Click here to look for "chess" with the Google search engine.   Hello friend!     ...............    Welcome to one of the best {private} chess sites around. (Recognized as such by several national chess federations and also "C.J.A." Site of The Year for 2004.)     ................     Check out my School of Tactics!!  ..........  Many improvements and NEW PAGES!!!!   (Be sure to check the T.L.A. in 'Chess Life' for the tournaments in your area.)  Thanks, and have a great day!!!

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   A reproduction of an old photograph of the participants of the tournament; Nottingham, 1936. (train_nott36.gif, 99 KB)


Right-click on this and save it to your PC, then you should be able to view it at a normal size. (This cross-table was generated by the program, ChessBase 9.0. / CT_nott-36.gif, 33 KB)

 

The group photo (and cross-table) of the participants of the  ... 
International Chess Tournament of  Nottingham, 1936
For many, many, many years, most chess historians have said this was ... 
THE  strongest chess tournament ever held!! [more on this subject] 


  Have you ever read my guide on  Amazon.com,  entitled:   
   "So you'd like to ... become a  Chess Master?"   

   Click  HERE   to go there now.   


 Click  HERE  to go to a page with training tips for chess parents.  

  Click  HERE  to see how you can help me keep this an open site.  
(One that ALL players can enjoy.) 

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  Click  HERE  to read about  ...   MY  SYSTEM.  


A COOL FEATURE!!  
My
chess course for  learning chess  for the  very first time.

*****

Click < HERE!and   go to my

"Chess Course  for  Beginners." 

*****

(You will simply be able to click on the link, and simply read and look at the graphics. 
You will be able to learn the game of chess
- for the very first time
the way I think it should be taught. It will only take approximately 30 minutes.)

(March 16th, 2001. - This course {for beginners} is roughly finished for now, although I may be continually refining it.)

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These web pages are  NOT  just for beginners. There are many links that you may find valuable, informative and interesting!!!

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There is also links to the pages that contain ALL the best info on on-line chess tutors, chess help, chess coaching, etc. A very valuable index.

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 Read  the very first unsolicited e-mail/testimonial that I felt was good enough to post! 


  A.J. 's Opening School ...  
  for the beginner, or players rated under 1600.  

  •    Click  HERE   to go to the  1st   page  of my   Opening School 

  •    Click  HERE   to go to the  2nd  page  of my   Opening School  

  •    Click  HERE   to go to the  3rd  page  of my   Opening School  

  •    Click  HERE   to go to the  4th  page  of my    Opening School 

  •    Click  HERE   to go to the  5th  page  of my    Opening School 

  •    Click  HERE   to go to the  6th  page  of my    Opening School 


  Click  HERE  to go to my  'training'  page with  
 "Endgame Lessons and Challenges."  


In the  October, 2004  'Chess Life'  [In GM Larry Evan's column]  ...  there is a letter to the highly respected GM, asking the same question many amateurs ask:  "How do I get better? What should I study? What would a good training regimen be for me, in order to try to improve?"  

One {former} student called me the day that he got his chess magazine. He said: "It looks like Evan's read your  'Training Page,'  and simply reduced your 10 best tips down to just one paragraph!" (In his answer to this one person's question.) 

GM Larry Evans has been playing and teaching chess since before I was born. It is just as likely that he is (also) a very good chess coach, and we both have learned - though long, hard experience - what works and what doesn't. I did notice that he did not offer any ... {one} "magic bullet." Good advice!  


Are you looking to get better? Then keep checking this page. I have outlined (most of) my personal chess training program and Training Tips that are guaranteed to make you better!!! (I will continue to add to this page, as I see, read or remember things that might help.) Pick through these and I am sure you will find one (or two) that you like and will help you improve!! (Ask any of my students. You will find that these are the ideas and things that they PAY me to get!!)  

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A lot of the tips below, are actually many tips rolled into one.

Pay attention! You should probably write them down!!

(Or copy and paste them onto your computer.)

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(Do  not  give them out. This violates copyright laws. 
You may use these  ONLY  for your own personal use!!!  
You may however refer all your friends to this page!)
This will help me generate much needed traffic into my web site!


