Sunday, October 29, 2006

Minimalist Openings or the “Sketch Pad Approach”

Finally I finished the groundwork on my new opening repertoire!
This led to my latest plan for chess improvement, which is called the “Sketch Pad Approach”.
The idea was started while I tried to streamline my openings and to stop each of the lines at the point of completed development. Versus trying to input 57,000 variations like I attempted in the earlier incarnation.
The common thread is that all of the openings lead to simple playable positions that have seen plenty of practice at master level and above. Of course I combined pawn structures when and where I could.
A majority of the lines chosen are given as = by both Fritz and my ECOs’, there are no hidden agendas involved. Gone are the razor sharp openings that I played in the past, (while fun to play, for me they required an intense amount of review and study to be effective). I figured it makes more sense to gear my focus toward time spent learning how to play the standard positions. This is done by studying the games of the masters and of course simply playing chess. I want to spend more time playing (and reviewing each of my games). As I face a new line then and only then will I update my opening book, hence the term “Sketch Pad Approach”. Since J’adoube is big into naming stuff I should go ahead and call this the S.P.A.C.E. method (“Sketch Pad Approach to Chess Enjoyment”) [grin].
I have definitely included more notes dealing with plans and strategies into this opening repertoire than I did in the earlier version.
My plan is to now transcribe these lines from the Chessbase format into Bookup so that I can practice until I have them down cold.
From there I start the play and review phase.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Pawn Structure Chess

I just started reading "Pawn Structure Chess" by GM Andrew Soltis.
What an eye opener! Just the first couple of chapters have exposed me to a whole new way of viewing the openings and shown some insight into how higher ranked players utilize positional schemes as much as they rely on tactics.
Playing through the example games made me realize that some of these were won long before the vanquished side even realized he was lost. They reminded me a lot of those nature shows where the game warden tranquilizes the rogue animal for future transportation to a safe habitat. The animal has been drugged and is slowly going down it just doesn’t realize what is happening.
What appears as a completely balanced game in regards to development, material, and space holds hidden weaknesses because of one side or the others inability to either execute or prevent a timely pawn break due to earlier minor piece exchanges or lack of sufficient control of a key square or squares.
I have a new found respect for positional play, when it is executed properly it is just as beautiful as a spectacular tactical finish.
Some of these examples show how players shifted gears once they had achieved their strategic goals and unleashed devastating kingside assaults because their opponents were overextended and couldn't answer the multiple threats.

This book will have a profound effect as I continue to solidify my openings. Now resultant pawn structures will weigh heavily into the equation as well.
Understanding how to play the formations is one of those required toolbox fundamentals I now see as a must have and something that require a lot of work.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Simplify Man!

Whew boy have I been busy.
Work is and will remain wide open, but I have managed to learn how to keep it within the confines of the 40 hr work week. Each Friday afternoon around 2 pm I consolidate my project list, write everything down, and head out the door. That way work related thoughts don't manage to weasel their way into my weekend. I'm amazed at how effective I have become at being able to shut out work and restart on Monday simply by reviewing my list.

I had to do some major overhaul work on my computer and decided it would be a good time to wipe everything and reinstall from scratch which has taken a little over a month here and there. I just reconfigured Chessbase this past week.

Joined a gym back at the start of July, most of my free time has been spent working out trying to regain some fitness and eliminate the accumulated desk job fat. I have been really pleased with the results. I’m about 7 pounds from my goal weight and have lost over 27 pounds in little less than a year. 10 of it over the past 2 months! My energy levels and attitude in general have improved tremendously. Now that I have a good schedule established it’s time for me to refocus on chess.

Openings- Gone are all of the sharp/razor’s edge openings that I have played in the past. I want good solid development with plenty of strategic opportunities. That’s not to say I’m not noting mistake-lines that I encounter. (Never pass up an advantage!) I’m just getting away from the systems that require tremendous amounts of memorization and computer like precision to remain unscathed.

I have a friend at the chess club that wants to join up to review and study. Our plan is to play solid stuff and focus on learning the themes, plans, and positions for each opening. Mapping the connections from middle to endgame. To do this we are going to review games in their entirety and compare notes.

Tactics- One can never get away from studying tactics. I continue to work through the PCT modules. But by studying games I get to see those lessons applied. More and what I consider most import you get to see how those positions are created. I can’t stress this enough. Learning tactics is a necessity, but unless you understand how those positions are nurtured along from a given opening you might as well be peeing in the wind and hoping what hits you is rain. I’m not saying that one doesn’t benefit from studying positions out of context. Of course you are going to benefit, because you are learning the building blocks. But at some point you have to move from learning the alphabet to learning how to spell complete words, then towards actually constructing sentences, and from sentences to paragraphs. You get the point.

