And I Quote ...

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"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

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

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

"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.

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

Australian GM and coach Max Illingworth

“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)

"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.

“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

"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:

“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

"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.

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

Former World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov

“Long think = wrong think!”

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

“Openings are just your ticket to the game. If you have lousy openings you won’t even get to play a good game. Openings are the minimal requirement that everybody should have, but it does not make the difference. Your strength in the other parts of the game does.

For example superiority in endgame play is a clear example of why Carlsen is dominating the chess world. And this was also the strong point of many famous players like Shirov, Karpov, Kramnik. Hence I think endings are a very important area to work on.”

GM Joel Lautier, interviewed by Sagar Shah

"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

"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

"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

“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

"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)

"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)

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'

"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)

"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

"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.

"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'

"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 (1976-), peak rating 2735, 8th in the world rankings in 2005.

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

The late Gerald Abrahams, English international, writer and barrister

"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

"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

"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

"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.

8.Bc2 White has transposed to a favourable Scandinavian and stands better. 4.c4 I have found that this line—championed by Latvian GM Normunds Miezis—often disconcerts French players. They thought they were playing a French—but are now facing something like a Queen’s Gambit! In fact, there are many direct transpositions to the Queen’s Gambit Accepted. 4...Nf6 Imagine the game continued 4… dxc4 5.Bxc4 here. Got it? OK, now imagine the game started out with this well known line of the QGA: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 e5 4.Bxc4 exd4 5.exd4. If you have two chess boards you can set up, you will see the positions are identical. Where’s the French? Gone bye bye!"

IM Tim Taylor

"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

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)

“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

Interviewer: “You used to play 1 e4 quite a lot."

Tony Miles: "Yes, I found I kept walking into peoples’ pet lines."

The late Tony Miles (1955-2001) explaining his successful switch to a mixture of 1 d4 and Flank Openings. He was the first English player to gain the Grandmaster title for over-the-board play. He won the World Junior Championship in 1973 and the British Championship in 1982. There is an excellent posthumous book Tony Miles: "It's only me" compiled by his friend Geoff Lawton, containing many of Miles's best games, with instructive and often amusing annotations by Miles himself, gathered from various publications.

“Chess is the struggle against error.”
Johannes Zukertort (1842-1888) Challenger for the World Championship.

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

GM James Tarjan

"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

"Once, Gregorian returned from an important qualifying tournament and showed Petrosian a game in which the young man had played some very risky opening moves as Black and lost. Petrosian cross-examined him in a characteristically chiding way.

Petrosian: 'Why did you play such terrible moves? Even you should understand these are bad.'

Gregorian: 'I had to win to qualify'

Petrosian: 'Make a note. It's much easier to play for a win from an equal position than from a bad position!'

(Quoted by Lev Alburt and Al Lawrence in an article at the chess café website. The great Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian was World Chess Champion, 1963-69.)

It is interesting to contrast Petrosian' s advice with Lasker's opinion:

"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.

Perhaps, as with so many things, it's a question of degree!

"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"

"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.

"...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)

"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

"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.

"Am I being stupid? This question is designed to make one take a last look at the position before moving, but it must be accompanied by a change in perspective. The mind can tackle very involved problems and at the same time overlook something simple. The number of blunders and oversights can be radically reduced through asking this question. Having made up your mind what to play, you shut off all the work that you've done on the position and then, you eye the position again in a different light."

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

"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

"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

"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

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

GM Rudolf Spielmann

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

Swedish GM, author and trainer Axel Smith

"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

"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 "

"It is generally considered that Black only plays the Petroff with the aim of drawing. The opening has established a reputation as being sound but not very active. My own experiences with it do not fully confirm this view. I can confirm that it is sound, with not a single loss from over a dozen games, but as for not being an active line I beg to differ. I feel that the chances of getting a real struggle are no less than in other openings and my score of 75% with this opening is a real triumph for Black."

The late IM Mark Dvoretsky (1947-2016), a strong player in his own right and a renowned trainer and author.

“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

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

The late GM Edmar Mednis (1937-2002)

"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

"Every move adds to the pressure on some square(s) and subtracts from the pressure against others. Look every time, even if only for a fraction of a second, at each fresh square attacked by the piece the opponent's hand has just quitted."

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

"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

"As a practical matter, whether your position is a forced loss should not affect you. (...) Never resign until you know your opponent knows how to win."

GM and author Andy Soltis

"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

"Pawn endgames can be very difficult to play. In many other types of endgames one can follow general principles, but pawn endgames usually require precise calculation."

GM and endgame expert Alexander Baburin