Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chess Quotes

Chess quotes and other quotes useful for chess players: 

Chess Mastery   

Chess mastery is a mixture of knowledge, awareness, and willpower.
– Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess (4th Edition)  

How ought a game end with best play from both white and black?    

…by best play on both sides a draw ought to be the legitimate result.   

– Wilhelm Steinitz, The Modern Chess Instructor  

Grave error of judgment  

…the brilliant sacrificing combinations can only occur when either side has 

committed some grave error of judgment in the disposition of his forces… 
– Wilhelm Steinitz, The Modern Chess Instructor  

The theory of Steinitz 

Article Exeter Chess Club
Dan Heisman article (pdf)   

Pattern recognition,

How chess masters think 

If you were to visit a chess tournament and watch a grandmaster in action, you would be able to observe a surprising range of emotions. Sometimes, in apparently simple positions, the grandmaster might lapse into lengthy periods of concentration, where ten minutes or more might be spent on a move. At other times the moves will come very quickly, even in complicated positions. You might even be shocked if the grandmaster suddenly wins the game with a lengthy and brilliant mating sacrifice – after thinking for just a few seconds. Clearly the analytical process is not always directly related to how complicated the position is on the surface. 

The reason for this is pattern recognition. If the grandmaster can recall similar positions encountered in the past, the same themes and concepts might be applicable to the game in hand. This makes it much easier and quicker to analyse a position. It especially applies to the most basic attacking formations around the enemy king. Once a known motif is spotted, the moves of the potential combination are analysed to check that it does indeed work in the particular position on the board. 

It is clear then that chess analysis is a mixture of calculation of individual moves and pattern recognition.
– Murray Chandler, How to Beat Your Dad at Chess 

Help your pieces,
All that matters

Help your pieces so they can help you.

– Paul Morphy 

All that matters on the chessboard is good moves.
– Bobby Fischer 


Prevent the trades your opponent needs.

– Nikolay Yakovlev, Chess Blueprints: Planning in the Middlegame 


The more space you dominate, the less space for the opponent in which to move his pieces about,

the more restricted the number of moves with which he may threaten you or guard himself against
your threats.
– Emanuel Lasker, Lasker's Manual of Chess 

What space does is: It allows your pieces to maneuver more easier and in a more free of fashion.
If you can place your pieces where you want to, instead of where you have to, then you have a
better chance of winning the game and having success.
– Bernard Baker  

Central squares  

He who dominates central squares is better off than the ruler over wing squares.
The squares have not an equal value. Those of the center are the most important ones because from there queen, bishop and knight command the largest number of squares. 

In the center the important lines intersect. The struggle in the opening turns therefore essentially round the domination of the center proper: e4, e5, d4, d5, and the extended center bounded at the corners by c3, c6,
f3 and f6.
– Emanuel Lasker, Lasker's Manual of Chess 

The opening 

Advantage in the opening goes to whoever first succeeds in bringing pawns and pieces to dominate the extended center, and in such a way as not only to command as much area as possible, but to cramp the opponent.
– Emanuel Lasker, Lasker's Manual of Chess

Control the center. The center is critical; it is the key battleground in the game of chess.

Develop all your pieces as soon as possible. Remember, try not to move the same piece more than once unless it is necessary.

Don't bring your queen out too early.

Castle your king as early as possible. The king is your most important piece, therefore, make sure the king is safe.

Do not try to attack until all your pieces are developed and your king is safe.
Most attacks will not be successful unless you have all your troops and ammunition
in place.
– Alpha Teach Yourself Chess in 24 Hours


Get squares,

All operations should be undertaken with a certain goal, the object of attack, in mind.
To swim without a goal is strategic confusion.
– Aron Nimzowitsch  

You must have a plan.
– Bent Larsen 

Play on both sides of the board is my favourite strategy.
– Alexander Alekhine 

Winning chess often involves application of the principle of two weaknesses.
If one side’s position has a weakness, it can often be defended as many times 
at is attacked. 
In that case, the attacker should aim to create a second weakness, making it difficult 
or impossible for the defender to protect both. 

