A Collection of Chess Advices, Useful Chess Quotes (Part 1)

Only winners and learners 
There are no losers in chess,

only winners and learners.
– James Liptrap 
Chess is very much a team game. Get your pieces to work together.

Develop the pieces as quickly as possible to best possible squares for them. 

Help your pieces,
All that matters 

Help your pieces so they can help you. 
– Paul Morphy 

The pieces rely heavily on each other's help and cooperation,

so if one does not pull its weight it lets the whole side down.
– Michael Stean, Simple Chess

All that matters on the chessboard is good moves.

– Bobby Fischer

Self-confidence and strong nerves

Self-confidence and strong nerves are more important in chess than great ideas.

– Jan Hein Donner, The King  
I take it all: self-confidence, strong nerves, and great ideas.

– Torbjörn Björklund   

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
Not making any particularly bad moves    

…if someone does not make any particularly bad moves they should not get into trouble… 
– Nigel Davies, The Rules of Winning Chess  

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 
Good moves usually have at least two ideas,
Multi-Purpose chess moves = More than one idea behind a played move 

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

Often, two good habits fit together to produce a good move or plan.  

– Andrew Soltis, What It Takes to Become a Chess Master 

Logical move need not be obvious   

...we often think of an obvious move as a natural one, when in fact we should be looking for a logical move, which need not be obvious at all. 
– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now    

Often we consider a move to be natural just because it is obvious. What we should be looking for is a logical move, which may not be obvious at all. Beware of superficial thinking.   

A phrase like 'This natural move turns out to be the decisive mistake'
is a familiar one. What it generally means is that the hand took over the thought-process, and the hand tends to prefer obvious moves.   
– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now  

Examine each move,

Keep an 'open eye' for other moves   

Examine each move, however natural it may appear.  
– Rudolf Spielmann  

…in chess we are not obliged to recapture, and so we should always keep an 'open eye' for other moves. Automatic recaptures are sometimes not best. 
– Herman Grooten, Chess Strategy for Club Players

Masters want more  

As good as the move may appear, the master looks for a better one. 

That often makes the difference of a half-point, if not a full one. 
– Andrew Soltis, What It Takes to Become a Chess Master   

There often isn't just one right move   

…If you have to choose from several, equally worthy-looking moves,
do not delve into endless comparisons.
…in most situations there are several good ways…  
– Rudolf Spielmann   

In chess there often isn't just one right move. In one and the same position, Bobby Fischer might make one move while Garry Kasparov
might play something else.
Former world championship contender David Bronstein told a story about sitting around with ten other grandmasters watching a hotly contested game between two of their colleagues. For fun, the group decided to see
if they could guess the moves the players would make. Bronstein was stunned to see how many disagreements occurred. It made him realize that the search for the one right answer did not always work or maybe even matter. The point is that there could be multiple ways to approach an issue, and although these great chess minds often disagreed as to which method was best, that did not prevent them from winning their individual games.    
– Maurice Ashley, Chess for Success  

Pattern Banks / Pattern recognition,
Mastering typical positions

The Grandmaster looks at less in the position and sees more
because his/her huge pattern recognition. 

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. 
– Murray Chandler, How to Beat Your Dad at Chess

The bigger your pattern recognition, the higher your understanding
and feeling for where your pieces belong and where they need to go.  

To become a strong tournament player, you must indelibly carve into
your chess memory a certain limited number of essential positions and concepts. As similar situations arise in your own chess games, these memories stir and come to your conscious mind, alerting you to the best course of action.
...increasing levels of skill require an increasing number of essential positions and concepts. Experts have a greater storehouse than the average club player.  
– Lev Alburt, Chess Training Pocket Book  

Pattern recognition is the awareness of similarities between different positions. Masters are able to make deep calculations and instant evaluations, because stored in their brains are thousands of patterns
from which to draw precedents. 
Knowledge of these common mating patterns, combinational patterns, pawn structure patterns and endgame patterns comes from diligent study and playing experience.  
– Lev Alburt, Test and Improve Your Chess

'Pattern recognition' is THE WAY we know what to do in chess.  

It's hopeless trying to work out a plan from first principles or through calculating variations. 
You need to have seen historical precedents for the position you're in,
and then use these to guide you towards the right plan.    
If you've studied enough chess you'll often be able to recall a similar position in which a particular plan was the right way to proceed. The larger your knowledge of positions and plans, the more likely it is that you'll know what to do whatever happens during the game. 
Grandmasters tend to be very strong in this area because of their vast experience, both in playing and studying.   
– Nigel Davies, ChessCafe.com  

A collection of recurring themes and patterns is the fundamental building block of intuition.  

