Tuesday, December 15, 2020

What to do after "The Queen's Gambit"?

As so many of my friends have been tempted into playing chess because of "The Queen's Gambit" on Netflix, here are some resources if you, or somebody you know, wants to improve. 

1) Read a book of annotated games. I think this is the best way to appreciate the beauty of the game, the clash of philosophies and strategic concepts, as well as the struggle of tactical scuffles. For me, it was reading about the 9th World Chess Champion, Tigran Petrosian, and his “python” style. He would gradually capture the whole board in his coils and crush the life out of an opponent who has been gradually reduced to helplessness. Bill Hartston, in his wonderful book The Kings of Chess, annotated game in which Petrosian crushed the life out of a future world champion, Boris Spassky. I was hooked reading this! In a similar vein, I also thoroughly enjoyed Neil McDonald’s Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking, as well as the recent offering by Zlatanovic, Fundamental Chess Strategy in 100 Games. The best authors bring games alive! (See also, Seirawan's Chess Duels), but I could list two dozen more. 

2) But I didn’t really start to “get” chess and truly understand the value of pieces and dynamics until I started solving chess puzzles. There are so many tactics books out there, but get one and patiently start working through them from start to finish, and you will almost certainly blow all your friends off the board! The calculation of variations (visualising the moves in your mind’s eye, with “I go there then he goes there”) can get addictive. And it is perhaps the most important skill to hone to improve. For example, check out The Ultimate Chess Puzzle Book as a kindle book, or even better on Chessable. There's Tacticmania, which I recommended to a friend who wanted to encourage a teenager, or one of Romain Edouard's many brilliant books. The site Forward Chess also has lots to offer on this front. 

3) Then there’s the opening and endgame. Once again, Chessable is second to none. Books by Christof Sielecki or Kamil Plichta are always to be recommended. No doubt one can overdo this, but if it’s fun, why not! Capablanca, the 3rd world champion, said that beginners should start with the endgame. And he knew a few things about chess. There are, once again, more than I can recommend in a Facebook update, but Silman’s Complete Endgame Course is excellent, as is 100 Endgames You Must Know (also on Chessable). 

Honestly, chess books have brought me so much joy, and I could write another 1000 words recommending a bunch. I have left out some of the very best, which makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. So perhaps I’ll recommend more in a video to save time...


Post a Comment

<< Home