Endgames- Understanding endings is just as important as any other phase of the game. Often I’m amazed how many times I save lost games and win the drawn ones just by utilizing what little I do know. Thank you Karsten Mueller!!

My question to the Knights Errant with ICC or Playchess accounts is how many of you would be interested in setting up some sort of group study session working on some key themes or standard endgame positions? We could post a new diagram each week and the following week compare notes. Several different viewpoints is always enlightening.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Chess Endgames 1

I recently picked up a copy of the Chessbase DVD "Chess Endgames Volume 1" by Karsten Muller.
All I can say is wow.
For me there is no comparison in the amount of information I retain after seeing an actual demonstration versus just reading about it and trying to understand what I just read.
After just one viewing of the segment about Bishop+Knight+King vs. King I can now pull this mate off instantaneously. I wonder how many times I tried to master this through just reading alone. But once I saw the technique in action the proverbial light bulb went into the on position.

Karsten Muller does a great job in demystifying endings and explaining the key concepts in a manner and style that is easy to retain. So far I’m on Chapter Two (Pawn Endings) and loving it. Once I go through the entire disk I plan on playing through the examples versus the computer until I can memorize each technique cold. (I did this with the B+N+K vs K and it really helped drive the point home.)

So if you are trying to expand your endgame knowledge by all means you should not
hesitate in purchasing this DVD it is amazing.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Chess Exam and Training Guide

I personally found it to be a very rewarding book.
Having someone point out your Achilles heal(s) has to be a good thing, the Exam grades your relative strengths and weaknesses in 12 different areas.
You have to complete the entire book before you can begin scoring the tests.
The author combines 3-5 motifs for each of the 2 part questions. You may score really well in one chapter, and suffer through the next. I did notice there were a few questions in where I had zero idea of how to even start my approach in answering them. While others I found being related in one form or fashion to classic examples and started my search for the answer using those themes.
In hindsight I think it is a very accurate portrayal of my playing ability, and it further confirms what I thought I needed to improve. It has even shown me a few new areas that I had never even considered, but make perfect sense now that I realize they have a name. More importantly it further encourages me to focus my training on improving my weakest link (Strategy) which happens to be what I was trying to improve by reviewing complete games. (See my last post about playing through the games of Morphy.)

So anyway for your entertainment here are the “Titles” I received on the test.

Overall - Class (B)
Endgame - Class (B)
Middle game - Class (B)
Opening - Expert
Calculation - Class (A)
Standard Positions - Class (B)
Strategy - Class (D)**
Tactics - Class (B)
Threats - Class (B)
Attack - Class (B)
Counter Attack - Class (C)
Defense - Class (B)
Sacrifice - Class (B)

Looks like I’m going to have to dust off “Winning Chess Strategies”-Seirawan,
“Logical Chess Move by Move”-Chernev, and “Reassess your Chess”-Silman
In that order. :)

Off to the book case.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Where have I been?

I have been slack on the posting I know.
But over the past month I have been doing the following.

Super busy at work.

Enjoying the warm weather and extra daylight in the evening.

Spending more time with my family.

Spending less time in front of the computer.

Downloaded/Purchased PCT (Personal Chess Trainer) and have been working through the Modules.
I highly recommend it, everything is nice and neat. Tactics, endgames, and strategy all in one program. I laughed when I saw that GM Gilberto Milos starts people off with having them solve mate exercises in his Tactics Module. Guess I'm not crazy after all for recommending that new players should start there as an introduction into the wonderful world of tactics.

Exercising more. Cycling, and light weight lifting.

"Transcribing" Irving Chernev's "The 1,000 best Short Games of Chess" into Chessbase format.
This way I get to play through chess miniatures of some really great players.

Playing Solitaire Chess. I'm using Phillip Sergeant's book "Morphy's Games of Chess" as my current guide. I may play through all 300 games, who knows? Descriptive notation too!! I imagine algebraic will start to look weird after 40 or 50 of these.
Also I'm playing over these games using my tournament board, I have to start practicing my board visualization. I still have a problem jumping back and forth between 2-D (computer screen) and 3-D (real board). It might be from spending too much time studying with a computer. I will keep you posted on this experiment.