Well-armed players can often use these patterns to guide them through more unusual positions. 
Well-known position types contain a wealth of sub-patterns that greatly enhance one's understanding of these common positions.  

Patterns can be applied in different contexts. 
Be sure to weigh carefully how the elements of a known pattern are affected by the new environment.  

When a combinational finish exists, a known tactical theme will probably act like a lighthouse beacon. 
In complicated tactical situations, there may be many signals, and the challenge will be determining the correct one. 
– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now  

Techniques, principles and theory integrated into the unconscious, 


My whole life I had studied techniques, principles, and theory until they were integrated into the unconscious. 
– Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning 

To become really good at anything, you have to practise and repeat, practise and repeat, until the technique becomes intuitive. 
– Paulo Coelho, Aleph

A chess student must initially become immersed in the fundamentals in order to have any potential to reach a high level of skill. He or she will learn the principles of endgame, middlegame, and opening play. Initially one or two critical themes will be considered at once, but over time the intuition learns to integrate more and more principles into a sense of flow. Eventually the foundation is so deeply internalized that it is no longer consciously considered, but is lived. This process continuously cycles along as deeper layers of the art are soaked in. 
– Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning

Most people would be surprised to discover that if you compare the thought process of a Grandmaster to that of an expert (a much
weaker, but quite competent chess player), you will often find that the Grandmaster consciously looks at less, not more. That said, the chunks of information that have been put together in his mind allow him to see much more with much less conscious thought. So he is looking at very little and seeing quite a lot.   
– Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning

The Grandmaster looks at less and sees more, because his unconscious skill set is much more highly evolved. 
– Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning

Intuition is where it all comes together – our experience, knowledge and will.

…we cannot truly be said to have intuition in a field we have little practical knowledge of. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess

In my opinion, intuition is our most valuable compass in this world. It is the bridge between the unconscious and the conscious mind, and it is hugely important to keep in touch with what makes it tick.  
– Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning

Even the most honed intuition can't entirely do without accurate calculations.  
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess

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

Prophylactics (Prophylaxis),  
Prophylactic thinking

What would my opponent do if it were his move?  
– Daniel Naroditsky, Mastering Positional Chess

Prophylaxis can mean stopping a possible plan or a future threat by the opponent.  
– Daniel Naroditsky, Mastering Positional Chess

...prophylaxis, the art of inhibiting the opponent's active possibilities before they really arise. 

In a sense this is a kind of chessboard vaccination rather than attempting a cure once the disease has already developed. 
– Nigel Davies, The Power Chess Program: Book 2

Prophylaxis is completely different than defense. In defense, you're almost always trying to parry threats that are already present, while prophylaxis is all about rooting out the source of problems.  
– Daniel Naroditsky, Mastering Positional Chess

…I'm convinced that in order to master positional thinking,
one needs to first master prophylactic thinking.   
– Daniel Naroditsky, Mastering Positional Chess

Nothing will ever do more for your chess than understanding prophylactics. 
– Jacob Aagaard, Excelling At Chess   

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

Where does your pieces belong?
Constantly look for ways to improve your pieces,
Play for optimum coordination between your pieces,
Improve your position to its maximum,
Get squares

…all the pieces should be developed. 
– Aron Nimzowitsch, My System

…we should first set up a pawn center in order to protect
the development of our pieces.   
– Aron Nimzowitsch, My System

Strive to place your pieces where you want to,
instead of where you have to.

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

Always play to improve your position. 
– Jeremy Silman, The Amateur's Mind

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

Knowing your own plan isn't enough, you also have to know
what your opponent intends to do.   
– Jeremy Silman, The Amateur's Mind

Once you start a plan, make sure you finish it. 
Don't allow yourself to get sidetracked. 
– Jeremy Silman, The Amateur's Mind   

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

To get squares you gotta give squares. 
– Bobby Fischer

[Bobby] Fischer demonstrated why you have to give up control of
certain squares
in order to control others that are more important. 
– Andrew Soltis, What It Takes to Become a Chess Master

Don't hand over key squares to your opponent. 
– Jeremy Silman, The Amateur's Mind

...a master builds up a position, usually slowly, until it is overwhelming. 
– Andrew Soltis, What It Takes to Become a Chess Master

Can your threats achieve something concrete?

