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One of the most important aspects of self-control during a game of chess is the ability to stay calm under pressure.

Imagine a situation when on move 30, in a highly complex position you have a few promising options at your disposal but you have only 10 minutes to reach move 40.

To make it worse, your opponent also has a few options against each of your promising options, so things can easily get out of control and you slowly start to feel overwhelmed.

Don’t panic!

It is easy to panic in such situations. It is not so much the depth of the variations that will scare you, it is the breadth – the Kotovian variation tree branches out so quickly that you cannot seem to be able to control it.

GM Colovic is the author of The Najdorf Sicilian: Simplified

This is the exact moment when the above-mentioned self-control should kick in. The first thing is to remember it under those conditions, as it is easy to lose yourself in the variations. Stop and step back. Realize that panic is taking over and calm yourself down.

Only a calm player can navigate complications successfully. The second step is to take each option one by one. Without panic, calmly start calculating each opponent’s option one by one.

Learn self-control – it’s important!

When you finish the first, go to the second. It is not that difficult once you’ve calmed down. If there are time constraints like time-trouble you may have to cut short some of your calculations and make preliminary evaluations, but that is still better than not looking at the variation at all.

As an example, I will show you a very simple position.


Rinaldo Bianchetti was an Italian endgame composer

White moves here in the finale of Bianchetti’s study from 1924.

At first sight, you may be overwhelmed by the emptiness of the board and the many options Black has after White attacks the rook by 1 Kg7. This fear of having too many options to deal with may even paralyze you and your mind may not want to continue forward. In a self-defense mechanism, the brain may just shut down.

This is a critical moment. First, you must become aware of it happening and then you must override that subconscious self-defending mechanism by consciously making your mind continue where you want it to.

The rewards for your increased awareness and self-control may be beyond your expectation. Take another look at the position above. Calmly check every single move the rook can make and you will see what I mean. As so often in life, the goal is the closest at the moment when we consider giving up.

A final note to the Douglas Adams fans out there. It may help if you imagine Don’t Panic in large friendly letters. It helped me.

The post Grandmaster tips: How to stay calm under pressure, by GM ALEX COLOVIC appeared first on Chessable Blog.

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Castling is one of those special rules where to be a strong player you don’t just need to know how to castle in chess, you need to master how to castle in chess!

Thankfully, castling is not too hard to get to grips with but once you know the basic rules there are a few pointers you need to be aware of.

In this quick guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about castling, answer all the questions that often crop up and give you some exciting examples of games where castling made the difference. And there’s even a quick puzzle to solve to check you’re paying attention.

What is castling in chess?

Castling is one of those special moves in chess that you need to know to play properly. It is the only time you get to move two pieces at the same time and each player is only allowed to castle once, under certain conditions.

The move is crucial, but it is also simple to learn. There are two types:

King-side castling – where the White king goes two spaces to his right, and on the other side of the board the Black king can go two spaces to his left. See this diagram with the kings moving along the red line and the rooks along the green line:

King-side castling

Queen-side castling – similar in that the king moves two spaces but this time the White king goes left and the Black king goes right. See here:

Queen-side castling

In both cases, the rook jumps over the king and settles next to him. One thing to remember is that if you want to castle you need to pick up the king first – not the rook. This is very important!

The final positions should look like this if White castled queen-side and Black castled king-side:

But in short, if someone asks you how to castle in chess just say it is when the king moves two spaces to his left or to his right and the rook jumps over him and ends up on the other side.

However, as always there are a number of conditions that must be met to make it a legal move or it won’t be allowed and your opponent will say “hang on a minute!” But we will get onto the nitty-gritty a bit later on and answer a few questions first.

Why castle in chess?

Castling is primarily all about getting your king safe because, usually, the move takes your most important piece out of the center of the board and tucks him away behind a wall of pawns.

Games are won and lost by players deciding if and when a player to castle. In fact, when it comes to beginners a very high proportion of games are lost simply because a novice player doesn’t get their king protected. So it pays to castle.

But beware, the timing is crucial – sometimes castling may actually put your king in danger. So, as with everything in chess, be careful.

It is for this reason that while beginners are often taught to castle as soon as they can, you often see experts put off castling until much further into the games.

Let me repeat the point: timing is crucial.

