Nothing is more disturbing than the upsetting of a preconceived idea

How To Learn The Basics

How much study time is required? Edmar Mednis suggests 50% on Openings, 25% on middle-game and 25% on endings. Lasker suggests, Chess rules and exercises 5 hours, Elementary endings 5 hours, Some Openings 10 hours, Combinations, tactics 20 hours, Positional play 40 hours, Practical play with analysis 120 hours. If you spend the 200 hours on the above, even if you possess no special talent for chess, you are likely to be among the two or three thousand chess players who play on par with the masters. Of course there are those who spend in excess of 200 hours on chess with out making any progress what so ever.

A player may have memorized a few opening lines and a few variations and know some basic principles of the opening, but his simple development may be lacking. Also a rote method of memorizing important variations never works. Such a rote method never works, because as the memorized line ends, the player is at a loss regarding what to do next. What is important is to first obtain an understanding of what an opening is all about. Your strongest weapon against the superior player is ideas, a purpose or plan, imagined in your mind. It's the ideas that can be used as effective weapons in all areas of chess.. A mastery of a little theory which conveys the real understanding of the game is infinitely more valuable than a carefully memorized compilation of endless moves. Paradoxically, a thorough grasp of the ideas behind the openings, which are relatively few in number, is a royal road of knowledge which eliminates much of the drudgery associated with remembering a long series of variation. The better way is to have studied the theory and be able to adapt to changes in different circumstances, that is what will give you the edge in the openings. There are several sources of this knowledge for free on the Internet. A good book available is. Reuben Fine's book Ideas Behind. The Chess Openings. Opening Preparation by IM Mark Dvoretsky explains how a chessplayer should prepare his openings when he must face a well-prepared opponent and how to build up a repertoire of openings.

In the book, Openings by Yasser Seirawan you are not taught on how to memorize an opening. He teaches to understand the logic of the move. Why a move is good or bad. Utilize the elements of time, force, space and pawn structure. Plan strategy base on time-tested opening principles of play. He helps you develop a solid understanding of opening principles that you can apply to every game you play, with out having to memorize opening lines.

If you would like to study about the openings from a CD, you could get Gary Gauther's, ABC of Chess Openings Chess Training. Using many famous examples you are shown which moves are good and which are bad. The goals you should follow, and which tricks and traps are hidden in the different openings, and demonstrate vividly the ideas behind the moves. Consists of three parts. First you learn the basics of opening play, the strategy and tactics of the different openings. In the training database you can then test your progress by answering practical questions or solving specific positions.

Middle Game
In the middle game the opponent may know some basic tactics but has problems with more complex tactics in unfamiliar settings. The better player can see through to the counterplay and set traps. His moves have a point and use co-ordination of all his pieces. Your opponent's attacks may lack the necessary planning and development of all his pieces. He may lack in a style of play, be inflexible and lack the co-ordination initiative of all his active pieces to carry out the strategy of a successful attack. If your sound defense holds, his position may crumble leaving you with a superior advantage in your position in the middle game. Only 20 to 25 hours spent in studying tactics can make a profound improvement in your game.

The best practice is from Chess Tactics CD's. They give you practice and track your progress with tests. Chess Assistant has some excellent and extremely effective interactive ones. Chess Tactics for Beginners. Presents over 1,300 exercises, and CT-Art 3.0 (Tactics) contains about 1,250 exercises at a difficulty level, ELO 1600-2300. Another approach to learning tactics is the CD Intensive Course Tactics by George Renko. Contains over 4000 tactical positions with training questions. This feature is a new classification of elementary tactical methods developed by the author, allowing it to categorize the immense diversity of positions containing hidden opportunities of combinations. This offers a systematic method to sharpen our combinatorial vision and improve your technique, from novice to expert. He covers: Direct hit methods, support methods with push, deflection, decoying, annihilation of defense, blockade, opening of the line, pin, king mobility limitation, threat as enforcement, conquest of the square and hundreds of exercises and examples.

Another approach is the CD School of Elementary Tactics by Martin Weteschnik: He says for the first time you will find the tactical motifs explained down to their primary parts. This will give you a real profound comprehension to utilize and work with these elements. This CD consists of two parts. In the first database he dwells on his theories on tactics, while the second database he makes use of the advantages of a modern database program with numerous training questions. The tests make the theoretically schooled user ready for practice. He also uses audio and videoclips

If you would like to improve your middle game with a CD. There is The ABC of the Chess Middlegames by Gary Gauther. Consists of three parts. The Opening, Middle Game Strategy and Typical Piece Behavior. The sections on strategy and tactics lay the foundation for a deeper understanding of the middlegame. In a training database you can check your progress by solving practical positions and scoring points for successful attempts.