...threats in themselves are not an accomplishment; 
they must achieve something concrete. 
– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now

Only one weakness – almost never enough to win

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

In chess we have the 'principle of two weaknesses'. It's rare to be able
to win a game against a strong player with only a single point of attack. Instead of becoming fixated on one spot, we must exploit our pressure to provoke more weak spots. So a large part of using the initiative is mobility, flexibility and diversion. Building up all our armies to attack one spot can leave us as tied up as the defender.   
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess

You need to create another weakness, or, for example, create a passed pawn, which you will use as a decoy in order to distract your opponent's pieces. 
– Daniel Naroditsky, Mastering Positional Chess

Break the problem down into smaller fragments  

When faced with any problem too large to cope with as a single entity, common sense tell us to break it down into smaller fragments of manageable proportions. 
– Michael Stean, Simple Chess


Imbalances = Dynamic and static differences that exist
in every position.

List of imbalances: 
Minor pieces 

Pawn structure  



Files and squares 

Different imbalances:


1. Superior minor piece (the interplay between Bishops
and Knights).

2. Pawn structure (a broad subject that encompasses
doubled pawns, isolated pawns, etc).

3. Space (the annexation of territory on a chess board).

4. Material (owning pieces of greater value than the

5. Control of a key file or square (files and diagonals act as
pathways for your pieces, while squares act as homes). 

6. Lead in development (more force in a specific area of the

7. Initiative (dictating the tempo of a game). 

(Jeremy Silman)  
Look with fresh eyes,  

Play chess without prejudices,  

No room for bigotry   

…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

Play chess without prejudices. Then you have the greatest prospects
to play successful chess.  
– Torbjörn Björklund

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

Chess maxims (Established chess principles, phrases),  

Rules of thumb,  


…many chess maxims have become consigned to cliché status, or condensed to catchphrases.  

– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now   

…abstract rules and principles are of limited usefulness.  

– John Watson, Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy   

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

...the moment you teach a rule, you will immediately be confronted with its exception.  

– Herman Grooten, Chess Strategy for Club Players    

…mechanical application of chess rules would be disastrous.  

– John Watson, Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy 

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   


One of the most important projects for an improving player is advancing to the stage where one can judge when rule-breaking is justified.

A closer study of the reasons certain chess maxims came to be popular needs to be done. We need to explain some of our phrases better, and then examine how, when and why we can break sensible rules.  

– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now

…I would propose that all such rules of thumb gain more general relevance the later the stage of the game they refer to. So, the
opening 'rules' are the ones most often violated.  
– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now

Memorize opening variations, endgame techniques, combinations,
ideas, even whole games if you can, but not rules and dogma.  
– Mihai Suba, Dynamic Chess Strategy  

…any chess principles should be learned in a realistic context, with attendant ambiguities, and also with plenty of counter-examples.  

– John Watson, Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy

Experience and thoughtful study will provide you with a better and more delicate positional judgement than a set of rules ever could. Good players look at concrete sequences of moves and assess the resulting positions, not according to some artificial construct about which piece likes which kind of position, but in line with their own judgement, refined by years of thinking about similar positions.  

– John Watson, Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy

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 
Modern chess players, 
What chess has become today

…modern players will often neglect development for structure, allow backward pawns in the opening, move pawns in front of their king, attack the front of a pawnchain, and advance flank pawns when the central situation is unresolved.

On the other hand, they will just as often do the traditional thing (develop quickly, avoid backward pawns, keep kingside pawns on their original squares, etc.).

We found that bad bishops are often not bad at all, that knights can be strong on the edge of the board, and worst of all, that the knight-pair can be superior to the bishop-pair in either very closed, semi-closed, or wide-open positions!

You can successfully grab flank pawns in the opening with your queen when you're staggeringly behind in development; or you can do so and quickly be mated.

And so forth when it comes to exchange sacrifices, prophylaxis, etc.  
– John Watson, Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy

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 


Clear mind  

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

Attention is more important than concentration in chess. 

– Frank Marshall 

Play with a clear mind. 

– Internet  

Walk, but never talk 

Talking during a game… is one of the most destructive things someone can do to their concentration. 

– Nigel Davies, The Rules of Winning Chess 

…it helps to have an occasional walk between moves… let tension dissolve from the shoulders by allowing the arms to swing naturally. 

– Nigel Davies, The Rules of Winning Chess 


Ear plugs are another useful piece of equipment, especially for those who are sensitive to noise. Amongst Grandmasters, I know that Anatoly Vaiser and myself use them… 

– Nigel Davies, The Rules of Winning Chess 

Ear plugs also helped me to win my game against the Russian Grandmaster Yuri Razuvaev when I failed to hear his draw offer
and he blundered on his next move. 
– Nigel Davies, The Rules of Winning Chess  

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

…each position has its own answer. 

– Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess 

...you 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 

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 

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

This whole plan is very logical. You always play in accordance with the imbalances. 
If your opponent has a weak pawn you play to weaken it further and eventually win it. 

If he has a Knight, you play to take away all its advanced support points, thereby relegating it to the first few ranks and relative inactivity. 

