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"The choice of opening, whether to aim for quiet or risky play, depends not only on the style of a player, but also on the mood in which he sits down at the board."


GM and former World Championship Candidate Efim Geller (1925-1998)


In his prime, Geller was one of the strongest players in the world and the book of his best games (annotated by him) can be warmly recommended.

"Write down the critical moments of the game, the things you saw during the game and what you think went wrong. Do this the same evening...

We learn much less from being given conclusions than we do from finding them ourselves. This is why it is so valuable to analyse your own games..."


GM and respected trainer Jacob Aagaard

“Playing for mate is never a good strategy against strong grandmasters.”


GM Kevin Spraggett

“Black insists on playing for the attack at all costs: a wrong policy where the number of pieces for the attack is inferior to the number of pieces for the defence.”


GM José Capablanca (1888-1942), World Chess Champion 1921-27.

“Really, chess is mainly about intuition instincts. So when you play classical chess, at least for me, my intuition usually tells me something. It gives me an idea of what I want to play. Then I’ll have plenty of time to verify that and to calculate it in different variations, to see if I’m right. In blitz, we don’t have that luxury. So [you] have to go with what your intuition tells you…”


World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen

“I must thank the East German chess players, who taught me to drink coffee in Leipzig during the games: a small thermos flask with coffee was put on each table for every player, and everyone could drink as much as they wanted. So, I found that when I drank coffee during games, I could go for the full five hours.”


GM Mikhail Botvinnik, interviewed shortly after his successful World Championship return match against Mikhail Tal in 1961

"1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 The strength of this move - paradoxically - is that it threatens nothing."


GM, author and journalist Savielly Tartakower (1887–1956), commenting on the Vienna opening.

"1. e4 Nc6 - a favourite of the late, inimitable, Anthony Miles. It should be at least as good as the Caro-Kann, in my slightly heterodox opinion. "


Former World Championship challenger GM Nigel Short

“I strongly recommend playing quick games to consolidate the opening information you are studying.  Of course, analysis should precede the games and supplementary analysis should follow.”


World-renowned author and trainer,

IM Mark Dvoretsky, 1947-2016

"If your opponent has no counterplay, then before changing the pattern of the game and starting decisive action, you should make all the even slightly useful moves that you can."


The late GM and world-class trainer Mark Dvoretsky (1947-2016).

"Form in chess is quite a mysterious thing. It comes and goes, apparently without rhyme or reason, leaving you a winner one month and a miserable loser the next. (...)

I think there are a number of simple practical steps that can be taken which probably contribute towards good form in chess.


The first thing is to make sure you've got a clear head, free from the cares of the world, and it's probably better to be getting a decent amount of sleep and not overdo it on the beer.


Former 3Cs 4NCL player and trainer GM Nigel Davies

"Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself."


Eleanor Roosevelt, US diplomat & reformer (1884 - 1962)

"Always write down the time spent during the game. This is a well known idea and should be followed strictly. Quite simply, when you write down the moves you also write your time, or the time of your opponent. I have found in my work with pupils that this will always reveal where mistakes are quite commonly placed during the course of the game."


GM and respected trainer Jacob Aagaard

“Try as often as possible to cast off the burden of variations calculated earlier and look at the position with fresh eyes. Such a method often gives excellent results."


IM, trainer and author Mark Dvoretsky (1947-2017)

"The turning point in my career came with the realization that Black should play to win instead of just steering for equality."


GM Robert "Bobby" Fischer (1943-2008), World Champion 1972-75

"I’ve learned that it’s not just about what you know, but about being able to apply the knowledge in games. (...)


One thing that came across to me over and over again is that players rarely make mistakes based on long variations. It’s usually something they missed early on.


Very often even strong players play the first move they think of without considering other, potentially stronger moves. Or they think they know what an opponent’s response will be, and don’t look a little longer to find another possible idea. Or they don’t recognize moments when tactics are happening, or have a sense of danger to suggest to them to think longer or calculate more deeply."


Author and coach GM Joel Benjamin

“The utility of the first five minutes thinking time is generally high. During that time you generally grasp the most important possibilities. Every further “unit of thought” brings ever decreasing utility and at some point the utility of the following unit of thought will even decrease. (…) You become exhausted and confused and cannot remember everything you previously calculated.”


GM and trainer Thomas Luther

“Long think = wrong think!”


GM and World Championship candidate Bent Larsen (1935-2010).

"The best endgame book is the one you actually read.


