did he do to turn the tide in his favor?
1 Challenge
Szabo-Fischer, Leipzig 1960

Szabo-Fischer, Leipzig 1960

This kind of position is commonly reached in the King's Indian Defense. How does Black grab equality?
1 Challenge
Reshevsky-Fischer, New York Match 1961

Reshevsky-Fischer, New York Match 1961

White's a-pawn seems to be very fast. How can Black stop it?
1 Challenge
Reshevsky-Fischer, Los Angeles 1961

Reshevsky-Fischer, Los Angeles 1961

This was the final game of the ill-fated match between these two players. Fischer walked out and forfeited while the score was tied at 5 each.
1 Challenge
Fischer-Geller, Bled 1961

Fischer-Geller, Bled 1961

A sharp position has been reached (after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.0-0 Bg4 6.h3 Bh5 7.c3 Qf6 8.g4 Bg6) that Geller (playing Black) thought was good for him.
1 Challenge
Fischer-Petrosian, Bled 1961

Fischer-Petrosian, Bled 1961

This was Fischer's first victory over the late World Champion, Petrosian.
1 Challenge
Fischer-Trifunovich, Bled 1961

Fischer-Trifunovich, Bled 1961

White has more or less refuted his opponent's opening line and now he has to find the best way to finish his development.
1 Challenge
Bertok-Fischer, Stockholm 1962

Bertok-Fischer, Stockholm 1962

Since Fischer had already clinched first place, he wasn't in the mood for more aggressive (and risky) systems. What's the best way for Black to complete his development?
1 Challenge
Fischer-Bolbochan, Stockholm 1962

Fischer-Bolbochan, Stockholm 1962

White enjoys a clear positional advantage. How can he turn this into a winning positional plus?
1 Challenge
Fischer-Najdorf, Varna 1962

Fischer-Najdorf, Varna 1962

Fischer loved to play the Najdorf Variation as Black, and when he faced it as White he tried several different ideas.
1 Challenge
Fischer-Robatsch, Varna 1962

Fischer-Robatsch, Varna 1962

Grandmaster Robatsch tried a rare line of the Center Counter Defense as Black but Fischer completely refuted his plan in this game.
1 Challenge
Fischer-Fine, New York 1963

Fischer-Fine, New York 1963

The present game was one of several "fun games" played between Fine and Fischer at Fine's home.
1 Challenge
Fischer-Benko, U.S. Championship 1963-64

Fischer-Benko, U.S. Championship 1963-64

The present game was the last of the tournament. Fischer already had 10-0 and really wanted to get the perfect score with a win here.
1 Challenge
Fischer-Bisguier, U.S. Championship 1963-64

Fischer-Bisguier, U.S. Championship 1963-64

At the time this game was played, Bisguier was a solid Grandmaster but he couldn't seem to stand up to Fischer's might.
1 Challenge
Fischer-Smyslov, Havana 1965

Fischer-Smyslov, Havana 1965

Fischer played this tournament while sitting in New York! Unable to get a visa to Cuba, Bobby sent and received his moves via long-distance telephone.
1 Challenge
Portisch-Fischer, Santa Monica 1966

Portisch-Fischer, Santa Monica 1966

How did Fischer demonstrate Black's superiority from this position?
1 Challenge
Fischer-Bednarski, Havana Olympiad 1966

Fischer-Bednarski, Havana Olympiad 1966

Fischer has chosen a very sharp variation against Black's Najdorf Sicilian. In the game, the complications proved to be too much for his opponent, and Bobby won in just 22 moves.
1 Challenge
Larsen-Fischer, Monaco 1967

Larsen-Fischer, Monaco 1967

For many years Fischer and Larsen were known to be the strongest two Western players, and certainly the only players outside the Soviet Union who had a real chance for the World Championship.
1 Challenge
Kholmov-Fischer, Skopje 1967

Kholmov-Fischer, Skopje 1967

Fischer had lost to Kholmov in the only game they had played, but here Fischer got revenge rather easily.
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Sliwa, Moscow 1956

Taimanov-Sliwa, Moscow 1956

Taimanov was a strong Soviet player who excelled in opening theory and in sharp, tactical situations.
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Browne, Wijk aan Zee 1981

Taimanov-Browne, Wijk aan Zee 1981

Grandmaster Walter Browne has won the U.S. Championship no less than six times. However, in this game he falls victim to Taimanov's superior preparation.
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Geller, Zurich 1953

Taimanov-Geller, Zurich 1953

Geller (playing Black) was a great master of the King's Indian Defense, but here he falls on his face to Taimanov's superior understanding of this particular line.
1 Challenge
Unzicker-Taimanov, Wijk aan Zee 1980