If your only advantage is your opponent's bad Bishop, you play to make it consistently worse and your own consistently better. 

– Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess 

No reason to get nervous 

Relax and enjoy the game. There are no reason to get nervous – even if you are playing against the World Champion. 

– Torbjörn Björklund  

Play with courage 

Don't play with fear in your heart. If you play with courage, the worst thing that can happen to you is a loss. 

– Jeremy Silman, The Amateur's Mind  

Believe wholly in yourself  

In a sporting contest, there is no room for doubts. Either believe wholly in yourself and focus totally on the aim, or get out of the way and leave the path clear for others.  

– Yuri Averbakh, Centre-Stage and Behind the Scenes 

Focus on winning  

One of the worst things a player can do is to go into the game with
a negative, fearful attitude. 
It's much better for players to focus on winning, even if they are heavily out-rated. 
– Nigel Davies, The Rules of Winning Chess 

…a player should also focus on winning even if he only needs a draw. 

– Nigel Davies, The Rules of Winning Chess 

Never underestimate 

Never underestimate your opponents and their moves. 

– Alpha Teach Yourself Chess in 24 Hours 

Expect the best moves from your opponent 

Always expect your opponent to play the best move. 

– Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess 

Expect your opponent to see your threats. 

– Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess 

Why did your opponent play that move? 

Every time your opponent makes a move, you should stop and think: 

Why was that move chosen? 
Is a piece in danger?

Are there any other threats I should watch out for?

What sort of plan does my opponent have in mind?

Only by defending against your opponent's threats will you be able to
successfully carry out your own strategies. Once you figure out what your opponent is attempting to do, you can play to nip those plans in the bud.
– Arthur Bisguier, Ten Tips To Winning Chess 

See the game from your opponent's side of the board 

Sometimes you can notice more of your opponent's threats and other possibilities if you pretend to be him and see the game from his side of the board for a moment. Ask yourself the question "What's my opponent up to?" 

– Lev Alburt & Al Lawrence, Chess Training Pocket Book II 

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 

Daydream a little (What-if thinking), 

Don't settle automatically for routine solutions, 

Break your routines 

…Shirov moved his rook up the board, preparing to attack my queen on the next move. It was obvious that I had to get my queen out of the way and I sat looking at the few possible retreats. All the options would leave the position dynamically balanced, but I was disappointed there wasn't the opportunity for more. 

Before I resigned myself to the inevitable queen move I took a deep breath and took in the rest of the board. As with so many fantasy moves, this one started with a mental 'wouldn't it be nice if …' If you daydream a little about what you would like to see happen, sometimes you find that it is really possible. What if I ignored his threat to my queen? He would have extra material, but my pieces, while technically outgunned by his queen, would be very active and he'd be under pressure. 

So instead of picking up my queen, my hand lifted my king and moved it a single square towards the centre of the board. The paradox was satisfying, ignoring all the action and threats and playing an innocuous-looking move with the weakest piece on the board. Of course I was also sure that it was a strong move on its objective merits. Fantasy must be backed up by sober evaluation and calculation or you spend your life making beautiful blunders. 

…thinking back on the game now I credit the idea with an attitude of not settling for routine solutions. 

Too often we quickly discard apparently outlandish ideas and solutions, especially in areas where the known methods have been in place for a long time. 

– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

You won't find new ways of solving problems unless you look for new ways and have the nerve to try them when you find them. 

– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

Break your routines, even to the point of changing ones you are happy with, to see if you can find new and better methods. 

– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

Figure out what matters most in a position 

By figuring out what matters most, a master strips a position down
to its most important elements. 
– Andrew Soltis, What It Takes to Become a Chess Master 

…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, Chessville.com 

Jeremy Silman's thinking technique: 

1. Figure out the positive and negative imbalances for both sides. 

2. Figure out the side of the board you wish to play on. 

You can only play where a favorable imbalance or the
possibility of creating a favorable imbalance exists. 
3. Don't calculate! Instead, dream up various fantasy positions,
i.e., the positions you would most like to achieve. 
4. Once you find a fantasy position that makes you happy,
you must figure out if you can reach it. 
If you find that your choice was not possible to implement,
you must create another dream position that is easier to achieve. 
5. Only now do you look at the moves you wish to calculate
(called candidate moves). 
The candidate moves are all the moves that lead to our
dream position.

Another version of the thinking technique above with some changes: 

1. Figure out the positive and negative in white's and black's position
2. Figure out where on the board for you to play. 

