Friday, January 15, 2016

MY SYSTEM of Chess improvement

My blog has been pretty quiet!  Apologies (sort of)  truth is… its not so easy to keep up at the blog- and some winter illness has made my prioritize my efforts.

I was reading among the ‘Advertising’ of GM Smirnov… While his self- promotion (and High prices!) is kind of a turn off… he published an very interesting interview with a student.  One of the things the student said, I think rings Very True, about Chess improvement. And is worth Emphasizing (and reiterating)…

ANY CHESS IMPROVEMENT PLAN THAT WORKS NEEDS TO BE PERSONAL, It needs to be a Sincere adoption of what the Chess Student really believes Works..  because More than anything Chess Improvement is a matter of a REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE of our thought patterns.   If we are to shore up weaknesses- we must start seeing that 2+2=4.   BASICALLY WE’VE SPENT ALL OUR DAYS, SEEING IT AS 5.

…. There’s Irony in GM Smirnov- man who HAS the SYSTEM (“YOURS FOR $99.99!”)- Iterating the truth of the importance of a personal approach to chess improvement.

In Short, you can buy What you want to buy; but it doesn’t do any good to Passively Browse the Material.   IF YOU GOING TO LEARN IT, YOU MUST BECOME THE BIGGEST PROPONENT OF YOUR APPROACH TO CHESS IMPROVEMENT.  So what’s My Angle?   What my Current and Personal approach and how to further Evolve in this game?....

….. “IF YOU GET AN ADVANTAGE HOLD IT!”….   So you Might ask (and Should really)- What is Your approach to Chess Improvement?  What is the Current Situation.   Realizing that the core of a Good Program is optimism and Determination-   My deal is that its important to understand whats Going well, and Build from that.

And what recent games Have REALLY emphasized is the Importance of Holding ON to a AN ADVANTAGE.  Theoretically, Advantages come from bad moves from the Opponent- but practically- One has to Find it, play it! and HOLD IT!!

It’s the holding on- that difficult!  The Equilibrium of a position is that often in seizing an advantage (and by that I often meaning gaining material)- things get out of place, less active and the opponent can gains some chances. 
Even In  Good moments less than forced check mate, allow the opponent the opportunity to try to throw chaos and problems in your plans.
SO you Must Work hard to make sure You’re snuffing out the Opponents chances. This involves
  • UNDERSTAND your Opponent Advantages (and seek to destroy any future counterplay!)
  • MAKE EXCHANGES Forceful!  Weakish offers of exchange are almost an insult to the Opponents Intelligence!  (yet how many players comfortably ahead make them. Like How DENSE do you think the opponent is).
  • PRESS for Game Ending Play BUT
  • DON”T be Wild, DON’T Gamble…
  • Its better to have a firm, resolute and bulletproof plan- than any no Plan or A WILD ‘ALL OR NOTHING’ kind  of play*
  • Take time in simple spots to Carefully assess the plan (too Many chess players only try to deal with rigors of calculation After things have become Undone)…. But the problem, then, is that often they are all USING MASSIVE amounts of time- when there is in fact, play has become forced.   Big Thinks in forced play that is caused by a misplayed variations- is actually “AGONALYSIS” that is often More Harmful than Helpful.  Instead…
  • WHEN THINGS go wrong- the first calculation should be “Is there A reason to calculate deeply right Now”
  • The Magic Rule is ….” If your UP on material- Play As safe as you can Without blunting the beauty of any tactical Victories- IF your IN TROUBLE, Gamble”!

The ‘Magic Rule” IMHO, then is the PRIME REASON why Holding the advantage is so Instructive.

IF your HAVE an advantage; you Have the time and ability to deeply assess your Opponents play.   as Important as it is To find your own 2+2=4.  Chess is a Battle of Minds!  You have to Learn to “set up” your opponent to fail.

Deeply understanding how to do this, is to deeply understand the nature of chess advantages itself….


