And I Quote (again) ...

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“In an ending where you are a pawn up, you should not hurry, but should await a favourable opportunity to win a second pawn.”

GM José Capablanca, World Champion 1921-27, quoted by GM Mikhail Botvinnik, World Champion 1948-57, 1958-60, 1961-63.

“The absolute majority of top players have studied classical games well and it has influenced their chess.

Magnus Carlsen is the best example. When he quotes a game like Flohr-Goldberg, played in 1949, in his press-conference, no further comment is needed.”

GM and former world championship finalist Boris Gelfand

“The main factor governing the success of an attack on the enemy king is whether you can bring more attacking pieces to bear on his king position than he can muster for the defence.”

GM and author John Nunn

“On principle, avoid playing dubious openings! To make them work one has to sacrifice too much energy, which will be badly missed during the game.”

GM Vassilios Kotronias

“Retaining one’s sense of how pleasant a position would be in a practical game, in spite of what the engine may say, is a major challenge for all authors and players nowadays.”

GM and author Swapnil Dhopade

“A space advantage is a product of the pawn structure. As the old saying goes ‘space is gained by pawns but exploited by pieces’. Advancing pawns grab space, pieces exploit this space by means of their increased mobility.”

GM, author and trainer Lars Bo Hanse

“I’ve trained myself to stop and look, even if there seems to be only ‘one move’, unless it’s a forced recapture. You never know!”

GM Robert “Bobby” Fischer, World Champion 1972-75

“Frequently an attack against a king is decisive when there are opposite-coloured bishops on the board.

The explanation is quite simple: When you attack on squares of one colour, your opponent's opposite-coloured bishop is completely useless for defence, and therefore it is almost like you have an extra piece in the attack!”

GM Greg Serper

“I try to avoid theory and rely on my experience when I cannot prepare, starting with 1.d4 or 1.c4. I still think that 1.e4 is the most principled move and, if Kramnik concluded that the only good defence against 1.e4 is the Petroff, then it is a good move.”

GM Jaan Ehlvest

“Artur (Yusupov) reminded me that there are always things we do not see, so we should not calculate decisions we do not yet have to make.”

GM, author and trainer Jacob Aagaard

“In general, it is advisable for young players to play sharp, open lines, so the player develops risk-taking abilities, learns to play for initiative, and appreciates the real value of pieces (as opposed to evaluating the position by simply counting the material on the board). If a player does not learn to take risks from the start, it is likely he may never truly master this important attribute in the later part of his chess career. It is easier for an aggressive player to learn positional chess than vice versa.”

GM “RB” Ramesh, 2002 British Champion and nowadays trainer of some of India’s most talented young players.

How to exploit a lead in development:

“In such cases it’s useful to exchange some of the opponent’s developed pieces – then your lead in development can be utilised more easily.

I suggest an analogy with hockey: if one player is sent off, the advantage of five against four is noticeable but not decisive. Remove another pair (one from each side) and defending becomes much more difficult with three against four. With two against three it is all but impossible.”

GM Sergei Dolmatov. [PA: Of course exactly the same principle applies when you are a piece up.]

"There is no such thing as an even trade"

GM William Lombardy (1937-2017),
World Junior Champion (1957) scoring 11-0.

“Nothing is more difficult than an attack against a king defended by three unmoved pawns.”

GM Reuben Fine

“Each position is unique and must be appraised afresh. (…) You must look at each position with new eyes. (…) The last move has changed the position; forget what went on earlier and find out what is happening now.”

GM Reuben Fine, one of the strongest players in the world in the period 1930-1950, before his retirement from chess to become a psychologist.

“If you study modern opening theory, you may well conclude that if Black does not want to have to defend carefully during the first part of the game he must give White something: more space, healthier pawn structure, the bishop pair, or simply a pawn!

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

“I have been reading about some past champions. Without any false modesty, I find a little bit of myself in several of them. I have been reading about the match between Fischer and Karpov that didn’t happen. I find a bit of myself in both those players. Another I could compare myself to is actually an American: Reuben Fine, who was very strong but quit chess early on. I was just reading about him the other day and it didn’t strike me before but now it strikes me that what he was doing in chess is similar to what I am doing.”