"Many well-intentioned hobbyists have a collection of endgame-themed shelf ornaments.  The thicker ones can find utility as doorstops, or if hollowed out can securely store valuables."


'Katar' at the CPub forum:

"You always win due to the mistakes of the guy sitting opposite. It’s simply not possible otherwise."


Trainer, author and former candidate for the world championship GM Artur Yusupov.

“Chess is all about making decisions. Postponing a decision doesn’t necessarily improve it. Try to get into the habit of asking yourself: is further though actually going to be beneficial?”


GM John Nunn

"I think it is very important for an inexperienced player to start by playing open positions (including gambits) because these openings greatly accelerate your tactical vision and understanding. To play a closed position well, you need to understand when to open the position in your favour. Closed positions almost always open up, but open positions don't become closed, so to be a strong chess player it's simply essential to be able to play open positions well."


Australian GM and coach Max Illingworth

"The trouble with chess is the opponent: if you know only "the ideas behind the openings", and he knows the ideas and  a lot of variations, he is likely to beat you."


Danish GM Bent Larsen (1935-2010), in his prime one of the most successful tournament players of his time.

“One doesn’t have to play well, it’s enough to play better than the opponent.”


Author and challenger for the world championship GM Siegbert Tarrasch (1862-1934)

"A knowledge of combination is the foundation of positional play. This is a rule which has stood its test in chess history and one which we cannot impress forcibly enough upon the young chess player. A beginner should avoid the Queen's Gambit and the French defence and play open games instead. While he may not win many games at first, he will in the long run be amply compensated by acquiring a thorough knowledge of the game."


GM Richard Réti (1889-1929)

"The three principles to follow in a "must-win" game:

1) play an unexpected opening;

2) keep the position as complex as possible by avoiding piece exchanges;

3) retain a flexible pawn structure, so as not to present the opponent with too easy a plan."


GM Joel Lautier

“If you have to choose from several, equally worthy-looking moves, do not delve into endless comparisons. Do not forget that in most situations there are several good ways, but you have to select only one of them, else it will be too late. Do not always search for objectively the best move — frequently there really is none such: in most cases it is a matter of taste —but simply look for a good move!”


GM Rudolf Spielmann (1883-1942)

“I think if any player wants to improve their chess, then it's a good idea to choose books that are hard enough that one needs to use a board.”


GM David Smerdon

“Of all the personal qualities which are important at the board, determination is probably the most significant.”


GM and author John Nunn

“A player’s task during the game is not to calculate variations as far as possible; the goal is to make an optimal decision.”


IM, trainer and author Mark Dvoretsky (1947-2017)

“In fast games it is often decisive to take your opponent into a position which you know much better.”


FM Helmut Froeyman

“Often it is useful to begin considering a position with the question: 'What does the opponent want; what would he play if it were him to move?”


IM, famous trainer and author Mark Dvoretsky (1947-2017)

“The power of the knight decreases as the pieces are exchanged off. The power of the rook, on the contrary, increases.”


José Capablanca, World Chess Champion 1921-27

"When playing with two bishops against bishop and knight, you must demonstrate the strength of the bishop that has no counterpart. "


The well-known Ukrainian chess coach Alexey Kosikov.

“Do not trust lines which are not based on practical examples. The more examples there are, and the higher the standard of the players, the more trust you can place in the line.”


GM and author John Nunn.

"Schemes that look advantageous from the viewpoint of the general laws of strategy sometimes meet with unexpected refutations based on the tactical peculiarities of the position.”


GM Efim Geller

“No matter how much one studies an opening, there is no substitute for experience. Every game we play adds a new layer to our understanding that only live, over-the-board games, can provide - even in lines we think we know very well.


GM Robert Hungaski

"Seek a queen trade when you are ahead in material or at risk of attack,or when the enemy queen is more active than yours."


Journalist and author GM Andrew Soltis

"Don't stop your calculations too early - when the position in your visualised line has 'settled' (no mate threats or pieces under attack), look one move deeper for a 'sting in the tail'. "


GM and trainer Max Illingworth

"It is dangerous to maintain equality at the cost of placing the pieces passively. "


Former World Champion  Anatoly Karpov

Do not trust lines which are not based on practical examples. The more examples there are, and the higher the standard of the players, the more trust you can place in the line."