What does castling achieve in chess?

Castling does two things: 1. it creates a safe haven for your king (or should, if you do play it at the right time) and, 2. it develops your rook, bringing it out nearer to the center of the board where it can get into the game.

Castling, therefore, is a very nifty maneuver. But like every move in chess, you have to judge when the right time to play it is.

Here’s a good example of a classic game where castling at the right time was crucial. Scroll through it and see how powerful White’s castling proved:

[Event "Budapest"] [Site "Budapest AUH"] [Date "1896.10.17"] [EventDate "1896.10.04"] [Round "10"] [Result "1-0"] [White "Mikhail Chigorin"] [Black "Siegbert Tarrasch"] [ECO "C65"] [WhiteElo "?"] [BlackElo "?"] [PlyCount "88"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 d6 5. d4 exd4 6. e5 d3 7. cxd3 dxe5 8. Nxe5 Bb4+ 9. Bd2 O-O 10. Bxc6 Bxd2+ 11. Nxd2 bxc6 12. Nxc6 Qd6 13. Ne7+ Kh8 14. Nxc8 Raxc8 15. O-O Rfd8 16. Ne4 Qxd3 17. Qxd3 Rxd3 18. Nxf6 gxf6 19. Rfd1 Rcd8 20. Rxd3 Rxd3 21. g3 Rd2 22. Rc1 Rxb2 23. Rxc7 Rxa2 24. Rxf7 Ra6 25. Kg2 Kg8 26. Rb7 Ra2 27. h4 a6 28. Kf3 h5 29. Rc7 Ra5 30. Kf4 Kf8 31. f3 Kg8 32. Ra7 Kf8 33. g4 hxg4 34. fxg4 Ra1 35. Kf5 Rf1+ 36. Kg6 Rf4 37. g5 fxg5 38. hxg5 Ra4 39. Ra8+ Ke7 40. Kh6 a5 41. g6 Ra1 42. g7 Rh1+ 43. Kg6 Rg1+ 44. Kh7 Rh1+ { 45. Kg8 Ra1 46. Ra7+ Ke8 47. Ra6 Rh1 48. Rxa5 Re1 49. Rh5 Rg1 50. Re5+ Kd7 51. Kh7 } 1-0
A quick puzzle – what happens if Black castles here?

This puzzle is taken from GM Susan Polgar’s Learn Chess The Right Way series for beginners.

It is Black to move:

In order to be allowed to castle, neither the king nor the rook (on a8) could have moved at any time earlier in the game.

This rarely happens in a regular game as it is generally advisable to castle in the early part of the game. Black checkmates by castling queenside (king to c8 and rook jumps over it to d8).

Here is another example of a real-life game played in London, 1912, in which checkmate by castling could have occurred, but the winner decided to play Kd2 instead:

[Event "Casual game"] [Site "London ENG"] [Date "1912.10.29"] [EventDate "?"] [Round "?"] [Result "1-0"] [White "Edward Lasker"] [Black "George Alan Thomas"] [ECO "A40"] [WhiteElo "?"] [BlackElo "?"] [PlyCount "35"] 1. d4 e6 2. Nf3 f5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. Bxf6 Bxf6 6. e4 fxe4 7. Nxe4 b6 8. Ne5 O-O 9. Bd3 Bb7 10. Qh5 Qe7 11. Qxh7+ Kxh7 12. Nxf6+ Kh6 13. Neg4+ Kg5 14. h4+ Kf4 15. g3+ Kf3 16. Be2+ Kg2 17. Rh2+ Kg1 18. Kd2# 1-0
How to castle in chess – the rules

Remember what we said before about the king moving two spaces to the left or right and the rook jumping over? That is how you make the move on a basic level, but we also said there are a number of rules that apply to make it legal.

Castling can only happen if all of the following conditions are met in a game:

  1. The king has not previously moved;
  2. Your chosen rook has not previously moved;
  3. There must be no pieces between the king and the chosen rook;
  4. The king is not currently in check;
  5. Your king must not pass through a square that is under attack by enemy pieces;
  6. The king must not end up in check.

But the idea of castling – or not, as the case may be – should be on your mind right from the first move. Don’t wait for those conditions to arise out of the opening – work to make them happen if you want to castle. And most of the time you probably will.

