Chess Strategy Software Buyer's Guide
In his Chess Life column I mentioned earlier, Evans downplayed positional chess a bit. Here's where I disagree with him - in my opinion, you can't become a competent chess player (that's "competent", not even "good") before you understand the rudiments of positional play. I didn't get even halfway comfortable with my chess play until I'd read a couple of positional chess primers (back in the days before electronic tools).
Positional Chess For Beginners
A beginning player should really concentrate on tactics above all else, but when you're ready to dip your foot into the positional pool, start with First Steps in Chess Strategy. Strategical chess is one of the most difficult concepts for an improver to understand and so on this all-new ChessBase DVD, FIDE Senior Trainer Andrew Martin breaks the subject down, with the hope of making everything clear. Attention is given to all the components that make up chess strategy, so that at the end a player will be better able to make good moves and good plans. As usual, recent master games are the focus for the investigation and a database will be provided of all games used. All of these games have detailed notes and can be studied independently by the student at leisure.
Positional Chess For Intermediate Players
This call's dead easy - as far as electronic materials go the three-disk series Basic Positional Ideas is the "Bible" of positional play. Read and play through this entire chess training software package. Then read and play through it again. Then again, over and over until your eyes bleed. I'm completely confident that if you read, understand, and apply the material on this DVD your chess play will improve dramatically. You won't be lost at sea when trying to come up with a plan anymore; you still might come up with the wrong plan occasionally (hey, that's chess) but you'll have a good grasp of "what to do when there's nothing to do" (i.e. when there are no immediate tactics on the board). It's pretty well-known that good positional play gives you the opportunity to set up successful tactical shots (even though he had no idea what "positional chess" was, Paul Morphy was a pretty good positional player).
That leads us straight into the next recommendation. After you've completed the Basic Positional Ideas course, the next course of study should be Chess Expertise: Step by Step Course. While some of this material might be over the head of the typical intermediate player, this CD of instructional videos will illustrate the close bond between strategy and tactics and show the practical application of converting a positional advantage into a material one through the application of successful chess tactics.
Positional Chess For Advanced Players
In addition to Chess Expertise: Step by Step Course (described in the preceding paragraph), I also recommend Power Strategy Vol 1. This training software deals with the initial phase of the game, when the all the reigning principles can be crystallized into just one: Development! You will deal with a wide range of situations in which development and developing moves are the highest priority. After having watched the lessons on the right way to navigate from the opening to the middlegame, viewers are invited to test their skills with a host of quiz videos. You can further sharpen your skills with the included database, which contains games covering themes that correspond to the ideas presented on the DVD.
Then it will be time for the second volume: Power-Strategy 2: The Middlegame - Static Positions. The second DVD deals with the middlegame positions where static factors play a determining part, permanently taking into account the inseparable dynamic and tactical elements. The videos are interactive, featuring training questions in the critical moments. You can further sharpen your skills with the included database, which contains games covering themes that correspond to the ideas presented on the DVD.
Before we return to our list of areas of chess study, we're going to make a detour into an area which combines tactics and strategy (although with an emphasis on the former): attacking chess. Many of our favorite chess players (like Alekhine, Tal, Shirov, and Kasparov) are fearsome attackers, and we'd all like to learn to play the same way. Our detour here is a sort of "sub-course" on attacking chess.
Attacking Chess For Beginners
First Steps in Attack will provide a basic grounding on a variety of subjects, which will assist improving chess players in general all-round improvement. On "First Steps in Attack", Andrew Martin treats the viewer to a selection of classic attacking games, illustrates key points of attacking methods in chess, and lays out a foundation course in the art of attack. Key thinking points reinforce the analysis and the games. The DVD is designed to be as easy to understand as possible.
Attacking Chess For Intermediate and Advanced Players
Attacking the King – for Experts shows us that particularly the World Champions were outstanding attackers from whom we can learn much about attacking play. From Steinitz, Lasker and Capablanca to Fischer, Karpov and Kasparov, one exemplary attacking game is presented reflecting the individual playing attitude of each of these chess legends. Then he comments on the decisive stages of the attack explaining which specific train of thought led him to success during play. The result is an entertaining outline of historical and modern attacking chess, giving you all the skills required to succeed in your own practice. Video running time: 4 hours.
Check out the Chess Middlegame Training page for the positional and attacking chess software available from ChessCentral.