Chess Ratings Explained

Have you ever wondered what you need to know and learn to improve your chess level in chess? This post is a primer on chess ratings explained, covering chess ratings from 1000-2000 plus.

If you need to quantify your current chess skill and knowledge the formula in this article can help you calculate your chess skill and knowledge.

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Advantage of An Outside Passed Pawn

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Chess Books for Study

The following books are the ones I will use to get me past the Class C category.

New Ideas in Chess
Reassess your Chess Workbook

Art of Attack

Essential Chess Endings

Games Collection
Capablanca Move by Move
Alekhine’s Best Games

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The Value of the Pieces

The following values are from Yusupov’s Build Up Your Chess book.

1 knight = 1 bishop = 3 pawns
1 rook = 4.5 pawns
1 queen = 3 minor pieces = 2 rooks = 9 pawns

  • A rook is stronger than a minor piece + a pawn
  • A rook + pawn are weaker than two minor pieces
  • A queen is stronger than rook + minor piece
  • A queen is weaker than a rook + two minor pieces
  • A queen is generally not as strong as two rooks or three pieces, but if the King of the player with the rooks is not in a safe position and if it is exposed to a lot of checks, the queen is stronger. Minor pieces must be well protected (by each other or pawns), or else they will be captured by the queen. -S. Tarrasch
  • A rook, minor piece and passed pawn on the 6th (3rd) rank are superior to the queen. The queen is stronger if there is play on both wings. But if play is concentrated on a single wing, a rook and a minor piece are often no worse than a queen.
  • In the middlegame, three pawns are normally weaker  than a bishop or a knight, because the opponent has an extra piece for his attack. Only connected central passed pawns or far advanced pawns are better than pieces.
  • In the endgame, the value of the pawns generally increases, and so the three pawns are normally no worse than a minor piece.
  • In the middlegame, two minor pieces are often stronger than a rook and two pawns.
  • In the endgame, a rook and even a single passed pawn are sometimes better than two pieces.

G. Lisitsin described five factors which influence the relative value of the pieces:

  1. The central position of a piece.
  2. A safe, well protected position.
  3. The activity of the piece.
  4. Coordination with other pieces.
  5. The mobility of the piece.


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Training Schedule

Study Strategy (SG)

Play and review game (PL / RV)

Stoyko Exercises (Cheng’s book or Pocketbook) {practice analysis} (VG)
Board Visualization exercises

Play and review game  (PL / RV)
{add missed opportunities and mistakes to notebook}
{review notebook}

Study Strategy (SG)
{Add Thursday’s game information to Chess Notebook}

Study Endgame  (SE)

Play and review game (PL / RV)

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While Playing…

1. Take my time. Don’t rush into things, especially if I see a tactic.

2. Understand all of my opponent’s threats at all times.

3. Look for tactics both for myself and my opponent (if I find a tactic see #1).

4. Don’t’ complicate, unless the outcome is clear.

5. Develop all of my pieces before starting the attack.

6. Play prophylacticly, prevent counter play unless my move is winning.

7. Pay attention to the center.

8. Pay attention to pawn breaks (both offensive and defensive).

9. If I find a good move, look for a better one. Make sure that I know all of the idiosyncrasies of the position.

10. Blunder-check before moving.

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Play to Study Ratio

The following guidelines are the amount of time you should spend playing versus studying. Notice the importance of play early on in your development.

80% play 20% study – 0-1500
70% play 30% study – 1500 – 1700
60% play 40% study – 1700 – 1900
50% play 50% study – 1900 – 2100
40% play 60% study – 2100 – 2300
30% play 70% study – 2300 – 2500
20% play 80% study – 2500+

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Positional Evaluation

The character of a position is determined by the following factors -

1. The material relationship; that is, material equality or the material superiority of one side.
2. The power of the individual pieces.
3. The quality of the individual pawns.
4. The position of the pawns; that is the pawn structure.
5. The position of the Kings.
6. The co-operation amongst the pieces and pawns.

- Ludek Pachman (Modern Chess Strategy)

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Notebook 12/18/2010

Middlegame Position for Study

Review the following position, Black to move and win.
FEN: 8/pp2kppp/4p3/8/1P6/P3PP2/5P1P/2K5 b – - 0 0

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The Importance of Diagonals

[pgn height=500 initialHalfmove=112 autoplayMode=none pieceSize=40 squareSize=50]

[Event "Karlsbad"]
[Site "Karlsbad"]
[Date "1929.08.10"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Yates, Frederick"]
[Black "Marshall, Frank James"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D38"]
[PlyCount "124"]
[EventDate "1929.07.31"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "21"]
[EventCountry "CZE"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1999.07.01"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. d4 Nbd7 5. Bg5 Bb4 6. e3 c5 7. cxd5 exd5 8.
Bd3 cxd4 9. exd4 O-O 10. O-O h6 11. Nxd5 hxg5 12. Nxb4 a5 13. Nc2 Nd5 14. Re1
Nf4 15. Ne3 g4 16. Nxg4 Nc5 17. Nge5 Ncxd3 18. Nxd3 Ne6 19. Nc5 Nxc5 20. dxc5
Qc7 21. Qd4 Rd8 22. Qh4 Bf5 23. Re5 Bg6 24. Qg3 Rac8 25. Rae1 Qc6 26. h4 Rd5
27. h5 Bxh5 28. Nh4 Rxe5 29. Rxe5 Bg6 30. Nxg6 Qxg6 31. Qh3 Rd8 32. Rh5 Kf8 33.
Rh8+ Ke7 34. Qe3+ Qe6 35. Qg5+ Qf6 36. Qxf6+ gxf6 37. Rxd8 Kxd8 38. Kh2 Kd7 39.
Kg3 Kc6 40. Kf4 Kxc5 41. Kf5 b5 42. Kxf6 Kc4 43. Kxf7 Kd3 44. g4 Kc2 45. g5
Kxb2 46. g6 Kxa2 47. g7 b4 48. g8=Q a4 49. Ke6 b3 50. Kd5 b2 51. Kd4+ Ka3 52.
Qf8+ Kb3 53. Qf3+ Ka2 54. Qd5+ Ka3 55. Qc5+ Ka2 56. Qc4+ Ka3 57. Qd3+ Ka2 58.
Kc4 b1=Q 59. Qxb1+ Kxb1 60. Kb4 Kb2 {Great was White’s suprise when Black,
instead of playing the expected 3…Kc2; played 3…Kb2; occupying another
diagonal from where he can reach White’s f-pawn, because White must lose a
move capturing Black’s rook pawn, which otherwise, protected by its King at b2
would reach the queening square.} 61. Kxa4 Kc3 62. f4 Kd4 1/2-1/2


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