Commitment

Before you can even get started studying, the first thing you have to do is make a  real commitment to getting better. As part of my  sales background, (OVER 30 years experience! I am 45 now, and I started by selling magazines and stuff, door-to-door before I was 10!! When I was 14, I was one of the top door-to-door salespersons of encyclopedias in the State of Florida, a job I did mostly in the summer. I have also held just about every job in sales, from telemarketing, to selling for Amway, to selling everything from shoes, cars, and computers. I have been the Sales Manager of 3 different small computer companies here in Pensacola.);  

I have been to many seminars by professional motivators and sales experts. Names like Tony Robbins, {The friend of presidents and the guy who is always on TV.};  Zig Ziegler, Brian Tracy, etc.   All the top names in Sales!   [Also I have studied from many of the top motivators on TV.] (I have also bought the tapes and completed the training programs for many, many more programs like this.) Every single one of them share the same theme: IF you are really serious about a  goal,   IT MUST BE WRITTEN DOWN!!!   (If its not written down, then you are just kidding yourself.) So outline a REALISTIC schedule of the time that you can study, and then stick to it!!! Write it down on a big piece of poster-board, and hang it on the wall. Look at it daily.


After you have decided what and when you need to study, the next thing is to TRAIN ON A REGULAR BASIS. If you are really serious about getting better, nothing should come between you and your studies!!   

<< BE VERY SYSTEMATIC!! >>   

I personally feel it is better to study a little, (say 30 minutes a day); ON A REGULAR BASIS, ... ... ...  
 than to study ... say all day only ONCE A MONTH!!!!!  


The [only]  CORRECT WAY  to study a chess book!

Many people think studying a chess book can be done by reading and occasionally looking at the diagrams. Nothing could be further from the truth!

The only correct way to study a chess book requires  AT LEAST  one chess set.  And a good little analysis set on the side. Maybe a magnetic set to boot. 

Basically, to really get any real instruction from ANY chess book, you must set up the position and play through the example. (More than once.) NEVER (!)  (Even if you can play blindfold chess like me!!);  think you can follow a series of moves in your head. Set up your board and  play through  every example  and every single variation!

When I study, I often set up a chess board on my table. I have a little peg set off to one side, that I keep the current position on. And I also usually utilize one magnetic set. I play over every single move, line and variation. Often I will question a line, and spend a lot of time analyzing lines the author may not have even looked at. (As a Master, I have an obligation to try to find as many mistakes in analysis as I can. And on top of all this, if it is a very complicated game, I more often than not will have the position set up on at least one chess computer, analyzing the game and the variations.)

When I was a teen-ager, and studying Reinfeld's, "The Complete Chess-Player";  I would often go through one example in the book as many as 10-20 times, (!!!) especially if I felt I did not understand it. (Such as a difficult ending or very complicated middle-game position.) I would make sure I did NOT move on until I had mastered the position in front of me. I learned all the opening lines in the rear of the book. And I went through the illustrative games in the back of the book many, many, many times. Until I felt I VERY  thoroughly understood the ideas involved in these examples. (I probably had most of these games memorized.)

In addition to this, now with the onset of so many good chess-playing computer programs, you could set the position up on your computer. You could let the computer play defense. When you can CONSISTENTLY defeat the computer - with very best play - then you know you have truly mastered that particular position. I consider this last technique essential for just about any ending!! 

To give you an actual example of what I am talking about, let's say you are studying an [R+P] endgame/instruction book, and you are trying to learn,  "The Lucena Position."  You should break out your computer. Set up at least 5-6 different positions, with R+P and King (with the King on the eighth rank in front of the Pawn, and the Pawn on the 7th rank - ready to promote);  versus King and Rook. Make sure you can win these positions ALL of the time. If you cannot win all of the time, then you do not really understand the position and the technique, and you probably won't be able to win if you get this position in an actual game!! So study chess the correct way!! 


 # 1.)  Cool Training Tip, Number One. - 
My own personal recommendation is to solve 5-10 tactical problems  every single day!! 

[ Any tactics/problem book will do. I personally have all my students start with the two books by Reinfeld. "1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate," and "1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations." If you did five problems from each book daily, it would literally take you 200 days to systematically work your way through both books. ]

(Solve them IN YOUR HEAD, {on a chess board, or from a diagram}  without  moving the pieces. Its also very important to write down your answers and check them maybe once a week. I personally think this is best. Many students have reported that they greatly look forward to checking their answers, and get a tremendous boost when they have done well with their problems - getting a high percentage of correct answers.)

(I cannot stress enough the importance of writing down the answers. It helps you be honest with yourself. Its also like a teacher grading a paper. Every time you check your answers, you are grading yourself!)