Endgames, endgames, endgames... "Secrets of Pawn Endings" by Karsten Muller

Trying to increase enrollment at the chess club, Beginner's tournaments, USCF tournaments,
the whole nine yards.

Yard work before it gets too hot.

That's about all I can think of at the moment.

I hope all of my fellow Knight's are doing well!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Following week’s game versus the 1730

Sancho Pawnza: Ok fellas huddle up. Before we enter the Command Central, which by the way I have had remodeled. You all remember “The Meeting”? Same thing as last week minus the screw up! Plans has worked hard with Archives reviewing master games in preparation. Tactics has busted his butt working out the calculation muscle. Even Celine er I mean Relayer has spent the past week setting up the new communication equipment. No one, and I mean no one is to leave their post for any reason. If you have to pee hold it, wet your pants, or use Relayer’s Latte cup. But you will not abandon your post. This guy is dangerous and loves to attack if you give him the opportunity. We have White this round, so develop with purpose and see what happens.
Now let’s have some fun!

The Game Begins...
Comments by Sancho Pawnza

1. e4 c5

2. Nf3 e6

3. d4 cxd

4. Nxd a6 Good Evening Mr. Kan I’ve been expecting you.

5. Bd3 Nc6

6. Be3 h5!?? Hmmmm... Interesting move on his part, I guess I can expect one of those all out attacks. But he should be concentrating on his development instead. Looks like he’s not planning on castling anytime soon. Kill his only active piece and make his light squared Bishop look like a tall pawn.

7. Nxc6 dxN

8. a4 [Freezes b5 dead in its tracks. 8...b5?? 9. axb cxb 10. Bxb5+!] a5 Guess he thought I was going to play 9. a5? But Bb4+ wins my A pawn.

9. Nd2 Nc3? Would only help him by allowing Bb4 pinning my Knight. Nf6

10. h3 Nc4 looks good too but I can play it next, besides I shut out ...Ng4 Qc7 Thematic

11. Nc4 Squares are targets too. He’s allowing me to upgrade from Operation ToeJam to Operation Foothold. c5 Holy Over Commitment Batman! His Bishop on f8 now has the range of a water pistol. Nd7 would have been much better.

12. Qd2 Hello dark squares! If ...e5 Qc3 b6 Not much else happening. I guess he’s trying to continue with the typical themes found in this system, but they are only effective with complete development.

13. Bf4 Congratulations d6 is mine! Qb7

14. f3 Bd7 No way to exploit the fork, I could permanently fix my dark squared bishop on d6 after Nd6+ followed by e5. But I’m not in the trading mood with all of these available options. Search, find the move, wait a second... Ne5 gives him massive amounts of problems. Now I can kill the Bishop on d7 and whatever recaptures gets pinned to his King.

15. Ne5 Rd8 Queenside castling here I come, the a4 pawn is safe because of Bb5+ and mate threats on d8.

16. 0-0-0 Development complete! Be7 No castling for you, because with my next move your King is going to start playing defense.

17. NxBd7 NxN

18. Bb5 Say hello to my little friend! f6? The dark squares look like an Interstate highway now. I have a multitude of targets and he’s getting ready to lose a series of pawns.

19. Bd6 Bf8

20. BxB RxB

21. Qd6 His King has to run now. Rf7 Ouch! I guess he was planning to use his Rook as a shield. But after 22. Qe6+ Re7 23. Qg8# and if 22...Kf8 23. Bc4 Kg8 24.Qxf7+ Kh7 25. Qxh5#

22. Qxe6+ Kf8

23. Bc4 Resigns

End Game
Well I finished the tournament (a double round-robin) with a score of 5.5/8
+5 -2 =1 and missed 1st place by 1/2 a point.
All in all I'm not displeased with the result. Of course one always wants to do better.
I guess the good news was after that second loss it led me to use a new methodology
in my thinking, which so far has worked pretty well.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Part II

The start of the Second Half

I noticed my thought processes making the switch to plan based chess, which has an amazing effect on your clock. Instead of looking for the “tactical” shot that brought down the house. I started focusing that energy into looking for plan continuations. Boy I thought I had found the secret ingredient to successful chess!

Now I’m playing the other 1700 in the tournament, the guy I lost to earlier in the first half. Not through any brilliance on his part but shear stupidity on mine.

Now this game starts out well, I’m up a pawn and his position is completely busted. He’s saddled with three pawn islands two of which are isolated pawns. I have targets and plans lining up for days. My current target is an over extended pawn that can’t be defended

by all of his pieces as it is on the opposite color of his remaining bishop. I become complacent, my only and final mistake of the game.

