Secrets of Positional Chess Training – 1
In this series of posts I will be discussing about the secrets of positional chess training and why you must care for it as much as tactics and endgames. For those of you who have not read my article – An excellent positional sacrifice, I strongly recommend you to read it before proceeding further.
How to increase positional chess knowledge?
if you are below 1600 FIDE rating, I would suggest focusing solely on tactics, tactics and tactics, and everything I’m about to say is not applicable until you’ve improved more.
So, if you’re over 1600, and mostly satisfied with your tactics, but too often you end up having no clue what to play next. Then what?
Now you need to know about about the imbalances in chess – how they affect your game, and how to take advantage of them by manipulating the factors.
This means learning about endgames, as having the favorable positional advantages will usually help converting into a favorable endgame.
This is a lengthy topic, far too large to explain in one article; fortunately, there are good books and resources out there. The best books for learning the basics of both of endgames and the middlegame are by Jeremy Silman.
- For chess imbalances, I would recommend How to Reassess Your Chess, 4th Edition (make sure you get the 4th edition – it is a lot better than the earlier editions).
- For endgames, check out Silman’s Complete Endgame Course. Both are very easy to read, and are geared towards players rated 1400 and higher.
Harvesting the positional weaknesses present in the opponent’s position requires deep strategic understanding.
What is Strategic Chess Understanding?
This strategic understanding comprises of two elements:
- Awareness of positional factors such as effective piece placements, quality of pawn structure and safety of the King
- Generation of ideas or plans to make use of these factors.
Foundation of positional chess training
Here, the first step is to build a base of understanding. That is where the part of a coach comes in and also a good criteria how a good coach can be identified. The base of understanding has to be built from the basics of endgames.
and then the meat of the middle game, which comprises of
Secrets of positional chess training – Combination of hard and smart work
When we talk of Chess dynamics, thematic attacks and configurations are what an aspiring player needs to be given.
I am referring to an aspiring player who has mastered the basic tactical motifs like pin, skewer, fork etc.
At this stage he is like a aspiring chef who has just learnt the magic of making a tasty recipe; his true test would come when he is able to juggle with the resources present in the refrigerator, that too with a sudden unexpected onset of guests to his home.
Here confidence also plays a vital role in bridging the gap between rote-knowledge and skill-knowledge. The trick here is to convert rote-knowledge into skill based on repetition and familiarity, by constant practical applications.
Merely knowing how to bake a cake doesn’t make one a good baker. Doing it properly when time demands makes one an expert; similarly in chess winning consistently and properly, makes one a GM.
In later articles I will be expanding on many techniques to accentuate this bridging of knowledge. So I request you to follow me on regular basis.
Pillars of positional chess training
The next step is to build familiarity by constant revision and repetition of information. This is the most hallowed part of chess training regimen.
It is here where many people stumble, fall or stop altogether. Some players skip this entire process due to wrong assumptions and false guidance. I cannot stress enough the importance of this revision process and there are many ways it can be done.
For example, take the case of tabiya’s, when we first learn a new plan of attacking the castled king or mating the the uncastled king we tend to look at a few model games. The trick is not only about remembering this plan but also being able to execute when favorable configurations arise on the board.
And doing so also requires a confidence which needs to be built slowly over time.
Ready for the test drive?
The final stage is executing a move taking into consideration the above discussed factors under test conditions such as time pressure situations or high-stake scenario. This is the true test of chess understanding.
Obviously, the initial routines are difficult and test our dedication. And this is what separates the masters from the amateurs.
⇒ Keeping yourself motivated – Separating the wood from the trees!
Part 2 of this article will discuss in detail the various aspects of Positional Chess and related glossary.
The Author Kish Kumar is a coach at Golden Chess Centre and is passionate about teaching Chess to beginners, intermediate level and advanced players.