World Champion Magnus Carlsen in a 2014 interview.

“I think intuition is one of my strengths. When I was very young, I studied a lot of classical games. I grew up with Garry Kasparov’s book 'My Great Predecessors,' a bible for chess players, and I think that might be the reason why my intuition is so strong.”

GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda, the youngest player in the world’s top 20.

My play improved when I started solving endgame studies seriously in 2016, and I'd say that not solving them deliberately from a young age definitely held back my overall chess development.”

Australian GM and trainer Max Illingworth

“Self-confidence is very important. If you don’t think you can win, you will take cowardly decisions in the crucial moments, out of sheer respect for your opponent.”

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen

“The clock is just as much a part of the game as the board and pieces and losing because of time-trouble is no different than losing because of weak play – it’s still zero points on the scoresheet.”

GM John Nunn

”My loss (…) taught me that the most important technique of chess improvement is a player's ability to reflect on and extract lessons from his or her own losses and mistakes.

GM Daniel Naroditsky

“If a position is bad and you cannot find a freeing move, further thinking about it does not help. Then what needs to be done is to choose the move which does the least damage and keep up your state of readiness and thinking time for a chance which may possibly crop up.”

GM Thomas Luther

“In our modern chess you must constantly be thinking of your opponent. (…) You don’t, or at least you shouldn’t, make a move without first considering what the reply will be.”

GM Reuben Fine, writing in his 1942 book "Chess the Easy Way".

“Unless you can satisfy yourself that you can derive immediate advantage by an attack, improve your worst-placed piece.”

Adolf Anderssen (1818-1879), probably the strongest European player 1851-1866.

“Contrary to many young colleagues, I do believe that it makes sense to study the classics.”

World Chess Champion GM Magnus Carlsen

"Chess is the art of analysis. Regular practice at analysing positions is one of the most effective methods of improving at chess, maintaining your form or even just 'warming up' for a game - don't neglect it!"

World Chess Champion Mikhail Botvinnik

“The main thing is not to be afraid of losing. Why should I be afraid? If I lose I know two things: first, it is only a game, and second, by taking the risks I do I will win more than I lose”.

The late Danish super-GM and world championship candidate Bent Larsen, one of the most successful tournament players of all time.

"In rapid games, I mostly play main lines that I know well. I know the ideas behind these lines. On the other hand, in classical chess, I try to play new variations, because in the longer format my opponent is prepared for me."

GM Sergey Fedorchuk

“At lower levels (...) the quickest way for most players to achieve better results is to improve their tactical ability.”

GM and author John Nunn.

"A great deal of chess psychology is based on expectation. If you expect to win and then something starts to go wrong, it's easy to become flustered and make further mistakes.

Curiously, something similar can happen if you expect to lose. You may be fighting on but without any real hope that you're going to save the game. Then if, by some miracle, an opportunity arises to avert defeat, it's easy to overlook it, because you have resigned yourself to a loss and are no longer fully alert. Even very strong players are prone to this type of oversight."

GM and respected chess author John Nunn

“I insist on verbally telling myself what the problem is, to define the essence of the position clearly. Only then can I properly understand what I need to do. Putting it into words forces me to be exact and makes sure I really pinpoint the core of the issue.”

GM Alex Colovic

“An attack may be prepared over quite a long stretch of time, but when carrying it out, do so at top speed without letting your opponent get his bearings.”

GM and trainer Lev Psakhis

“Don’t relax too soon, even if it seems to you that the goal is already attained – your opponent may take a completely different view.”

Famous GM and trainer Lev Psakhis

“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

“Intuition is a human chess player’s most valuable skill in complicated positions. (…) Computers are completely without emotion or subjectivity: they calculate all moves with exactly the same perfect, ice-cold machine precision. We humans don’t have anywhere near as good brute-force calculating skills, and so we need to rely on our intuition.”