Sancho de Plans: Hey Tactics why don’t you take a break, grab some coffee we’ve got this covered!
Sancho de Tactics: You sure?
Sancho de Plans: Yes of course take a look at all of those juicy targets! Here’s the “plan” we stroll over and summarily execute that helpless e-pawn. Besides we’ll call you in to look his face right before we clip his wings. We are beating him at his own game. This positional grind stuff is fun! He can’t do squat besides sit there and squirm.
Sancho de Tactics: Well let me run some numbers.
Immediate checks? No.
Counterplay? No.
Forced sequences involving mate? No.
Everything looks cool and besides I really have to pee.
Don’t screw this up I will be right back.
Sancho de Plans: Don’t worry ya big baby. Besides look how our time advantage continues to steadily climb.
Sancho de Tactics: Ok, Ok enough whining take the helm.
Sancho de Plans: Sheesh! You think he’d show a little more gratitude, thanks to me we are kicking more booty than Jet Li!
Sancho de Relayer: Ok guys new move hot off the wire. It’s the anticipated Rook move!
Sancho de Plans: Cool! We expected this, no biggie just redirect our Knight and allow it to follow our current plan. Hey Relayer! What was the sequence Tactics ran through earlier?
Sancho de Relayer: You talking to me? Dude! Like I’m just a reporter, strictly non-combatant! If it wasn’t for this job I’d be a Canadian citizen and my checks would be of the hockey variety. See I have already memorized the anthem.
O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot.
Sancho de Plans: Ok enough!! Go sit in the corner and keep quiet! Let’s see.
1. Checks? No!
2.Counterplay? No!
Um what was that third thing?
Now you’ve got me addled and thinking about hockey and beer.
Heck with it two out of three is close enough.
Send a message to Hand to move the Knight!
Sancho de Relayer: Dude! You can’t do that without Tactics approval!
Sancho de Plans: Dude!? Do you see Tactics?
Sancho de Relayer: Um, no.
Sancho de Plans: Of course not! Want to know why? I will tell you why!
Cause there’s a new Sheriff in town and his name is Reggie Hammond!
Sancho de Relayer: Bro’ calm down.
Sancho de Plans: Right now we ain’t brothers, we ain’t partners, and we ain’t friends,
and if this patzer gets away with our points you’re going to be sorry you ever met me!
Sancho de Relayer: Dude! You’ve lost it! I’m going to find Tactics! (Runs off)
Sancho de Plans: What a fuggin’ wuss! He’d get his butt kicked playing hockey.
Hand! This is Plans do you read me?
Hand: No need to shout, just because I’m a hand doesn’t mean I’m hard of hearing.
Sancho de Plans: Sorry my apologies. Could you please do me a favor and kindly move our Knight to the following coordinates? Ne4 to g3 please, please, please?
Hand: Hey what happened to Relayer?
Sancho de Plans: Um he’s taking a break, besides you know I have clearance to make request.
Hand: True, besides I have this whole conversation on tape and if this thing goes down in flames I’m blameless.
Sancho de Plans: Want a signed authorization too?
Hand: Nah’ smart azz!
Knight move sequence completed as ordered.
Anything else your majesty?
Sancho de Plans: No sir that will be all for now thank you.
Sancho de Tactics: Dude what did you do to Relayer?
Sancho de Plans: You mean CĂ©line Dion? I kind of snapped when he started on that whole non-combatant spiel.
That coupled with his singing of “O Canada” off key mind you pushed me right to the edge. But it was his refusal to help with your three basic Tactical rules that really did it.
Besides I will buy the pansy a Latte’ and he’ll calm down.
Sancho de Tactics: Let’s see...
1.Immediate Checks? No!
2. Counterplay? Uh-oh
3. Forced sequences involving mate? Holy Crap!! Dude you’ve screwed us!
Let’s hope this idiot doesn’t see it.
Sancho de Relayer: New move, h4!
Sancho de Tactics: grrrrrrrrr
Sancho de Plans: Dude calm down you know this guy loves to push a pawn.
Sancho de Tactics: Dude, I can side step the mate, but thanks to your hasty
decision making you have managed to activate pieces that even I didn’t know he had. Not only that but I will now have to jettison a Rook and a Bishop for zero compensation. Dude I’m going to have to file a Loss report with the big cheese.
Sancho de Plans: A report? You can’t be serious?
Sancho de Tactics: Well it’s either we come clean now in front of the man or we spend the rest of our lives in the witness relocation program. Besides you know how he operates. He’ll review the tapes and hand out stiffer fines if we delay. It’s best to go ahead and fess up. I feel like I’ve been kicked in the gut a few times, and a little lower more than once.
Sancho de Plans: I think I’m gonna hurl, (sniff).
Sancho de Tactics: Dude that a tear?
Sancho de Plans: Allergies man and don’t forget it!
Pass me the phone I will call the boss.
Sancho de Tactics: Dude you rock, way to suck it up!
Sancho de Plans: Boss, its Plans. Tactics informs me that we are lost.
Sancho Pawnza: (Silence)
Sancho de Plans: Boss?
Sancho Pawnza: Hold on, I’m pulling up the position as we speak and running it through Archives looking for cheapos or perps. (Pause) Listen to me very carefully. Tell Tactics I said to play on..., based on this guy’s facial expression if we can give him any more excitement he may have a stroke, or wet his pants. Besides you never win anything by resigning!
Sancho de Plans: Yes Sir!
Sancho Pawnza: Oh and Plans...
Sancho de Plans: Yes sir?
Sancho Pawnza: I want to see you and Tactics in my office as soon as this is over!
Remember to congratulate our opponent on his well played game, you know the rules.
Once the clock stops we return to being friends, besides you should be thanking him for teaching us a lesson about dropping our guard.
Sancho de Plans: Yes Sir!
Sancho Pawnza: and bring Relayer with you. We are all going to review this and make some adjustments to get this mess resolved ASAP!
Sancho de Plans: Yes Sir!
Immediately after the game Plans, Tactics, and Relayer enter Sancho Pawnza’s office and the door closes quietly behind them.