(I personally did this for nearly three years, and I think it helped me  to get closer to the next level.)

( In approximately March of 2001, I saw an article in a psychology magazine. The subject of the article focused on a very long study {in the end, 11 years long} of language students. These students studied languages every day for many years. The final result was that, at the end of the study, many students who had originally been classified as poor or mediocre in language skills, actually wound up being re-classified as linguistically adept!! I believe this method actually works for chess-players also. My experience -- from my students whom I am 100% sure used this method every single day; some did it 2-3 times daily -- is that it takes a period of about a MINIMUM of six months to really affect the basic way your brain works. The students who actually stuck with this program for a long period of time saw a dramatic increase in their tactical vision. One student, {a Navy Candidate Pilot} who had been stuck at around a 1500 level for a very long time, {around at least 5 years} saw his rating jump to nearly 1900 in about 18 months time. We studied together at a minimum of once a week and he solved his problems usually twice a day for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. He reported a huge increase in the amount of tactics he saw after around 9 months of study. This is a study method that my students have proven - over and over again, many, many times - works! I personally  guarantee  this method will work as long as you use it in the proscribed manner. But you must use it in exactly the manner I have set forth here! No variance is allowed!!) 

  A review of this technique  (Feb. 2005)  

  1. You  MUST  solve problems on a daily basis!  
    (Taking one day off a week, for personal or religious convictions, is acceptable.) 

  2. You must study a minimum of 5-10 problems every single day. (However, the goal here is QUALITY ... not quantity!)

  3. You definitely should set up a chess board! 
    (Unless you play good blindfold chess, and car work directly from a diagram. I worked my way through several books in this fashion, I ALWAYS would set up the position on at least a magnetic pocket/diagram set.)

  4. You MUST analyze without moving the pieces!!! (Remember that you are in training for your next tournament!) 

  5. You must write down your answers ... BEFORE checking the solution. 
    (Recommendation: I feel that it is best to check your answers ONLY on a weekly basis.) 

  6. You definitely should do the same book - more than once! (I have done several books 3-5 times ... or more!!) 

  7. AFTER - you have solved the problem and reviewed the solution, you need to fix the basic mating pattern firmly in your head. Was it a back-rank mate? A mate on the diagonal? A Knight and a Queen working together?  This is the whole point of doing this exercise in the first place! 

If you do not know what the basic mating patterns are, please get a copy of the  book"Practical Middlegame Techniques,"  by  IM Danny Kopec.   [ more ] 


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# 2.) Cool Training Tip, Number Two. - 

One of the things you can do if you really want to improve is use the "Russian/Kotov Method." (This is an exercise that is guaranteed to make you better, but one that I have difficulty getting even Masters to do!) [Read, 'Think Like A GM,' by A. Kotov.]  

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Set up a position and study it. [A problem to solve.]  DON'T move the pieces. 
Give yourself a FIXED time limit to solve the position. [You decide how much. The more time the better!]

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 Time yourself with a timer or a chess clock!! 

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WRITE down your thoughts and analysis  ...  BEFORE you look at the book for the answer.

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DO THIS EXERCISE ON A REGULAR BASIS!!! 

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Sound easy? Yeah sure, that's what all my student's say. 

 But few do this one thing a planned, regular basis. And it is probably the single greatest improvement tool any SERIOUS player can use to improve.

EVERY TOP RUSSIAN GM has used this method at one time or the other. Shouldn't it be part of your regular training regimen?

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(Feb. 27, 2005)  I have already received one e-mail - the reader said that tips number one and number two are identical, that there is no real difference between the two. And while I readily admit they might seem fairly similar, they are VASTLY different ... especially to a trained chess coach. 

  1. The first tip is ALWAYS meant to be done privately, I encourage students to tip number two with a friend ... or even in a small group. (Although # 2 is an excellent exercise to be done alone.) 

  2. While it is NOT necessary to time yourself when doing tip #1, it is absolutely required in tip # 2! 

  3. One is about mastering basic tactics, the other is about learning advanced chess analysis.  

  4. In tip #1, you really want to solve problems like "mate in two" or "White to move and win." However, in this tip, it is good to simply set up ANY position, and simply analyze it as deeply as possible. An unclear position works best.  (June 12th, 2008.) For more on this procedure, please see the excellent book, "Think Like A Grand-Master," (find this book); by GM A. Kotov. 


