by Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin
How many times have you caught yourself at a tournament bookstore or in your home searching online looking for that latest opening book to learn about some tricky side lines?
Chances are you one of the 95% of class players that spend an exorbitant amount of time learning the opening. If not, you likely spend too much time practicing tactics or endgames and not enough about positional understanding. To quickly become a well-rounded chess player, one should listen to the advice the late Grandmaster Bill Lombardy taught me- “Go over whole games!”
|A Young Bill Lombardy and Bobby Fischer
Bill was Bobby Fischer’s second. Before that, he was a prodigy, winning 12-0 in the World Junior Championship. As portrayed in Pawn Sacrifice, Bill left the chess world to become a priest. After his priesthood years, he turned to his roots and taught chess in New York City. While I never the privilege of formally studying with him, we became friends over the years, spending time at the Marshall Chess Club, Washington Square Park, Union Square Park The Chess Forum the Washington Square Diner and other places.
One late night or early morning, depending how you want to put it, around 2:00 AM Bill gave me one of the most influential pointers I ever received at the Chess Forum: “Find a grandmaster that matches your style and go over all of his games; that way you could learn a lot of about the opening, middlegame and endgame all at once.”
I went home and immediately started brainstorming about who that special player could be. I looked at my bookshelf and saw British Grandmaster’s Michael (Mickey) Adams’ autobiography. My father Keith bought it for me several years prior but I never spent time to actually read it. After taking a quick glance at the games, I realized Mickey had a similar style to myself, often playing 1.e4, preventing counter-play and initiating an attack on around move 18-20.
Ever since then, I’ve been following Mickey’s games closely to develop opening ideas, attacking motifs, endgame transitions and more. This way I’ve been able to not just understand opening lines, but also the ways in which they lead to middlegames and endgames.
One thing to note, is your influential player should be a grandmaster but does not necessarily have to be a World Champion or Super Grandmaster Recently I recommended a student pick GM Varuzhian Akobian as she is also a d4 and French player.
Here’s one game of Adams that I went over recently; my notes are in red:
[Event “2nd London Chess Classic”]
[Black “Howell, David W L”]
[Event Date “2010.12.06”]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 The Ruy Lopez is one opening I began to play inspired by Mickey.
Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Be7 6.Qe2 Nd6 7.Bxc6 Mickey gave up the bishop pair but Howell has development issues and less space.
bxc6 8.dxe5 Nb7 9.c4 A helpful prophylactic
O-O 10.Nc3 f6 11.Re1 fxe5 12.Qxe5 Bf6 13.Qg3 Nc5 14.Bg5 Nd3 15.Re3 Nxb2 16.Rae1 Bxg5?( 16… Ba6, Ne4, Bxg5, Nexg5, Qf6 +=
17.Nxg5 Qf6 18.Rf3 Qd8 19.Nce4 Ba6 20.Nxh7 Launching an attack right in that Move 18-20 range!
Rxf3 21.gxf3 Kxh7 22.Ng5+ Kg8 23.Qh4 Bxc4 24.Qh7+ Kf8 25.Re5 Be6 26.Qh8+ Ke7 and now Mate- in 2…
27.Qxg7+ Kd6 28.Ne4# 1-0
In many of Mickey’s game’s as in the one above, he will appear to have only a slightly better position and then all of a sudden find a tactical blow.
I am sad Bill unfortunately passed away last year but I am happy to carry on his legacy and share his teachings to Premier Chess students and others through articles like this. Now, go ahead and find a player that matches your style and go over all of his games!