GM John Nunn in his book 'Secrets of Practical Chess'

"Many players commit the mistake to go for cheap solutions in order to safe time. This sideline approach might take some opponents by surprise in the beginning, but in the long run it leads to dull (with White) or bad (with Black) positions, once the opponents start to prepare. Then, the player changes to the next cheap solution, and so on. In the end, he will have spent more time on his openings than the quality guy, with the difference that he is basically left empty handed, while the other one has forged a solid repertoire over time."


GM and trainer Matthias Wahls

"Just playing one opening can be rather limiting, boring even. To retain freshness and interest in chess you should try to play all sorts of different positions."


GM Daniel Gormally

"All chess masters have on occasion played  a magnificent game and then lost it by a stupid mistake, perhaps in time pressure."


GM Bent Larsen (1935-2010), one of the most successful tournament players of the late 1960s and early 1970s.


"One of the main things we should avoid doing is giving up good openings entirely for emotional reasons due to a bad result. Try as hard as possible to be objective and avoid openings ‘blaming’. By giving up the opening, we also let go of all of the experience we have accumulated in that opening, which we probably will not be able to apply in other openings."


IM and trainer Eric Kislik

"I'd recommend children who want to learn chess to study Smyslov's games. (...)  Smyslov was a brilliant endgame player, (...) He was a master of positional games, a much stronger positional player than his predecessors. (...) Smyslov was, more or less, the founder of the style that was later developed by Karpov: gradual increasing of positional pressure, based on calculating short variations with great precision."


GM Vladimir Kramnik, Classical World Chess Champion 2000-2006, undisputed World Chess Champion 2006-7.

"You may learn much more from a game you lose than from a game you win.  You will have to lose hundreds of games before becoming a good player."


José Capablanca, World Chess Champion 1921-27

"All chess players make mistakes. The key to improvement is how well you learn from them."


Australian GM and coach Max Illingworth

"If your position is objectively lost, the most important rule is 'keep the game going'. This doesn't mean that you should play on for a long time in a resignable position; it means 'do not allow your opponent a simple forced win'. The longer you can force your opponent to work, the greater the chance that he will eventually go wrong."


GM John Nunn in his book 'Secrets of Practical Chess'

"In positions where no other important matters need to be considered, one should identify one's worst-placed piece and bring it to a more active square."


GM and trainer Vladimir Makogonov (1904-1993)

"The worst enemy of the strategist is the clock. Time trouble...reduces us all to pure reflex and reaction, tactical play. Emotion and instinct cloud our strategic vision when there is no time for proper evaluation. "


Former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov

"The computer calls it equal but that will not save you if you don’t understand the position."


GM James Tarjan

Q: What in the most quick and effective way to increase one’s ELO rating studying individually (no coach involved), for chess players 1400–1800 ELO.


A: I recommend solving chess tactics and studies daily (from 30 minutes to 1 hour), and also analyzing the games of the world champions with their own annotations. I suggest focusing on games of players like Capablanca, Alekhine, Botvinnik and Smyslov. By sticking to this simple routine novice players can quickly improve.


Former World Junior Champion GM Alexander Ipatov, at

After a bad opening, there is hope for the middle game. After a bad middle game, there is hope for the endgame. But once you are in the endgame, the moment of truth has arrived."


The late GM Edmar Mednis (1937-2002), a good writer and an expert on the endgame, whose book Practical Endgame Lessons (1978) was highly praised by the great trainer Mark Dvoretsky.


“Of Chess it has been said that life is not long enough for it, but that is the fault of life, not Chess”


Anglo-American chess master William Napier (1881-1952)

"Good positions don't win games, good moves do."


The late Gerald Abrahams, English international, writer and barrister

"In practice minor differences of 0.1 or 0.2 of a pawn often don’t mean very much except at very high levels; in a sharp position, the player with the better knowledge of the position generally has good chances."


GM and author  John Nunn

"There is no such thing as a winning position unless it is accompanied by enough time on the clock for you to win it."’


FM and author and coach James Schuyler

"Tactics is a priority no matter if you are a positional player or not; you frequently have to calculate to win the game."


GM Judith Polgar, peak rating 2735, 8th in the world rankings in 2005.

"The problem I had to acknowledge was the stagnation of my development. I was simply going nowhere. It's not that I lacked experience - I was 28 years old then, and I had been playing chess for some 20 years up to that point - it was a rather sad realization that my game was not improving. In search for inspiration I decided to follow the most common advice one can find in the works of Alekhine (my favorite player) and Botvinnik (one of my least favorite ones) which can be put into simple words - study your games. Ever since, every game I played has been extensively annotated."


