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groove 136 ( +1 | -1 )
Books... Opening Theory or Tactics/Positional ??? Hey guys, I just was wanting some advice for improving my chess. I've got TONS of books that I've ordered over the last few months and have been trying to read. The problem is, I have positional books (Silman "How to Reassess Your Chess", "Logical Chess", "Best Lessons of a Chess Coach"), tactical books ("The art of Attack"), and a slew of Opening books on The English, Classical Sicilian, Sicilian Accelerated Dragon, and Dutch Stonewall. I've only read portions of Logical Chess, and How to Reassess Your Chess, enough to get basic positional theory, but haven't really delved into the meat of them. I haven't touched "The Art of attack". Instead, I've spent most of my time with the books on Accelerated Dragon, and the English. I've been trying to become very familiar with these two openings and have resorted to playing games primarily using one or the other. So far, becoming familiar with the nuances of these openings has helped me win some games, but I'm worried that I'm spending too much time on opening theories, and not enough on positional and tactical theory. Am I going about improving my chess in the wrong way? What would you guys suggest? I've heard both sides... Focusing on a couple of openings to get extremely familiar with them, then move on to tactics and positions, and vice versa...
peppe_l 41 ( +1 | -1 )
IMHO... "Am I going about improving my chess in the wrong way?"

YES!

"Focusing on a couple of openings to get extremely familiar with them, then move on to tactics and positions"

It is defitenitely wise to check out WHO (see profile - in general 2200 player knows more about chess improvement than 1200 player) is giving these "tips" :-) Opening theory before tactics, endgames and positional play? Uh oh.
anaxagoras 79 ( +1 | -1 )
So far as openings are concerned, it's more important to know the traps of certain openings than to know their theory through and through. The reason is that in the vast majority of otb play, no one follows the opening theory you read about in books (at least in my experience). It's good to *play* the same opening a lot in order to familiarzie yourself with its themes, but don't waste your time memorizing moves.

Silman's books have improved my game immensely, but it is wrong to think there's some crystal distinction between what's tactical vs what's positional. You'll find both in Silman, and I think one of his major points is that you can't understand one without the other. I have heard very good things about Logical Chess, but haven't read it myself.
groove 67 ( +1 | -1 )
Yea, my problem is that I get side tracked too much, evidenced by my disjointed collection of books. At this point, I feel like I win most of my games due to mistakes that other players make due to not being familiar with a certain trap or line in the opening, and I take advantage of that. The rest of the game is me holding on for dear life and fighting to keep that advantage (won pawn or minor piece) into the endgame. I think I need to study some of my other books and discipline myself to go through them even if I'm not as interested in them. (Easy to be interested in an opening book if you're actively playing it on Gameknot). Anyway, thanks for the advice.
i_play_slowly 117 ( +1 | -1 )
Books... Opening Theory, etc. Capablanca's "Chess Fundamentals" starts by teaching the endgame, as do many of the old manuals. Why? Because the calculating skills leaned in endgame studies will be useful to you from the first move of the game. Endgame skills have the widest applicability. The old manuals then move on to the middle game. Why? Again, tactical and strategic skills come into play from the very first move. They have the second widest applicability. The problem with studying openings is that so much of what is learned is useful only in the opening. Reuben Fine's "The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings" should be one of the first 6 books you read. With a knoweldge of general opening principles, and sharpened tactical, strategic, and calculating skills, you should be able to navigate any opening you've never seen before. After reading Fine, there must be at least 12 books worth reading, and at least 2 of those would be worth re-reading, before picking up another opening book. I was recently humiliated OTB by someone who has never seen an opening book. He simply studies the games of great players, and that's all he apparently has to do.
baseline 121 ( +1 | -1 )
groove I noticed at USCF GM Susan Polgar recommends

for Intermediate players uscf rating 1500 thru 1800

1. Logical Chess move by Move by Chernev
2. Winning Chess Endings by Seirawan
3. Mastering Tactical Ideas by Nikolay Minev
4. How to use a chess computer by Kongsted
5. Chess Training Pocket Book by Lev Alburt

for Advanced players uscf rating 1800 to 2000

1. My System by Nimzovitch
2. How to Reassess Your Chess by Silman
3. Just the Facts by Lev Alburt
4. Fundamental Chess Endings by Muller & Lamprecht
5. Opening Preparation by Dvoretsky
6. The Combinational Challenge" by Hall
7. Killer Moves *CD* by George Renko chessbase

anaxagoras's recommendation that you learn your openings as you go is a good one, let your theory build as you go by briefly looking up the opening after each game and seeing what theory recommends.

Polgar's recommendations, in that order is as good a training course as any other I've seen. Be sure to play a lot also, your game will improve as you incorporate the new things you are learning as you go along. Don't be discouraged if your rating doesn't go up steadily ratings tend to go up in spurts as your piratical results catch up to your increased chess understanding.