Unzicker-Taimanov, Wijk aan Zee 1980

This game started out with a Taimanov Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 Nge7), a line invented and popularized by Taimanov himself.
1 Challenge
Mnatsakanian-Taimanov, Yerevan 1986

Mnatsakanian-Taimanov, Yerevan 1986

As is usual in the Sicilian, Black has excellent chances on the queenside, while White must seek his own play in the center or on the kingside.
1 Challenge
Kuzmin-Taimanov, Leningrad 1977

Kuzmin-Taimanov, Leningrad 1977

Another odd Taimanov Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 Nge7 7.0-0 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Nc6 9.Qe3 Bd6) eventually led to this very favorable position for Black.
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Botvinnik, Moscow 1953

Taimanov-Botvinnik, Moscow 1953

When Botvinnik created a plan that focused on the advance of his center pawns in the Nimzo-Indian Defense to beat Capablanca in 1938, everyone was impressed.
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Spassky, Tbilisi 1959

Taimanov-Spassky, Tbilisi 1959

This innocent position actually boasts a violent battle for one lone square: both sides are trying to gain control over e4. How can White try and win this fight?
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Kuzmin, Kishinyov 1976

Taimanov-Kuzmin, Kishinyov 1976

A very tough battle is in progress. Who stands better and how should White continue?
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Nedeljkovic, Leningrad 1957

Taimanov-Nedeljkovic, Leningrad 1957

Taimanov was known to be a great expert on both sides of the Nimzo-Indian Defense. Here he once again takes up the gauntlet from White's perspective and scores a resounding success.
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Hort, Tallinn 1975

Taimanov-Hort, Tallinn 1975

This position was reached after 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Bc5 5.e3 d6 6.a3 Be6 7.b4 Bb6 8.d3 Qd7 9.h3 0-0 10.Nge2 Nd8 11.Na4 c6 12.Nxb6 axb6 13.Bb2 Ne8 14.f4 f6.
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Minic, Vrnjacka Banja 1965

Taimanov-Minic, Vrnjacka Banja 1965

Though Taimanov was a specialist in Queenpawn openings, he would occasionally venture other lines like 1.c4 or 1.e4.
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Uhlmann, Reykjavik 1968

Taimanov-Uhlmann, Reykjavik 1968

Germany's Uhlmann is a dynamic player who loves to be on the attack. He plays less well if he has to defend.
1 Challenge
Nezhmetdinov-Taimanov, Baku 1951

Nezhmetdinov-Taimanov, Baku 1951

This seems simple: Black's in check and must either capture the pawn or move his King to h8.
1 Challenge
Keres-Taimanov, Moscow 1952

Keres-Taimanov, Moscow 1952

As is so common in the Sicilian Defense, both sides are beginning attacks against the enemy Kings. Who's going to come first and why?
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Geller, Moscow 1955

Taimanov-Geller, Moscow 1955

White has many advantages, but the attack against c4 is a problem. How should White address his position's only defect?
1 Challenge
Hoffmann-Taimanov, Bad Wildbad 1993

Hoffmann-Taimanov, Bad Wildbad 1993

White appears to have a good game, but sometimes appearances are deceiving. How can Black change the assessment of the proceedings?
1 Challenge
Portisch-Taimanov, Leningrad 1959

Portisch-Taimanov, Leningrad 1959

The opening has been a bit strange (1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 Bb4 3.e4 c5 4.Qg4) and Black must decide how to defend his g7-pawn. What decision would you make?
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Flohr, Leningrad 1948

Taimanov-Flohr, Leningrad 1948

In his prime, Flohr was one of the finest players in the world. In fact, it was considered to be almost impossible to beat him.
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Averbakh, Moscow 1951

Taimanov-Averbakh, Moscow 1951

A quiet game is in full swing with both sides vying for their share of the center. How should White finish his development?
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Smyslov, Tbilisi 1966

Taimanov-Smyslov, Tbilisi 1966

White's advantage is obvious, but winning a won game has always been a difficult task.
1 Challenge
Taimanov-von Elst, Neisse 1993

Taimanov-von Elst, Neisse 1993

White has a very pleasant position. However, increasing the pressure in such situations is easier said than done.
1 Challenge
Levenfish-Taimanov, Leningrad 1952

Levenfish-Taimanov, Leningrad 1952

The legendary Levenfish was playing chess before the Russian revolution. Here he gets beaten by Taimanov who, at that time, was a student of his.
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Polugayevsky, Leningrad 1959

Taimanov-Polugayevsky, Leningrad 1959

From the Pirc Defense, we've managed to transpose into a line of the Benoni (after 1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Be2 Nf6 5.Nc3 0-0 6.0-0 c5 7.d5 Na6 8.Re1 Nc7 9.a4 a6 10.h3 Bd7).
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Najdorf, Moscow 1956