One Last Point about this!  Its not Clear to the beginner that one player Can (and should!) Set up his Opponent to Fail!  (Instead it is usually thought of as a race between both sides to the winning blow).   This INABILITY OF A WEAKER CHESS PLAYER TO PREVENT THE OPPONENT FROM SUCCEEDING IS A MARK OF A PATZER.  (one of the reason why strong players get so little out a chess game from the beginner as well….)

By Working on understanding how to ruin the opponent’s game under the Best of Conditions (when your ahead)—  Your Working on how to understand HOW To do that – All the Time- and how to go Head to Head against a strong player.


  1. Dear Jason!

    This time I had HUGE difficulty to understand what you wanted to share with us. I succeeded in only 5-10% of all the contents of this article (the rest is to me like Chinese or Japanese).

    Could you make some short list related to the conditions and conclusions related to your article?

    Probably I can help you to understand the higher level of chess - with using the idea of refusing (correcting?!) all of your statements (conclusions and conditions). As far as I understood from your article - your perspective and perception of the problem of chess advantage is too much abstract (or too philosophical one - if you wish to express it in another way). I am convinced it is a way much harder!

  2. oh. I'm sorry. to be brief-- the point is

    To be successful in Chess improvement, you must have faith in your program.

    Recently, In many of my games; I've had the task of being ahead of material and "converting" this to wins...

    Going over these games are good for my growth.

    I want to deepen my understanding on how to stop my opponents counterplay.

    I go over some thoughts on how to do that. "Play Safe when ahead"!

    I also think that stopping the opponents plan and leaving him with no good moves; is a important step to getting stronger.

    sorry for the confusion.

  3. No problem my friend. We are just humans - and the mistakes and problems with communications (expressing ourselves) is a normal thing.

    Let's back to chess.

    1) Yes, if the program of chess improvement is SOLID (based on the solid basis) - you have to believe in it: otherwise - just throw it away and try different one!

    2) Being ahead of material is NOT the same as winning games. And it is very important how much you have had of being "ahead of material". And what kind of position and how much time on the clock you had. There are positions you may be ahead of even a FULL piece, but your positions is just equal (do to the other factors like weak King position, weak pawns, etc.). My rule is: when you are AHEAD of material - a NEW game of chess starts! Now your opponent is (should be) desperate about recovery - and he is forced (!) to play very aggressive and active - and your task is to connect defence with attack!

    3) Stopping your opponents counterplay is EXTREMALLY hard, because it is the essence of real fight! If you are too much ahead of material the way of doing this is veru simple: exchange all of your opponents pieces in a forced way! If you have Q+R+B+3 pawns against R+R+B+1p you should search ways of exchanging all your pieces for your opponents ones! After than K+3p vs K is a trivial win!

    4) Stopping the opponents plan and leaving him with no good moves... is not "an important step to getting stronger" - it is some kind of restriction or crushing your opponent. Against strong players it will NOT be possible - more often they will die by throwing all the pieces to your King and testing your skills at defence - or avoiding all the pieces (expect if the exchange give them some real benefits)

    Let me know if this comment is valuable to you!

  4. If you boil it down to one concept, then it's absolutely true that "prophylaxis" or prophylactic play is one of the necessary keys to chess improvement. One of the key dividing lines between stronger and weaker players is that the strong players always pay attention to their opponents' strengths, threats and plans, and seek to negate them at least as much as they try to advance their own plans.

  5. Thank you, Yes. exactly.

    I find "prophylaxis" easier when I'm ahead on material. thus many of my recent games have given me an opportunity to focus on this concept.

    that's the essence of the blog. ty.

  6. Just to be sure - Jason: do you read the Tempo's blog?
    The recent posts are VERY inspiring to me - and the comments of the chess aficionados (amateurs) are very interesting as well! If you want to see how others study the positions and share their (tested or hypothetical) ideas - you are welcome to this great blog! The link is at the end of this post!