# 3.) Cool Training Tip Number Three.  

- Another cool training tip? Play as often as you can against strong opposition. Too many people make the mistake of "toning [dumbing] the computer down,"  or handicapping the computer to where they can beat it. (Easily.)

Don't have a chess club in your area? No problem, play on one of many Internet chess servers. Or buy a strong computer program!  

***

Play the computer on as high a level as you can get it. 

You should only beat it around 25% of the time. 

When you beat it more than that, its time to move up a level! It also helps to play as much slow chess as possible. (Try NOT to play too much speed chess.) Write down ALL the games you play at a slower speed. Study them to see where you went wrong.

***

(A GM once told me they were ... 3 ways to get better.  Two of those were playing strong opponents and writing down your games!! [And then studying them!!] (The other tip is to analyze good Master/GM games DEEPLY.)

Only this way can you study your mistakes and figure out what you are doing RIGHT and what you are doing WRONG!) 


# 4.) Cool Training Tip, Number Four. 

This one is just plain common sense. Find a partner as near your playing strength as possible, (preferably a bit stronger than you); and then play and study with that person on a regular basis!!!

Virtually every Master I have known has had a buddy or blitz partner that helped him develop. 

***

(I have had many over the years! Bruce Anderson, Bruce Foster, Scott Pfeiffer, Phil Snyder, Rick Frye, Moshe Khatena, etc. [The list is nearly endless.] By the way, my personal thanks to all of these people. It is quite possible I would have never made Master, [or gotten better]; without the help, training, and friendship of all these good people.)


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# 5.)  Cool Training Tip, Number Five.  

Master one opening for White, and one defense for Black. 

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Learn them better than anyone else in your area. This alone should be good for dozens of points in tournaments. Again, another common sense idea. Too many players try to play a dozen different lines. This works OK ... if you are a professional player like Kamsky or Anand. However, most of us do NOT have the time to try and learn that many opening lines. 

I used to study openings with many partners. At one time I used to study a lot with my friend, FIDE-rated Master, Moshe Khatena. We would go over every line and every note in ECO on a line. 

(Say the Queen's Indian Defense. I remember studying this opening with Moshe when I lived on 2900 LongLeaf Drive. (In Pensacola, FL.) We went through a whole book on it, all the lines and notes on the Q.I.D. and even we would take a special interest in a position and take it home to study and work on it further. I was very impressed by Moshe's eagerness and his desire to be methodical. I remember spending an entire afternoon on just one ECO sub-note!!)  

--->  I also believe that BEFORE you begin your study of an opening, you should study (maybe memorize) around 10-20 traps in that opening. ONLY in this way will you really get a handle on the basic ideas of the particular opening that you are trying to learn. (Thursday; June 12th, 2008.) 

Then Moshe and I ... would play that line  [only]  in speed chess ... from both the White and Black side of the board!!! 
(This is how Moshe and I would end up our afternoon study sessions ... described just above, in this tip.)
 

This is the ONLY way to REALLY learn an opening!!


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# 6.) Cool Training Tip, Number Six. - Develop a good personal library!! 

Most people seem to think this means going out and buying a hundred chess books. NOTHING could be further from the truth!! If you bought 5-10 chess books, and then studied the mess out of them for six months to a year, (OR MORE); then I guarantee you will get better. 

***

A good starting library would be Nunn's Chess Opening's; [or MCO] (for reference); The Ideas Behind The Chess Openings, (by Fine); 1 good book on your favorite opening, How to Reassess Your Chess, (by Silman); {Plus maybe you should read Fred Reinfeld's "The Complete Chess Player" first-  before Silman's book. Especially if you are a novice to the game.}; 3-4 problem books, one good book on the middlegame,  Seirawan's 'Winning Chess Endings,' and maybe one "fun" book. (You choose any chess book on any topic, as long as you can study it and learn from it. A good suggestion would be a collection of your favorite GM's best games.)

This library would easily get your through your first 2 - 5 years of tournament chess!!!!  

[I am NOT kidding. Many of my student's have 50 books on the shelf but ...  have carefully studied NONE of them.]


# 7.) Cool Training Tip, Number Seven. - Its not what you study so much as how you study. Be thorough, even systematic. 

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Rotate your studies through each phase of the game!!  