Taimanov-Najdorf, Moscow 1956

We have reached a fairly common opening position (after 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.e4 d6 6.Nge2 c5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.a3). What is Black's best plan?
1 Challenge
Donner-Unzicker, Santa Monica 1966

Donner-Unzicker, Santa Monica 1966

Black appears to be doing well, but the reality is that he's strategically lost! How can White prove this?
1 Challenge
Petrosian-Reshevsky, Santa Monica 1966

Petrosian-Reshevsky, Santa Monica 1966

Petrosian was World Champion at that time, and he was famous for his handling of "boring" positions like this. White has a slight edge, but how does one handle this situation?
1 Challenge
Spassky-Larsen, Santa Monica 1966

Spassky-Larsen, Santa Monica 1966

White appears to have a clear advantage thanks to his superior pawn structure. However, this doesn't turn out to be the case.
1 Challenge
Fischer-Donner, Santa Monica 1966

Fischer-Donner, Santa Monica 1966

Having achieved a winning position, Fischer played his Bishop to d3, only to realize that his move was a horrible blunder! What can Black do about his sad looking situation?
1 Challenge
Petrosian-Matanovic, Portoroz 1958

Petrosian-Matanovic, Portoroz 1958

The late World Champion T. Petrosian was famous for squeezing his opponents to death in a manner that reminded many of his colleagues of a boa constrictor.
1 Challenge
Petrosian-Suetin, Riga 1958

Petrosian-Suetin, Riga 1958

Things appear to be very tactical and sharp. How should one respond to such a situation? Should you increase the game's tempo even more? Should you try and slow things down? Should you panic?
1 Challenge
Petrosian-Yukhtman, Tiflis 1959

Petrosian-Yukhtman, Tiflis 1959

This was one of the initial games in which Petrosian used his patented "Petrosian System" against the King's Indian. How should White continue here?
1 Challenge
Petrosian-Smyslov, Moscow 1961

Petrosian-Smyslov, Moscow 1961

This was a game between two chess powerhouses. Petrosian hadn't earned the title of World Champion yet (that was still a few years away), while Smyslov was an ex-World Champion.
1 Challenge
Petrosian-Pachman, Bled 1961

Petrosian-Pachman, Bled 1961

Pachman was a well-known opening expert, so to see him with a lost game after a dozen moves.
1 Challenge
Fischer-Petrosian, Curacao 1962

Fischer-Petrosian, Curacao 1962

Fischer reached this position after trying a horrible opening idea that he had spotted in a Russian magazine.
1 Challenge
Petrosian-Korchnoi, Curacao 1962

Petrosian-Korchnoi, Curacao 1962

Korchnoi, playing Black, is well-known for his great defensive skills, but in this case he's bitten off more than even he can chew!
1 Challenge
Pein-de Firmian, Bermuda 1995

Pein-de Firmian, Bermuda 1995

White's two Bishops will prove to be stronger than Black's Bishop and Knight, though me saying it and you proving it are two different things.
1 Challenge
Martin-Ward, Oakham 1994

Martin-Ward, Oakham 1994

A Nimzo-Indian Defense (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4) led us to the usual fight between White's Bishops and Black's Knights.
1 Challenge
Johner-Nimzovich, Dresden 1926

Johner-Nimzovich, Dresden 1926

This is a famous game and is now considered to be a classic. Nimzovich gives future generations a beautiful lesson in prophylactics and restraint.
1 Challenge
Botvinnik-Capablanca, AVRO 1938

Botvinnik-Capablanca, AVRO 1938

A classic game between World Champions. Botvinnik, the great Russian champion, was making his bid for the World title.
1 Challenge
Conquest-Emms, British (ch) 1990

Conquest-Emms, British (ch) 1990

Sometimes appearances are very deceptive. In this position White looks like he has a significant advantage. How can Black prove the opposite?
1 Challenge
Timoshchenko-Emms, London 1993

Timoshchenko-Emms, London 1993

White owns two Bishops in an open position. This gives him an obvious advantage, but it's not clear how he should continue. How can White get the most bang from his two Bishop-buck?
1 Challenge
Nimzo-Indian main line

Nimzo-Indian main line

This position comes about after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 b6 5.Nge2 Ne4 6.f3 Nxc3 7.bxc3 Be7 8.e4. Black must decide how he's going to complete his development.
1 Challenge
Farago-Kuzmin, Polanica Zdroj 1977

Farago-Kuzmin, Polanica Zdroj 1977

In a perfect world you label your imbalance and instantly know what set of rules to follow (rules, of course, that benefit the imbalance that you possess).
1 Challenge
Speelman-de Firmian, Brussels 1992

Speelman-de Firmian, Brussels 1992

The first moves in this game were 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 b6 5.Nge2 Ne4 6.a3. White's last move actually falls for a positional trap. How can Black spring it?
1 Challenge
Kubreichik-Vaganian, Moscow 1976

