Getting ready for a BIG upgrade: We hope you like our new look

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news, Start-up life

Dear Chessable members,

Today we are happy to bring you a couple of upgrades and an update of our progress on MoveTrainer 2.0 and apps.

First things first, we’ve upgraded our servers. The new setup allows for faster response times and a smoother experience. This will be important especially as the site keeps growing.

We always try to minimise downtime during upgrades, as we do not want to interfere with your study habits. If our downtime has affected your streak please contact us (hello [at] chessable.com) and we will help you out.

Today we also released our “halfway re-brand”. We touched up our colours and changed our logo. We are using a fresher, more modern and brighter blue which we feel reflects the spirit of the site better.

We re-designed the header to try to use space better on all different screen sizes. There may be a few kinks (e.g. mobile header a bit too thick, will change), but we wanted to ship early and release. Releasing early allows us to polish up and improve with your feedback. The rest of the re-design will go live within the next few weeks.

We all know that change isn’t easy, and many of us will miss the old layout. If you fall into that category, we ask for your support, please give it some time, it may grow on you. Of course, please do submit your feedback as for some of your dislikes may already be on the to-do list, or maybe you’ve found a new bug that needs squashing.

The new site is “part released”, we are taking it by stages. The rest of the layout update is due in the next couple of weeks. We love our fresh new header that utilises the full screen size.

Please note that the new layout is key to some important milestones. Mainly it is needed to release MoveTrainer 2.0 and the set of features we envision to work only with the new layout. E.g. flexible/re-sizeable chess board, different chess board colours, dark mode, etc.

Speaking of MoveTrainer 2.0 and the set of apps that we plan to release with it, progress is good. We are now in a period of Alpha testing and envision a closed and open beta in the next few weeks. Once MoveTrainer 2.0 launches on the web, it will be a couple of months until the first app is ready.

If you are interested in the closed beta please e-mail our customer support address, shared earlier in the post. Thank you everyone for your continued support of our work. We look forward to continue to work hard to make improving your chess more fun and efficient. 

For the re-brand feedback, you may leave your comments within this thread in our forums: https://www.chessable.com/discussion/thread/149774/new-layout-feedback/

Chess tips for beginners: Overcoming your inner demons over the board

By William Hoggarth / On / In Beginner Guides

Chessable developer William Hoggarth, a 1600 elo player originally from the UK but who now lives in Siberia, is on the hunt for new chess tips for beginners.

In June, William came in from the cold (quite literally) to play to his first over the board tournament for seven years and found the mental side tougher than he expected. Here’s how he got on and what he learned:

The inner battle of chess

Earlier this year I played in the Bristol Chess Congress which consisted of five OTB games over a long weekend. It was my first long time control tournament in seven years.

Chess tips for beginners: William Hoggarth shares what he learned about himself
Chess tips for beginners: William Hoggarth shares what he learned about himself

Afterward, I was left deeply impressed by my experience, in particular on the psychological aspects of the royal game and determined to boil down some of the good chess tips for beginners both for myself and to pass on to others. Afterwards I recorded some of my musings and observations and shared them. I’ve recently visited my notes and pulled together this article which I hope you will find both interesting and enlightening.

Outnumbered from the beginning

To play a good game of chess, you are not just pitted against your opponent, but you must also overcome yourself – bad habits, laziness, hastiness, emotions, distractions etc. This is something that becomes a lot more apparent in long play games when you have more time to become aware of these things and to try to deal with them.

It’s also perhaps an underrated and under-discussed aspect of chess skill and improvement. Maybe because it involves our own imperfections, rather than seemingly external knowledge or skill that just needs to be “learned”. As one person wryly pointed out to me, the good news is that your opponent is also fighting against two people!

A warm-up is indispensable

One dangerous point in the game is the moment you come out of theory, you’ve been playing quickly, and everything seems familiar. It’s all too easy to make a rash or natural but flawed move.