The further course of the game will consist of alternately attacking both weaknesses. 
The opponent will be forced to constantly shift his attention from one weakness to  
another, until his forces will eventually reach the breaking point.
– Nikolay Yakovlev, Chess Blueprints: Planning in the Middlegame 

To get squares you gotta give squares.
– Bobby Fischer 

Every move you make should strengthen your position         

…every move you make should strengthen your position in some way.
 – Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess (3rd Edition)  

Good moves usually have at least two ideas 

You know, one idea is not enough; good moves usually have at least two ideas.
– Lev Psakhis  

The best move 

Sometimes, the best move theoretically is not the best move practically.
What you need to do is to play to put your opponent into positions that
they're not comfortable with AND you're comfortable with.
– Internet  

Play the move that forces the win in the simplest way.
Leave the brilliancies to Alekhine, Keres and Tal.
– Irving Chernev  

The simplest and the shortest way of winning is the best. 
– Baron Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa  

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
– Albert Einstein  

Don't try to be brave, when it is enough to be intelligent.
– Paulo Coelho  

Give a good grandmaster (2600+ Elo) 100 random middlegame positions, and about 90 times he will find one of the best moves instantly.
Give him more time and he will solve two or three more and avoid another two or three direct blunders. On the other hand, a longer (but not long enough) thought will worsen two or three of his previous intuitive choices. This battle paradox was concisely expressed by General Suvorov (Russian general and field marshal in the 18th century who never lost a battle): One wisdom is good, one and a half is worse.
– Mihai Suba, Dynamic Chess Strategy 

Each position has its own answer,
Learn to read the board, 

Find a plan,

Base your plans on specific criteria on the board, 
You always play in accordance with the imbalances 

Planning is the process by which a player utilizes the advantages and minimizes the drawbacks of his position. 
– Harry Golombek, Encyclopedia of Chess  

…each position has its own answer. 
– Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess (3rd Edition) have to learn to read the board and obey its dictates.
If the board wants you to attack the King, then attack it.
If the board wants you to play in a quiet positional vein, then you must follow that advice to the letter.
– Jeremy Silman, The Amateur's Mind  

...find a plan and then develop your forces around it. 
– Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess (3rd Edition)  

If you want to be successful, you have to base your plans on specific criteria on the board, not on your mood at any given time.
– Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess (3rd Edition)  

…you should only play where a favorable imbalance or the possibility of creating one exists.
– Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess (3rd Edition)  

…with very strong players much of the thinking process is subconscious, borne of thousands of hours of study and practice. When someone's thinking is still at a conscious level (whether looking for imbalances, structure or anything else) they have not achieved mastery. 
– Nigel Davies,    


In the beginning of the game ignore the search for combinations, abstain from violent moves, aim for small advantages, accumulate them, and only after having attained these ends search for the combination – and then with all the power of will and intellect, because then the combination must exist, however deeply hidden.
– Emanuel Lasker, Lasker's Manual of Chess  

A combination must be sound. An unsound combination is no combination at all.
It is merely an attempt, an error, a failure, a nonentity.
– Emanuel Lasker, Lasker's Manual of Chess  


Many players, sacrificing a pawn, lose because they play as if they had lost it,
rather than deliberately parted with it.
– Tigran Petrosian      


...a chessplayer is nothing without patience.
– Jeremy Silman, The Amateur's Mind  

Patience is the first essential attitude of the strong chess player.
With patience you can learn to avoid big mistakes.  

How many times have your made a quick move only to realize that is caused you to lose a piece?
Most young chess players move too quickly.
A way to overcome this is to ask "Why did he do that?" after your opponent moves.  

The strong chess player learns an attitude of patience is a must. Don't just play the first move you see.
Look deeper. Only then will you discover the victories that await you.
– Ross Stoutenborough 

I've seen countless numbers of games lost by players who build up an advantage against a lower-rated player and then ruin everything in their impatient attempts to finish the game off quickly. 
They start to play for threats in the hope that their opponent will miss something and become increasingly frustrated when this does not happen.
It's much better just to keep applying pressure when sooner or later there's a good chance that they'll crack. 
– Nigel Davies, The Rules of Winning Chess   

Q U A C C ! 

The key to chess mastery starts with good questions (Q) you (U) ask and then answer (A).
Only then does the master calculate (C) a series of moves and concludes (C) who stands better.
The more you QUACC the better you play. Really good players QUACC a lot.

– Ross Stoutenborough  

The key question 

Keep in mind the key question:
"What squares are no longer defended?"
Once you have that you have the secret of chess.
– Maurice Ashley, The Secret to Chess 

Self-correct your limiting assumptions,
Look with fresh eyes,
No room for bigotry  

Those who say they understand chess, understand nothing.
– Robert Hübner  

…we learn what to perceive.
– Carlos Castaneda  

Begin to self-correct your limiting assumptions. You will then have fewer blockages and become better
and more efficient thinker.
– Jonathan Rowson, Chess For Zebras 

…the kind of learning that is most useful for chess improvement is actually 'unlearning'.
– Jonathan Rowson, Chess For Zebras 

…if you have certain modes of thinking about chess, and strong attachments to certain structures, openings, styles of play, etc., then this will act as a kind of limiting filter for the new material you are trying to learn.