Kubreichik-Vaganian, Moscow 1976

This is a typical situation, often arising from the French Defense (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5). Black has a host of interesting ideas at his disposal. Which one do you think is best?
1 Challenge
Nikolaidis-Moskalenko, Agios Nikolaos 1995

Nikolaidis-Moskalenko, Agios Nikolaos 1995

This position could easily confuse many players. Can you cut through the fog and find Black's correct plan?
1 Challenge
Kosten-Brunner, Altensteig 1989

Kosten-Brunner, Altensteig 1989

This position is full of interesting imbalances. In light of these differences, how should White complete his development?
1 Challenge
Renet-Mellado, Palma 1989

Renet-Mellado, Palma 1989

This position (from a French Defense) looks reasonable for Black, but White can initiate a long-term plan that demonstrates a deep understanding of minor pieces and squares. Can you find this plan?
1 Challenge
Romanishin-Nikolic, Leningrad 1987

Romanishin-Nikolic, Leningrad 1987

The concept of improving the life of each piece is an important one. In the present example, Black shows us how such a maneuver can change the nature of the whole position.
1 Challenge
Canepa-Alekhine, Carrasco 1938

Canepa-Alekhine, Carrasco 1938

The legendary Alekhine was nowhere near his prime in 1938 (thanks to an interest in alcohol), but he was still a force to be reckoned with.
1 Challenge
Ciemniak-Matlak, Polish Championship 1993

Ciemniak-Matlak, Polish Championship 1993

In this game White is going to play Nd2-b3-c5 with a queenside bind. What can Black do about this?
1 Challenge
Kozel-Malakhatko, Yalta 1996

Kozel-Malakhatko, Yalta 1996

Can you find a good plan for the second player?
1 Challenge
Nunn-Schmittdiel, Dortmund 1991

Nunn-Schmittdiel, Dortmund 1991

White has an obvious advantage, but it's far from easy to find a way to increase that edge. What is White's correct plan?
1 Challenge
Nimzowitsch-Salwe, Carlsbad 1911

Nimzowitsch-Salwe, Carlsbad 1911

Black's pieces seem to be active and he seems to be putting pressure on White's center. How can White dispel these illusions?
1 Challenge
Gonzalez-Gurevich, Havana 1986

Gonzalez-Gurevich, Havana 1986

The position is simplified and, perhaps to some, boring. Nevertheless, whether a game is exciting or dull, you still have to find a plan and play the best moves available. What is Black's plan?
1 Challenge
Illescas-Speelman, Linares 1992

Illescas-Speelman, Linares 1992

Black has the better game, but there's no winning continuation. This means that the second player must continue to build up his game and look for new possibilities. How can Black increase his edge?
1 Challenge
Adams-Epishin, Ter Apel 1992

Adams-Epishin, Ter Apel 1992

Both sides are involved in a violent battle for e5. How can Black increase the pressure and also create more harmony in his game as a whole?
1 Challenge
Sveshnikov-Bareev, Poliot 1991

Sveshnikov-Bareev, Poliot 1991

Black is piling up on e5 and also threatens ...Bxc5. What can White do to turn the tide?
1 Challenge
Nimzowitsch-Levenfish, Carlsbad 1911

Nimzowitsch-Levenfish, Carlsbad 1911

Black is putting quite a bit of pressure on the White center. What can be done about this?
1 Challenge
Waitzkin-Gurevich, New York Open 1993

Waitzkin-Gurevich, New York Open 1993

White's King is castled and he's started active play in the center. What can Black do about this?
1 Challenge
Maliutin-Mamadshoev, USSR 1991

Maliutin-Mamadshoev, USSR 1991

Simplified positions are often very hard for amateurs to handle because normal attacking ideas are no longer valid. Can you find a plan for White in this position?
1 Challenge
Adorjan-Tringov, Varna 1972

Adorjan-Tringov, Varna 1972

A tough Queenless middlegame is in full swing, and it's not clear who is better. How can White keep Black's counterplay to a minimum?
1 Challenge
Van der Wiel-Van der Sterren, Dutch Championship 1997

Van der Wiel-Van der Sterren, Dutch Championship 1997

The Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0) often leads to this kind of position.
1 Challenge
Iskov-Villeneuve, Stockholm 1974

Iskov-Villeneuve, Stockholm 1974

This endgame favors White, but me saying this and you proving it are two different things. How should White start his buildup?
1 Challenge
Boensch-Litkiewicz, East German Championship 1974

Boensch-Litkiewicz, East German Championship 1974

Because the center is locked up, White has to decide which side of the board he's playing on.
1 Challenge
Timman-Kasparov, Hilversum 1985

