The Simple Chess Study Companion: Index
"By isolating the basic elements of master and grandmaster games, Simple Chess attempts to break down the mystique of chess strategy into plain, clear, easy-to-understand ideas."
Simple Chess: Study Companion Index
If you want to work through the posts in order, start with
On the otherhand, if you’re more interested in dipping in and out, I’ve divided up the posts into three categories:-
some thoughts and reminders to self on each of Stean’s main games.
extra games I added that aren’t included in Simple Chess but which I thought illustrated the points he was making. These posts will always be related to a specific chapter.
musings on questions like how to study chess, how to get the most out of this book in particular and where to go next. These posts relate to the text as a whole not any one chapter.
Week One: Introduction
Botvinnik induces weaknesses on the light squares using well-timed pawn advances and a moment of tactics.
Petrosian exploits a long diagonal occupies an outpost at just the right moment.
Adorjan fixes and attacks Black’s queenside pawn structure then exploits the resulting weaknesses
Week Two: Outposts
When there’s an outpost in the centre of the board.
Both Black and White have an outpost on king bishop five, but only one of them is relevant.
Botvinnik sees the potential for an outpost where an open file crosses a long diagaonal.
Fischer creates an outpost then sets about exchanging off all the Black pieces that could challenge him for it.
Bobby allows White up a central outpost and then sets about preventing his opponent from making any use of it.
Week Three: Weak Pawns
Attacking weak pawns with piece play (including use of a rook lift)
Playing against an isolated pawn. Two of them, in fact.
Black’s pawn weaknesses turn out not to matter. White’s do.
Doubled pawns leave White unable to cover weak squares elsewhere on the board. Black exploits them.
Spassky has an isolated queen’s pawn. Karpov grinds him down.
Week Four: Open Files
In terms of occupation of open files, first come isn’t always first served.
While Black’s queen is out of play, Donner occupies the c-file.
Andersson plays to gain time to occupy the d-file, and Black’s position collapses in 25 moves.
It’s not so much the open file as the 7th rank entry point.
Week Five: Half-open files (Minority Attack)
White’s Minority Attack leaves Black with a loose pawn … that drops off.
A Sicilian Minority Attack.
Using the initiative to prevent a Minority Attack from starting to roll.
Week Six: Black Squares and White Squares
The threat of White’s king penetrating on the dark squares is so strong that no execution is necessary.
White’s bishop is blocked by a pawn on a central square.
Tal’s king marches forward on the dark-squares to win an endgame.
Colour complexes informing opening strategy in the KID.
Planinc has no light-squared bishop so Stean drag’s Black’s pawns on to dark squares.
Mecking’s attack evaporates, but his light-square weaknesses remain.
Week Seven: Space
Fischer converts Black’s 'cramped but solid’ position into 'cramped and lost’ by doing as little as possible.
Anatoly is the dog; Westerinen’s pieces are the sheep.
More space leads to a direct attack on Black’s king and White’s Plan B of playing along the e-file is not required.
The Black pieces look fine, but Smyslov drives them backwards and leaves his opponent suffocating.
More space = more scope for the king to come forward in the endgame.
Week Two: Outposts
looking for outposts in the games collection of an old Soviet Grandmaster.
Semi-outposts. They kind of are and kind of aren’t (featuring Spassky - Fischer (5), Reykjavik 1972).
Week Three: Weak pawns
Mostly to be avoided, but not always.
Week Five: Half-open files
JMGB versus the king of Minority Attacks himself, GM Keith Arkell
Two games played decades apart, one strategy
Martin shows that Minority Attacks aren’t just for the GMs.
Week Six: Black squares and White squares
Trading off a bishop then fixing your pawns on that colour.
Week Seven: Space
The famous Karpov - Unzicker game from Nice 1974.
It’s doesn’t have to be all about positional play
A discussion on using the woodpecker method with Simple Chess and the benefits of memorising the games
Thinking about building an opening repertoire based on the pawn structures that
A discussion on how to choose positions to review
use of computer analysis is both a gift and a potential curse.
A reflection on Stean’s selection (and why it’s ideal for learning)
A question about how to read Simple Chess.
Some thoughts on where to go next