Stay Tuned for Part III

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sancho Pawnza Rides Again (The Return to Tournament Play)

Part I

It has been long over due. Theories, schedules, and practice are necessary but are good for only so much. It was time to see if any of this stuff actually works.

These games marked the start of a new style of chess for me, a combined influx of tactical exercises, opening preparation, some endgame practice, and the new thought processes gleaned from the time I spend with IM Predrag Trajkovic have consumed my studies over the past year. A combination of nervousness, anxiety, and anticipation seemed to take turns in the days prior to the start. How would I perform? Would the past year’s efforts be a wash? Could I manage to assimilate all of this data and produce something that resembled a chess game?

The format was a double round-robin with player ratings ranging from 1000 to low 1700’s. Five of us in all, so there would be an off week for each player during each pass.

First Half
I started slowly only 2.5 out of 4, most of which I will attribute to rust and a passive mindset. One could say my offense was sputtering. I'd have moments of clarity only to find myself drifting into the fog. Even in the earlier won games I should have finished off the opponent sooner, or solidified advantages. Two out of the four games I was in severe time trouble. I drew a 1730 with 51 seconds on my clock, and frittered away a won position into a completely drawn ending in a time scramble against a 1300. The only thing that saved me was his blunder allowing me to skewer his rook and King.

I was fighting to over-ride my normal tendency to look at tactics and force myself to play with a plan. Finding the proper balance didn’t come until later, much later.

Regardless of what I tried it felt like I couldn’t get everything going in the same direction. Thanks to my time troubles Mr. Fritz even had a few rude things to say!

Needless to say my confidence was shaken. Realistically I felt I should be at 1.5/4 instead of 2.5/4, something had to give or I’d be in for a rough time over the course of the remaining games.

Stay Tuned...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

New Schedule

I have mapped out a schedule to be able to study several of my weakest areas of the game.
So pardon the lengthy list but I could stand to improve just about everywhere.

So far I have grouped the following:

A) Openings
Opening study with game review (playing through GM games of the particular lines I play to gather ideas and plans.)

B) Middle Game (Calculation Exercises)
Using tactical exercise software. (X number of problems per session, just to stay sharp)
(CT-Art believe it or not) The main reason is because it has some flawed lines and some really diverse themes. In a couple of recent tournament games I found myself getting lazy with taking
variations out only so far and missing some key advantages that I later found with Fritz only a move or two deeper than I initially looked. This is to work my calculation muscle, so I take my time with each exercise and have been trying to formulate an in game checklist while working through these.