3. Dream up the good positions for you. 

4. Then calculate how to achieve them. 

5. And when calculating, and your move order doesn't seem to work:
Change move order and see if the moves works better then to play. Surprisingly many times they do… 
– Torbjörn Björklund 

Sometimes you "feel in your bones" that you should have a
game-changing move, but you can't quite find it.  You may keep looking at an appealing line, perhaps a sacrifice or other forcing combination, but can't make it work. In such cases, try reversing the move order of the line you're thinking about. 
– Chess Training Pocket Book II (Lev Alburt, Al Lawrence) 

Analysing candidate moves 

How do you go about analysis? Do you follow the textbook method of identifying the candidate moves, analysing each one in turn, working through the sub-variations and arriving logically at the best move? 

My brain doesn't work like that. When analysing candidate move two I often come upon an idea which would have been relevant after candidate move one. So I prefer to go backwards and forwards between a number of lines, identifying ideas and eliminating inferior variations. Sometimes it emerges that one line is clearly better than the rest. Other times two alternatives seem about equal, and more detailed analysis is needed. 
Even then I tend to alternate between the two lines before convincing myself that one is superior. 
– Simon Webb, Chess for Tigers 

Calculation skills 

As with all skills, calculation and the imagination that guides it must be used regularly and pushed to their limits if they are to improve. Many chess players shy away from complex positions because they are unsure of their calculation skills. This becomes a destructive, self-perpetuating cycle. If we avoid concrete analysis, relying only on our instincts, those instincts will never be properly trained. It's good to follow our intuition, as long as we make sure we aren't avoiding the work that's required to know whether or not our judgement is correct. 

– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

Calculations, Analysis 

It doesn't matter how far ahead you see if you don't understand
what you are looking at. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess  

…people lose their way because, since they have not decided what they want to do with their position, they look at every possible variation. 

…true calculation cannot take place before you have decided what you are looking for. The reason is simple, calculation is aimed at reaching a result. 

– Jacob Aagaard, Excelling At Chess 

…the most successful players – at any speed – base their calculations firmly in strategic planning. 

– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

…the most effective analysis, and the fastest, is possible when there is
a guiding strategy. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

No matter how much practice you have and how much you trust your
gut instincts, analysis is essential. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

No matter how sure you are of your conclusions, you must back it up
with analysis. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

Candidate moves, Tree of analysis
(The decision tree) 

My experience guides me to select two or three candidate moves to
focus on. Usually one can be discarded relatively quickly as inferior, and often another comes into consideration to take its place. Then I begin to expand the tree one move at a time, looking at the likely responses and my answering moves. 

In a complicated game this tree of analysis usually stays within a depth
of four or five moves – that is, four of five moves for each player, or eight to ten total moves.  Unless there are special circumstances, such as a particularly dangerous position or a moment you evaluate to be a key one in the game, that's a safe, practical amount of calculation. 

The decision tree must be constantly pruned to be effective. Mental discipline is required to move from one variation to the next, discarding the less promising moves and following up the better ones. If you jump around too much you'll waste precious time and risk confusing yourself. You must also have a sense of when to stop. This can come either when you have reached a satisfactory conclusion – a path that is clearly the best, or essential – or when further analysis won't return enough value
for the time spent. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

Double-checking after every move 

After each actual move of the game, stop to recheck your analysis, no matter how confident you are of the calculations you've done earlier. Even the world's best players can benefit from this advice. Every time a move is made, it's an opportunity to see one move farther and a bit more clearly. So don't move automatically based on your prior analysis – always double-check! 

– Lev Alburt, Al Lawrence, Chess Training Pocket Book II 

Method for improving one's ability to calculate deeply and clearly:

* See the chessboard clearly without looking at a real chessboard.

* Analyse without a board.

* Calculate blindfold.

Blindfold practice 

…the powers of clarity and depth of calculation. Like any other muscle group, it can be exercised and its strength increased. …the most reliable method to do this is by directed blindfold practice. 

…Shirov, Ivanchuk and Svidler…often calculate variations by suddenly staring into space instead of at the board. …they have some built-in-belief that they can more clearly focus their visualization of critical variations by looking away from the board. 

– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now 

[Alexander] Beliavsky explained that between tournaments he tried to play through and analyse at least five games a day – blindfold. 

– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now 

Blindfold exercises 

1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e5 d4 4.Nce2 Ne4 5.c3 dxc3 What should White play? 

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.g3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2 Nb6 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.0-0 Be7 8.a3 0-0 9.b4 Be6 10.d3 a5 11.b5 Nd4 12.Rb1 f6 13.Nd2 Nd5 What happened now? 

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 dxe5 5.Nxe5 g6 6.Bc4 c6 7.Qf3 Be6 8.Nc3 Nd7 9.0-0 Bg7 10.Re1 0-0 11.Bd2 Nxe5 12.dxe5 What happened now? 