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DON'T move on until you feel you completely understand that the author is trying to tell you!! DON'T be afraid to go through one section repeatedly, if you did not pick it up the first time!! And if you are having great difficulty, get a teacher. A local player to help you. It does NOT have to be a Master! If you are a "C" player, you may learn much more quickly from an "A" player. YOUR TEACHER ONLY HAS TO BE SOMEONE WHO IS CLEARLY BETTER THAN YOU!!!!!!! (Maybe by only 1 or 2 rating classes!!) 


# 8.) Cool Training Tip, Number Eight.   -  Play in serious tournaments on a regular basis.  (Make a schedule!! Think it through, long drives kill your performance.)  

Most people play TOO LITTLE or  TOO MUCH!!  Leave yourself a couple of weeks in between tournaments to study your games. Make sure you subject your games to a very thorough analysis, preferably on a good computer program. 

Another tip? NO SPEED chess  the last few weeks before a tournament. So many players wreck a good game from, (only) "one quick move." 

   Kotov said, "The way you train is the way you will play."  

TRAIN TO WIN!!!!


# 9.) Cool Training Tip, Number Nine. - "To thine own self be true."    

If you are a tactical player, you should play lines that have a lot of tactics. 
If you are a positional player, then choose your lines accordingly. If you are a good endgame player, accent those lines where the Queen's, (and lots of other pieces!), are exchanged early!!

***

This does not mean that you will not and should not study opposites. In other words, the better you get, the more you will have to study. And if you are a positional player, you should be continually sharpening your tactics. And if you are solely a tactical player, then you should be constantly trying to improve your positional play!! But in tournaments, where it really counts, ... 
- - -  play to your strengths ...  NOT your weaknesses!!!


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# 10.) Cool Training Tip, Number Ten.  -  Track your progress!!  

Is this important?  You bet!  
Most of the top Russian Trainer's track their student's progress very carefully!!  

Why do you think a baseball manager wants to know if his #1 "Pinch-hitter" does better vs. righties or lefties? Vs. the fast ball or the curve ball? Vs. the slider or maybe a sinker? Because the more he knows about his player's Strength's and WEAKNESSES, the more likely he is to make an intelligent managerial decision. I.E., a WINNING decision!!! The same principle applies to you. Is your  "Jack-Rabbit Gambit"  losing more games than it is winning? Is that opening better for players OVER 1800, or maybe better for players UNDER 1800? How do you know? (I track my progress very carefully. Certain openings have their own notebook of graph's and charts and notes.) This is NOT my original idea, either. GM Andy Soltis wrote an excellent article about this same topic many years ago in the magazine, 'Chess Life.' 

Another training tip, but one that goes hand-in-glove with this one, is charting your opponents.  I have lost count of how many players say, "I play that guy virtually every tournament. He's in the cross-town club." (Get the general idea here? You have regular opponents too.) Make a record of the openings that he plays. Then instead of studying the [obscure] main lines of, say the "Hawker Variation," of the NoteBoom Gambit every weekend, (Which, by the way, you have  NEVER  played in an OTB - tournament game!);  - - -  study what good old John Smith plays and BEATS you with every time you get Black against him!!! Does that make sense to you? Make a notebook on him. Find out what variations he likes and KNOWS REAL WELL. (Then either learn them better than him, or stay away from them completely!! Just common sense!)  Does he study the endgame?  

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What part of his game does he consider himself the best at? The weakest at?

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DON'T KNOW?

***

ASK THE LOCAL MASTER OR EXPERT!!!  

***

HE CAN PROBABLY GIVE YOU A VERY ACCURATE PROFILE OF ... ... ... 
 (the openings and the play of) John Smith!!!


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# 11.) Cool Training Tip, Number Eleven. -  Get some chess software for your PC!!  

(Or buy a small chess-playing computer.)

(I have already talked about playing regularly against strong opposition in Tip # 3.) 

This is very important, and is point that is overlooked by dozens of chess coaches today. Go to www.amazon.com, and get "Chess Advantage." (The program, "Maurice Ashley Teaches Chess," is the finest chess-teaching vehicle anywhere, and I will personally guarantee it will raise your rating ... especially if you are 1400 or below!! You can also get this program from  The U.S. Chess Federation,  or from GreenBay CD's.  Or click HERE to go to the "Green Bay CD"  page to order the chess program,  This is very important, and is point that is overlooked by dozens of chess coaches today. Go to www.amazon.com, and get "Chess Advantage." (The program, "Maurice Ashley Teaches Chess," is the finest chess-teaching vehicle anywhere, and I will personally guarantee it will raise your rating ... especially if you are 1400 or below!! You can also get this program from  The U.S. Chess Federation,  or from GreenBay CD's.  Or click HERE to go to the "Green Bay CD"  page to order the chess program,  Chess Advantage.  You also get Chess- Master 4000, Combat Chess, & GM Chess Ultra when you get this 2 CD-ROM set.) Then go to  www.chessbase.com,  and get Fritz6 and/or  ChessBase 8.0!