>> 5 beginner chess tips

When playing in Bristol I got into the habit of starting to calculate lines and examine the position straightaway, so as soon as my opponent deviated or my book knowledge ended, I had already begun thinking, warmed to the position, and knew what was going on.

Intuitively lazy

Intuition and the subconscious play a very important part in our thought processes. It’s what allows us to see tactics, ideas, plans, threats etc. Very little of that comes from our conscious reasoning. Indeed, they have been some recent chess books on this very subject, arguing that good moves are just good moves and the numerous principles and guidelines discussed at length in publications only really give us a language to discuss ideas rather than being the source from which they spring. Nonetheless, many appealing moves and ideas that come to mind straight away are not always such a dead cert as we think. They need to be vetted with careful calculation to ensure there are no overlooked defensive resources, counter-play or even blunders. It’s becoming ever more apparent to me that carefulness and thoroughness are key components to key play, but often one’s own instincts often rail against it especially when that blunder looks “obviously winning” or when tiredness begins to set in. Discipline is required for consistently good play.

The lure of fatalism

Building on the last point, the temptation to be lazy and take shortcuts is even stronger when you are under pressure. It’s too easy to think, “What’s the point? I’m going to lose anyway”. In round 4 of the Bristol Congress, I made a mistake in the opening which meant I was immediately under pressure, and probably losing against a strong player. I had to constantly fight the temptation to play quickly as all seemed lost. After a few moves, the situation seemed to get a little better, but there was that nagging feeling that I would dig myself mostly out of the hole, only to find that there would be that persistent and ultimately winning edge for my opponent at the end. I really had to force myself to keep analysing thoroughly and not to give into the idea that all was lost. By the time we got to a rook and pawn endgame, I even had winning chances, perhaps if I was able to restore my confidence, I may have made something of them. Still, I got a draw where a less disciplined version of myself may well have gone down in flames.

The reverse situation can be true of course. Just because you’re ahead by a big margin, it doesn’t mean you can’t throw it all away. In a recent 30-minute game I was an exchange and four pawns up and looking good, but I overlooked a tactic and was almost losing if it weren’t for a cunning counter sacrifice. Afterward, my coach told me to never relax until “the clock is stopped, and scorecards are signed by both the players”.

Daydreaming

I found it was easy to fritter time away pondering which general principles take priority in a position instead of calculating. I caught myself in this sort of chess daydream more than once and made myself get back to calculating out the various possibilities that I was considering. Of course, these considerations can be helpful, but only really as a precursor to looking at the concrete realities of the position. Also, it’s better to do most of this thinking whilst it’s your opponent’s turn when you can’t be 100% sure what position you be presented with on your turn.

Know how to end the conversation

Sometimes ending a conversation can be awkward if you need to leave but your interlocutor shows no signs of stopping and doesn’t pick up on your subtle hints that things should be brought to a close. Likewise, when you feel you have thought long enough and that you need to make a decision, it can be tricky bringing that internal dialog to a successful conclusion. It can’t drag on, but equally an abrupt ending can have disastrous consequences. It’s too easy to go with what you were considering last rather than to properly compare the various options. This is especially bad when you spend a long time on one more or moves, decide that you don’t like them and then quickly play another move that you’ve not properly investigated. You may get lucky but there is a high chance of regretting your hasty choice. Simply being aware of this common pitfall and ensuring you find most, or all, of your candidate moves at the start of the process can help alleviate the problem.

All things in moderation

This is one of those beginner chess tips I have heard. But it was mentioned to me in Bristol that it is possible to calculate too much, getting lost in variations and become exhausted from the effort. My personal tendency is to calculate too little, but certainly one needs to be careful and thorough whilst at the same time being aware of the amount of time and energy being spent.

