Giddins, 101 Chess Questions Answered


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Steve Giddins is an author acclaimed for his ability to write in down-to-earth style on fundamental chess topics. In this book he answers the questions that really matter to chess-players. His topics include many basic ideas, including some that have rarely been addressed so directly in chess literature, and thus are often misunderstood by club players. Where appropriate, the answers also address highly sophisticated concepts, providing insights gleaned from many years of experience and discussions with players and trainers of the highest level.

Subjects include: * Playing Chess in General * The Opening * Tactics and Combinations * Planning and Strategy * Positional Play * The Endgame * Competitive Play * Training and Computers *

Throughout, the ideas are backed up with examples from practical play and thought-provoking quotes from the great chess legends, thinkers and writers.

Steve Giddins is a FIDE Master from England who has frequently contributed to the British Chess Magazine and the ChessBase website. He has gained a reputation as a writer who provides useful, no-nonsense advice on topics of genuine practical importance, drawing especially upon his familiarity with Russian chess literature and training methods. This is his sixth book for Gambit.


Introduction 6

Symbols 6

Part 1: General

Question 1: Currently, I only play against friends and my computer. Should I join a club 7
Question 2: How should I go about finding and choosing a club 8
Question 3: Where can I play chess on the Internet 9
Question 4: What is the best place to get chess news and information 10
Question 5: How is national and international chess organized 11
Question 6: Who is the current world champion and who were his predecessors 12
Question 7: What is chess composition 14

Part 2: The Opening

Question 8: What should I be aiming to do in the opening 16
Question 9: Why is it bad to neglect the centre in the opening 17
Question 10: Why is it bad to make too many pawn moves in the opening 18
Question 11: Why shouldn t the queen be developed early on 19
Question 12: What are the main king s pawn openings 20
Question 13: What are the main queen s pawn openings 22
Question 14: How much do I need to know about the openings I play 24
Question 15: Should I specialize in one or two openings, or develop a broad repertoire 25
Question 16: How should I go about choosing which openings to play 26
Question 17: What is the best way to introduce a new opening into my repertoire 28
Question 18: How can I keep my opening knowledge up to date 29
Question 19: Will playing offbeat lines and gambits give me more chances of winning quickly 30
Question 20: Aren t there some masters who play crazy, offbeat openings 32

Part 3: Tactics and Combinations

Question 21: What are the most important tactical themes 34
Question 22: OK, that is a pin. So what is a fork 36
Question 23: So what is the third device you mentioned, a skewer 37
Question 24: Are there other tactical devices, besides pins, forks and skewers 38
Question 25: What is the best way to improve my tactical skill 40
Question 26: How do you know if there is a tactical possibility available in the position 42
Question 27: How can I make my position less vulnerable to tactical strikes 43
Question 28: Are tactics important in the endgame 44
Question 29: What is a combination 45
Question 30: Are all combinations fully calculated 47
Question 31: Why would a player sacrifice material without being able to calculate a definite win 48
Question 32: Some players, such as Tal, were famous for making very speculative sacrifices. Why did they do this 49

Part 4: Planning and Strategy

Question 33: What sort of plans should I be trying to make 50
Question 34: How does one form a plan 51
Question 35: What if I can t see any plan 52
Question 36: How should I meet the opponent s plans 53
Question 37: How does the central pawn-structure affect the plan 55
Question 38: What happens if the central pawn-structure is blocked 56
Question 39: What is Hypermodern strategy 57
Question 40: What is the value of a pawn-majority 58
Question 41: What is a minority attack 59
Question 42: How does castling affect the choice of plan 60
Question 43: So what happens in positions where the players have castled on opposite sides 61
Question 44: Is there anything more to the strategy in opposite-castling positions 62

Part 5: Positional Play

Question 45: What is a positional advantage 63
Question 46: Which pawn-structures are weak 64
Question 47: Why exactly are weak pawns a disadvantage 65
Question 48: What is a space advantage, and why does it matter 66
Question 49: Which is better, bishop or knight 67
Question 50: So when are bishops better than knights 68
Question 51: What other weakness does the bishop have 69
Question 52: Why are two bishops so strong 70
Question 53: Are two bishops strong in the middlegame too 71
Question 54: How does a misplaced piece affect the position 72
Question 55: Are opposite-coloured bishops a drawish factor 73
Question 56: Which combinations of major and minor pieces work best 74
Question 57: Which minor piece works best with a rook 75
Question 58: When are pieces stronger than a queen 76
Question 59: Which is stronger, two pieces or a rook and pawn 77
Question 60: What are positional exchange sacrifices and when should I play them 78
Question 61: How does one judge exchanges of pieces of equal value 79
Question 62: Is there a golden rule about such exchanges 80
Question 63: What are the main principles of defence 81
Question 64: What are the typical plans in positions with an isolated queen s pawn (IQP) 82
Question 65: So what plan should the IQP holder adopt 83
Question 66: What are the two sides plans with hanging pawns 84
Question 67: So when are hanging pawns strong 85
Question 68: Can we see an example of the importance of open lines 86
Question 69: What other strategies are there 87

Part 6: The Endgame

Question 70: What are the most important endgame principles 88
Question 71: What is the opposition 89
Question 72: What other geometrical motifs appear in king and pawn endings 90
Question 73: What is zugzwang 91
Question 74: Which endings are most drawish 92
Question 75: So how does one win opposite-coloured bishop endings 93
Question 76: Which endings are the most important to know 94
Question 77: What are the most important rook ending positions 95
Question 78: What about more complicated rook endings 96
Question 79: Does the same rule apply to the defence 97
Question 80: What are the main principles of queen endings 98
Question 81: What is the role of pawns in the endgame 99
Question 82: What are the other principles of good endgame technique 100

Part 7: Competitive Play

Question 83: How does one deal with losses 102
Question 84: If I need to draw or win a particular game, what is the best approach 104
Question 85: How should I prepare for a tournament 105
Question 86: Should I vary my openings to catch out my opponent 106

Part 8: Training and Computers et al.

Question 87: What is the best way to train 107
Question 88: Where can I find good material for study 109
Question 89: How do I get to understand my strengths and weaknesses 110
Question 90: Is it worth buying a computer program 111
Question 91: Which program should I choose 112
Question 92: How can I use my computer to help me train 113
Question 93: What is the best game of chess ever played 114
Question 94: How has chess style changed over the years 116
Question 95: Is it true that there is no luck in chess 117
Question 96: Is there a link between chess and mathematics ability 118
Question 97: How did chess originate, and how similar are other variants of chess 119
Question 98: Can you recommend a small selection of the best chess books 121
Question 99: What is the current situation in the chess world 123
Question 100: Do computers mean the end of chess 124
Question 101: What is the future of chess 125

Index of Players 126

Index of Composers and Analysts 127

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