C) Middle Game (Calculation & Planning)
Using IM Jacob Aargaard's excellent resources as my guide. Working through his "Right Decisions" Chessbase DVD and its companion book "Excelling at Chess Calculation".
Hopefully this will alleviate some of my in game indecision problems that I have encountered
over my last few games. Some of it can be attributed to rust, but I have been guilty of playing without a plan more often than not. If I'm going to make any significant improvement I have to avoid placing myself in time trouble and learn how to formulate plans when I enter into new territory over the board.

D) Middle Game (Pattern Recognition)
Working through the 1000X Checkmate CD again. This is a good way to keep those mating patterns fresh.

E) Endgame (Studies)
Working through Karsten Muller's "Fundamental Chess Endings" as well as his "Secrets of Pawn Endings" and creating a database of the examples for later review.

F) Endgame (Studies)
Working through the examples given in "GM-Ram" by Rashid Ziatdinov to help build bridges
between the middle and endgame.

G) Playing Rated Games
Self explanatory, play and review to seek improvements.
You need to play for the feedback alone, not to mention why bother to study if you aren't going to use it.

With one category for each day of the week it should be more than enough to keep me busy.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Slightly more than a little busy

Still playing a lot, these are OTB rated games too.
Getting the new baby settled into a routine.
It's been wide open at work playing catch up. (See above)
Other than that it is business as usual.
Hopefully I get a chance to post some of the happenings
in my tournament games.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


I have come to a not so stunning conclusion.
The best way to improve in chess is with a balanced approach.
I certainly don’t regret spending a concentrated amount of time on tactical
study earlier this year. Nor do I regret my time spent on creating an opening
repertoire, which is still an on going process, and after my lessons with IM Predrag Trajkovic I see the importance of studying endgames.

More importantly I have learned from Predrag that chess has to be approached
as a whole. One time I asked him if there was a set amount of time required for a player in each area (Openings, middle games, endings) he replied there are no set rules and no one could answer it with complete certainty, you get better by correcting your weaknesses.
Well since I can only discover those through playing that will be my focus this coming year. Playing and putting it all together.
I didn’t play a rated game during all of 2005 and I missed it.

My plan is to set up a structured approach to reviewing my games and allowing the necessary space to work on areas that need improvement, combining that with opening study, tactical exercises, and endgames.
Honestly I could go ahead and say that I need to improve in every area of my game.

Takchess mentioned something about a book that I had long since forgotten that I owned,
“GM RAM” by Rashid Ziatdinov. I decided to reread it after some of my lessons with IM Trajkovic, since he uses a similar approach in our lessons (understanding positions) I just didn’t put the two together until I finished reading.
Basically the book is comprised of positions that the author feels are essential knowledge for becoming a better player. The author also surmises that all strong players do not look at positions and count moves like “I will play here, he will play there, etc”. Instead a strong player sees a few reasonable moves immediately, and will go from there often without considering variations.
He feels that Chess is a language and I will take the liberty of quoting him directly as not to lose anything in translation. “Most chess players learn the game in a very unscientific manner. First they learn the basic rules-how the pieces move and the basic checkmates. Later they start to learn some openings and learn some basic principles, such as the importance of proper development and control of central space. Then if they become serious, comes deeper study of the openings, and eventually, and often reluctantly, study of the endgame. This is very much analogous to learning a language by learning whole paragraphs, and only much later, if ever, bothering to learn the basic vocabulary and simple sentence structures. Eventually some proficiency can be obtained, but mastery of the language’s nuances will likely never be obtained, since the early bad habits will be hard to overcome. The highly successful Russian school of chess takes the opposite approach. Start with the endings and teaching fundamental knowledge, and then build upon this knowledge.”

The first part of his quote sounds pretty much the way I learned to play, bass-ackwards.

He also states in another section “that logic is more important than memory.”
This sentiment is echoed in Irving Chernev’s book “Logical Chess:Move by Move, and also by IM Trajkovic. Who told me at the beginning of our first lesson that good chess is about correct thinking processes, and not about opening theory.
Little did I know at the time that IM Trajkovic is teaching me how to play by showing me the rules of chess thinking and why also those seemingly trite sayings (knights before bishops, passed pawns must be pushed, etc.) are the building blocks of becoming a better player.
Now the good news, GM Rashid Ziatdinov says that learning these positions is only one part of the puzzle, and that tactical training along with some opening study is required.
(So I don’t feel like I lost anything by spending a tremendous amount of time on tactics or openings the past year.) He states a player should “study the theory of an opening only after playing it. The point is that by playing the opening you will gain first hand experience in analyzing the types of positions that can arise.”

All I have to do now is figure out how to balance correcting my weaknesses. :)