Remember for most players at beginner/intermediate levels there are three basic aims you should be trying to achieve in the opening. They are:

  1. Occupy the center
  2. Develop your pieces
  3. Get your king safe/castle

So you can see that understanding castling and when to effect it should be a fundamental part of your training.

OK, I know how to castle in chess – but not when?

Now you know how to castle in chess, your king’s safety should always be on your mind. You should always consider castling if you want a safe king and are able to. However, there are points where it may be a bad idea.

One example of when castling may be a bad idea is if your king is already safe and it is a waste of time and put it off.

The reason for this is that at the start of the game, during the opening, developing your pieces is equally if not more important. It is hard for the opposition to directly threaten your king’s safety early on and if they don’t play any threatening moves then you may feel getting your pieces out and launching your own attack is more important.

In many ways, chess is like a race where you have to get your big guns out quickly if you want to hurt the opposition. Attack is sometimes the best form of defense.

The other consideration to make is whether, as we discussed before, you are putting your king in jeopardy. Opposite-side castling, that’s when one player castles king-side and the other goes queen-side, can often be a bit dodgy. Positions, where that has happened, tend to be very double-edged and benefit one player over the other. If that is you, then great, if not – be wary.

What is the code for castling on the king’s side in standard chess game notation?

A quick and easy answer here: 0-0 is the code for castling on the king’s side in standard chess game notation. And 0-0-0 is the code for castling on the queen’s side in standard chess notation.

When the castle comes crashing down! A famous game to enjoy

In this brilliant game from way back in 1862, the great Adolf Anderssen playing Black shows how to punish White for castling queen-side. White, played by Jakob Rosanes, failed to castle early and then got into trouble as Black’s pieces launched an attack.

On move 14 he castled queen-side (0-0-0 in chess notation) as a way to get his king safe and protect White’s double threat against the b2 pawn and the knight on g1. It didn’t help, scroll through this to see what happens:

[Event "Breslau"] [Site "Breslau"] [Date "1863.??.??"] [EventDate "?"] [Round "?"] [Result "0-1"] [White "Jakob Rosanes"] [Black "Adolf Anderssen"] [ECO "C39"] [WhiteElo "?"] [BlackElo "?"] [PlyCount "46"] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.h4 g4 5.Ne5 Nf6 6.Bc4 d5 7.exd5 Bd6 8.d4 Nh5 9.Bb5+ c6 10.dxc6 bxc6 11.Nxc6 Nxc6 12.Bxc6+ Kf8 13.Bxa8 Ng3 14.Rh2 Bf5 15.Bd5 Kg7 16.Nc3 Re8+ 17.Kf2 Qb6 18.Na4 Qa6 19.Nc3 Be5 20.a4 Qf1+ 21.Qxf1 Bxd4+ 22.Be3 Rxe3 23.Kg1 Re1# 0-1
Castling FAQs answered Is castling a good move in chess?

In the right circumstances, yes. Thankfully, those circumstances occur quite often so generally, it is a good move. But watch out! It can be a shocker!

Can you castle out of Checkmate?

No. Remember the golden rules above: you can’t castle through a line of check. Besides, it wouldn’t be checkmate if you could castle out of it, checkmate only occurs when it is the end of the game.

What is the advantage of castling in chess?

King-safety and developing your rook, which gets to pop out into the open and affect the game.

How many times castling can be done in chess?

Each side only gets to castle once in a game.

When was castling added to chess?

Castling was a relatively late addition to this 1,500-year-old game. It was only introduced around the 14th or 15th century and did not develop into its present form until the 17th century.

Can you Castle your queen?

No, don’t be silly. We haven’t mentioned the queen at all in this guide.

Can you castle if you have been in check?

If you have previously been in check, but are no longer, then yes.

What is the advantage of castling in chess?

Usually, it’s getting your king into a nice, safe cubby-hole and getting the rook out to attack.

How many times castling can be done in chess?

In total, twice – once each for Black and White.

Can you castle if Rook is under attack?

Yes, it’s only the king you have to worry about.

When was castling added to chess?

Same answer as above – in the 14th or 15th century.

Why is Castle called Rook?

It is believed to come from the Persian word “rukh”, meaning chariot. There are many theories as to how the present version was arrived at, but one possible explanation is that when the game was imported to Italy, the Persian rokh became the Italian word rocca, meaning fortress.

