Passed Pawn Chunks

June 26, 2011

A shoutout to the Dutch steps method, an excellent self-study course developed by Rob Brunia and Cor van Wijgerden. I’m currently working on the chapter “passed pawns” and thought — to learn as well as advertise — I’d share two chunks from the chapter so far:

Two passed pawns: interrupt one of two defenders.

Setting up a discovered promotion:

Respect for Material

June 13, 2011

Despite the tumbleweeds skittering across this blog, I’m still playing chess, and I believe I’m improving, too, even though it’s not necessarily reflected in my rating. In any case, lack of time, but also lack of chunks has kept me from updating regularly, but today I’ve come across a nifty little chart I’d like to share that I found in Lev Alburt’s Openings for Black, Explained. The chart grades well-known chessmasters on a scale ranging from “healthy disrespect for material” to “healthy respect for material”.

Quite nifty, I thought. And a sensible way of looking at the play styles, too. I believe I currently belong more to the “healthy disrespect for material” camp, but often find myself opening with every intention of sacrificing for the initiative, and then ending up retreating to defend loose pawns at the first sign of danger, or unable to cash in my activity for a concrete advantage.

So I think it’s time for a change. For the past couple of months, I’ve chosen open games and aggressive openings to hone my tactics and improve my grasp of initiative and counter-play. And I think I made enough progres to now try a more conservative opening choice, especially for Black. Alburt’s tome recommends the Accelerated Dragon against e4 and the Nimzo-Indian against d4, so I’ll have a shot at that and see how it goes. If anyone wants to share their own experiences with these openings, you’re cordially invited to share! By the way: I used to believe firmly in the credo that beginners and intermediate players shouldn’t spend too much time on the opening. However, I’ve recently heard GM Jan Gustafsson challenge this, and I’ve also heard from a fellow club player who crossed the 2000 mark within 4 years (and is still improving) that he almost exclusively studied openings. This is not to say that I’ll abandon other areas of study completely, but I might reconsider my priorities. (Not that I’ve got much time to study chess these days, anyway.)