– Jonathan Rowson, Chess For Zebras 

…look at chess positions with fresh eyes, as free as possible from prejudices. When you succeed in doing this, you start to see the prejudices as prejudices, and not as absolute truths, and that’s when real improvement becomes easier.
– Jonathan Rowson, Chess For Zebras  

...there is no room for bigotry on the chessboard.
– Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess (3rd Edition)  

Clear mind

Concentration is not staring hard at something, it is not trying to concentrate.

– Timothy Gallwey  

Play with a clear mind.
– Internet  

Thinking in your own time,
Thinking in the opponent's time

Go through detailed variations in your own time, think in a general way about the position in the opponent's time and you will soon find that you get into time trouble less often, that your games have more content to them, and that their general standard rises.
– Alexander Kotov 

Lack of effort,
Chess improvement,
Keep the vision in trim 

We often mistakenly equate lack of effort with lack of talent.
– Andres D. Hortillosa, Improve Your Chess at any Age  

…the more time you have to devote to chess improvement, the more likely you are to improve. However, I know many players who seem to do everything they possible can to improve: they toil to get their openings in shape, pay lots of money to have coaches look at their games, work on their endings enough to know their Lucenas from their Philidors, and diligently study their own game in all the ways they are supposed to, but without great success.
– Jonathan Rowson, Chess For Zebras 

My impression is that 'the improvement problem' is more subtle than simply lacking the time to do the necessary work.
– Jonathan Rowson, Chess For Zebras 

…aspiring players should place much more emphasis on developing their skill than increasing their knowledge.
– Jonathan Rowson, Chess For Zebras 

…chess work should be less focused on 'learning', and more about 'training' and 'practising' whereby you force yourself to think.
– Jonathan Rowson, Chess For Zebras  

Just as the pianist practices the most complicated pieces to improve the technique of his fingers, so too a grandmaster must keep his vision in trim by daily analysis of positions with sharp possibilities, and this applies whether he prefers such positions in his play or not.
– Alexander Kotov  

How you know you are improving 

Loek van Wely put it to me that you only know you are improving when your opponents seem to be playing badly more often than before!
– Jonathan Rowson 

Feel great 

You can feel great and play terribly.
– Stuart Conquest  


Never underestimate your opponents and their moves.
– Alpha Teach Yourself Chess in 24 Hours  


Nothing is more embarrassing for a Grandmaster
than to lose a game in under 20 moves.
– Lubomir Kavalek  

It's not the end of the world.
– Irina Krush 

Disappointment is a part of the road to greatness.
– Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning  

Keep your head up,
Defend well,
Opportunities may come your way 

It’s extremely important during a game to accept a situation like it is - the real situation - not with thoughts or regrets of what you have missed.
– Anatoly Karpov  

Sometimes, in the heat of the battle, things just don’t go your way. You thought everything was fine and then, all of the sudden, you come to the realization that you’re in trouble. You can throw all of your plans out the window. They won’t work anymore. You’ve been outwitted. So, what do you do now?  

Rather than focusing on what might have been and beating yourself up emotionally, take a fresh look at the position. Regroup, let go of the past and keep your head up. If you defend well other opportunities may come your way.
– Ross Stoutenborough   

Nobody ever saved a game by resigning. 
– Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess (3rd Edition)  

Rules and principles 

No rule is correct all the time.
– Jeremy Silman, The Amateur's Mind   

Rules and guidelines are useful, but every rule was made to be broken.
– Jeremy Silman, The Amateur's Mind  

...nearly every rule or formula has exceptions, and all must be judged in relation to the other imbalances and according to each individual situation.
– Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess (3rd Edition)  

...the moment you teach a rule, you will immediately be confronted with its exception.
– Herman Grooten, Chess Strategy for Club Players    

Dogma and blind faith in rules will stunt the growth of any player – be it in chess or in other areas of life.
– Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess (3rd Edition)  

Some experts claim that nowadays the rules and principles formulated by former giants like Steinitz, Nimzowitsch or Capablanca are no longer useful – chess has evolved into a concrete, contextual game where each position must be evaluated in its own right. Even the best player of all time, Garry Kasparov, has hinted in this direction. In How Life Imitates Chess, he writes ‘the stringest ideological dogmas are behind us and so are many of the antiquated doctrines of the chessboard. Trends still come and go, but now the only real rule is the absence of rules.’ 

