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Amateur's Mind

Notes on Silman's first book on imbalances

Imbalance A dynamic or static difference in a position
Use of imbalances To identify your responsibilities to your position
The seven imbalances Minor pieces, pawn structure, space, material, files and squares, development, and initiative.
Imbalance planning shortcut Identify the imbalances you want to use, and make them better than the ones your opponent wants to use.
Imbalances vs. calculation Never calculate without understanding the imbalances in the position.
First rule of minor pieces Bishops and knights are both worth three points. You must manipulate the position to make one more powerful.
Second rule of minor pieces Bishops are best in open positions where pawns don't block their diagonals.
Third rule of minor pieces Bishops are strong in endgames where both sides have passed pawns, because they are faster than knights
Fourth rule of minor pieces A bad bishop is one on the same color as your center pawns.
What to do with a bad bishop Trade it, move the pawns, or move it outside the pawn chain (it's still bad, but active)
Fifth rule of minor pieces A bishop's weakness is that it is stuck on one color.
Sixth rule of minor pieces Knights love closed positions with locked pawns
Seventh rule of minor pieces A knight on the rim is dim
Eighth rule of minor pieces Knights need support points: secure, advanced homes
Knight on the first rank Purely defensive and innefective
Knight on the second rank Purely defensive and worth less than a bishop
Knight on the third rank Can be defensive or can jump forward
Knight on the fourth rank Fully equal to a bishop
Knight on the fifth rank An attacking unit slightly better than a bishop
Knight on the sixth rank More effective than anywhere else, worth a rook
Knight on the seventh/eighth rank Less effective than sixth due to fewer controlled squares
Ninth rule of minor pieces Knights are more effective in endgames with the pawns on one side (where color shifting beats range)
Tenth rule of minor pieces Steinitz's rule: to defeat knights, you must deprive them of support points.
When king safety is important If your opponent has pieces aimed in his direction
The essence of bishop vs. knight Fighting over support points
Effort and imbalances You have to work to make them real advantages for you, or they will go away.
Fixation in Chess Blinds you to possibilities
Two things to expect of your opponent That they will see your threats and that they will make the best move.
When to play tactics When you can force it.
When to play positional When you can't force a tactic (but gather your forces and keep an eye on tactics)
Backward pawn A pawn on an open file with no pawn next to or behind it.
When to attack When your position is good even after they defend.
Single bishop vs. pawns Force the pawns onto the bishop's color
When to create a plan As soon as possible
First rule of the center A full pawn center gives territory and control of central squares
Second rule of the center If you have a full pawn center you must strive to make it indestructible
Third rule of the center Every pawn move leaves weak squares in it's wake (don't advance too early).
Fourth rule of the center You must attack your opponent's strong pawn center
Fifth rule of the center If center pawns get traded, it leaves open files for rooks to control
Sixth rule of the center If the center is locked, play switches to the wings
Seventh rule of the center If the center is locked, play to where your pawns point (that's where you have more space).
Which pawn to push Generally the one next to your most advanced pawn.
Eighth rule of the center An open center allows piece attacks, a closed center requires pawn attacks (to open files for rooks).
First rule of space When you have more space, exchanges are generally a bad idea.
Second rule of space When you have less space, an exchange or two can open up your other pieces.
Third rule of space Space is a long term advantage. You can take your time to exploit it.
Checks and one move attacks Are useless without follow through. If they are inneffective do not fear them or use them (unless they aid your position).
Goal of each move Positive base and increase the advantages of your position
Positional concessions to block threats A last resort
After each opponent move… Ask why the made that move.
Where to look for attacks In the center.
For every threat assume… that your opponent will see it
Before developing your pieces Develop a plan, and develop your pieces around that plan
Keeping your opponent honest If you see a way to win material and can't see a refutation, go for it.
Forward movement Doesn't always help your position.
Space and mobility A space advantage cramps your opponent. Look to keep his pieces restricted.
How to take advantage of space Eventually you must break into your opponent's position. Locking things up will ruin your advantage.
Closing open files Only do it if you can't take advantage of the file.
When to castle Before the center opens up.
Negative of doubled pawns Lack of flexibility, and one or both (usually lead) is open to attack.