Can you castle through a knight?

Through a knight’s check? No. Over a knight? No.f

Can you castle on the queen side in chess?

Yes the king can castle both sides. See above for how.

The post How to castle in chess: Our guide to mastering this special rule appeared first on Chessable Blog.

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Being able to start playing chess online against another person after a couple of clicks has become a blessing that many of us take for granted nowadays.

Here I would like to discuss a few important aspects of playing chess online.
I will start with my own experience and the first thing I will say is that it is addictive.

In the early 00s, I was spending the springs on the Cote d’Azur in France. A friend of mine lived there and I was staying with him between tournaments or waiting to play for my club over the weekend.

GM Colovic’s QGD video-sync course

I wasn’t interested in tourism as I have seen most of the coast before, so there wasn’t much for me to do during the days (and nights). I started to play online.

I played a lot, and I mean a lot. Most of the days I would spend double-digit hours playing.

After a while, it became a problem. I didn’t want to move from the computer, neither to sleep or eat. Just endlessly clicking on the mouse and eager to start the next game.

Playing chess online: the pitfalls

If I won, I wanted to win more; if I lost, I wanted to get revenge. And the rating, of course, I wanted to get it to infinity. There was no stopping.

While there may have been some positive effects at the beginning, like practicing some openings and increasing tactical alertness, after a while, this became overshadowed by the negative effects.

The playing turned into clicking. A robotic finger movement with only minimal brain activity. I was no longer calculating lines, I played “on intuition”.

That’s what I was telling myself in order to justify the wasted time. It wasn’t intuition, it was me playing the first move I saw.

Intuition means you feel something, here there was no feeling. Just numb clicking. (In some cases this numbness can transfer to over-the-board play. Then it’s even worse. Fortunately, that didn’t happen to me.)

I was lucky that after some time I had to leave for a tournament, or visit the Melody Amber, which I always did in those days. This forced me to stop the harmful activity.

The itch was still there, but other things took precedence (game preparation, the actual playing, real people). When looking at it from a distance I realized that I was, in fact, wasting my time and not improving at chess at all.

Eventually, I stopped and I was surprised to find how easily I did it. Not all is bad with online chess, of course. So I figured what should be done if one wants to take maximum advantage out of it.

Discipline is the key

You must control yourself. Before starting an online session you must set the exact amount of time you will play and when the last game finishes you stop. No excuses. I would recommend a session no longer than one hour (and probably less).

Determine for what exactly you will use the online session. It can be for practicing openings (you can choose to play only with White or Black and practice your lines), quick calculation (keeping maximum concentration throughout the session without interruptions – consider it a high-intense exercise), endgame play (try to exchange queens and pieces as early as possible, sometimes even at the cost of worsening your position), a match with a known opponent and so on. Stick to your plan!

These two instructions can easily be overlooked if you decide to play online “just for fun.” Then you can easily forget yourself and the session will expand to fill all your available time. “Just one game” is never “one.” And the fun will quickly be gone if you start losing. As Benjamin Franklin wrote in “The Way to Wealth,” “It’s easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow.”

Don’t do it every day

If you are serious about improving at chess, online chess should be used sparingly. Once a week should be enough. If you are to improve you must study much more than play. And the playing should be over the board, not online.

I hope this advice helps. That is, if you needed it in the first place.

The post Grandmaster tips: Getting the most out of playing chess online appeared first on Chessable Blog.

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The idea behind KIS 1.e4 was born in June 2017, when I was coaching junior players at the German Youth Championships.

IM Christof Sielecki with his Book of the Year

Most of them play 1.e4, but I was not a 1.e4 player at the time and I didn’t know of a book that would help me in quickly preparing some lines.

So I figured I should write one myself.

That was the start of an amazing journey of many ‘firsts’.

It became the first Chessable release with video, then the first Chessableproduct to be turned into a traditional print book.

Now it has won its first award, showing that it is well received in the traditional book community as well.

The award was given to the print book, but for me it is also an award for the Chessable course.

The print book benefited so much form the feedback of Chessable users, pointing out initial omissions or suggesting improvements.

The Chessable community helped enormously to make it the well-rounded product that now received its first award.