Takeaway chess tips for beginners

We’re all on the lookout for killer chess tips for beginners, but they’re not always easy to hit upon. I hope these ideas and thoughts have been useful or interesting to you, and that you’ve begun to reflect a little on this aspect of your game. This article is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion of the subject, and I’m sure others may have different experiences, ideas and remedies. While many problems are common, we all have to figure out and conquer our own weaknesses in psychology and thought processes. As ever we’d love to hear other people’s thoughts, there is some much to learn from each other and it’s great to know that we are not alone in our struggle to improve.

GM ALEX COLOVIC: Advice on how to play for the draw

By GM Alex Colovic / On / In Chess improvement, Grandmaster Tips

There are two ways to play for a draw – to enter a variation that leads to a forced draw (though in this case the opponent should also be willing to enter there) or to go for a simplified and drawish position, which still needs to be played but one where the probability of draw is rather high.

While there are quite a few forced draws in chess theory, we assume that when we want to make a draw our opponent wants to avoid it. Therefore the likelihood of these variations happening is low.

The Najdorf Sicilian Simplified
GM Colovic’s course, The Najdorf Sicilian Simplified

This leaves us with the second method, choosing openings and lines that simplify the game and make the draw relatively easy to obtain.

This “relatively” is a dangerous term. Depending on the strength of the player it varies in meaning – for some a certain position may be “a draw” while for others the same position may be still full of life.

Always be ready to adapt!

Therefore take into consideration your own understanding of the positions and the easiness of playing them out to the draw.

When playing for a draw it is of utmost importance to be psychologically ready to play a normal game if required, especially in cases where the opponent deviates from the best theoretical lines (that lead to a draw!) and chooses an inferior line in order to get a game.

Then there won’t be an immediate draw, but the position should be comfortable enough for an easy game. But easy or not, the game will be played and for this a different state of mind is required.

In short, never expect that you’ll make an easy draw thanks to your preparation and always expect that you will have to play the game!

Here’s an example

In Round 6 of the 2008 Bratto tournament, I was playing White on Board 1 against the reigning European Champion, GM Sergei Tiviakov.

I prepared for that game for more than four hours, checking all the possible options in the two openings he was playing – the Scandinavian and the Rossolimo (I wasn’t going to play the Open Sicilian). I was ready to play, but what happened, in fact, was what I actually hoped for.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 d6 4. O-O Bd7 5. Re1 Nf6 6. c3 a6 Until here he was playing a-tempo, even though I had never played this line before, but after my next move he became uncomfortable.

GM Alex Colovic Vs GM Sergei Tiviakov
FEN: r2qkb1r/1p1bpppp/p1np1n2/1Bp5/4P3/2P2N2/PP1P1PPP/RNBQR1K1 w kq – 0 7

7. Bxc6 Bxc6 8. d4 And here he started to grow nervous. He thought for some 10 minutes and then played the next three moves rapidly and offered a draw.

GM Alex Colovic Vs GM Sergei Tiviakov
FEN: r2qkb1r/1p2pppp/p1bp1n2/2p5/3PP3/2P2N2/PP3PPP/RNBQR1K1 b kq d3 0 8

8… cxd4 9. cxd4 Bxe4 10. Bg5 Bxf3 A draw agreed.

GM Alex Colovic Vs GM Sergei Tiviakov
FEN: r2qkb1r/1p2pppp/p2p1n2/6B1/3P4/5b2/PP3PPP/RN1QR1K1 w kq – 0 11

After 10… Bxf3 11. Qxf3 Qa5 12. Nc3 Qxg5 13. Qxb7 Rd8 14. Qc6+ is a well-known theoretical draw by perpetual check.

GM Alex Colovic Vs GM Sergei Tiviakov
FEN: 3rkb1r/4pppp/p1Qp1n2/6q1/3P4/2N5/PP3PPP/R3R1K1 b k – 2 14

A triumph of my preparation as I got what I wanted, but in case he deviated I was ready to play a normal game. Sometimes it happens that you prepare for hours and the game lasts 10 minutes.

Playing for a draw is not easy and many players simply cannot play in this way. But sometimes it is necessary, for a variety of reasons.

