Monday, 12 November 2012

Amateur to IM: Contents

Throughout this week, I'll be looking at Amateur to IM - the debut book by International Master Jonathan Hawkins.

Recently published by Mongoose Press, the book sports a particularly eye-catching cover that will hopefully stand out from the crowded bookstalls.

I must declare an interest in the book. I am the editor and I worked very closely with Jonathan throughout the project. Believe me, Jonathan put a lot of effort into this volume; it was definitely not a proverbial case of writing a book over a weekend.

Instead of a review, this week's articles should be considered as a set of previews.

So, what is the book about? How exactly did Jonathan rise through the ranks and what are the ''proven ideas and training methods'' on offer? As the cover blurb explains:

''The secret was knowing what to study and how to learn as efficiently as possible. Focusing his attention firmly on the endgame, Jonathan devised a number of building blocks and identified a number of very important areas of study. The result of his hard work was a meteoric rise through the ranks, as he became firmly established as a prominent GM killer on the English tournament circuit.

These pages reveal the secrets of his notebooks for the first time. IM Hawkins presents special material aimed to help you become a much better practical player, one armed with a deeper understanding of key aspects of chess.

A careful study of the lessons presented in this book should enable the chess student to gain a significant improvement in both performance and rating.''

Here's the list of contents:


Part 1
Thinking Techniques

Lesson 1
Reaching the Horizon – Reference Points in Calculation

Calculating with a goal in mind
Key squares in king and pawn endgames.
Opposition and outflanking
An arsenal of positions
Summary of Ideas
Theoretical Notes: opposition, distant opposition, outflanking

Lesson 2
A Short Introduction to Planning in the Endgame

Basic winning methods
Identifying long-term goals
Promoting our pawns
Attacking the enemy structure

Lesson 3
Capablanca’s Pawn Endgame

Combining planning with calculation
Mastering key positions
Building blocks
Reserve tempi
Critical squares
Three training games
Summary of Ideas
Theoretical Notes

Lesson 4
Step by Step – A Guide to Little Plans

Optimizing the pieces
Understanding the concept of ‘little plans’
Summary of Ideas

Part 2
Principles and Essential Theory

Lesson 5
Essential Rook Endgames

Lucena position
Philidor’s sixth rank defense
Passive bank rank defense
The geometry of checking distance
Short-side defense
Cutting the King
Building a bridge
Summary of Ideas: Simple Defensive Procedures; pawn on the fifth rank; pawn on the fourth rank
Theoretical Notes: Lucena position with a rook’s pawn; Philidor denied; knight’s pawn on the fourth rank

Lesson 6
Bishop and Pawn Connections – Dynamic Defense

R+P vs. B+P with blocked pawns
Positional ideas
Simplification into a known drawn endgame
Illustrative game: Sasikiran – Carlsen
Summary of Ideas: ‘solid’ and ‘passive’; fortress

Lesson 7
Pawn Walls Against Bishops

Restraining a bishop with a pawn chain
B+2P vs. B, with opposite-colored bishops and connected pawns
Summary of Ideas
Illustrative game: Akobian – Howell
Theoretical Notes: defensive set ups

Lesson 8
Dropping Down the Anchor

Opposite-colored bishop endgames
The anchor
Zugzwang and sacrifice
The psychology of defense and attack
Illustrative game: Kramnik – Adams
Summary of Ideas
Theoretical Notes

Lesson 9
Back To Reality – Other Minor Piece Endgames

Bishops of the same color
The theory of bishop and vs. bishop with same-colored bishops
Bishops dominating
Illustrative game: Karpov – Susan Polgar
Summary of Ideas
Theoretical Notes: bishop and pawn vs. bishop

Lesson 10

Part 3
Endgame Explorations

Practical games
Endgame tabiyas

Endgame Exploration 1:
My Favorite Endgame

Rook and bishop vs. rook
Summary of Ideas
Theoretical Notes: Lolli’s two positions

Endgame Exploration 2:
A Long Discussion of a Short Endgame

Opposite-colored bishops
Summary of Ideas
Theoretical Notes: important discoveries

Endgame Exploration 3:
Skeleton of the Minority Attack - Endgames in the Karlsbad Structure

QGD: Exchange Variation
Important structures
Illustrative game: Arkell – Kiriakov
Summary of Ideas
Theoretical Notes: minority attack; transformations

Endgame Exploration 4:
Extra Pawn on the Queenside
Part 1 - Positional Advantage

Rook behind passed pawns
Summary of Ideas
Theoretical Notes: Kopaev Line; Alekhine Line

Endgame Exploration 5:
Extra Pawn on the Queenside
Part 2 - Walking the Borderline

Steckner position
Dautov position
Unzicker position
Dvoretsky position
Zugzwang position
Skewed Dautov position
Summary of Ideas
Theoretical Notes: more on the Steckner position

Endgame Exploration 6:
Ulf on the Warpath!
Development in the Endgame

Illustrative games:
Andersson – Marovic
Andersson – Hort
Andersson – Robatsch
Andersson – Nyback
Summary of Ideas
Theoretical Notes: knights against passed pawns; L-barrier; pawns on the seventh rank

Endgame Exploration 7:
Positions for Analysis

Solutions to Exercises

Follow-up Solutions

Final Thoughts


Jonathan demonstrating a crushing victory over GM Conquest

Appetite whetted? Stay tuned for more on Amateur to IM...

1 comment:

Roger said...

Is the theory behind this opus that learning the endgame will make you a better middlegame player or help you calculate better?