GM Alex Yermolinsky in his book "The Road To Chess Improvement"

“Later, I began to succeed in decisive games. Perhaps because I realized a very simple truth: not only was I worried, but also my opponent”


GM Mikhail Tal (1936-1992), World Chess Champion 1960-61

"At some point, if you don’t broaden your repertoire you become a still target for the opponent’s preparation, especially nowadays with computers being so strong."


GM, author and trainer Max Illingworth

"I just study my own games, but I review them and really self-psychoanalyze. I am making the same kinds of mistakes over and over again, and everyone does, but you have to really be able to look at yourself honestly to find those things and try to stop doing them."


GM Jesse Kraai, who gained the GM title at the relatively late age of 35.

"Chess is a great game. No matter how good one is, there is always somebody better. No matter how bad one is, there is always somebody worse."


The late IM Al Horowitz, US chess journalist and author

"You have to be very careful about the transformation from queen- to pawn-endgame. It is almost always better to keep the queens on the board if you are not 100% certain about the evaluation."


Belgian FM and junior trainer Helmut Froeyman

"The Berlin is a sharp & rich middlegame, not an ending ... if White pushes too hard, the absence of queens from the board does not offer him any safety."


GM Garry Kasparov, former World Chess Champion

"Don't play more games than you have time to carefully review."


The late GM Edmar Mednis (1937-2002)

"...the problem with the French Defence is that you cannot really use it as a side weapon, because the positions are so rich with positional ideas that you have to be familiar with them as Black. Therefore it is hard to play them just ‘once in a while’. The French is really a full-time opening if you’re going to play it (...)


Respected coach and IM Eric Kislik

"The Berlin is a kind of opening where you are going to manoeuvre a lot...with White and Black. So there are no clear [places] for your pieces. It is a very very difficult opening to play, so I enjoy playing it with both colours — there is a lot to learn about chess from that opening, just that opening alone! I know what [setup] I would like to get. I try to come up with a setup which I like to get. When he played …g5 today, I knew my plans". So you are not tired of it, yet? "No, No! The endgame is very exciting I think!"


GM Lev Aronian (August 2018)

“Chess is the struggle against error.”


Johannes Zukertort (1842-1888) Challenger for the World Championship.

"What is he trying to do? This is the number one question in chess-playing. You have to ask yourself this, every time your opponent moves."


The late IM, twice British Champion and respected author and trainer Bob Wade

"Improvement begins at the edge of your comfort zone."


Former British Champion and GM Jonathan Rowson

"Nothing is more disastrous in a rook ending than a passive attitude."


GM Rudolf Spielmann

"Whenever possible, I don’t want to rely on the power of my memory (...) but rather play solid positions on the ground of common strategic ideas. There, a mistake will not be punished as hard and the chance to find the right moves by normal positional reasoning is very high."


German GM and trainer Matthias Wahls

"When losing, a player's first instinct is to retaliate. But this is the quickest way to lose a lost game, as the first instinct of a player who's winning is to consolidate everything and defend!


The best way of handling a losing position is to build up the strong points of your game and to straighten out the weaknesses.  Solid defence will do more to frustrate your opponent than any direct attack might do."


GM Yasser Seirawan

"You don't necessarily win games by playing well. Good play all too often leads to draws. You win games by setting your opponents problems, even if that means venturing beyond the confines of strict correctness."


IM, psychologist, journalist and author William Hartston, British Chess Champion 1973 and 1975.

“There are openings – the Dragon Variation, the Yurtaev Variation of the Ruy Lopez, the Open Variation of the same opening – which are always hanging by a thread, but never entirely refuted.”


GM Vlad Tkachiev

"The player who plays against an isolated pawn should exchange minor pieces but keep the major ones. "


Swedish GM, author and trainer Axel Smith

"He who has a slight disadvantage plays more attentively, inventively and more boldly than his antagonist, who either takes it easy or aspires after too much. Thus a slight disadvantage is very frequently seen to convert into a good, solid advantage."


GM Emanuel Lasker, World Chess Champion 1894-1921

"If the beginner does not belong to the combinative type then, before anything else, he must learn to combine. (...) we are convinced that the late Schlechter was right in maintaining that every combinative player can become a master of the first category if things are arranged properly."


Aron Nimzowitsch in "How I became a grandmaster "

"I wanted a long game. Especially against older opponents, of course, you try to make the game as long as possible; with every hour you increase a bit your chances of a win."


GM Arkadij Naiditsch

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