It is then when we have to calm our nerves and do what is required.

Chess-in-the-Park 2019: We were blown away by New York’s chess event for all sorts

By Leon Watson / On / In Chess news

What an event the 19th Chess-in-the-Park Rapid Open in New York this weekend was!

IM John Bartholomew and I attended as a duo on Saturday to do a little promo stuff and spread the word about Chessable – and we were both blown away by it.

Chess-in-the-Park is a tournament held every year at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park that heralds the start of the city’s chess season. It is casual and fun but, at the same time, it is hugely-inspiring.

John and I with Kimberley Doo, from US Chess
John and I with Kimberley Doo, from US Chess

The final count was 775 competitors playing – with a wide range of ages and backgrounds. All sorts play in Chess-in-the-Park and – as we found out – rather a lot of fellow Chessable members, many of whom who came over to say hello.

For example, John and I spent time talking to alexshirovbh3 (an Encyclopedic member with 1.8m points), who suggested some improvements to the site and got a Chessable polo shirt to say thanks. We also signed up the winner of the Open Championship (1700+), WFM Bahar Hallaeva.

As a little fun sideshow before it started, John had two blitz games with GM Maxim Dlugy – and you’ll be pleased to know he played well. Both games ended in draws but John should have won the first one.

I didn’t see the second one – he’ll have to tell you what happened!

Two of the competitors (COPYRIGHT: Neot Doron-Repa)
Two of the competitors (COPYRIGHT: Neot Doron-Repa)

As I kept saying all day there is absolutely no chance anyone would ever get this many chess players in one place for a tournament from where I’m from, London.

For a start, it was outdoors – and it just rains way too much in the UK! But the main reason is we just don’t have the people needed to put on something like this.

It’s always sunny at Chess-in-the-Park!

The Chess-in-the-Park Rapid Open has always been run by Chess in the Schools and the NYC Parks Department. Ed Feldman from the Parks Dept. came up with the idea and partnered with Chess in the Schools.

There were a total of 775 competitors (COPYRIGHT: Neot Doron-Repa)
There were a total of 775 competitors (COPYRIGHT: Neot Doron-Repa)
The tables all set out before round 1 of Chess-in-the-Park
The tables all set out before round 1 of Chess-in-the-Park

Chess-in-the-Park has now been running for 19 years and Chess in the Schools have got it down to a fine art.

Everyone who enters is given plenty of water made available by Poland Spring plus fruit to keep them going. All the boards are provided, so you don’t need to bring your own.

The setting at the heart of Central Park is, of course, stunning and despite being in mid-September the organizers say they are always blessed with good weather. If it happened in London, that wouldn’t be the case…

We spoke to the girl on the right, who I forget the name of, and she was very strong! (COPYRIGHT: Neot Doron-Repa)
We spoke to the girl on the right, who I forget the name of, and she was very strong! (COPYRIGHT: Neot Doron-Repa)

As I said, there was a fantastic mix of players (which is something I don’t always see at home) and it was especially impressive to see so many female players cheered on by Sophia Rohde and Kimberley Doo from the US Chess Women’s Committee.

WFM Hallaeva told us afterward: “I wish it was not just once a year. I never played in such an amazing place. It is really good to involve people into chess. I wish good luck to Chess in the Schools.”

And if you have any chance of getting to New York to play at Chess-in-the-Park next year, we highly recommend doing so.

Chessable joins Play Magnus and chess24 – yes, it’s true!

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news

Dear Chessable members, today is simply unbelievable! We are delighted to announce that Chessable has become part of the Play Magnus & chess24 family.

That’s right, The World Champion himself, Magnus Carlsen, is now part of our Chessable family! It’s been an exciting and incredible journey, and we wanted to thank you for being part of it. 

Magnus Carlsen holds the trophy aloft
Magnus Carlsen holds the trophy aloft

We are on a mission to make learning and improving your chess as easy, efficient and fun as possible. When I told the team, I compared this milestone to climbing a tall mountain. What happened when the first adventurers reached such peaks? Other than the sheer joy and excitement they must have felt, I imagine they immediately saw taller and exciting mountains behind it.

