Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Amateur to IM: Aims of the Book

Continuing our preview of Amateur to IM, we now take a look at the aims of the book, as taken from Jonathan's introduction.

Aims of the Book

I did not intend in any way for this to be an exhaustive theoretical manual.

My aim was always just to start the ball rolling and help the reader to think about chess in a different and more coherent way. Everything we learn we will try to understand to the level where it can be used in a practical game.

  • I wanted to show that chess is an interesting game which is definitely not played out; there are often countless possibilities in even the most innocent looking position (take the Aronian – Bacrot game I discuss later, for example).
  • I wanted to teach good principles in the endgame and (although it was not my primary goal) to show some important theoretical endgames. Some of the theoretical endgames in the book are not essential knowledge, but I saw no reason to dumb anything down if they were relevant to the analysis.
  • I also wanted to spark the reader’s interest in analysis and investigation of chess positions. Always search for the truth, and never pass something by without understanding it.
The astute reader will notice that some of the examples in the book are quite recent. It is true that I updated some of the games from my original notebooks. Be assured I only did this when I felt the new example was stronger than the old.

I should say a few words about the structure of the book and how best to use it:

  • It is split into two main parts. The first half is quite lightweight, and focuses on some thinking techniques, principles and some essential theoretical endgames. The second half is quite deep and involves analysis and discussion of some very specific types of endgame. There is also a short section of exercises.
  • Most chapters have a ‘Theoretical Notes’ section at the end. Any theoretical endgames or particularly interesting variations which cropped up in the main lessons and required further coverage are discussed there.
When we encounter a specific theoretical position (or type of position) I would recommend playing it out several times, against a playing partner or an engine. My favorite way to do this is to play without studying the position at all. Only afterwards do I study the analysis of the position and repeat the process. In this way you will see the problems in the position really clearly, since you are already committed to thinking rather than just memorizing.

When playing over the annotated games (or game fragments) the primary goal is to retain the patterns and ideas, and the secondary goal is to use the arising positions to hone your analytical skills. Memorizing the game, move by move, is not something you need to consciously try to do. Once you understand the moves and ideas this will happen automatically. To this end I would recommend playing over the games quite rapidly in order to digest the main points. Later, upon completion of the chapter in question, you can look at the games and side variations in more detail.

Jonathan playing Peter Wells at the 2011 British Championship
For ordering details, please contact your regular chess supplier or head for the Mongoose Press website.

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