Chess Maniac
by GM Smirnov

Chess Maniac
I’m sure you have heard something about mad and obsessive people before. Modern chess players share some of these traits. Today we will discuss chess “maniacs”. :)

1. Tactical Maniacs

These are chess players who solve thousands of tactical puzzles daily. There are 2 major reasons for this mania.

--> First, it is an obvious way of training. Get a tactical puzzle, solve it, get the next one etc…. This reminds me an old dictum: “Every problem has an obvious incorrect solution”. :)

This training method is really simple, BUT it takes a lot of time and gives only a little practical effect.

--> The second reason is a common delusion. Let’s say, you are playing a game and you make a sudden blunder. After such an annoying loss you say to yourself: “This should not happen again! I need to improve my tactical vision.” So after that you start solving tactical puzzles over and over again.

Though it may seem reasonable, it is not exactly the right way of thinking. In most cases a tactical oversight becomes possible only after making your bad moves (bad moves in general, strategically).

For instance, you misplaced your pieces and this made it possible for your opponent to win material. Therefore the MAIN reason of such a loss is a lack of strategic understanding.

Have you noticed that strong players don’t make blunders even in blitz games? Their strategic understanding allows them to realize which move should be good and which ones look dubious.

Tactical puzzles are only a PART of your training. Don’t stick to this element too much. Chess is a strategic game inherently.


2. Opening Maniacs

This is a very common mania. The main carriers of this disease are Grandmasters :)

Strong players compete in their preparation work. That’s why they spend a lot of time on opening preparation.

Your situation is different. Look at your games. Most often your games are decided in a middlegame/endgame stage. Thus the opening wasn’t so much important.

There is another reason for “opening mania”. Studying openings gives a visible effect. If you learnt some opening variations, you can use them right away. It’s attractive to get an instant result from your training.

HOWEVER, this result is quite small. Your opening preparation will work only in 1 particular situation; while your general skills work in any position. Therefore improvement of your thinking process will give you much greater effect.

“The remedy” is still the same: don’t spend too much time learning openings. There is no need to learn as many opening lines as you can. An opening preparation is only 1 element of your training.


Now I’d like to give you an interesting task:

chess maniac

White: Kb1, Qh6, Rd1, Rh1, Ne5, Nh5, pawns: a2, b2, e4, f6, g4, h3
Black: Kh8, Qa5, Rf7, Rg8, Bd8, Be6, pawns: a7, b5, c4, d3, h7. White’s turn

Though the white’s attack looks decisive, it’s not that simple to find the final stroke. At the same time black is ready to counter-attack with c3. So what should white do now?

After that you can check the solution yourself below:

GM Igor Smirnov

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