Just because I'm never going to be world champion (or national or county or club champion) doesn't mean I don't have ideas. And if you insist on visiting my site, welcome though you are, you must expect that you may have some of my ideas inflicted on you.
So general advice on what to read and study for the benefit of your chess.
- At least one book on endgames
- Sooner or later some of your games will reach endgames even if your style is to throw the kitchen sink at your opponents king. It is clearly useful to know how to win won endgames, and how to draw those that should be drawn.
- Endgame knowledge gives you an extra threat to use against your opponent in the middle game, namely that of exchanging material to reach an endgame favourable to you.
- You will gain a better knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of individual pieces which you can use both in creating middle game combinations and in creating positional weaknesses in your opponents structure.
- At least one book on middle games. Ever been told to think more and more carefully, without knowing what you should be thinking about. This should give you something to stimulate your thought processes.
- Having tactics and combinations clearly demonstrated to you should make it easier to identify suitable opportunities when they arise in your games and design an appropriate move order to take advantage of them. Equally important, you will more readily spot the dastardly plans that you opponent has in store for you.
- Seeing standard kingside and queenside attacks and centre play will provide useful pointers as to how to make such plays in your own games.
- Game compilations can be both interesting and entertaining if well written. However such books do not have the room to spell out the full implications of every move, and significant considerations in the play may escape the reader.
Arguably you may get as much if not more benefit through studying your own games since
- they do contain positions of the sort you reach, since you did!
- you have a vested interest in tracking down all the what ifs since you will wish to know whether your overall plan was tenable. A good motivational factor which should increase your willingness to study.
- having played the game you are already aware of major decision points, particularly if you were able to have a postmortem with your opponent. Consequently you are better placed to see more deeply into possibilities.
- Oh yes there are books on openings as well.
Does the following conversation ring true?
- How many games do you lose?
How many do you lose in the opening?
Only a few.
- Yet often the second player in this conversation will be an avid reader of books on openings. It is as if they are searching for a more sophisticated version of scholars mate: a forced sequence of moves in the opening guaranteed to produce a decisive advantage. This is not to say that opening books have nothing to offer, they do:
- They can provide experience of the sorts of positions that arise from an opening. Do you feel comfortable in these positions? Then it may be sensible to add the opening to your repertoire.
They can give you confidence that certain lines are playable.
An understanding of gambit openings can help you become less materialistic and to identify more generally positions in which there is compensation for a material imbalance.
They can help you to avoid standard opening traps set by your opponent. Note the emphasis on avoiding an early demise rather than a desire to find a quick route to executing your opponent.
- My relative dislike for opening books is becauset I believe that a detailed knowledge of openings best follows rather than leads your overall chess develpopment.