Our first match

Our First Match

Well, ouch! We lost four-nil, but I hope you thought that, however big and strong they were, they weren’t that much better than us, and they didn’t do anything very special to beat us. (Is that a good thing?)  But I was very pleased and proud with how well you played, how well you fought, and how well you concentrated.  It wouldn't have needed much luck for us to come away with 2-2.  They're just tall, that's all...

In the end, we fell

How do Chess-Players Think?

These are extracts from Simon Webb's superb series of articles for Barry Wood's old CHESS magazine. Simon showed a panel of players a position and recorded their spoken thoughts for ten minutes. The articles are well worth digging out: obviously there is much more in the articles than I can present here, but it will give you a flavour of the sorts of issues that can arise. The joy of this technique, of course, is that you can repeat the exercise with the same or different positions in your own club.

 The positions are presented twice, one without commentary

Swindle your way to success

or, "the hardest thing to win is a won game" (TARRASCH).

36. Ne1?
"Well, well. IM (and correspondence GM) Douglas Bryson once told me that he almost never plays a game that flows smmothly from start to finish; there is always a "moment" of sorts where someone misses a big defensive opportunity or the nature of the position changes more than one might reasonably expect. This was such a "moment"."
-- Jonathan Rowson British Chess Magazine October 1999 p.553
  1. Some general points

Meat and potatoes

Exeter Chess Club: Meat and potatoes - three phases of a tough game.

Peter Lane and Dave Regis


Dave thought this would be a good idea to do as a coaching session because:
  • we're often looking at master games, not club games
  • when we do look at a master game, we often play through it pretty quickly and often use it to illustrate only one chess point
  • when we see master annotations, they tend to give a reassuring and definitive judgement about a position, instead of a

Compensation for material?

Mostly, situations of material imbalance are fairly clear. Typically extra material wins: even with an otherwise level position, the extra firepower can make an attack pay, or make the opponent's defences overstretched.

  Occasionally, normal material values are overturned. This is most obvious in situations of sacrifice: the mutual possibilities of exchange sacrifices Rh1xNh5 and ...Rc7xNc3 in the Sicilian Dragon are well-known, if not always easy to judge. The sacrifices remove a key defender and open lines against the King.


Is there luck in chess?

From The Master Game, Book 2, Jeremy James and William Hartston (1981). London: BBC.
'Chess,' said the Dutch grandmaster, Jan Hein Donner, 'is as much a game of chance as blackjack; or tossing cards into a top hat.' There was a pained silence, then a polite babel of disagreement: it was a game of the utmost skill; a conflict between disciplined minds in which victory would inexorably go to the more perceptive, the more analytical player; a duel of the intellect in which luck played no part. Donner


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