GM and former World Championship Candidate, Kevin Spraggett

“Repeating moves (i.e. twice!) in an ending can be very useful. Apart from the obvious gain of time on the clock, one notices that the side with the advantage gains psychological benefit.”

Soviet master and author Sergey Belavenets

“The most important part of building a repertoire is to find positions that you enjoy playing. There is a good chance that positions you like will also be the positions you will play well.”

GM and trainer Jacob Aagaard

"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 popular trainer Eric Kislik

“It is well known that Botvinnik studied Rubinstein’s games and learned a lot from them. He won many games by squeezing his opponent, just like Rubinstein…”

GM and author Boris Gelfand.

“I think you shouldn’t play only blitz, but playing some blitz is definitely pretty useful, especially when you’re developing as a young chess player. For me, it was very useful to develop my instinct, my tactical eye, and just plain training.”

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen

“In order to start playing a new opening line with success, you must have a few model games to follow, or at least some guidelines. (…) I firmly believe that it is much wiser to start learning a new line with the basic, fundamental ideas, playing through some model games. Only after, one should begin with a deep theoretical research. Model, sample games will give you a clear picture of the ensuing positions and character of play.”

GM Alexander Delchev

“It is better to be a pawn down with active pieces than to have material equality with a passive position.”

GM Levenfish and World Champion (1957-8) Smyslov, in their famous book on rook endings.

My centre is giving way, my right is retreating; situation excellent, I am attacking."

French General Ferdinand Foch

"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

"This is a type of position you expect to lose, but you never stop fighting. As long as there are still some chances, as long as there is no clear win for him, I will go on."

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen

“I would like to reiterate my deep belief that the best way to learn openings is to analyze good games played by great chessplayers. This way not only will you improve your general level of chess, but also learn specific opening ideas.”

GM Greg Serper

“A good approach to strategic endgames is to first think schematically and only then specifically.

In such endgames, you should try to consider what you ideally want to achieve in broad terms and only then move on to calculating specific moves.”

GM and author Lars Bo Hansen

”…You must always try to defend your king with as few pieces as you can, and it is only when attacking your opponent’s king that you must bring forward all the pieces you can.”

José Raoul Capablanca (World Chess Champion 1921-7) in his famous book My Chess Career

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

GM Kevin Spraggett

"When you study an opening, it is very important to understand typical positional and tactical ideas and even mistakes frequently committed by chess players. You won't be able to do it using the nearly perfect games of Carlsen and his super-GM opponents."

GM Greg Serper

"Your only task in the opening is to reach a playable middlegame."

Hungarian GM Lajos Portisch (1937-), one of the strongest and best prepared players of his day.

"My choice of systems was very inflexible. My first move has to be 1.d4, my second move has to be 2.c4, and my third move is 3.Nc3. I need to keep my knight on g1 at home for as long as possible, so I have to make the other three moves first in that order.

If you don't care about keeping the knight on g1 flexible, then you have lots of move order options. For example, you can play 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 or even 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.d4. It may not sound like much, but I can promise you that Black players go crazy trying to work out how to still get their preferred lines against d4+c4 systems via these move orders...."

GM Matthew Sadler

“I have this routine. I tell myself that I’m an idiot, I accept it and I just live with it. Knowing that you’re an idiot is kind of relieving. You relax and you just have to play chess.”

GM Levon Aronian (2019)

“In a rook and pawn ending, the rook must be used aggressively. It must either attack enemy pawns, or give active support to the advance of one of its own pawns to the queening square. “

GM Siegbert Tarrasch

“In general, the game of chess is much richer than is to be gathered from the existing theory, which endeavours to compress it within definite narrow bounds.”

The great Mikhail Chigorin, 1850-1908.

"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).

"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.

"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.

"It is not very practical to start playing an opening when it is in its first stages, when it's not clear what the main lines are and which plans are the most promising - though it is in exactly this phase that the elite players are thriving. A typical example for this is the Giuoco Piano - there are many plans and move-orders for both players (...). While this leaves scope for surprises and new developments for the elite, it is very confusing for the rest."

GM Alex Colovic

"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