1. Sicilian Four Knights
Here you find information about the content and the material.
2. The Chess Universe
Why is chess, actually, so difficult? This question not only has philosophical significance, but also is of major practical relevance. If we compare chess with linguistics, we will probably conclude that it is much easier to learn a language than to accomplish expert strength in chess. In order to master a language, diligence is required, in the first place. Learning grammar, drilling in vocabulary and, of course, a lot of practice. There are definitively many degrees of language skill and not every one has the potential to become a writer. Nevertheless, there is a pretty straight-forward, rule-based path toward linguistic expertise.
With chess it is more complex. The decision-making during the game is the result of the interaction of numerous and additionally very diverse elements:
- Concrete knowledge is most important in opening and endgame theory.
- Positional pattern knowledge can be considered as semi-concrete or semi-abstract knowledge. Here, the pawn structure plays a major role.
- Tactical pattern knowledge can also be understood as semi-concrete knowledge. It is important for the forceful exploitation of weaknesses in the short-term.
- Positional concept knowledge can be described as abstract knowledge and covers a huge variety of interacting and rivaling positional concepts.
- Static-positional intuition has its roots in point 2 and 3 and manifests itself in a feeling for harmony and coordination.
- Dynamic-positional intuition is based on points 2 and 3 and pertains to the feeling for initiative and the relation between material and other positional dimensions (relevant for genuine sacrifices).
- Calculation is a multi-layer phenomenon and consists of many different elements: tactical pattern knowledge, positional pattern knowledge (both mentioned under 2 and 3), optical skills (vision) and specific thinking techniques.
- Methodology is related to the deliberate application of specific thinking techniques.
- Logic is responsible for meta-level operations by combining and weighing all elements appropriately as well as triggering them in the right moment.
Furthermore, the abilities which contribute to the ingame decision-making constitute only one of the two areas, which account for the overall playing strength. Also the abilities away from the board are of major importance. It is this multi-dimensional nature and complexity, which turns chess into one of the most interesting intellectual and emotional challenges we know.
The participants receives an overview about all areas which have significance for the decision-making during the game as well for the overall playing strength. Of course, the relationship between all areas is demonstrated, supported by numerous charts and diagrams. This top-down approach provides the participant henceforth with a good orientation in his training activities. Training methods for improvement in all depicted ares will be explicitly mentioned. In order to support pleasure and concentration, the practical part won’t be neglected by no means. Examples and exercises will liven up the the lecture. It goes without saying that every single topic can only be touched on, due to the global approach. The important ones will later be treated within stand-alone seminars.
3. Positional Evaluation
The art of positional evaluation is the basis of our success in chess and the starting point of diverse essential operations:
- Establishment of realistic quantitative goals (e.g. Should I play for an advantage or quality?)
- Establishment of qualitative goals (Which strategic goals result from the position? Which tasks have to be performed?)
- Comparison of candidate moves
- Anticipation of critical moments (value shifts)
What precisely is meant by positional evaluation?
Positional evaluation is the result of the analysis of all positional categories. These are the areas, where you can achieve an advantage. I often prefer to use the term “value”, instead of “advantage”. Hence we can talk about “value categories”. There a different models, thanks to the leeway regarding definitions and perspective. Below, the main structure (first tier) of two models:
Model a) Model b)
– king safety – material (substance)
– material – structure (quality)
– piece activity – initiative (time)
– pawn structure
- Introduction of value categories (multi-Level)
- Positional analysis resulting in establishing the dominat theme, followed by the deduction of a plan
- Imbalanced, e.g. dynamic versus static advantage
- Value transformation
I already have ideas for more than 15 further seminars. Here but a few examples, in order to give chess clubs, which might be contemplating over organizing a closed seminar, some food for thought. However, above all I am concerned about receiving feedback on these topics, in order not to miss the demand of the market.
4. The Positional Sacrifice
Studying the positional sacrifice is a method, which will automatically lead to an improvement of your chess understanding, as the wide majority of players (up to GM level) have deficits here. The seminar answers the following questions:
What is a positional sacrifice?
What deters many players from applying it?
Which different types exist?
Why are positional sacrifices no matter of taste, but positionally forced in the majority of cases?
5. Winning with the Sicilian
The Sicilian is the most complicated opening and for many a closed book. It is also a very broad field. Therefore, the seminar is confined to the Open Sicilian alone and there it is further restricted to the most important structure – the Scheveningen centre with e6 and d6. Whoever comprehends this formation, has the “Sicilian spirit” incorporated and thinks like a real Sicilian. To this end, the seminar introduces you to the 25 most important winning ideas. This is no presentation of concrete lines, but of abstract and universally useful concepts, which every one can apply in his own preferred systems. This includes the following variations: Scheveningen, Najdorf, Four Knights, Kan, Paulsen, the Classical System, Qb6-variations etc.
Every decent opening seminar has two sides. One specific, which relates to the respective opening theme and one generic. The generic side is nothing else than the application of general middlegame criteria and concepts to the specific topic. In each opening the same universally valid laws of chess are in place and each opening or variation hence has to undergo a critical investigation on the basis of these laws. As a side effect, the participant sharpens his understanding of the middlegame in a generic sense.
6. The mysterious Hedgehog
The Hedhog-setup is no opening but rather a middlegame structure, which can arise via numerous openings and variations. Hence, knowledge here is of universal value. There hardly is another field, where knowledge asymmetry is potentially as big, simply because this position type is so demanding. When a Hedgehog experts meets an unknowing white player, he will generally enjoy excellent practical chances. While in other structures the ignorant one normally has good chances to bail out by virtue of common sense and general chess logic, this is difficult in the Hedgehog, as the “physical laws of chess” apparently don’t apply. Black doesn’t take development (speed) very seriously and also donates a whole lot of space to his opponent. Then, he often shuffles his pieces around without any particular plan. A closer look, however, reveals that the Hedgehog is subject to the laws of chess in the same fashion as all other structures, as well.
The objective of the seminar is the Hedgehog’s demystification. The participant will understand the specific logic of the Hedgehog, together with all related strategic and psychological concepts. This will happen by means of addressing all conventional value categories, so that the seminar could also be viewed as a generic seminar on strategy or the middlegame, where the Hedgehog is just serving as an example.
7. Chess Styles
The knowledge of chess styles is important for your self-evaluation, your opening repertoire and for adapting your game to specific opponents.
Which archetypal styles exist?
Which chess players serve as example?
Which openings is in line with which style?
How should you combat these styles?
8. AlphaZero – The best player in history
The match between Stockfish and AlphaZero hit the headlines. What exactly can we learn from it?
How does “he” think? What does distinguish him from other engines?
What style does he pursue?
How is he repertoire constituted and why?
And most importantly: In which way did he extend our understanding of the game?