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.exd5 cxd5 9.0-0 0-0 10.Bg5 c6 11.Na4 h6 12.Bh4 Re8 13.c4 Bd6 14.cxd5 cxd5 15.Nc3 Be5 16.Nxd5 What happened now? What was the point of White's last move? 

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.h3 0-0 6.Be3 Na6 7.Bd3 e5
8.d5 Nh5 9.Nge2 f5 10.exf5 gxf5 11.g4 e4 12.gxh5 exd3 13.Qxd3 f4 14.Bd4 Nb4 15.Qd2 Bxd4 16.Nxd4 Qf6 17.0-0-0 Bd7 18.Ne4 Qe5 What happened now? 

Training to visualize and calculate blindfold 


Exercise your ability to visualize a position by bringing it into clear focus. Do this whenever you begin to lose the contours of the position you are trying to calculate. Concentrate on resetting those pieces that have moved since the original position. Take particular care with the pawn structure – this often remains fixed in the mind's eye. 

g for calculation

Certain moments of variations suggest themselves as places to concentrate one's focus. Positions just before a major bransch
help one to extend the depth of a calculation, and can be used as a home base when returning to investigate the next line.

Another key type of position occurs at the end of a calculation,
at which one may wish to have a more detached "look", prior to a final assessment. 

Visualization and calculation are separate processes, which are related
by the fact that they take place in the mind's eye. One does not calculate by stopping and visualizing every new position. One calculate normally (by seeking out sequences of likely moves and replies) and uses visualization to provide stepping stones to increase the distance travelled from the original position. Visualization is a static image, like a photograph. Calculation is dynamic, like the rapid succession of stills that make up a motion picture. 
– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now 

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 

Time trouble, 
Without confidence,

Being rusty 

When you must make a complicated decision in time trouble, don't start debating with yourself. This will inevitably lead to you hesitating and wasting all of your remaining time. Instead, use your intuition: ask yourself, "Which move just looks correct?" 

Of course this is a risky method, but it's better than sitting there until your time runs out. 

– Daniel Naroditsky, Mastering Positional Chess 

The culprit was letting myself get into such a time crunch. I hadn't been playing often and my rustiness had led to a lack of decisiveness, a lack of faith in my calculations. I had spent precious minutes double-checking things that I should have played quickly. The best plans and the most devious tactics can still fail without confidence. 

– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

Time pressure, 

Time pressure addicts, 


Perfectionism may occasionally be to blame, but more ignoble reasons
are more common. 

Perfectionism will not get you far as a player, unless you are one of
those rare creatures that can produce something close to the goods. Perfectionism is something to keep you motivated, but should be left behind at the workshop when it is time to play. 

Too much attention to detail will certainly bring you time-pressure, and probably turn you into a teacher or an accountant. There are worse fates, but you should be warned. 

The cause of chronic time-pressure can be revealed by an honest examination of one's own games. 

[Nikolai] Krogius outlines basic reasons [in his book Chess Psychology], and these are more or less self-explanatory. Besides the most common reason, a congenital weakness in making decisions, he lists: inadequate theoretical preparation, inadequate practical preparation (being 'rusty'), objective complexity of the position, and conscious entry into time pressure (a desperate but often rewarding psychological gambit). He
also goes on to detail different types of 'doubts', related to both to the situation on the board and in the player's psychological state. 
– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now 

Don't be a perfectionist 

In the past, many leading grandmasters were so fascinated by chess
that they couldn't resist the challenge of finding the very best move in a position, even if this meant spending up to an hour on a single move. Consequently they often ended up having to make their last 10 or 15 moves in less than a minute. This perfectionism is all very well in analysis or in correspondence chess, but it's a handicap in over-the-board play. 

It seems to me that players such as [Efim] Geller, [David] Bronstein, [Ulf] Andersson and [Jan] Smejkal achieved good results in spite of being perfectionists, not because of it. 

Their love of the game explained why they were perfectionists as well as why they were good players, but maybe they would have been even better players if they had been content to play reasonable moves instead of always striving for the best move. [Anatoly] Karpov and [Bent] Larsen, two of the most successful tournament players in the world, were known to be content with preserving their position by playing adequate moves,
in order to conserve their time and wait for their opponent to make a mistake. 

Nowadays leading grandmasters get a lot of practice at Quick Play, and this has helped them to use their time effectively at normal time limits too. [Viswanathan] Anand is an example of a player who is known for making adequate moves at a steady speed rather than aiming for perfection. This is a more practical approach, for more games are lost through mistakes than are won by brilliancies, and if you want to get
the best results you can, you would do well to follow his example. 
– Simon Webb, Chess for Tigers 

Common mistake after reaching the time control 

It is a common mistake to relax and play a careless move after reaching the time control… Particularly if you have the advantage, never hurry your first move after a time scramble. Take a few minutes to weigh up the position and then continue moving at a steady speed. If you are losing it's a different matter. Then it's best to play quickly in the hope that your opponent will do the same and your position will improve. 

