July Workshop - Improve Your Play in Closed Positions


Learn from Fischer

To describe Fischer in a few words while comparing him with the other players I have written databases about: He was practical to a no lesser extent than Karpov, but more accurate than him (especially when analysing). His tactical skills were comparable to Tal's, but he did not incite fireworks for the sake of fireworks but chose the moves he found most promising to achieve the desired results. His style was no less universal than Kortschnoj's. At a superficial glance, he may seem less deep than Viktor L'vovich, but this may be an illusion provoked by the fact that his methods of using his understanding were more straightforward. Time has come to examine in some detail the multiple facets of Fischer's style. The database is divided into the following sections: Classical Strategy, Positional Attack, Flexible/Dynamic Strategy, Development/Initiative, Tactics/Calculation, Endgame Technique, Persistence in the Endgame, Grandiose Fights. The database also includes 20 test positions which are attached to the different sections.

Features:     Downloadable in PGN      Interactive tests


Learn from Stein

Leonid Stein won many international tournaments. Just to name a few: He was USSR champion three times (1963, 1965, 1966), the sole winner of the Moscow international tournament dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution (ahead of the current and three former world champions - two points ahead of second Vassily Smyslov, who came second), and two years later he tied for first place with Karpov - again ahead of the same four world champions. For a more in-depth biography on this exceptional player, who died far too young, I recommend Kasparov's Great Predecessors (volume 3), Gufeld's Master of Risk Strategy or even Stein's Wikipedia page. This database is about Stein's chess. It is a collection of games that he played - important ones, beautiful ones and instructive ones - and an attempt to understand what made him so dangerous for his contemporaries, including world champions. The current database is divided into the following sections: Master of Ruy Lopez for White, Bishop Pair, Positional Sacrifices, Attack.

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Learn from Karpov

In the introduction to the current database, Mihail Marin writes: "During the years I played over Karpov's games with his own comments, there are were a few things I discovered to be typical for his play. 1) An experienced trainer told me at that time that for Karpov, the "global piece cooperation" was essential. I would re-formulate this now as "harmony". His inner instinct (or native talent backed up by accumulated experience and knowledge) allowed him to maintain his position's harmony during the long strategic manoeuvring phases. Many times, this element alone was enough for a win, causing his play to seem effortless (and, at a superficial glance, even boring). 2) This is a continuation of the idea expressed above. Chess is a strategic, but also a concrete game. Karpov could not avoid (and he did not even try) to reach moments when his plan would clash with his opponent's. It was in such situations when it became clear that apart from a fine positional feel, he also had excellent calculating skills. With his army more harmoniously displayed than the enemy one, Karpov used to find the tactical (or attacking) solution to prove his advantage. Apart from the games examined in this database I also recommend the excellent examples Karpov-Spassky Moscow 1973 (used as a test in my attacking trilogy published earlier by Modern Chess) and Karpov-Topalov Linares 1994 (in the main database of the same article series). Sometimes tactics remained behind the scene, when they were having a strong influence over the strategic battle. This was the case in Karpov-Gligoric Leningrad interzonal 1973, from the same series of databases. 3) Karpov was also an expert in what we call domination. His pieces would occupy key squares, keeping the enemy army under control, restricting its activity or even paralysing it completely. It feels almost like he was playing alone, at least in some extreme cases. 4) For Karpov, the three main phases of the game (opening, middlegame, ending) were tightly connected. His endgame technique was dreaded by his opponents, but I will not focus on this particular aspect."

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Learn from Tal

Studying Tal’s attacking games will definitely induce a new dimension to your play, making it more enjoyable (for yourself first of all) and effective. I can testify for that based on my own experience. A few things one should focus on when examining his games 1) his unparalleled imagination 2) the ability to find resources in long lines far away from their beginning 3) train your calculating abilities by trying to find his lines and moves or, in other cases, refute his flawed but nonetheless difficult to deal with, combinations. 4) chess can be pure joy, and if we take it this way our results should also improve. The database is divided into the following sections: Tal's Magic, Tal's Philosophy, Development, King in the Centre, Attacking, Better Coordination, Hosting the Opponent, Domination, The Swan's Song. While each section includes extensively annotated games, most of them also contain test positions.

Features:     Downloadable in PGN      Interactive tests


Learn from Kortschnoj

In the preview to the current database, GM Mihail Marin writes: In this database, I have tried to illustrate several aspects of Kortschnoj's strategic understanding. There are several reasons why I have chosen the material from two main periods. The first period includes the years when the re-learning process had started and the following time. I believe that these must have been among the most inspiring years when his curiosity was wide open to what happens and may happen on the chessboard. The games from the other group were played when Kortschnoj was aged 70+ and 80. Most of his opponents from these games are top players or rising stars. This way I have advocated a surprising (and to many unacceptable) idea. If at such an advanced age, just half or less of the player he had been, he could still crush such strong opponent, what would have happened if he could have got his youth back before sitting to play with the modern elite? At the same time, I wanted to avoid as much as possible commenting games again that I had published elsewhere. This was not easy, as I have been writing a lot about Kortschnoj over the past decades. I have also left aside games I have already published for Modern Chess, even though some suited the purpose of this article very well. A good example is his win with black against Karpov using the Open Spanish. But the most painful omission is his win at the age of 80 against a 2700+ Caruana, which I have used more than once in my earlier materials. I have divided the material into three categories: Classical Strategy, Original Plans, and Critical Decisions

Features:     Downloadable in PGN      Interactive tests