To celebrate, we are offering a discount now…

Check it out here.

The post IM Christof Sielecki on Keep It Simple winning ChessPub Book of the Year appeared first on Chessable Blog.

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Normally when defending unfavourable positions we tend to calculate a lot. This is normal and necessary, as in this way we make sure we don’t lose by force.

However, often thinking in schemes can also help the defense.

By schemes, I mean understanding where the pieces should be, on which squares they will have the highest impact on the position.

Compared to calculation, this is more general thinking, more abstract. I would like to give an example of how thinking in schemes helped the defending side.

The position is from a game between two World Champions:

It looks like a long and arduous defence is in sight for Anand (Black), especially against such a technical monster like Carlsen. But in fact the position is an easy draw.

Anand understood where his pieces should be. The dark-squared bishop will occupy the long diagonal and the knight will drop back to d6.

The key piece is the knight – from d6 it controls the light squares, so it will need help from the pawns to control the dark squares (in case the dark-squared bishops are exchanged).

Hence, pawns on f6, e5 and b6, together with a knight on d6 build an impregnable fortress! White cannot approach it as all the squares are controlled. This is particularly striking if you take the dark-squared bishops off the board.

You can check the remaining of the game Carlsen-Anand from Dortmund 2007 to see how Carlsen couldn’t do anything. In fact, he ended up taking the knight on d6 and agreeing to a draw in a position with opposite-coloured bishops.

In conclusion:

When defending, first and foremost you should make sure you’re not losing by force. But then try to understand where your pieces will feel best. They will thank you for it with doing a good job.

The post Grandmaster Tips: A lesser-known defense appeared first on Chessable Blog.

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As some of our most dedicated students may know, 100 Endgames You Must Know was the very first print book “brought to life” by Chessable, back in July 2017.

It’s been almost two full years, and since then, over 2,500 of you have joined us on this amazing New In Chess course, including several strong masters like IM Kostya Kavutskiy and co-founder IM John Bartholomew himself.

That's why I've been drilling 100 Endgames You Must Know on chessable! Also, some players have shown they can play endgames at a high class just on the increment.

— Kostya Kavutskiy (@hellokostya) November 29, 2018

At Chessable, we all have a soft spot for 100 Endgames You Must Know, and this is why it is one of the first courses to be revamped so that it is making the most of features available in 2019.

The final test

We’ve reduced the number of “informational” read-only lines from 171 to 128, and in their stead, we’ve carefully gone through and curated 47 new puzzles that will test your endgame knowledge. That’s right; the Final Test chapter is now a proper test. This wasn’t possible back in 2017 but today it is, and we hope you all take full advantage of it.

A look inside the Final Test chapter with the brand-new solvable exercises.

One idea on how to use the final test is to take it all in one sitting, save your timings and accuracy. Then, after some more review, restart your progress in that single chapter and try again. Did you improve? You should! Check it out.

Oh and for good measure, some of you had told us the introductory chapter was sorely missed. It’s now part of the Chessable course, together with six introductory, trainable exercises, increasing the course’s instructional word count by a full 10,000 words!

As a final note, I just want to say thanks to all the students who support our work and make updates like this possible. We hope this is the first of many. There are a few other courses released during our “youth” that could be even better. But make no mistake, even the older version of the 100 Endgames course was rated 4.79 out of 5 stars by our students, can we start edging closer to a perfect five as we update the courses? Only time will tell! Enjoy.

PS.- Not a student yet? Find Jesus de la Villa Garcia’s 100 Endgames You Must Know by following this link.

The post Our most popular course, revamped: 100 Endgames You Must Know gets an update! appeared first on Chessable Blog.

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Back in September when we launched The Woodpecker Method, we were excited at the prospect of allowing you to study with the exact method recommended by GM Axel Smith and GM Hans Tikkanen.

However, it proved to be a slightly tricky feature with a lot of changes to the legacy code, which meant it would take just a tad longer than we anticipated. So we launched a stretch goal, if 1,000 of you signed up to study The Woodpecker Method, we’d bring the feature to life. And you guys did.

Fast-forward a few months and the feature is here; we are calling it, “Cyclical Review”. The best of all? Cyclical reviews are available to everyone, on any course, any time at no extra charge. You can now “woodpeck”, The Woodpecker Method course, or any course you wish. For instance, the new Tactics Time is proving a popular one, or perhaps the excellent Knights on the Attack (which is entirely free!).