However, I don’t believe this is true. I agree that the old rules and principles are hidden and difficult to dissect when looking at complex grandmaster games (…). However, ‘hidden’ is not the same as ‘absent’. The old rules and principles are still present, but under the radar – they are implicit. Rather than being the lever that distinguishes strong players from less strong ones, they are now everyone’s property. Tarrasch, Alekhine and Capablanca could win games – even against strong opposition – mainly through a better grasp of the emerging strategic principles. That is rarely possible today, as all strong players (must) know and understand the principles. That’s why chess has become so concrete and complex – it’s the only way to play for a win at grandmaster level. It does not mean that the rules an principles have decreased in importance – on the contrary. 

As we shall see, in most contemporary grandmaster games, the old rules and principles still form the basis from which the concrete action flows. Few top games are completely ‘random’. Knowing these principles may not lead to a ‘competitive advantage’ over the opponent, but it is necessary to maintain ‘competitive parity’. And you cannot hope to learn how to break the rules if you don’t know them. I like to say that you cannot win games only by following Steinitz’s or Nimzowitsch’s principles, but you will certainly lose games if you don’t know these principles!
– Lars Bo Hansen, Improve Your Chess - by Learning from the Champions   

What chess has become today      

Chess has become more dynamic, piece play has become more effective. The ability to defend oneself in bad positions or against king attacks has increased dramatically. General principles are moving more and more into the background, calculating move sequences is more important.  

I have become more critical in my decisions, and don't allow myself to be guided by a few general strategies.  

I look for special moves, for exceptions to the generally accepted principles. The exceptions of course have their own logic, but we have not been able to understand it so far. With growing understanding we are often confronted with moves we would have previously rejected, out of general considerations. This is the merit of the computer – they point to many new and unusual ideas. People are afraid to think out of the ordinary, computer to force you to do so. But: we must be the pilot, the computer must not be allowed into the cockpit.
– Viswanathan Anand  

What you learn after you know it 

It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.
– John Wooden 

Yesterday play is known by your opponent today 

Each game you have to invent something new.
– Francisco Vallejo Pons  


He [Bobby Fischer] told me a secret of his training method he called "Peaking".
At 5pm every day he would do strenuous activity, sport, walk or exercise.  

He explained that he trained his body to peak at this hour so that when the tournament came, he would be primed for a game at this time. No wonder he always insisted on 5pm starting time for tournaments.
– Casto Abundo  

Physical exercise,
Top condition

I spend around one hour per day on physical exercise.
Exercise is a must for every chess player.
As the proverb says, 'A sound mind in a sound body'.
– Humpy Koneru   

Your body has to be in top condition.
Your Chess deteriorates as your body does.
You can't separate body from mind.
– Bobby Fischer  

When you train and coach others in chess   

When you become the trainer you think about things at a deeper level

than you do if you study them for yourself.
– Artur Yusupov 

A good trainer is important,   
But a coach can't do everything

A good trainer is important. You can achieve a lot alone - Bobby Fischer showed that - but a good trainer can help you study much more efficiently and help you develop social skills. 
Good teaching is not just a case of conveying knowledge, it's also a question of moulding a person. By having a good talk and posing critical questions, a good trainer can teach you to become more decisive for instance, or help you develop vision and self management. 
But a coach can't do everything. The most important is that pupils have a strong character, that they themselves want to achieve something and are prepared to devote the necessary time and energy to get there. 
– Artur Yusupov   

Develop talents,  

To achieve anything,  
Price to pay     

You could be a much better chess player than you are.
– Simon Webb, Chess for Tigers  

Everyone has talents, I'm convinced of that. The question is what those talents are and how best you can develop them. It's healthy to have ambitions, but you have to ask yourself what price you're prepared to pay to achieve them.  

To achieve anything, whether it's to play chess at the top level or gain your school diploma, you have to believe in your goal. You have to be focussed, to completely concentrate on your goal. That means you have to develop self discipline and create enough time to reach that goal.  

It's healthy to be ambitious. But you have to ask yourself what you want and how much of yourself you are prepared to give. You can study night after night, but if it costs you your family there has either to be a clear agreement on what's involved or you have to adjust your goal accordingly.
– Artur Yusupov  

Have respect for the people around you       

A disagreeable character is not a prerequisite to reach the world top. I believe you have to have respect for the people around you. To reach the top you have to be hard on yourself, not on others. But it's a dilemma; you have to expend a lot of time and energy on your ambitions if you want to get the absolute maximum out of yourself, but you also have to find a balance between those ambitions and your private life.
– Artur Yusupov   

Only winners and learners 

There are no losers in chess, only winners and learners. 
– James Liptrap

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About me

I played my first chess game in December 1977 and was lucky to hold draw. I continued to play chess and joined a chess club in September 1978. I'm still enjoying playing chess. I like to do many other things than playing chess. Long walks, some jogging, cycling, reading books, listen to music, watch movies, writing and much more. Life is fun!