Timman-Kasparov, Hilversum 1985

Dutch Grandmaster Jan Timman has played many games against World Champion Garry Kasparov. Unfortunately for Timman, the score hasn't gone well for him.
1 Challenge
Dvoretsky-Southam, Philadelphia 1991

Dvoretsky-Southam, Philadelphia 1991

One often reads how a position is now "a matter of technique."
1 Challenge
Fischer-Portisch, Havana Olympiad 1966

Fischer-Portisch, Havana Olympiad 1966

Fischer, perhaps the greatest player of all time, finds a way to punish a bad bishop move. How did he do it?
1 Challenge
Adorjan-Danov, Wijk aan Zee 1971

Adorjan-Danov, Wijk aan Zee 1971

White has a very pleasant position, but choosing the right way to improve his game is rather difficult. How should he proceed?
1 Challenge
Van der Wiel-Pinter, Rotterdam 1988

Van der Wiel-Pinter, Rotterdam 1988

White stands better since Black is behind in development and various weaknesses exist in his position. Now White must figure out how he intends to increase the pressure.
1 Challenge
Kovalev-Dimitrov, Moscow Olympiad 1994

Kovalev-Dimitrov, Moscow Olympiad 1994

Sometimes you see a simple, attractive move and yearn to play it.
1 Challenge
Botvinnik-Sorokin, USSR 1931

Botvinnik-Sorokin, USSR 1931

Though White is a future World Champion, you can find the same move that he did if you look for something simple and to the point.
1 Challenge
Lundin-Yanofsky, Groningen 1946

Lundin-Yanofsky, Groningen 1946

White's pieces are more active than Black's. However, there aren't any clear objects of attack at the moment. This means that White must find a way to increase the advantages he already possesses.
1 Challenge
Fischer-Spassky, Belgrade 1992

Fischer-Spassky, Belgrade 1992

Both sides are clearly pursuing attacks against the enemy King. White is clearly ahead in this race. How should he continue this assault?
1 Challenge
Averbakh-Kholmov, Minsk 1952

Averbakh-Kholmov, Minsk 1952

Lots of things are going on in this sharp position. Confusion easily sets in when these situations appear. What to do?
1 Challenge
Kasparov-Smyslov, Vilnius 1984

Kasparov-Smyslov, Vilnius 1984

White enjoys a large advantage thanks to his two Bishops and extra center pawn (which cramps Black's pieces). At this point Kasparov played an important move. Can you find it?
1 Challenge
Oppenrider-Moiseev, corr. 1957-59

Oppenrider-Moiseev, corr. 1957-59

Many players take one look at a sharp position and go blind to anything but the basest threats.
1 Challenge
Typical Maroczy Bind situation

Typical Maroczy Bind situation

How should Black strive for counterplay?
1 Challenge
Tal-Padevsky, Moscow 1963

Tal-Padevsky, Moscow 1963

Find White's correct plan, play the move that caters to that plan, and solve the mystery dilemma at the same time!
1 Challenge
Miles-Morozevich, London 1994

Miles-Morozevich, London 1994

White has good chances on the queenside and also has some pressure against Black's pawn on d5. How should White continue his attack?
1 Challenge
Activating one's forces

Activating one's forces

White has obvious chances along the c-file. However, after Black's last move (...b5- b4), a new opportunity has appeared. Can you find it?
1 Challenge
Botvinnik-Capablanca, Moscow 1936

Botvinnik-Capablanca, Moscow 1936

White is kicking his illustrious opponent all over the map. Now he must find a way to add to the pressure.
1 Challenge
Larsen-Tal, Leningrad Interzonal 1973

Larsen-Tal, Leningrad Interzonal 1973

Two of the greatest players in history and the two top chess writers square off in one of their many games.
1 Challenge
Spassky-Petrosian, World Championship Match 1969

Spassky-Petrosian, World Championship Match 1969

White's pieces make a nice impression in the center, but now he must choose the best way to recapture the pawn on d5.
1 Challenge
Alatortsev-Capablanca, Moscow 1935

Alatortsev-Capablanca, Moscow 1935

Though many players might consider the game to be even, Black is actually the one with a significant advantage.
1 Challenge
Ljubojevic-Smyslov, Skopje Olympiad 1972

Ljubojevic-Smyslov, Skopje Olympiad 1972

White is a pawn up but he's missed something unpleasant. You can be sure that former World Champion Smyslov, playing Black, pounced on the chance!
1 Challenge
Ribli-Tal, Montpellier 1985

Ribli-Tal, Montpellier 1985

The Hungarian Grandmaster Ribli has always been a very hard man to beat. However his opponent, World Champion Tal, has always been a very hard man to withstand!
1 Challenge
Smyslov-Ragozin, Leningrad-Moscow Match 1939

