Chess Course – Snippet 1

GMP Chess Course

This extract is from the lesson about Prophylaxis from our core chess course, the Grandmaster Package. It is a lesson from the latter part of the course.

From the very beginning of our course, we have emphasized correct thinking in chess. One of the most important questions a chess player must continually ask is: “What is my opponent threatening?” followed by “Is that a real threat?”.

A threat doesn’t only refer to straightforward captures or tactical strikes. An opponent might want to make a favorable exchange, improve their pawn structure, or secure a strong square—these are considered positional threats.

A strong player must:

  1. Identify the opponent’s immediate threats, including simple and tactical maneuvers.
  2. Recognize the opponent’s positional threats, understanding what the opponent aims to achieve.
  3. Evaluate if these threats are real, determining if the opponent’s threats and plans are indeed advantageous and pose any danger to our position.

Prophylaxis involves this process of thinking and the actions taken to prevent the opponent’s threats and plans. Typically, prophylactic measures do not improve your own position but serve to hinder your opponent from enhancing theirs. Another critical aspect to consider is the economy of time and resources. Therefore, you should strive to find the most efficient prophylactic measures, without expending excessive time or straying from your own objectives.

Thus, prophylaxis is not merely a continuous defense against an opponent’s threats; in such a scenario, the opponent would hold the initiative. Effective prophylactic play occurs when you manage to execute your own plans while simultaneously placing obstacles in the path of your opponent’s plans.

After this short introduction, let’s analyze an example:

In the game Karpov vs. Cobo (see diagram below), White has just played 12.Be3. So, what does White threaten or aim to do next? Here, White doesn’t pose a deadly threat such as those against the king or involving material gain. However, White has a strategic threat.

Recognizing and evaluating strategic threats requires a broad understanding of strategy. Earlier in our core course, we studied the concepts of flexible versus immobile pawn structures. In this position, Black has to maintain the flexibility of his queenside pawn structure and, furthermore, to possibly play b5 at some point in the future.

Stay tuned as we continue to update this section with more extracts and, eventually, offer free snippets from our other courses as well.

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