Play Magnus and chess24 believe in us!

We’ve reached the first summit, and it has been incredibly rewarding and simply amazing. The team is filled with joy, but we all also know a lot of work remains to be done. We’ve challenged ourselves to continue to make Chessable better and better. We have big dreams and are working hard to realise them. We are working on Android and iOS apps, as well as a new web-app. We are working on a redesign of the site. We are launching amazing courses and continually improving their user-friendliness.

And yes, we do work as well
And yes, we do work as well

Having joined PlayMagnus and chess24, we are now part of an industry leader who is able to contribute significant resources to help us achieve our ambitions. While we see many synergies and benefits, we would highlight that they are providing £500,000 additional funding to accelerate further development, adding to the £200,000 we previously raised. Additionally, Chessable will have access to their highly regarded content creators so that we can continue to build out our growing library of titles. More importantly, they are also extremely passionate about our mission and will help us push hard to realise it.

While extra funding is instrumental, there are some things money can’t buy. Your support has been a crucial part in helping us get here. Each recommendation to a friend, each piece of feedback, all of it helps us create the perfect learning environment for you. We are forever indebted to each one of you who believes in the Chessable mission, from authors to students, from coaches to parents, every single one of you. Thank you.

Your ongoing support will be vital for the challenges that lay ahead. Let’s climb these new peaks together. But first, let’s rejoice and enjoy this moment. The future is bright, and Chessable will become all it was dreamt up to be. Hurrah!

FAQ

Does this mean I will now have to communicate with chess24/Play Magnus instead of Chessable?

Everything about Chessable will remain the same for the foreseeable future. Except that, our design, UX/UI are getting a touch up to make your experience with Chessable even better.

When will you finally release those apps?

Certain things in the past few months have been slowing down our progress. However, with the new funding, we are now moving faster than ever before. We’ve already added three new developers to the team in just a week (!). We expect early versions of the apps to be available in just a few months.

Where can I chat to you about it?

There is a great thread on our discussion forums: https://www.chessable.com/discussion/thread/128651/congratulations-to-chessable/

Sorry if we can’t reply to all your lovely messages and questions, we try to, but a ton of work is going on these days! 🙂

We have a new opening for you! Come and work for Chessable

By William Hoggarth / On / In Chessable news

Love Chessable but think you can improve it? If the answer is yes, and if you share our core values of making learning chess easy, fun and efficient, you could join our team!

We are a small, dynamic company that’s growing fast and that means every team member can make a real difference.

There is plenty of scope for showing initiative, developing new skills and shaping the future of the team and the product.

See, we’re a reasonably normal bunch of people

We are flexible as to when and how much you work, and whether you need a full or part-time position. If you need to work around family responsibilities, it’s no problem – we can work around that.

We want to get better!

Not only will you be working with a game-changing product, but you’ll also be working with a diverse, friendly and chess obsessed team. It’s a dream job.

Just like the royal game our team transcends all borders and boundaries. We have team members working remotely in Brazil, Siberia, and London. So it really doesn’t matter where you live, what matters is that you can make a positive contribution.

The team in Hamburg
The team hard at work in Hamburg

So what are we looking for? Well, if you love chess and you love code, then you will be interested in the following three vacancies:

a) Fullstack Web Developer

If you relish taking web applications to the next level and delighting users, you’ll want to work on our groundbreaking MoveTrainer technology and other important features of the site.

We use PHP, MySQL, jQuery, HTML & CSS but if you are a talented coder who knows a different server side technology don’t count yourself out.

b) React Native Developer

If you know React Native then you’ll no doubt want to be part of the next big thing for Chessable – our upcoming mobile App!

c) Frontend Developer

If you’ve got good HTML, CSS & Javascript skills with a flair for design, you’ll want to help us make the site look more delicious than ever.