Cyclical Review

To exemplify exactly how the feature works, I will add my comments along direct quotations of how The Woodpecker Method works (according to the authors).

Cycle 1: Solve as many exercises as you can manage in four weeks. These exercises are your set; and solving them brings you to the end of your first cycle.

The Woodpecker Method – GM Axel Smith & Hans Tikkannen, p26.

This bit is straightforward and has always been possible within Chessable. However, you had to keep track of your cycle end date manually. Now, you can set it within Chessable:

The new feature is under the “Schedule” option in your Course Options.

Once you’ve set your cycle end date, all your scheduled repetitions of the exercises you are solving will fall due on that date.

Once you get to your cycle end day the authors recommend you stop solving and take a short break; then you move on to Cycle 2.

Cycle 2: Solve the same set of exercises but faster: within two weeks is the target.

The Woodpecker Method – GM Axel Smith & Hans Tikkannen, p26.

Here is where Chessable will make your life easier. At this point after the end of your first cycle, your review button will turn green with all the exercises ready for review on your second cycle:

You can see at the end of my cycle I have 519 positions to review, this is because I only completed the easy section of the course and left the rest for later.

Once you click the green button and start your review session, this is now your second cycle. You can now commit to a second cycle end date by re-setting your cycle as described in the first image above. You could also wait to finish solving all your exercises before committing to a second cycle end date. It works both ways.

The authors then recommend that you repeat the above steps time and time again based on the following instructions:

Repeat steps 2 and 3, and repeat again. Aim to complete each cycle in half the number of days as the previous cycle (rounded up, when dealing with an odd number of days).

The Woodpecker Method – GM Axel Smith & Hans Tikkannen, p26.

By following the steps above within Chessable you can continue to solve in the manner recommended by the authors until you get to the last cycle, where the authors recommend that:

The Woodpecker Method has been completed when the full set of exercises has been solved entirely in one day – or after the 7th cycle, if you are unable to solve the full set in a day.

The Woodpecker Method – GM Axel Smith & Hans Tikkannen, p26.

You are free to set yourself a one day cycle, or if you are a bit short on time like me, keep your last cycle at a few days or a week. Either way, once you have repeated the Cyclical Review scheduling a few times, you will now have completed The Woodpecker Method as the authors initially recommended!

We hope you enjoy this new feature, which is released as a version 1 and is open to feedback on this forum thread. We do plan to develop it further depending on demand and resources, so please do let us know how you like it and what you think.

Bonus PRO feature: Custom Review Schedule

One of the most upvoted feature suggestions and one that topped our own wishlists was “user-defined spaced repetition“. With this new feature, we bring you exactly that. You can now define the spacing between each level of knowledge as you wish.

The flexibility offered by the manual edit of each level can even allow for smaller/longer maximum review times. Do you want to make sure that for a certain course you are seeing your exercises once per week? Can be done. For another course, you’d like to see them once a year? Can be done too. Here is a screenshot of how you’d set it inside a course:

The new feature is under the “Schedule” option in your Course Options. This one is PRO only.

Excited to try it out? We recommend you try out the new features on The Woodpecker Method course, or any course you wish. For instance, the new Tactics Time is proving a popular one, or perhaps the excellent Knights on the Attack (which is entirely FREE!). Enjoy!

The post Cyclical Review: The Woodpecker Method feature you can use on ANY tactics course + custom reps! appeared first on Chessable Blog.

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We originally sent this out as an email to our members, but then thought we may as well put it on our blog: it is our staff picks for our own personal favourite releases so far in 2019.

A bit like the recommendations you get in book stores.

We’re the guys who’ve worked hard on these courses and we know them inside out – find out which ones have piqued our interest and why.

So, here goes:

1. Jabe’s choice
The Fundamentals – Build Up Your Chess 1
Yusupov’s brilliant Build Up Your Chess

No surprise for me that someone went for this. Yusupov’s course is just great – and Jabe should know as he was deeply involved in adapting it for us. Here’s what he had to say: My pick is no other than Yusupov’s The Fundamentals: Build Up Your Chess 1. Aimed at players below 1500, the course attempts to give the student a rock-solid chess foundation using over 500 lessons on tactics, strategy, endgames, openings, positional play, and calculation. The variety ensures the student doesn’t get bored, while Yusupov’s selection of positions/exercises will make you a more well-rounded player.