If you really want to get better, do what I do - thoroughly annotate your games. (ESPECIALLY your tournament games!!!) While you are entering your games into the computer in ChessBase, run Fritz as an analysis engine. See how many tactics you missed!!! This tip alone is GUARANTEED  to raise your rating by AT LEAST 100 points!!!! 
No matter what your rating is today!!

Many players have access or already have a very powerful chess computer. But few (or NONE!!!) use this tremendous resource intelligently. Most will "dumb-down/handicap" the computer and then ...  show their friends a game they won. This is ludicrous and a HUGE waste of time. 

***

I recommend that you use the computer to do the following:

# 1.)  Play regular training games against the computer at FULL strength. 

# 2.)  Use the computer to analyze these games AND to analyze your tournament games! 
You will be surprised at the literally DOZENS of times you missed a tactic!!

# 3.)  I have not met a lower-rated player yet who does not have a  "Problem Line." 
(A line that is book, but they don't understand it or they lose consistently with it.) Yet I have met or heard of FEW players that will analyze this game on their computer. And when we do it together, inevitably they will find improvements or ideas they had not considered before. 

***
 This "self-discovery" method is one of the greatest teaching tools I know. 


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# 12.)  Cool Training Tip, Number Twelve.  -   
Pick a player you admire and would like to play like, and study his games!! 

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(I personally know of Several Masters, 
[actually many] who did this one thing!)

***

Model yourself after that player. Play what he plays.   Learn his {or her} openings.    
Go over his games AGAIN & AGAIN until you all but memorized his best games. 
This is a proven training technique that has worked for many players.


# 13.) Cool Training Tip, Number Thirteen.  -  Position Study. 

At least once a month, either by yourself or with some friends, take  one  position  and subject it to  hours  of serious analysis. It can be a position you have chosen out of a magazine, or even the end of a book line. (From an opening book like MCO.) You may want to write down some of the lines. 

>> Play both sides of this position against a friend!   Over and over again! << 

You should also check them (the lines you have devised), on the computer. Many GM's in their youth did this trick quite a bit!! Its a very worthwhile technique that can almost instantly broaden your understanding of a position; and chess in general. Your chess will definitely improve. Ask GM John Federowicz!! He used to do this quite a bit as a youth!!!! So did many other players!!! Ask around!


The next few tips are for very experienced players only.
(Say {ideally} above 1600 USCF and playing chess at least 3 years.)


# 14.) Cool Training Tip, Number Fourteen - Attack your weaknesses!!  

Have you been tracking your results and charting your progress, as I mentioned above? Well, by now you should be able to determine your weaknesses. Especially if you have been following this program for more than a year, and playing regular tournament chess.  

Do you lose a greater number of games with Black than White, especially in one variation? Are you losing a lot of close endings? Getting blown out in tactical battles? Well, by now you should have some idea where your weaknesses lie. 

 *** Now adapt your training program!! *** 

This can be tough. Maybe you have to give up a sharp variation you really like. Maybe you will have to study endgames really hard for a while. Find your weaknesses and repair them before your opponents notice them!!


# 15.)  Cool Training Tip Number Fifteen -   (New Lines) 

Learn a new opening! Stuck in a rut? Do the "Good Ole Boys" at the local tournaments have your number? Maybe then the best thing you can do is learn a new opening!

I have met dozens of players over the years who felt that a particular opening just was not getting the job done anymore. Either everyone had worked out a line against this opening, or best play seemed to be getting them only plausible positions. The answer may be to take on an entirely new opening line.

And you should learn the opening the right way. First get a good trap book and memorize AT LEAST a dozen traps in the line you are learning. Write down what makes these traps work and what are some of the common motifs in this opening. 

Then buy a good book on the opening.  Work your way through EVERY chapter! 

(Some of the best books I have seen for this type of study were called "Learning Opening X," or "How to Play Opening X.") These were basically very simple books, with just one or two variations in each line. This process could take weeks or even months.

Then you should get your general reference book down and work you way through at least the main columns.