Smyslov-Ragozin, Leningrad-Moscow Match 1939

In many positions we are faced with moves that seem obvious. These natural moves are, indeed, often the correct way to handle the position.
1 Challenge
Bondarevsky-Smyslov, Moscow 1946

Bondarevsky-Smyslov, Moscow 1946

Many players would be happy to have this quiet position with White, since he has a lead in development and a passed pawn. Can Black equalize or do even better? Let's see what you come up with.
1 Challenge
Larsen-Torre, Brussels 1987

Larsen-Torre, Brussels 1987

White has a clear advantage but his last move (g5-g6) gave Black a nice defensive possibility. Can you see what both Grandmasters missed in the game?
1 Challenge
Rubinstein-Johner, Carlsbad 1929

Rubinstein-Johner, Carlsbad 1929

White must decide how he intends to recapture the pawn. One way wins, the other draws.
1 Challenge
Zubarev-Alexandrov, Moscow 1915

Zubarev-Alexandrov, Moscow 1915

This kind of position is usually winning for the owner of the Knight. You won't find any exception here! How should White improve his situation?
1 Challenge
Matulovic-Korchnoi, Ohrid 1972

Matulovic-Korchnoi, Ohrid 1972

The two strongest players in history who never achieved the title of World Champion were Paul Keres and Victor Korchnoi.
1 Challenge
Fine-Botvinnik, AVRO 1938

Fine-Botvinnik, AVRO 1938

The American Grandmaster Ruben Fine did extremely well against the world's elite. Here we see him smashing future World Champion Botvinnik.
1 Challenge
Polugaevsky-Balashov, Leningrad 1977

Polugaevsky-Balashov, Leningrad 1977

The ability to win this kind of endgame is essential if you want to improve at chess. There's no doubt that White's in control, but how can he really make progress?
1 Challenge
Beliavsky-Matulovic, Sombor 1972

Beliavsky-Matulovic, Sombor 1972

In the present game GM Beliavsky faces a strong Grandmaster. However, Matanovich's best years were behind him while the young Beliavsky's were just beginning.
1 Challenge
Beliavsky-Marjanovic, Teesside 1973

Beliavsky-Marjanovic, Teesside 1973

By winning this last round game against the one player who was tied with him, Beliavsky became World Junior Champion. In this problem, we're going to try and find an improvement for his opponent.
1 Challenge
Spassky-Beliavsky, Riga 1975

Spassky-Beliavsky, Riga 1975

As a Soviet Grandmaster, it's only natural that you face legendary players like Tal, Karpov, Kasparov, Petrosian and, as in this game, Spassky.
1 Challenge
Beliavsky-Andersson, Cienfuegos 1976

Beliavsky-Andersson, Cienfuegos 1976

Swedish Grandmaster Ulf Andersson is known as a very hard man to beat. In this game Beliavsky manages to score the full point, but a calm buildup of his position was necessary to make this happen.
1 Challenge
Basic development

Basic development

Beginners must learn to develop in a smooth and natural manner. They must also take note of, and deal with, basic threats.
1 Challenge
Calm in the face of a storm

Calm in the face of a storm

In chess there are two things you will always be asked to do. The first is to notice and defend against enemy threats. The second is to follow your own agenda with enormous verve.
1 Challenge
Who's got the file?

Who's got the file?

We've all heard that Rooks belong on open files. In essence, an open file is a road into the enemy position.
1 Challenge
To take or not to take?

To take or not to take?

Basic books on strategy constantly refer to the advantage of a Bishop over a Knight. Beginners, though, fear enemy Knights and often try to chop them off at the first opportunity.
1 Challenge
Knowing when to bail out

Knowing when to bail out

Sometimes things will be falling apart on the chessboard. When that happens, you will first have to notice it, and next you'll have to undertake some kind of damage control.
1 Challenge
Beliavsky-Petrosian, Vilnius 1978

Beliavsky-Petrosian, Vilnius 1978

The late World Champion Tigran Petrosian was famed for his positional mastery and defensive powers. In fact, during his prime years it was almost impossible to beat him.
1 Challenge
Beliavsky-Romanishin, Tbilisi 1978

Beliavsky-Romanishin, Tbilisi 1978

Grandmaster Oleg Romanishin was, in the late 1970's, thought to be one of the best players in the world.
1 Challenge
Beliavsky-Kasparov, Minsk 1979

Beliavsky-Kasparov, Minsk 1979

Little did Beliavsky know that his opponent, then only 16 years old, was eventually going to become World Champion.
1 Challenge
Rashkovsky-Beliavsky, Vilnius 1980

Rashkovsky-Beliavsky, Vilnius 1980

Beliavsky had to win this game to become USSR Champion.
1 Challenge
Portisch-Beliavsky, Moscow 1981

