Mastery: Strategy

Strategic Errors

Strategic Errors

Learn to avoid the most common mistakes in chess!

Are you good at finding forks, but feel lost in quieter positions? Strategic errors are played at every level of the game. However, in the amateur ranks, strategic mistakes are a dime a dozen. Nevertheless, just because a move might be strategically dubious doesn't mean that it will be punished. This course will help you become more aware of strategic errors and will help you strive to milk every drop of juicy goodness from your opponent's mistaken concept. No one teaches strategy like IM Jeremy Silman, so strap in and learn how to become a positional chess genius!

Here is what you will learn:

  • How to identify strategic errors in the opening.
  • How to try to fix a poor position by improving your pieces.
  • When to give up the beloved bishop pair and why.
  • When to grab space and when to avoid it.
  • How to identify and target weaknesses.
  • Strategic Meltdown in the Opening

    This lesson shows us how strategic errors can appear early in the opening, and will, more often than not, immediately give you a clear signal as to what you should try and achieve if you wish to take advantage of your opponent's overzealous move(s). Keep...

    • 4 challenges
  • A Quick Fix

    At times we find ourselves in a poor position. Playing it is depressing, so if we can lash out it makes us feel like we have a bit of self determination, and it also gives us an emotional lift. But, more often than not, this kind of reaction makes a bad...

    • 5 challenges
  • To Grab Space or Not to Grab Space?

    Every chess player hears about space. But when should one take it? Should one be afraid of the opponent taking it? Is the acquisition of space always worthwhile? If not, what could possibly make it bad? These kinds of questions fill the minds of most...

    • 3 challenges
  • Logical Doesn't Mean It's Right

    At times a move that seems so right can turn out to be quite wrong. At other times a move might make positional concessions while making certain gains at the same time. Then the pros and cons have to be carefully examined and weighed against each other...

    • 3 challenges
  • Giving Up The Bs

    Everyone knows about the supposed power of the two Bishops. However, in the non-professional realms I view the battle between Bishops and Knights to be an even one: both pieces have their virtues, but Knights are tricky and, as is well known, often very...

    • 4 challenges
  • Taking Aim at a Target

    Decades ago, I coined the term "target consciousness." This alludes to my insistence of training a student's mind to always be on the lookout for the creation and destruction of attackable points. Thus, if you refuse to give your opponent attackable targets,...

    • 4 challenges
  • Balancing Imbalances

    Our present lesson makes use of the game N.MacLeod - W.Pollock, New York 1889. The position in question comes about after a very odd opening: 1.e4 e5 2.c3 d5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.Bb5 f6 5.Qa4 Ne7 6.0-0 dxe4 7.Qxe4 Bf5 8.Bxc6+ bxc6 9.Qa4. There are many imbalances...

    • 3 challenges
  • Don't Ignore Endgame Strategy!

    Many players think that the memorization of a bunch of key positions will make you a good endgame player. Well, it certainly doesn't hurt, but most endgames, like all other phases of the game, come down to an appreciation of the strategic nuances of the...

    • 4 challenges
  • To "B" or Not to "B"

    There are many basic rules, and most people know some or even all of them. However, knowing the rules and knowing when to implement them can be two different things. This lesson shows a basic rule being ignored. It might seem like it's no big deal, but...

    • 4 challenges
  • Pawn Tension is Your Friend

    Most amateurs dread tension, envisioning it as a Sword of Damocles hanging over their head. However, tension can serve you well if you have faith in it: 1) It tortures your opponent as much as it tortures you! 2) It's confusing since there are so many...

    • 3 challenges
  • True "Weakness" is More Than Just a Name

    Everyone knows about "weak pawns." There are isolated pawns, backward pawns, doubled pawns, etc. etc. And, in every case, a so-called "weak" pawn is only weak not because of its name, but because the opponent can successfully attack it. If it can't be...

    • 3 challenges
  • Appearances Can Be Deceptive

    At times a player feels pretty good about himself. He's learned the basics, gained a reasonable understanding of strategy, and also thoroughly absorbed most of the positional ABCs. Then, as if to spoil the party, a position appears that spits in the face...

    • 4 challenges
  • Rotting Pawns That Refuse to Die

    In chess, there are ugly pawns and then -- especially in this example -- there are really, really ugly pawns. However, though visually nauseating, ugliness alone won't lose a game and, at times, even pawns that appear ready to rot and fall off the board...

    • 3 challenges
  • From Frying Pan to Fire

    The fact is, if you enjoy a safe King, you can play on for ages, no matter how sad your position might be. But if -- on top of the positional horrors you're facing -- your King is also facing a barrage of heavy artillery, then you are most likely looking...

    • 4 challenges
  • Don't Be An Opening Robot

    Here's a typical opening scenario that has led more than one player to ruin: You know a line pretty well and confidently dash it out. However, your opponent plays something you haven't seen before (in this case a passive looking response) which appears...

    • 5 challenges
  • The Center Rules the Wings

    There is a drug in chess that most players are already addicted to. It creates depression, confusion, and lack of self-esteem, yet the countless addicts never know why things are so bad for them so often! The drug in question? An unstoppable compulsion...

    • 4 challenges
  • Demand More Than Wiggle-room

    There is one particular thing that most titled players covet that isn't given the same high esteem by amateurs: space. IMs and GMs are very much aware that a serious advantage is space can easily lead to a resounding (and often effortless) victory. Our...

    • 4 challenges
  • Space vs. Mr. Dither

    This lesson is yet another warning about the perils of ignoring an opponent's space advantage. In general, if an opponent has more space, you should trade some pieces off (giving you more room to move about in), create your own spatial plus in another...

    • 3 challenges
  • Self Inflicted Wounds

    In general, I feel most strategic mistakes/blunders are caused by focusing so hard on other issues that you forget all about "unimportant" things like holes or weak pawns. Two of those "other issues" are defense (you become so worried about something...

    • 4 challenges
  • Ganging Up On Targets

    Many an opponent, unable to resist the compulsion to embrace the aggressive caveman impulse, will rush their pieces down the board in a berserker frenzy, completely oblivious to the weaknesses they are leaving behind in their wake. However, though Mr....

    • 4 challenges
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