Experience with React will be a big bonus as we build the next generation interface.

And yes, we do work as well
And yes, we do work as well

If you want to know what it’s like working for Chessable, just read what some of our team members had to say:

Working at Chessable is great! The project our team is currently on uses the latest tech, and is highly rewarding. We work together effectively, and everyone has a say in what’s going on.

Chris Sherriff

Chessable allows me to combine my passions of software, learning & chess. Working on a product you use and love is so rewarding. The company is dynamic and growing which affords so many opportunities for learning, collaboration and using your initiative.

William Hoggarth

Upgrade your Chessable membership to the highest level and join our team! For all users, we want you to know we are planning and working on great and exciting things, watch this space!

More vacancies may become available in the future so if you don’t quite fit what we are looking for right now don’t worry, send us your resume anyway – we are ready to hear your case! Also, if you know someone who would love this kind of opportunity, please spread the word.

So if you’re interested drop jobsATchessableDOTcom an email with your resume and we’ll take a look.

Yours,

The (Growing) Chessable Team

Latest lines in the Najdorf Sicilian, by Grandmaster ALEX COLOVIC

By GM Alex Colovic / On / In Chess Theory

Any repertoire is a living thing and it is important to follow the development of the variations and analysis, especially in the games of the leading players.

In this post, I’d like to provide an update on the lines of our Najdorf repertoire.

In the Positional Line with 6. Be2 there haven’t been any major developments that could jeopardise our conclusions.

The Najdorf Sicilian Simplified
The Najdorf Sicilian Simplified

In the Sozin the recent game Golubev-Bogdanovich followed the line with 8. Bg5 Nc5 9. 0-0 Be7 10. Re1 0-0 11. f4, but here Bogdanovich deviated with 11… Bd7 12. Qf3 Qb6 and after 13. Rad1 I cannot say that he was successful in solving his problems. I am still convinced that our proposed way to deal with this line is the best one.

In the English Attack, more players have started employing our approach of first developing and then pushing …h5 and I take this as a confirmation of quality!

Theory from Norway and Moscow

In the latest games played in July, Black scored two important victories: Paravyan beat Khanin and Vidit beat Inarkiev!

In the aggressive 6. Bg5, the major development is Vachier’s change from the improved Poisoned Pawn that we analyze. In the Norway Chess tournament he played the “pure” Poisoned Pawn against Caruana but ran into some extremely deep preparation and lost.

It is understandable for elite players to switch lines and openings – in spite of their deep preparation they still don’t want to be sitting ducks playing the same lines over and over again.

So these changes do not mean that there is a problem with the line, but it is rather an attempt at a little less predictability. An important game was played in the mainline, Kasimdzhanov-Abdusattorov, where Black immediately pushed …d5 (without the previous …Nc5) but he could have landed into trouble, hence indirectly proving that the line with …Nc5, as we analyzed, is still the way to go.

In the 6. f4 line there haven’t been many games played generally, as it is perhaps the least popular line against the Najdorf nowadays, so everything we have analyzed still stands.

The Fianchetto 6. g3 is still a popular option, but none of our lines have been challenged. The blitz game Andreikin-Wang Hao from May confirmed our textual comment on White’s 9th move in the 7. Nf3 line.

The Modern 6. h3 remains very popular and in the game, Vallejo-Andersen from April, Black obtained a good position with our line of quick …d5, even though he played somewhat differently later on.

In the Odds and Ends chapter, there are many moves, but not all of them have been played. One of the positional considerations in the 6. Nb3 line, i.e. that White should prevent Black from getting …b4 in was confirmed in the game Alekseenko-Sjugirov, played in July, where White played 8. a3, even before developing the bishop on g2.

The biggest developments here have been in the line 6 Bd3. Our suggested line against it successfully proved its worth in more than one game. In fact, in the rapid game Karjakin-Giri from the ongoing Grand Prix tournament in Riga, Giri introduced the new idea of 9… Bg4 (instead of the common 9…Be6) and got a good game out of the opening, even though he later lost.

