Chess is fun, winning chess games is even more fun. According to Kotov, to win over players from a master level you should acquire five skills. Without these qualities, winning the majority of your games will be just a nice dream.
Alexander Kotov is one of the greatest chess authors of all time. In his book “Train like a Grandmaster,” he gave the following five qualities which form the building blocks that create a strong chess player:
1. He must be well versed in modern opening theory:
Opening preparation becomes more and more crucial in modern chess: “play in the center, don't move a piece twice, don't bring your Queen into the game too early, castle rapidly… ” All of this advice is still valuable, but they are “insufficient.”Every strong chess player has an opening repertoire they've tested and retested over the years.
2. He must know and keep in his memory the principles behind the typical middle of the game:
In two words: Pattern recognition. Many players think this concept is used only with tactical motifs; that's wrong! It can be used to find a plan in the middle of the game, a winning technique in the endgame or simply a mating attack.
3. A Grandmaster must be able to assess a position accurately and correctly:
It is here that a deep and clear understanding of the game shows the Grandmaster's ability. With a deep positional and strategic understanding, you can make the right judgment and choose the best move.
4. The ability to hit upon the right plan:
A strong chess player can find his/her way in every situation, even those that are completely unfamiliar. Personally I am a big fan of Karpov's planning skills. He always manages to choose the correct order of actions to accomplish his main task. The question is: “How on earth does he successfully realize his plan?” In his book “Find the right plan,” Anatoly Karpov suggests adhering to the following seven basic principles: A material relationship between the forces, the presence of direct threats, position of the kings, possession of open lines, pawn structures, weak and strong squares, the center and space and the position of pieces.
Then the chess player can evaluate the position, select a plan of action and begin searching for specific moves and calculating variations.
5. A Grandmaster must be able to calculate variations accurately and quickly:
Excelling in the calculation is a must if you want to join the elite. The domination of computers over man is due to their superiority in the field of calculation: computers don't miss a move. We are not machines, but having an organized thought process and crystal clear visualization ability while calculating variations is more than necessary. The calculation is not an easy thing, but it is a core skill of chess playing. It is nice to master the positional play, to be able to plan, to have a faultless ending technique, but all of this becomes useless when you hang a piece because you miscalculated.
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