– Simon Webb, Chess for Tigers 


...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 

Most tactical players have one main weakness: they aren't patient. 

In many cases, your position is better, but you can still improve it. The temptation to try to win the game immediately is very big, but learning
to parry all of your opponent's threats before cashing in is a skill that a strong player has to have.
José Raul Capablanca once said, "If you have a choice between winning
a queen in one move and mating in 10, take the queen." 
– Daniel Naroditsky, Mastering Positional Chess 

When your opponent is helpless, take your time
and make sure he doesn't generate any counterplay. 
– Jeremy Silman, The Amateur's Mind 

Be alert 

Always be alert. 

– Arthur Bisguier, Ten Tips To Winning Chess 

There is a tendency for people to relax once they have reached a good position or to give up hope if their position is very bad. These attitudes
are natural, but both lead to bad results. 
– Arthur Bisguier, Ten Tips To Winning Chess 

Many players – even world champions – have achieved winning positions, only to lose because they relaxed too soon. Even the best position won't win by itself; you have to give it some help! In almost any position, the "losing" player will still be able to make threats. The "winning" player has to be alert enough to prevent these positions. 

Advice: If you have a better position, watch out! One careless move could throw away your hard-won advantage. Even as you're carrying out your winning plans, you must watch out for your opponent's threats. 

Conversely, if you have a worse position, don't give up! Keep making strong moves, and try to complicate the position as much as possible. 

If your opponent slips, you may get the chance to make a comeback.

Remember: Where there's life, there's hope. So be alert all the time, no matter what the position is like. A little bit of extra care can pay off in a big way. 

– Arthur Bisguier, Ten Tips To Winning Chess 

Dreaming about victory in the game before it's over 

You can dream about victory in a game before the game has begun, but: 

Don't dream about victory in the game when it has started and is not
over yet. Wait until your opponent has resigned before dreaming about the game again… 

Too many games have been lost (at best ended with a draw) when a player in a good position started to dream about winning the game. 
The dreamer blundered away the victory in the 'Dreamland'… 
– Torbjörn Björklund 

Common errors and 'hallucinations' in chess games 

Isn't it strange how quickly we notice the truth after making our move? This shows how important it often is to regain some objective distance before moving. 

– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now 

Enthusiasm for the plan is so high that calculating is often done solely
for 'one's self', as though the opponent did not exist. 
– Nikolai Krogius, Chess Psychology 

Horrific blunders tend to occur due to a sudden loss of concentration, or because of a lack of distance (not seeing the wood for the trees, which could be a symptom of the opposite extreme, too much concentration). 
– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now 

…it is indeed possible to concentrate too much, and usually a little distance is both refreshing and healthy. 

– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now 

Just reading about what kind of errors recur can raise your awareness
and help avoid similar mistakes. 
– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now 

...it can help simply to know of the existence of such hazards. 

– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now 

Keep Your Head Up,

No thoughts or regrets of what you have missed 

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 

Never look back. It is very easy to start whipping oneself because of
a mistake. Don't think back to what could have been. This is a common waste of time and vital nervous energy. Live in the present, and fight for the future. 
– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now 

Playing bad positions, 

Defend well,

Opportunities may come your way 

Nobody ever saved a game by resigning. 

– Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess 

Never ever give up; even in completely losing positions,
look for moves that create the biggest practical difficulties for your opponent. 
– Daniel Naroditsky, Mastering Positional Chess 

Keep fighting – never relax. 

Create problems for your opponent. 

Identify your trumps and make the most of them. 

Simple things like aiming for centralization can automatically improve
your position. 

Try to seize the initiative, even if it costs some material. 

Complications improve the inferior side's chances as a general rule. 

Keep your forces as active as possible. 

On the other side of the coin: Though complications are undesirable when better, one should also be wary of becoming too conservative. One should not fear complications initiated out of the opponent's sheer desperation. 

Prolong resistance. 

Don't make things worse. 

Playing for cheap, risky tricks is a last resort. 

If you limit the damage and battle on, you will almost always get a chance to claw your way back into the game. 

If things are really beyond repair, however, you should have no qualms about playing for traps. 

Use your imagination. There are often hidden resources, or subtleties
that an overconfident opponent may miss. Keep looking. Stretch your imagination. 
– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now 

Other considerations when playing bad positions 

In general, the inferior side should avoid exchanges. 

King safety is a basic element in compensation. 

