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Joe, Harry and Jay: in praise of a second pair of eyes

To improve, you need to become an expert, not about chess, but about your chess.  You need to know what there is to be good at, and what you are good at, and what you are not good at yet.

Practice helps.  Books, databases, analysis software and especially going over your own games also help.  I always type my games into a computer and I always wince to see what tactics I've missed.  I also enjoy some of the computer's suggestions about alternative moves: sometimes they're real crackers, even if there's nothing in it by way of winning a piece or pawn.

Openings for Correspondence Chess

James Drake, an occasional correspondent and freelance websoot prifreader, writes:
"I note your recommendation to play open openings when starting out to get more experience with tactics. I wonder if this applies to correspondence games. I've been playing them over the Internet the last few years and am at the stage where I get creamed by opponents who know long lines of the Sicilian or Ruy Lopez. Given that I've been somewhat influence by Purdy's recommended openings in Action Chess

Opening Books to help a solid Black player

Pete Henderson writes:
" My question to you is this; I have pretty much settled on the Colle system for my opening but cannot find a defense that I like playing. I am not trying to be a Grand Master or anything I just want to be a good solid player. I've been thinking about the Tarrasch and the Modern. The Modern from what I've read can be used for just about any White opening which I guess is what I would prefer (I'm not sure that is aggressive enough for me). The Tarrasch is just an answer to Queen Pawn openings; then I would have to learn a defense for

Playing White against odd Black defences after 1.e4 (2)

A4. Piece attacks vs. Pirc/Modern 1. e4 ...d6/...g6: 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Be3

The trouble with the Pirc is that Black will just lurk behind his pawns, and your pieces won't find much to attack. I play the Pirc/Modern as Black, and am always more impressed by systems which threaten to open lines with pawn breaks than any of the piece play lines. But that's not to say they aren't all dangerous; the player with a plan will always beat the player without one.

Chess with Attitude

by

Phil Adams

"Games like this [Penrose-Botvinnik] (and there were plenty in this tournament) impressed on me that 'wanting to win' was perhaps more important than 'playing good moves'."
-- KEENE, 'Becoming a Grandmaster'.
"At that age (ten), the odd piece here or there often makes little difference. Rather, ingenuity and the will to win may prove decisive."
-- ZAK, Improve your chess results.

1) Draw?

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