After this you should start playing 2-3 training games a day at say 10 minutes per side in your opening. (With computers and the Internet, no one should ever say they can't get a game.) For this exercise its best if you set your computer on a level that is very compatible with your own. (Plus or minus 1-200 rating points.) The idea is NOT to get your brains beat out and shatter your confidence, but rather just get a good "feel" for the way this opening generally develops.

A week before the tournament, play through your "How To" book one more time. 
Now you are ready to try a brand new opening.

***

A word of advice.  There are two distinctly different approaches here. 

One, you can add a line that is very similar to your own. I.e. if you are already playing a double-QP opening, (say the Cambridge Springs' Defense vs. 1. d4); you could try to learn another closely related line. (Say the Tchigorin Variation. Or the Lasker's Defense.) 

Or the second approach is to learn something totally new. Like say going from the "T.M.B." (The Tartakower-Makogonov-Bondarevesky Variation), to the Modern Benoni. (This example would be especially difficult, as you are going from a symmetrical, classical, double-QP Opening, to an asymmetrical, Hyper-Modern type opening.)

A word of warning: Most players initially lose a lot of games when they first tackle a new opening. This is natural and is a transition period. If you give up before you get really comfortable with the opening, you will NEVER truly master an opening! My own yardstick is that it takes about TWO YEARS of tournament play, before you get really good with a line. Chin up! Don't quit!!


# 16.) Cool Training Tip, Number Sixteen -  MASTER  the  Endgames. 

(Do you want to see what it takes just to master just ONE position? Then click HERE.)

How long are you going to be only "half-way" competent at the endings? How long are you going to let those full and precious half-points slip away?

Come on, you  KNOW  what I am talking about! All those blown King and Pawn end-games. Those games with the Rook-and-Pawn endings that just got completely away from you. If only you had known the technique in that B+P ending!  Do I really need to go on  ..... ???

You have been playing in tournaments for a while now. You get good positions. 
Your tactics are pretty good. But things always seem to sort of slip through your fingers in the endgame!

The solution? Buy a bunch of books on the ending and then STUDY the mess out of them? Some recommendations? 

The BEST book, dollar for dollar is Reinfeld's, "The Complete Chess-Player."  (And of course, since you have visited my  "Best Books" Page,  you know that Silman's book, "How To Re-Assess Your Chess," is the finest instructional book ever written. So you already have that book and are in the process of learning it too.)  After you have studied the endings in that book, you should go out and study Yasser Seirawan's, "Winning Chess Endings." A book you could also get is Bruce Pandolfini's, "Pandolfini's Endgame Course." And when you get done with those, you could try to work your way through R. Fine's, "Basic Chess Endings." (A REALLY THICK book!!)  And then you could maybe graduate to the ECO series on the Endgames. All this would only take you a Minimum of FIVE (!!) years, (To really do it right.) so you had better get started!


# 17.)  Cool Training Tip, Number Seventeen - MASTER your openings!  

For any student trying to learn an opening, the following advice is a very good way 
to do it. What I suggest you do is: you should pick say 20 GM {decisive} games of 
your favorite variation.  Play over all 20 in a row, . ........................  
but alternate it with a game White won, then a game Black won.
 
 (This is one of my very own secret teaching techniques that I have not shared with very many people over the years.)   But it is an excellent technique, and will help you to master an opening better than any other method I have come across. (Try to pick out just ONE thing each game taught you or the one aspect that stands out for you for each game. It does not have to be an earth-shattering revelation, but just something that is significant to you.) 

You could get these games from virtually ANY on-line database, ChessBase  is probably your best source for on-line games.  They have one of the better collections, in terms of the number of games and weeding out errors. They also have the fewest doubles. 


# 18.)  Cool Training Tip, Number Eighteen MEMORIZE  a few GM games. 
            (Ideally, 10 to 25)   (December, 2002.)   

I was talking to a former student about a month ago. He reminded me of a lecture I gave in Atlanta many years ago. I challenged the group there to memorize 25 GM games. Three out of this group did ... today all three are Masters. 

A few years ago, I talked to one young man (from MS) who had been an Expert for two years. I challenged him to do this one thing. He did, and less than a year later he had his master's certificate. In fact - to be honest - I know of not one single person who has done this one thing ... and not broken into Master territory! While there is NO magic bullet .......... this one thing may come as close as any other I know of. Try it. Especially if you have been close to master level ... and nothing else has worked. (Maybe it works by making neurons connect in the brain?) 