In May, at the Moscow Grand Prix, Nepomniachtchi tested Wojtaszek in exactly our line, deviating with 14. Rc1, a move also played by Anand, but Wojtaszek showed the potential of Black’s position and equalised without major problems.

To conclude, our lines are healthy and are withstanding the test of time!

Happy Birthday, America! IM John Bartholomew launches our big Born in the USA SUPER SALE

By Leon Watson / On / In Chessable news

Hi everyone, our all-American hero IM John Bartholomew is off to a 4th July parade today and will then spend the rest of it “grilling out”, whatever that means.

But first, he’s launched a very special Independence Day sale for you today.

We’re pleased to say a stack of our US-based authors have got on board to make it happen and in total there are no fewer than 24 courses on sale.

Here’s John with his take on our line-up of courses:

As you may know, on Chessable the authors or publishers generally benefit most from the proceeds of their work – as they should – and decide the prices.

Up to 50% off selected courses

So we have to say thank you to the authors/publishers for agreeing to knock off up to 50% on some of the titles. I’m fairly sure I’m right in saying this our the biggest sale ever.

America’s number one Fabiano Caruana

Among the courses on sale include Small Steps To Giant Improvement by GM Sam Shankland, who memorably won the US Championship last year. This is all about pawn play and is for intermediate to advanced players. Highly recommended.

We also have IM Bartholomew’s The London System: Essential Theory and classics from Reinfeld and the Mastering Mates series, along with loads more!

Basically, it’s best if you just head on over and have a look. So happy 4th July, folks.

Grandmaster tips: Studying endgames, with GM ALEX COLOVIC

By GM Alex Colovic / On / In Chess improvement, Grandmaster Tips

There are two types of endgames, theoretical and practical and the way to study them is different.

I remember when I was a kid and was about to learn the theoretical endgames. The best manual at the time was Fine’s monumental work Basic Chess Endgames. I had it in two volumes, a 1951 edition in Croatian from Sahovska Naklada. Even though Averbakh’s tomes on endgames were also out by then, I didn’t have them so Fine it was.

My way was the pedestrian way. I simply played over all the examples in both books. I would set up the position and then I would play over the moves. I would pause and try to understand the principles that were explained in words. Then make the moves on the board, often repeating the process. After finishing the work (which lasted for what seemed an infinite amount of time) I noticed a marked improvement in my endgame play. As if some inner pieces of the puzzle fell in place and I was just playing better.

Revamped: 100 Endgames You Must Know
Revamped: 100 Endgames You Must Know

After some period I would repeat the process. It was a very long and not too interesting process, going through all the theoretical endgames, but I knew it was a useful one, so I did it. That is how I acquired my theoretical knowledge of endgames.

For the practical endgames, I am greatly indebted to Shereshevsky’s Endgame Strategy (Konturi Endshpilja in Russian). The book was full of general principles and good examples. Even though nowadays with the help of computers I discover many mistakes in the book, the main teachers were the players who played those endgames – Capablanca, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Fischer… By playing over their (end)games it seems that the subconscious picks up the invisible threads that are required to produce good endgame moves.

Apart from Shereshevsky, there were also other books and games of the great players. Three of them, in particular, were very impressive: Capablanca, Botvinnik, and Smyslov. Botvinnik’s three tomes (1923-1941, 1942-1956 and 1957-1970) were amazing as was Smyslov’s Letopis Shakhmatnogo Tvorchestva (Annals of Chess Creativity). (All of these are in Russian, as I studied them in the original). It was the recommended method back then – you study the (end)games of the great players and after a while, your general game improves.

Theoretical first, practical second

Nowadays there are new books. I usually recommend Jesus De la Villa’s 100 Endgames You Must Know. It is the most basic knowledge a chess player must have.