If you would like to improve your Chess Strategy using CD's, Prof. A. Bartashnikov has three CD's. The Basic Principles of Chess Strategy. In volumes 1 and 2 he has 68 extensively annotated games that show how to treat the opening and middle game. You learn how to assess positions and to find promising plans. Finally you can check your knowledge in test games with training tasks. In Volume 1, piece development, safety of the king and fighting for the center. In Volume 2, Strong and weak squares, piece activity and attack on the king. In Volume 3, 20 chapters with 74 extensively annotated games. Points out features on the endgame, how to effectively realize a spatial material or positional advantage, correct exchange and limiting the possibilities of pieces, positional sacrifices, fighting for the initiative, king activity, role of pawns and the principle of the two weaknesses.

End Game
In the endgame your opponent may be weak in endgame theory and be hesitant to use his king. He may defend rather than attack. The better player can limit counterplay and set up problems and obstacles to limit his opponents play and enhance his own position.

You can play hundreds of games and still lack improvement if you don't study your losses. You must look at what needs to be improved. FICS has a program that will analyze your game. There are chess playing programs like Fritz that will analyze your game and point out where you are going astray. Fritz will point out missed tactical shots for both you and your opponent and will suggest alternatives. For strategical ideas, database programs, like ChessBase, or a ChessBase demo, can help you find games with similar positions, to see what plans are commonly followed in positions like yours.

Pandolfini's Endgame Course by Bruce Pandolfini.. Over 230 endgame positions problems with lots of diagrams. Essential Chess Endings Vol. 1 by IM Jeremy Silman Batsford Chess Endings by GM Jon Speelman, GM Jon Tisdall and IM Bob Wade. Covers all conceivable endings. A massive book of 448 pages $35.00

The Chess Assistant CD Studies 2.0 has 1,000 selected endgame studies classified according to four criteria. Ideas, Alignment of forces, Gallery of Chess Composers, and 900 subsidiary exercises. Has detailed statistics that track your success on each theme that you study. Tests and ELO estimation modes, playing program Dragon included. Although it claims a difficulty ELO of 1900-2400 this program is an excellent aid for any level of chessplayer from beginner on up. Like all Chess Assistant CD's it tracks your progress with an ELO dynamics change graph.

A fine CD for endgame study is The ABC of Endgames Chess Training. Tells you what is a must know, from what is special knowledge for professionals. Has 176 treated endgames. Also a database text introducing the respective type of endgame with the possibility to immediately call up the relevant examples.

Here are some excellent books and complete courses according to player strength.

(1000 to 1399 Rating) Yasser Seirawan's book, Play Winning Chess. 222 pages. $9.95 here he covers, Principles of Force, Principles of Time, Principles of Space, and Principles of Pawn Structures. As far as studying the openings, I suggest that you study the endgames first. The middlegame and openings can be contemplated later in your chess development. For Endgame studies, two good books are Essential Chess Endings Volume one, Novice through Intermediate. Explained Move by Move. By Jeremy Silman. $16.95 the other book is: Pandolfini's Endgame Course by Bruce Pandofini. $12.00.

(1200 to 1599 Rating) Chess the Complete Self-Tutor by Edward Lasker. 468 pages $24.65 A clear step-by-step guide that progresses via a series of carefully prepared lessons to more advanced concepts. The reader is introduced to the major elements of chess tactics and strategy, with examples covering the opening the middlegame and the endgame. This book has been teaching thousands of people how to play chess well for years.

(1400 to 1799 Rating) Reassess Your Chess by Jeremy Silman. 402 pages. $17.95 A complete course to chess mastery. Offers a step by step course that is designed to create a marked improvement in anyone's game. Shows how to dissect a position, recognize its individual parts, and ultimately find the one move that conforms to the needs of any particular situations. Explains the thought processes that go into a master's choice of a move. Presents a system of thought that makes advanced strategies seem clear, logical, and at times even obvious.

(1600 to 1799 Rating) The Reassess Your Chess Workbook. How to Master Chess Imbalances. By Jeremy Silman. 423 pages. $19.95 Part one: A look at a system, thinking techniques. Imbalances, A crash Course. Part Two: Problems: The Opening. The Middlegame. The Endgame. Self-Annotations. Part Three: Solutions. Jeremy Silman tests a player's strengths and weaknesses with 131 problems that cover openings, tactical and positional middlegames, and endgames. This book takes the player through the processes of problem solving and analysis and provides advice and instructions that ultimately help him discover the major flaws imbedded in his play. Through this method, the player is led to an understanding of a thought system that will add rating points to his chess strength.

(1700 to 1999 Rating) The Power Chess Program. Book 1. $24.95 and The Power Chess Program Book 2. $24.95 by Nigel Davies. Both books are broken down to a two-year course by monthly and weekly studies. Each study session of about 3-5 hours. The lessons present different strategic themes and issues and then back this up with thematic test positions. The real secret of mastering chess is to blend fast and accurate calculation with good positional understanding. In order to foster the development of these skills, Nigel Davies developed a unique training program that has enabled many supposedly average club players to increase their playing strength out of all recognition.