If your opponent has a superior position but a slightly exposed king, this will greatly hamper his ability to win. 

Just having a more secure king position can often provide compensation for a deficit elsewhere. 

– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now  

If you turn the tables, don't relax. 
After a successful escape, both sides can be psychologically vulnerable. 
Relaxing too soon after a fight-back is one natural reaction. This usually results in a quick return to misery.  
Other common psychological pitfalls: often one's opponent cannot adjust to not being better and crashes forward to defeat. 

Another standard reaction is going from lost to winning but agreeing a draw from general relief. Stay calm. 

– Jonathan Tisdall, Improve Your Chess Now 

Feel great  

You can feel great and play terribly.
– Stuart Conquest 


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 

Overcome the fear of losing. 
– Nigel Davies, The Rules of Winning Chess 

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

A good habit 

A good habit I've learned is to congratulate the opponent who has just beaten you, perhaps saying 'well played' even if he didn't play that well. 
– Nigel Davies 


Those who make excuses for their defeats will never even look for the true cause. 
This in turn will make it hard for them to eliminate any weaknesses in their game. 
– Nigel Davies, The Rules of Winning Chess 

Playing confident chess today also after a loss yesterday  

Garry Kasparov, World Chess Champion for nearly twenty years…had a different approach to his emotions.   
…after Kasparov had lost a big game and was feeling dark and fragile, my father asked Garry how he would handle his lack of confidence in the next game. Garry responded that he would try to play the chess moves that he would have played if he were feeling confident. He would pretend to feel confident, and hopefully trigger the state. 

Everyone in the chess world was afraid of Garry and he fed on that reality.
…if Garry was feeling bad, but puffed up his chest, made aggressive moves, and appeared to be the manifestation of Confidence itself,
then opponents would become unsettled. 

Step by step, Garry would feed off his own chess moves, off the created position, and off his opponent's building fear, until soon enough the confidence would become real and Garry would be in flow. Garry was not pretending. He was not being artificial. Garry was triggering his zone by playing Kasparov chess. 
– Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning 

Beginning each day observing your mood, 
Building a game plan around your mood 

The former World Chess Champion Tigran Petrosian… When he was playing long matches that lasted over the course of weeks or even months, he would begin each day by waking up and sitting quietly in his room for a period of introspection. His goal was to observe his mood down to the finest nuance. Was he feeling nostalgic, energetic, cautious, dreary, impassioned, inspired, confident, insecure? His next step was to build his game plan around his mood. 

If he was feeling cautious, quiet, not overwhelmingly confident, he tended to choose an opening that took fewer risks and led to a position that harmonized with his disposition. If feeling energized, aggressive, exceedingly confident, he would pick an opening that allowed him to express himself in a more creative vein. 

There were countless subtle variations of mood and of opening. Instead of imposing an artificial structure on his match strategy, Petrosian tried to be as true to himself as possible on a moment-to-moment basis. 
He believed that if his mood and the chess position were in synch, he would be most inclined to play with the greatest inspiration. 
– Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning 

When you are winning game after game 

Winning creates the illusion that everything is fine. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

Success is seldom analysed as closely as failure and we are always quick to attribute our victories to superiority, rather than circumstance. 
When things are going well it is even more important to question.
Over-confidence leads to mistakes, a feeling that anything is good enough. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

Our egos want to believe that we won brilliantly against tough opposition, not that we were lucky, that our opponent missed several chances, and that things could have been very different. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

We cannot wait for disaster to strike before making changes. 'Find and fix' has to be our mantra. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

Know yourself, 
Know your weaknesses and strengths 

One of the signs of great players is that they are highly objective about both weaknesses and strengths. 
– Nigel Davies, The Rules of Winning Chess 

Self-awareness is essential to being able to combine your knowledge, experience and talent to reach your peak performance. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

A key to developing successful strategies is to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, to know what you do well. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

You must be aware of your limitations and also of your best qualities. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

Looking in the mirror 

You can identify weaknesses in your opponent's play without too much trouble, but do you know your own weaknesses? Really? You're quite sure? Because a lof of players don't. 
– Simon Webb, Chess for Tigers 

Analyse your own playing style 

…the best method is to go through your own games, trying to keep an open mind, and see which games you won and why, and which games you lost and why. 

In every game you are faced with different problems and make different mistakes, but if you consider all your games together and draw up a few tables of your results from various types of positions, you may be surprised at the patterns which are revealed. 
– Simon Webb, Chess for Tigers 

Each player has his own playing style 

Each player has his own style, his own way of solving problems and making decisions. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

A World Champion must be able to play in different styles 

You do not become a world champion without being able to play
in different styles when necessary. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

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!