Portisch-Beliavsky, Moscow 1981

This position looks boring, but Black has any chances that exist. What is White's best method of defense?
1 Challenge
Beliavsky-Geller, Moscow 1983

Beliavsky-Geller, Moscow 1983

Soviet Grandmaster Efim Geller was known as a very sharp player who often competed for the World Championship.
1 Challenge
Beliavsky-Portisch, Thessaloniki Olympiad 1984

Beliavsky-Portisch, Thessaloniki Olympiad 1984

An imbalanced opening has been employed and now both sides have to make the most of their respective chances. What should White do?
1 Challenge
Geller-Beliavsky, Sochi 1986

Geller-Beliavsky, Sochi 1986

One might think that White simply stands better here, but Black has quite a bit of counterplay (in fact, he won in another 15 moves after White failed to find the best plan).
1 Challenge
Karpov-Beliavsky, Tilburg 1986

Karpov-Beliavsky, Tilburg 1986

Do you know White's correct plan? It's a very useful idea, and can come about from a myriad of other openings.
1 Challenge
Beliavsky-Bareev, Minsk 1987

Beliavsky-Bareev, Minsk 1987

The opening was a Stonewall Dutch (1.d4 f5 2.c4 Nf6 3.g3 e6 4.Bg2 d5 5.Nf3 c6 6.0-0 Bd6) where Black accepts a weakness on e5 in exchange for central space.
1 Challenge
Seirawan-Beliavsky, Brussels 1988

Seirawan-Beliavsky, Brussels 1988

Yasser Seirawan has been one of the best American players (for several years he was clearly #1) for many years now.
1 Challenge
Beliavsky-Vaganian, Odessa 1989

Beliavsky-Vaganian, Odessa 1989

Vaganian won the Soviet Championship in this tournament, while Beliavsky came in second (due to a final round loss).
1 Challenge
Smirin-Beliavsky, Odessa 1989

Smirin-Beliavsky, Odessa 1989

Can you find the most valuable move in this position?
1 Challenge
Dolmatov-Beliavsky, Moscow 1990

Dolmatov-Beliavsky, Moscow 1990

Black is winning this game, but I've seen so many students toss easy wins out the window that I'm giving you a chance to show how it should be done.
1 Challenge
Beliavsky-Salov, Reggio Emilia 1991

Beliavsky-Salov, Reggio Emilia 1991

An interesting game has led to this very imbalanced position. How can Black take the fight to his opponent?
1 Challenge
Romanishin-Beliavsky, Belgrade 1993

Romanishin-Beliavsky, Belgrade 1993

People are always saying that they need to know the openings, but logical play beats memorization any day.
1 Challenge
Korchnoi-Beliavsky, Leon 1994

Korchnoi-Beliavsky, Leon 1994

The legendary Victor Korchnoi keeps winning tournaments, even though he's in his late sixties.
1 Challenge
Rublevsky-Beliavsky, Novosibirsk 1995

Rublevsky-Beliavsky, Novosibirsk 1995

Both sides have castled on opposite sides of the board and a very sharp battle is in store. If you know the rules for this type of situation, then the proper move won't be too hard to find.
1 Challenge
Beliavsky-Ehlvest, Yerevan Olympiad 1996

Beliavsky-Ehlvest, Yerevan Olympiad 1996

White has a winning endgame, but claiming a win is one thing and actually scoring the full point is often quite another. How would you play this position?
1 Challenge
Beliavsky-Strikovic, Cacak 1996

Beliavsky-Strikovic, Cacak 1996

White has built up an impressive pawn mass in the center. How does one play such positions?
1 Challenge
Beliavsky-Khalifman, Ubeda 1997

Beliavsky-Khalifman, Ubeda 1997

A typical opening position from the King's Indian Defense has occurred (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.h3 0-0 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Nf3 e5 8.d5 h6 9.Be3 Nc5 10.Nd2 a5).
1 Challenge
Averbach-Simagin, Moscow 1943

Averbach-Simagin, Moscow 1943

This problem comes under the title, "How to win a won game." We all get winning positions, but how often do you effortlessly score the victory? How should White proceed?
1 Challenge
Taimanov-Averbach, Leningrad 1947

Taimanov-Averbach, Leningrad 1947

Black has the advantage in this endgame, and he has several moves that qualify as tempting. What move would you choose?
1 Challenge
Averbach-Veresov, Moscow 1947

Averbach-Veresov, Moscow 1947

A seemingly simple endgame is the source of this lesson's anguish. How can White win the game?
1 Challenge
Averbach-Lilienthal, Moscow 1948

Averbach-Lilienthal, Moscow 1948

An interesting Bishop versus Knight battle is under way. How can White make his minor piece superior to Black's?
1 Challenge
Averbach-Goldberg, Tula 1950

