64 Concepts You Should Really Know: A Course by a Chess Team, for the Club Player


64 Concepts White Rose
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The following is a guest post by IM Richard Palliser. A prolific opening theoretician and Chessable author, IM Palliser recently came out with his new course 64 Chess Concepts You Should Really Know, in collaboration with Jonathan Arnott and the White Rose chess team, which is sponsored by Chessable. This post tells you about the interesting background behind this unique course, as well as the extraordinary people involved with White Rose. We hope you enjoy!

Chessable White Rose has been competing in the British League, the 4NCL, since the 1997/98 season. Like the league, the club has come a long way since those early days. I can remember turning up for our debut in Division Two only to find that…there were no sets and boards!

Back then the club was run by FM Rupert Jones, who had a prolific career in Papua New Guinea, Botswana, and FIDE, as well as Yorkshire no.1, IM Angus Dunnington. Rupert remains actively involved, and rarely misses a 4NCL weekend. Nowadays our supremo is Jonathan Arnott, who nobly books the hotels, deals with all the paperwork and especially sorts out our three teams for each weekend.

FM Rupert Jones and IM Angus Dunnington, reunited at the Sheffield International in April
Jonathan Arnott, Chessable White Rose supremo and founder of the Sheffield Chess Centre

One day, while discussing ways to fund White Rose in the 4NCL, we came up with a unique idea. Bearing in mind both our relationship with Chessable and that Jonathan runs a successful junior chess club whilst doing an awful lot of coaching these days, it dawned on us that we could perhaps use the many chess and coaching insights we have to develop a Chessable course – one whose proceeds would benefit the team.

The result: 64 Chess Concepts You Should Really Know. Chessable has just released our course, which is designed to teach key basics and supply handy pointers for both those fairly new to the game and club or online players. Written by myself and Jonathan Arnott, the course also features over seven hours of video from GM Jonathan Rowson, author of The Seven Deadly Chess Sins and Chess for Zebras. As the famous Scottish Grandmaster put it, “I showed up to explain the material as I understood it; it was fun to go back to basics and I learned a few things along the way.”

GM Gawain Jones competing for White Rose

In the competitive 4NCL season just completed, Chessable White Rose couldn’t quite replicate our 2022/23 form which had seen us finish second. Clearly we were too busy working on a certain course, and Jonathan Arnott’s Sheffield Chess Centre also staged its first international tournament. 

What’s in the Course

So what are these essential 64 Chess Concepts? The course is divided into eight sections: The Basics, The Opening, The Endgame, The Pawns, The Pieces, Tactics, Strategic Play and Practical Play. We feature both classic games and those of Chessable White Rose players, including GMs Daniel Alsina Leal, John Emms, Jonathan Rowson, Peter Wells and especially Gawain Jones, who defeated both Michael Adams and Alexei Shirov for us last weekend. The course concludes with 100 exercises taken from games by Chessable White Rose players designed to test the user’s newly-acquired knowledge and sharpen their tactics.

The Basics begins with the drawback principle, an often-underestimated yet fundamental concept: every move made by you and your opponent has a drawback.

The Openings section begins with the key basics of trying to keep the queen at home in the opening and not moving the same piece twice early on, before tackling the likes of gambitting and the dangers of an open e-file, concluding with how to respond to opening surprises. Tip: when your opponent surprises you in the opening, stop and think!

The Endgame Concepts contain many highly important topics, such as the king’s power in the endgame and why knights are terrible at stopping passed pawns. While the initial parts of the course will suit those fairly new to the game and in the 1000-1600 range, some Endgame Concepts will be completely new to many club and internet players. Whether you’re rated 1200 or 1800, there should be plenty of new material in the eight concepts devoted to the humble but actually very important pawns. Do you know, for instance, what kamikaze pawns are?

Even fairly experienced players should learn plenty from the final eight concepts, devoted to Practical Play, which tackle such topics as not playing ‘hope chess’, one blunder often breeding another, psychological draw offers, how the clock can be a weapon, and why zero means nothing.

We hope that you will enjoy and learn plenty from 64 Chess Concepts You Should Really Know, a project which was certainly fun to produce and, of course, every time a concept was finished, a notable example would then occur with it. The Pieces Concepts include that old classic, a knight on the rim is dim, as Hans Niemann was all too aware of while racking up that whopping 8/9 at Zagreb back in December.

You can learn more about the course here – and if you do decide to purchase it, just remember: proceeds help support White Rose! 

Members of White Rose competing in the 4NCL, with John Emms and Peter Wells to the fore on the right

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