Bishops vs Knights in the Middlegame​, new courses, and a few words to those early in their chess journey

We are very happy to announce that we have planned a camp with GM Julen Arizmendi, 3-6 November on Bishops vs Knights in the Middlegame​. As always people who sign up for a new yearly membership or renew their existing one, get it for free! The rest, for €99. Make sure you tune in! More information here on the Bishops vs Knights in the Middlegame camp.

Otherwise, we strongly recommend that you find 1-2 courses that really speak to you and follow them, whether live or not, rather than get the feeling that you should follow all the courses to get the most out of your membership. In some ways, the KCT membership is like a restaurant buffet. You may be allowed to eat everything, but this is not necessarily what is best for you in the long run!

If you don’t know where to begin, here is a mention of our newest courses: Tactical Targets, Keep it Simple! and Prophylactic Thinking.
Tactical Targets is a foundational tactics course, which will benefit all non-titled players.
Chess is a problem-solving game and sometimes we make it more difficult for ourselves than we have to. Keep it Simple! is a new course cutting through all the noise, focusing on decision-making and problem-solving.

We would also like to welcome GM Swayams for a weekly course on Prophylactic Thinking!

To those early in their chess journey

While our friends were battling it out at the Olympiad in Chennai, I (Jacob) was thinking to give
While our friends were battling it out at the Olympiad in Chennai, I (Jacob) was thinking to give some advice to those of our members who are earlier in their chess journey. Not all members are currently chasing the GM title, as Shahil, Kirk, Andy, Jonas, Jonas, and Andre are. Although we care a lot, we also care equally about all other members who are in different stages of their chess journey.

For a long time, our membership had three groupings in our minds. 1500-200, 2000-2250, and 2250-2700. But recently we have gotten quite a few members of under 1500. We had 1-2 before, but now it is a slightly larger handful. We have always tried to make this an academy for everybody and will continue to do so. Our core ethos has been from the beginning that we want to help, and we want to create a community of people supporting each other. Financial concerns have always been secondary – although they obviously still exist.

The following advice is thus for those who are still unlocking the Fundamentals of chess. You do not need to do all of this, but the more you do, the more you are likely to improve.

Your opening repertoire should be a minor concern. The principles of development and structure are more important than memorising theory. No one under 2000 (USCF or FIDE rating in Europe – India has its own reality) should work on memorising openings to any serious depth. Learning the basic ideas and a few main lines 10-15 moves deep is already more than enough. There is no purpose in doing spaced repetition of opening theory if your rating is under 2000. It is similar to learning complex words without their meaning – which only competitive scrabble players do.

Analyse your games. If you have a 1-1 trainer, this is the main thing you should ask your coach to do with you. If you don’t analyse with an engine. But do it as if you are having a conversation with someone who does not speak your language. Don’t nod and agree if you cannot explain it in your own words. It takes time to develop the skill to develop this ability. See our sessions of Reflection of Tournaments in Charlotte if you want to see a way that a coach could work with your games and give you feedback.

Play longer games. Blitz games can be interesting if you use them to learn about your openings. But they will not teach you chess. However, it is fun and that’s important!

The key skill to work on is tactics. You can always develop your tactics, but especially in the beginning it is 90%+ of what you should be working on. The best material is in books and it is important that you find books that are easy! You are not just learning to think like a chess player, you are also learning the patterns and themes. Page 1 in homework club is a difficult version of this. It is aimed at 1500 players. If you are below this, you will still get a lot out of doing it, just understand that it is difficult!

One resource that comes with your membership is a membership of www.chesstempo.com. Contact us on our email if you have not had it set up. It requires a few manual steps. You can see a video about it in MY ACADEMY on our website. Chesstempo has a lot of tactical problems. A lot of them are difficult, but a lot is also easy. As they are computer-generated some of them are not of full educational value, but if you find one impenetrable, just skip it! The key point is that you need to learn the language of chess tactics and it is a visual language, so seeing a lot of problems is the goal. Don’t spend 20 minutes on a problem while u2000. Spend 2 minutes and guess.

There is one series of books I would strongly recommend. It is currently 10 books by Artur Yusupov. The order is a bit confusing, but it is FUNDAMENTALS, BEYOND THE BASICS and MASTERY. Orange, blue, green. They are available on www.qualitychess.co.uk and on www.chesstempo.com (where the first four books are now out and the remaining six will follow in the second half of the year). They were the first books to ever win FIDE’s book of the year award and deservedly so. If you get the book versions, get the hardcovers. They cost a little more, but the physical quality is immensely better. If you want the set, there is a special offer here: http://www.qualitychess.co.uk/sections/13/special_offers/

I hope you have a good week until next week when I will talk a little bit about when to evaluate yourself and when not to. And how.

Jacob Aagaard

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