Averbach-Goldberg, Tula 1950

White's position looks very nice, but how does he handle the threat to his c-pawn?
1 Challenge
Averbach-Ravinsky, Moscow 1950

Averbach-Ravinsky, Moscow 1950

Both sides are preparing their respective plans. How should White react to Black's last move?
1 Challenge
Averbach-Moiseev, Moscow 1950

Averbach-Moiseev, Moscow 1950

Both sides are pursuing their play on opposite wings. Who's going to come first? What can you find for White?
1 Challenge
Golovko-Averbach, Moscow 1950

Golovko-Averbach, Moscow 1950

Black has to deal with his threatened c-pawn. What's the best defense?
1 Challenge
Kotov-Averbach, Moscow 1948

Kotov-Averbach, Moscow 1948

Many players would be very happy with White, but I'm handing the Black pieces to you. What are you going to do with Black's position?
1 Challenge
Averbach-Smyslov, Moscow 1951

Averbach-Smyslov, Moscow 1951

The position appears to be quite unclear, but White shows that he's actually dominating the play. How did he do this against a player of Smyslov's strength?
1 Challenge
Averbach-Kholmov, Minsk 1952

Averbach-Kholmov, Minsk 1952

The Tartakower Variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined is still very popular, though this particular position is no longer played for White. Why?
1 Challenge
Unzicker-Averbach, Stockholm 1952

Unzicker-Averbach, Stockholm 1952

Black hasn't played well and, as a result, White has managed to build up a powerful queenside attack. How should the first player continue this assault?
1 Challenge
Pilnik-Averbach, Stockholm 1952

Pilnik-Averbach, Stockholm 1952

How did White prove an advantage?
1 Challenge
Averbach-Taimanov, Zurich 1953

Averbach-Taimanov, Zurich 1953

A very sharp position has appeared where White must play with as much energy as possible. What would you do?
1 Challenge
Najdorf-Averbach, Zurich 1953

Najdorf-Averbach, Zurich 1953

What is Black's best option?
1 Challenge
Averbach-Euwe, Zurich 1953

Averbach-Euwe, Zurich 1953

The legendary Max Euwe was playing Black here and has some problems to solve, but only if White finds the right continuation. How can White make a claim for the advantage?
1 Challenge
Averbach-Ragozin, Kiev 1954

Averbach-Ragozin, Kiev 1954

Black's position may look nice at a glance, but some severe tactical problems are waiting to be found. What can White do to turn the game in his direction?
1 Challenge
Averbach-Bannik, Kiev 1954

Averbach-Bannik, Kiev 1954

White's advantage isn't in doubt, but it's far from easy to find a way to improve his position. How would you handle this situation?
1 Challenge
Averbach-Panno, Buenos Aires 1954

Averbach-Panno, Buenos Aires 1954

This position was reached after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 c5 7.d5 a6 8.a4 Qa5 9.Bd2 e5. How did White respond to this move?
1 Challenge
Averbach-Aronin, Riga 1954

Averbach-Aronin, Riga 1954

A very sharp battle is being fought, and it's not clear who stands better. Or is it? What would you do with the White pieces? Remember, a sharp position often requires a sharp resolution.
1 Challenge
Averbach-Botvinnik, Nikolina Gora 1956

Averbach-Botvinnik, Nikolina Gora 1956

First you have to know where you should be playing. Then you have to know the correct plan for that specific situation. Finally, you have to find the most accurate way.
1 Challenge
Averbach-Botvinnik, Nikolina Gora 1957

Averbach-Botvinnik, Nikolina Gora 1957

Visually White stands better, but Black's game isn't as bad as one might suppose. How can Black chip away at this illusion?
1 Challenge
Averbach-Spassky, Leningrad 1956

Averbach-Spassky, Leningrad 1956

We are down to the final part of the battle, and accuracy is obviously required. How did White gain a draw?
1 Challenge
Averbach-Fuchs, Dresden 1956

Averbach-Fuchs, Dresden 1956

This position, from the Averbach Variation of the King's Indian Defense, came about after 1.c4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.d4 Nf6 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 c5 7.d5 a6 8.a4 e6 9.Qd2 Qa5.
1 Challenge
Euwe-Alekhine, World Championship Match 1937

Euwe-Alekhine, World Championship Match 1937

This position, achieved by 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0-0 5.Nge2 d5 6.a3 Be7 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Ng3, seems to offer Black many possibilities.
1 Challenge
Averbach-Polugayevsky, Riga 1958

Averbach-Polugayevsky, Riga 1958

Having stopped Black from castling, many players would think only of attacking the enemy King. However, positional considerations must always be taken into account.
1 Challenge

Roots of Positional Understanding

Strategy
288 Lessons
No Videos
288 Challenges
Released November 14, 2007
77,657 Students