By Chess Coach William Stewart
Studying and playing chess has led me to believe that a universal approach to the game consistently yields the best results. Teaching chess has reinforced that line of thought, as time and again I have been able to pinpoint and design an individualized chess lesson plan with the intention of comprehensively improving the student’s overall game.
Garry Kasparov explains in “How Life Imitates Chess”:
[quote] “… I’ve often wondered, where does our [chess] success come from? The answer is synthesis, the ability to combine creativity and calculation, art and science, into a whole that is much greater then the sum oaf its parts.”
For beginners, I like to recommend the Stonewall Attack as white (involving d4, e3, c3, f4, nf3, bd3, nbd2, 0-0, etc..). As black, I suggest the Stonewall Defense against d4 (reversed move order as Stonewall Attack) and the French Defense against e4 (involving e6, d5, c5, nc6, qb6, etc..) “The French Defense: A Complete Black Repertoire” by Vitiugov is a great book for beginners. I like to recommend these chess openings to my beginner students because they are solid and easier to learn. If your opponent is playing an uncommon opening, always remember these 5 opening principles:
- Control the center (specifically the e4, d4, e5, d5 squares.)
- Develop your pieces to actively create threats.
- Try not to move a piece twice.
- A knight on the rim is dim (developing towards the center greatly increases the mobility and scope of your pieces)
- Get your king safe (leaving your king in the center can dangerously expose you to tactics)
For more advanced players, I would recommend playing/studying a variety of openings to gain a well-rounded feel for different types of positions.
Best Books For Middlegame Strategy in Chess
For beginners, I would recommend the classic “My System” by Aron Nimzowich.
Intermediate players – “How to Reassess Your Chess” by Jeremy Silman and “Excelling at Chess” by Jacob Aagard. Alexander Kotov’s “Think Like a Grandmaster” and “Play like a Grandmaster” represent absolutely fantastic middlegame literature. Also, “Imagination in Chess” by Gaprindashvili is good for tactical and positional exercises.
Advanced players – Mark Dvoretsky’s “Analytical Manual” is extremely difficult, but certainly worth taking the time to work through.
“Fundamental Chess Endings” by Muller and Lemprecht is an extensive endgame manual that is excellent for beginners. For more advanced players, Mark Dvoretsky’s “Endgame Manual” is absolutely incredible.
“My very first book was a games collection of Anatoly Karpov. On the whole I was attracted by positional play with some tactics, and already then I was aiming for universality.”
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– GM Susan Polgar