Chess Resources

So many books, so little time.” ― Frank Zappa

There are many chess resources out there on the market today which are accessible and affordable as compared to say 30 years ago where chess material was difficult to come by and books were still considered generally expensive.

I remember the good old days back when Borders Bookstore was still in Wheelock (Goodness, I'm getting old), I used to browse the chess books with eagerness and glee but always mindful of the price of each book, easily ranging from $35 SGD upwards.

These days the internet has so many free chess resources you can't even digest them all in one lifetime. Books, magazines, instructional videos, annotated databases, chess engines, chess practicing software... the list goes on and on... and they are much more affordable then as opposed to 2-3 decades ago.

Likewise in medical school, there are TONS of medical textbooks and practice material, you just don't know where to begin.

It IS tempting to buy all of them and feel good that you're acquiring something which may improve your chess but after so after many hits and misses, I have come to the following conclusion: it's not about how many resources you have in your collection but how well you have assimilated their knowledge that counts.

I've read somewhere before that most chess grandmasters in the older generation rarely have more than a few chess books in their collection as they rise their way to the top. I still believe this is true today. Even in 2018, I'm positive that there are players who make their final GM who don't own all the latest chess books or databases.

So having said all that, I'm now going to recommend a list of chess resources below which I found to be greatly useful and beneficial to me in my development as a chess player. Of course, this list is subjective and open to debate. The bottom line is that if it works for you, it works for you. One thing I love about chess is that each player is unique and develops differently with their own set of strengths and weaknesses.

Okay, enough writing. Here's the list of chess resources I promised.

Software

Chessbase. Currently in its 15th version.

Like it or not, in 2019, it's almost imperative to have a chess software which helps you research and organize your chess games and refine your opening repertoire. You need to at least know your openings lines to a level which takes you to the middlegame on equal footing. Some chess players think that ChessBase is mainly for opening preparation. It is much more than that. ChessBase is an effective tool when it comes to researching middlegame lines and plans, even endgame motifs. (I will elaborate more in my blog posts on how to make the most of Chessbase in subsequent posts)

Alternative free option: Tarrash GUI

I've had the pleasure of conversing to the chief programmer of this amazing free chess program Bill Forster live over dinner. Tarrasch does all the basics very well and has a clean light interface which will help you get started on understanding how databases and chess engines work. If you're a complete beginner to chess, perhaps getting started with this programme first would be better as opposed to Chessbase where the learning curve is rather steep. Personally, I think Tarrasch is all you REALLY need if you're not a full time chess professional or a student who hasn't started working yet.

Tactics

Since most chess games are decided by tactics, this is probably where I'd spend the most time on to get the most bang for buck in terms of rating rise. 


There are 2 versions of this program, one for smart phones (iOS and Android play) and another one for desktop use. I'll go with the smartphone version (CT ART 4.0) simply because you can practice the puzzles on the go. The  puzzles presented are well organized and challenging and indeed will built up one's knowledge of tactical motifs.

The WoodPecker Method by Axel Smith And Hans Tikkanen 

Recommended to me by Singapore's top local player GM elect Goh Wei Ming,  going thru the exercises in this book should help to plug any gaps in one's tactical pattern recognition. 

Openings 

In general, I really like the website chesspublishing.com.

For quite an affordable yearly subscription, master level players will update you on the latest opening trends and middlegame ideas in the opening of your choice and give you some suggestions on improvements here and there. The best part is that their files are in ChessBase friendly format (.cbv) which makes it even easier and faster to research up more lines. The best part? All their games are annotated. Woo Hoo. =)


Middlegame/Strategy Resources


A great primer on chess strategy and one which helped me appreciate positional play.

Chess Strategy for Club Players by Herman Grooten

IM Herman writes in a clean and easy to understand style. His lessons are derived from research and insights he has acquired over the years in teaching players of all levels. A very gifted writer which has given me a lot of insights into chess in general. A good read!


Endgames:

For an easy start into endgames, I recommend 


Simple and easy to read. IM Silman assumes you have no endgame knowledge and simply gives you the basics in an easy digestible format. This book helped me overcome my lack of distrust in endgame books (because they tend to be very 'dry'). It is not extensive but an excellent primer to start learning basic key endgame techniques.


100 Endgames You must know: Vital Lessons for Every Chess player. - Jesus De La Villa.

A practical book which gives you all the basics of essential endgame knowledge. The material is well organised and structured. Mastering the content in book will definitely give you the confidence to transit into a favorable endgame.


Special mentions

I should mentioned the following series of books:


This course has really impressed me so far in terms of its content and organisation of material. 9 books in total guaranteed to cover your understanding of chess in a systematic progressive way, just the kind I need as a working adult. The only ingredient left is ... motivation. =p It's very possible to cover 1 chapter a day for 1 year to complete this course. I'm planning to do this in 2019. Who wants to join me?




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