Vancouver League: Improving Your Chess

    Learning to play chess is relatively easy, but systematically improving your game is difficult. While it does not exist an absolute and universal method for getting better at chess, in this section we offer the advice of some experienced players.  We hope that their words and guidelines help you in this long, yet rewarding, process.

First Steps in Chess:  Michael Yip  
ed Games

 Here are some suggestions for how to improve at chess.

 1.      Play regularly . Try to play within your own rating class or with people slightly stronger.
 2.      Analyze your own games (on your own and with an analysis program like Fritz)
 3.      Have a steady reading program
 4.      Unrated practice games (active, blitz with people or a software program)
 5.      Solve tactical problems

    The selection of reading material is the daunting task for the aspiring player. The number of books seems endless and yet this simple requirement is probably one of the most ineffectively used way to improve.

     Reading is an essential part of improving your level of play. However knowledge on its own is not a guarantee of success. I am recommending a reading program based on my own experiences. This program is designed to avoid duplicate readings getting the same material from multiple authors. Most of these books are games collections.

Basic library

Everyone needs to have a basic reference library
1.      Fundamental Chess Endings-Muller, Lamprecht
2.      Nunn’s Chess Openings-Nunn et al
3.      Chess Tactics for Juniors-Hays

    Reading material has been grouped into three stages. The boundaries of the stages are somewhat subjective. However the basis of the program is to absorb chess knowledge roughly in the order that it was discovered. These selections have a subjective element to them as many great books have been left off. However, I think all of the suggested books will benefit any improving player.

Stage 1 unrated-1800

Most club players fit into this category. The following will provide a solid foundation for the basics of chess.
1.      Rubinstein’s Selected Games – Kmoch
2.      Capablanca’s Best Games-Golombek, Nunn
3.      Alekhines’s Best Games-Alekhine, Nunn
4.      My System-Nimzowitsch

    I would recommend a repertoire based on 1.e4 or 1.d4 as white and replying classically with 1.d4 d5 (queen’s gambit declined) and 1.e4 e5 with black. For a clear explanation of ideas I like Queen’s Gambit Declined-Sadler, Everyman 2000

Stage 2 1800-2100

Games collections
1.      One Hundred Selected Games-Botvinnik
2.      Selected Games 1967-70-Botvinnik
3.      Road to the Top-Keres, Nunn
4.      Quest for Perfection-Keres, Nunn
5.      Zurich 1953-Bronstein
6.      Tal-Botvinnik 1960-Tal
7.      Life and Games of Mikhail Tal-Tal
8.      Grandmaster Preparation-Polugajevskij
9.      Grandmaster Performance- Polugajevskij
10.  Selected Games of Lajos Portisch –Varnusz
11.  I Play Against Pieces-Gligoric
12.  My 60 Memorable Games-Bobby Fischer

 General works
13.  Understanding Chess Move by Move-Nunn
14.  Endgame Strategy
15.  Technique for the Tournament Player- Dvoretsky, Yusupov
16.  Test Your Chess IQ volumes 1 and 2-Livshitz
17.  New in Chess Yearbook and New in Chess magazine

    Zurich 1953 is one of the most important books in this stage for getting a general understanding of how the middlegame is conducted. This was the strongest tournament of its time being written about by the best annotator 1951 challenger David Bronstein. New in Chess yearbooks are one of the best ways for keeping up to date on developments in the openings. Each quarterly volume has about 36 opening theory articles and is a key source for new ideas.

 Unfortunately some of the books I have recommended are out of print.

Stage 3 2100 +

Games collectio ns
1.      My Best Games-Karpov (RHM)
2.      125 Selected Games-Smyslov
3.      Elista Diaries-Karpov, Henley
4.      Grandmaster Performance-Nunn
5.      John-Nunn’s Best Games-Nunn
6.      Timman’s Selected Games: Chess the Adventurous Way-Timman
7.      Fire on Board-Shirov
8.      My Best Games-Anand
9.      Khalifman: Life and Games-Nesis
10.  Pal Benko: My Life Games and Compositions-Benko and Silman
11.  My Best Games Volume 1-Kortchnoi
12.  My Best Games Volume 2-Kortchnoi
13.  Modern Chess Masterpieces-Igor Stohl
14.  Montreal 1979-Tal
15.  Super Tournaments 2000-Soloviov
16.  Super Tournaments 2002-Soloviov

 General works
17.  Road to Chess Improvement-Alex Yermolinsky
18.  Secrets of Chess Defence-Marin
19.  Creative Chess Strategy-Romero
20.  Secrets of Chess Tactics-Dvoretsky, Yusupov
21.  Secrets of Chess Training- Dvoretsky, Yusupov
22.  Positional Play- Dvoretsky, Yusupov
23.  Endgame Secrets-Lutz

    For ambitious players you need a database for example Bigbase 2003 from Chessbase. This database gets updated every year and is the source of all modern opening theory as it happens.