2. Geert’s choice
Crush the London!

It was a close-run thing between this and the sharp Trompowsky course we released in January, but Logozar’s course edged it. Geert and I are both big fans of Logozar.My favorite so far is Crush the London! because I’ve really struggled to find a good way to play fun chess against the London set-up with Black and Logozar’s is the perfect ambitious and agressive approach to taking it down. Also, Logozar’s courses are just incredibly well done in the Chessable format. He IS truly the Mozart of Chessable.

William’s choice
Thematic Tactics: Endgame Checkmates

William didn’t read the brief and went for a course that was actually released last year, but he was so effusive I had to go with it. In fact, I had to cut his response down by about 70 per cent. Here is the nub:It’s more than just a collection of endgame tactics, the way the chapters are arranged by material you learn how to better coordinate your pieces too. The number of exercises and level of difficulty really makes it a fun course that you can complete in short amount of time – ideal for players of all levels.

As for me, my favourite course is easy: Mastering Pawn Endgames: Volume 1 by IM Ahmad Alkhatib, a guy I’d never heard of until I started learning his course. It’s really helped me nail my pawn endings and I can’t wait for IM Alkhatib’s second course to come (which it will soon).

That’s all folks.

The post Staff picks: What we recommend in 2019 and why appeared first on Chessable Blog.

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Today’s hectic lifestyle affects everything. Chess tournaments don’t go unscathed either.

In the past playing one game a day was something that went without saying, nowadays two (or sometimes even three!) games a day are considered normal.

While I distinctly dislike playing more than one game a day, I don’t really have a choice but to adapt.

Almost all open tournaments in Europe have at least one day where two games are played. The situation in the USA is far worse – there two games a day is a common occurrence.

The Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2019

Apart from the issue of having enough energy to play more than one game, perhaps the main problem is the lack of time for proper preparation.

The pairings come out half an hour before the game and then what do you do, how do you prepare?

In such extreme situations, one must be very efficient with the time he has. First and foremost, after scanning the possible openings the opponent may play, one must determine the probability of a certain opening happening on the board.

After that, the preparation is done only for the most probable opening. There is simply no time for anything else!

With limited time the need for shortcuts is obvious. This means less theory to memorise. Some openings are more prone to shortcuts than others and this needs to be taken into consideration when preparing a line.

I will now give a few examples for such shortcuts so that you get a better idea of what they mean and how they look like. Bear in mind that these may not be suitable for everybody’s tastes and repertoires.

Kramnik’s shortcut

Preparing against the King’s Indian and the Grunfeld Defence is a pain for many White players, but some time ago Kramnik introduced a very interesting concept how to circumvent both openings.

It is not said for no reason that Kramnik was by far the most profound theoretician of our time!

The line in question goes 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. b3. With the fianchetto of the bishop White prevents …e5 for the time being and then develops by e3, Be2, 0-0.

Then, according to circumstances, either c4, Nc3 or Nbd2. And that’s it, against whatever Black does! (For a more detailed overview of this line please take a look at my video below)

How To Prepare Against The King's Indian Defence In 10 Minutes - YouTube

Against Black’s symmetrical response after 1 d4 White can try to obtain a certain type of middlegame positions by playing 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 e3 and then fianchettoing the bishop on b2.

He can also play the same move-order against the Slav. This way of playing limits the necessity of extensive pre-game memorisation and if White had studied these setups he can confidently play them without preparation.

In the (semi)-open games it is more difficult to find shortcuts. One idea can be the Exchange Variation in the Caro-Kann, after 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd cxd 4. Bd3 White reaches a Carlsbad structure (with colours reversed) and even though some theoretical knowledge is necessary, the main principles of play remain the same. Striving for familiar structures is an efficient way to reduce the necessity for pre-game preparation.

It takes a bit of creativity to be able to come up with shortcuts like these, but I hope these ideas will inspire you to look for and create your own personal shortcuts!

The post Grandmaster tips: Preparing in minutes, by GM ALEX COLOVIC appeared first on Chessable Blog.

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