Advice for New Chess Players, Part 1: General Tips

No matter why you decided to pick up chess, Congratulations, and Welcome! I played my first chess tournaments in 1995-96. While I started teaching beginners as early as 1997 (when I was not much past 1000 USCF), I didn’t become a full-time chess teacher and coach until 2005 (I had surpassed 1800 by then). I’ve seen

Understanding the Caro-Kann Defense

The Best Book to Learn the Caro-Kann Defense Understanding the Caro-Kann Defense was published way back in 1981. Amazon tells me I purchased it in March 2012, but I’ve only read it recently … and regret not doing so much sooner. I have read a lot of Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) books over the years, as I

Positional Chess Handbook: Strategy for All Levels

495 Chess Lessons in Your Pocket Positional Chess Handbook can be considered a strategy cousin to 1001 Chess Sacrifices and Combinations, the iconic puzzle book by Fred Reinfeld. Both are pocket-sized and ideal for studying on-the-go — but PCH is definitely the superior book. I recommend Positional Chess Handbook to players (and coaches!) of all

The First Master Game I Studied

A Special Birthday Today is the 65th birthday of the man who taught me how to play chess — my dad. One Saturday night when I was eight years old, my dad was cleaning out the hallway closet of our family’s apartment. I noticed a folded chess board, similar to this one. I knew it

Chess Tactics: Gashimov — Gelfand, 2009

Vugar Gashimov (1986-2014) was a top player from Azerbaijan who was dogged with ill health for much of his life. Despite this, he rose as high as World Number 6 in November 2009. Gashimov reached a peak rating of 2761 in January 2012, the same month as Wijk aan Zee. As it turned out, this

Which Sicilian is Right for You?

I don’t believe that the Sicilian is necessarily the “best” opening, or that everyone should play it. I do believe, however, that any player who wants to answer 1.e4 with 1…c5 can find a system to their liking.   Choosing Your Sicilian: Like Ordering from a Diner Menu! I discussed the Smith-Morra Gambit and other

The English Opening: Playing 1.c4

The English Opening or … I am by no means a specialist on openings in general, or the English Opening in particular, but I have opened with 1.c4, 1.d4, 1.e4, and 1.Nf3 in my tournament career. As many before me have said, 1.e4 is the most straightforward first move, and 1.d4 can be very direct

Should I Play Attacking Chess?

Studying tactics and checkmates is usually the first step for new chess players. Next comes classic. short attacking games: the miniatures. They’re exciting and more straightforward for inexperienced players than technical masterpieces. What is an Attacking Style? Sometimes, the position requires you to attack the enemy king. Even the most conservative players will launch an

Happy Birthday, Anatoly Karpov!

My Favorite Chess Player Anatoly Karpov was born May 23, 1951 in Zlatoust, Russia (then part of the USSR). Karpov first gained widespread international attention after winning the 1969 World Junior Championship with 10 points out of 11 in the final. He won the Moscow 1971 tournament (tied with Leonid Stein) ahead of World Champion

Attack with Mikhail Tal

Attack with Mikhail Tal was written by the former World Champion with sports journalist Iakov Damsky. Tal died in 1992, but Ken Neat’s English translation was first published in 1994 by Cadogan Books. Some players have a special aura in chess history. I would definitely include Paul Morphy, Jose Capablanca, Bobby Fischer, and yes, Mikhail