(Post-script: In the very short amount of time that this has been posted, several things have happened. A fellow on  chess-dot-net  confirmed to me that several other Masters also advise you to try to memorize as many chess games as you can. And about 3 or 4 of my former students sent me e-mails. One is a Master today. And he remembers being stuck in a rut - he was an Expert for close to 3 years.  {Maybe more, he was in college too.}  I gave him 5 books to buy, put him on a chess training regimen, {see Tip #1}; and several other things as well. But the main thing he remembers was that I challenged him to memorize 50-to-100 GM games. {He never got beyond 35.}  But almost immediately, he went over Master!!) 

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This tip has generated MUCH interest, I cannot tell you how many comments, messages, phone calls and e-mails that this tip (alone) has generated. Dozens of people have written me and told me they have begun memorizing games. Below is a sample e-mail I received in  FEB. 2003:

< blank-blank@__.co.nz >  wrote: >  Hi there, 
Great chess web site you've created. I've just got a question about your training tip #18.
(memorizing GM games). 

You suggest memorizing 25 or so GM games. But which ones? Should I just pick 25 at random, or are some far more instructive than others? Would you consider updating your training page to have a list of games that you would recommend for memorizing? 

> > Thanks, and keep up the great work.  David  ______ 

 (And now my reply.)   

Sir:  

Thanks for taking the time to write. 

I would say make a detailed list. What are YOUR favorite games? (Do you like long games or short ones?) Who are  YOUR  favorite players?  Which openings are you trying to learn?  Who are you favorite players? etc. After you have written all this down, the 25 games you pick should become easier. It helps to if you give each game a  "theme."  (See Chernev's book on "The Most Instructive Games Of Chess Ever Played" for a few examples.)  Stuff like:  "Cool K-side attack."  Or, "A nice central break-through."  By now you should be getting the idea. It helps too if you try to give each move an idea. Just memorizing the moves without any attempt to understand the process defeats the entire purpose! 

Take care, and let me know how it goes.  A.J. 

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 July, 2004. 

In a message dated 7/23/2004,  11:01:34 AM -- Central Standard Time   
--->  Donald ______  <xxxxxxxx@whatever.com>  wrote: 

LIFE Master AJ,

I have a question on training tip #18, which is to memorize GM games. What is a GM game? 
Do both players have to be grandmasters, or is one player sufficient? 

Thanks in advance for your response, 
> Donald  

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Donald:

I would pick one where BOTH players are GM, although it can be fun to pick one where one player is a fish ... and it is a quick crush. If you try to learn from this type of game, it can be very beneficial. 

You should also pick games that are not too long, around 30 moves or so is ideal. 
(Really long games are not practical!) 

I would also (strongly) advise picking a game in a favorite opening line! This way you are helping your chess knowledge AND deepening your opening understanding as well!! 

Another idea is to annotate the game first - for just your self. It will hardly help to memorize a game that is nothing more than an abstract string of chess moves. Understanding the game - "he went here, because this was the threat, and he had to cover THAT square," - this will really make you a strong player quickly. 

Thanks for your time and also for writing.  - aj 


   This is the last tip that I will post on this page.     
 (New tips will go on a new page, see the top of this page.) 


Comingsoon.gif (46103 bytes)
(More training tips!!)

(Want the lowest guaranteed prices on Movies for your VCR, DVD, etc.? 
Check out the deals at http://www.pricescan.com.  

*******

AND if you are interested in movies, you definitely have to check out BlockBuster's web-site.
Go to http://www.blockbuster.com. This is an excellent site, and I spent nearly 45 minutes perusing this web-site. You can find your favorite movies, find games, rent movies on-line, etc. You can see what movies have won awards, get, "The Latest Scoop," go to the critic's corner, see out-takes from the latest releases, and much more! Click  HERE  to go there now!)


 Click  HERE  to go to my    "Chess Course for Beginners."  

 (Be sure to tell your friends about this. This was years in the making, and took six months of active work to finish.) 


Click  HERE  to go to my page for endgame training and lessons!
(Endgame Lessons and Challenges.)

(Just so you know, I plan on having dozens of pages like this in the future!)

***

 Page last updated:  Sunday, June 09th, 2008.   Last edit or save on: 05/06/2015 .  

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    Copyright (c) LM A.J. Goldsby I, 1985 - 2014.   

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