And then there is, of course, the Endgame Bible – Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual. Dvoretsky is the ultimate guide to the theoretical endgames, it is what Fine and Averbakh used to be in pre-computer times, only this time the variations are error-free. Some time ago I did with Dvoretsky what I did with Fine many years ago, only this time it was tougher with all the computer lines involved. I have read that The Manual was Kasparov’s favorite book.

The great Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual

I would say that the order of studying endgames should be theoretical first, practical second. The rationale here is that you must know what you’re going for, what your end-position is, with a clear understanding and knowledge of its evaluation and method of play. These end-positions are the theoretical endgames and you must be able to rely on them without a shadow of a doubt. The actual memorization of these theoretical endgames is similar to learning the multiplication table. It is problematic at first, it requires effort, but they must be memorized and after that life is much easier! (Understanding the principles etc. goes without saying.) As with all things requiring memorization, repetition is something that you will need to do from time to time.

For practical endgames, the most important thing here is to develop a feeling for them. You get that feeling by playing over countless games by the great players. I’d recommend the players from the past (notably my favorites Capablanca, Botvinnik, and Smyslov) because their play is somehow easier to understand and assimilate. Today’s chess is just way too burdened by computer variations and is too complex.

I would like to finish with a modern method for getting better at endgames. It consists of trying to win a technically winning position against an engine. I remember I read somewhere that this was the method Topalov used before his stellar period in the mid-00s. I tried it myself and what I can say is that it is even more frustrating than solving Dvoretsky’s puzzles. In other words, I rarely, if ever, managed to win a game.

Now all that remains is to get down to work. Good luck!

Chessable Spring 2019 Update

By David Kramaley / On / In Start-up life

Dear Chessable learners,

It’s been a busy but absolutely fantastic start to the year for us! We’ve had legends of chess film at our studios for you, like GM Harikrishna, GM Aagaard, and GM Shankland. And guess what, we’ve released more courses in the first four months of 2019 than in the entirety of 2018!

While that was going on, the team has also grown from four full-timers and seven part-timers in 2018, to eight full-timers and probably 14+ part-timers. Big thanks to the team and big thanks to you for helping us continue to achieve ever greater heights. With your continued support, in just three months we’ve ballooned from 17 million positions learned by you to a staggering 28 million! Wow.

Before I go on, It’s time for a little hip hip hooray and a special sale on our courses, and of course, a PRO sale. Enjoy!

Lately, when you write to us, a recurring question we get asked is about the news of MoveTrainer 2.0. We announced it at the beginning of the year and it’s now been a few months. Therefore, I thought I’d give you a little bit of an update on what’s going on at Chessable HQ.

We’ve had two developers working on MoveTrainer 2.0 for you since February when we kicked off the project. One more has joined in May to give us more speed. We expect yet another one to start contributing in a month or two once we’ve cleared some other top priorities. We still fully expect to release the shiny new software sometime later this year, perhaps Autumn (Fall? 🙂 )

A side effect of this allocation of resources to MoveTrainer 2.0 is that currently, progress is a tad slower, but fret not, as always, we are still all ears and making things happen to the existing site! For instance, we recently brought you Cyclical Review and a revamp of our most popular course on the site. We never stop listening to our users, we never stop building, so please, keep that feedback coming!

And remember, when we are finally done with the MoveTrainer 2.0 update, not only will we be able to release apps on iOS and Android, but we are building the groundwork so that we can implement highly requested features like dark mode, resizeable boards, offline mode!

So if you have taken a peek at Chessable lately and did not notice anything new going on (other than new awesome courses), now you know why. We are hard at work behind the scenes, making sure we bring MoveTrainer 2.0 to you as soon as possible.

We’ll try to update you again soon, meanwhile, wishing you a great rest of the month.

P.S. To celebrate, we are also holding a Spring themed course sale and PRO sale.

P.P.S. Here is a BIG spoiler for you, tomorrow, we’ve got a classic book we’ve made interactive by just about the biggest name in chess coming out tomorrow. ENJOY!