Positive of doubled pawns Open files for rooks, and increased square control
Negative of isolated pawns Cannot be defended by another pawn, and open to attack if on an open file.
Positive of isolated pawns It may give you a half open file
To attack an isolated pawn Control the square in front of it, trade off the minor pieces , keep the queen to keep king off defense, and attack with one or two rooks and a pawn.
Isolated queens pawn If on the fourth rank it give space for pieces and open files for rooks. Calls for dynamic piece play.
Negative of backward pawns A backward pawn is weak if it is on an open file and cannot advance. The square in front of it is it's weakness
Positive of backward pawns They defend the advanced pawn in front of them.
Hanging pawns Two pawns (traditionally c and d) next to each other but not other pawns.
Negative of hanging pawns If static they can be attacked by pieces. Attack them at all costs.
Positive of hanging pawns The control important squares, given territory, and two half open files for rooks.
Negative of passed pawns Can be blocked and become static, and if a knight blocks it the knight is powerful
Positive of passed pawns Endgame insurance, and the threat of advancing it if the square in front of it is controlled by its owner. That square is incredibly important.
Weak pawns Pawns are only weak if you can attack them or control the weak squares they create.
Fear of ghosts Fear of attacks that may or may not be real. Determine if they are real, and ignore them otherwise.
Attacking weak pawns Block and contain them first.
Play in closed positions Where you have more space. Expand that space
Pre move question one Does this move allow any checks?
Pre move question two Does this move allow any captures?
Pre move question three Does this move allow any attacks?
First rule of material Material beats initiative if you can neutralize your enemy's pluses and equalize the game.
Second rule of material Material advantages want to be active, that's when they're an advantage.
Third rule of material The exchange is only an advantage if the rook has an open file
Fourth rule of material Gaining material often uncoordinates your pieces. Bring them back together, tight and safe.
Fifth rule of material Material is a long term advantage. Take your time with it. (Actually part of fourth rule).
Two sides of planning Maximize your advantages, minimize your opponent's.
Winning positions Aren't won. Your opponent can still have play you need to watch for
Rooks and passed pawns Rooks belong behind passed pawns
Small material advantages Require playing for other advantages, and using the material advantage as endgame insurance.
When facing two bishops Trade for one of them, leaving them one bishop
Static imbalance A positionally motivated imbalance. It is long term and can be used immediately or later in the game.
Dynamic imbalance An intangible and short term imbalance. It must be used quickly, to trade for a static imbalance or for a quick knock out.
Development imbalance A dynamic imbalance of having more pieces out than your opponent.
First rule of development You must attack to make use of the imbalance or it will go away as your opponent develops.
Second rule of development A developmental advantage is stronger in an open game because the central files allow for easier penetration
Third rule of development A central king is a prime target for an attack when you have a lead in development. Keep it from castling.
Fourth rule of development A closed position will generally give the player behind in development a chance to catch up, as long as the central pawns can't be busted open.
Fifth rule of development You don't need to mate when you have the developmental advantage. Just get a static advantage out of it.
Initiative Control of the game. It can be based on static factors (attacking a weak point) or dynamic ones (a lead in development). Initiative is dynamic.
Initiative in open games Usually goes to the first person to dominate a central file
Games with attacks on opposite wings Follow your plan with unerring devotion. Some defense is okay, but total defense surrenders the initiative.
Minority attack A pawn attack on the side where you have fewer pawns, trying to undermine your opponent's pawn majority.
Defense and offense When defending, try to make a move that also furthers our own plans.
Games with multiple imbalances The imbalances can interact, voiding some of the rules.
Opponent backed up against the wall Take away any and all potential counter play before going in for the kill.
When your opponent can't be active Don't rush things. Let him sit there and suffer while you increase your advantage and block his counterplay.
When you have an advantage Don't forget to look for ways to get new advantages.
Poorly defended pieces Prime targets
Rule #1 The position beats the rules
If you're playing on the wing Your opponent probably has play on the other one
Pawns and minor pieces Make your pawns conform to the minor pieces you have.
Imbalances in the opening Once one is created, all developing and pawn moves should address that imbalance in some way.
Fianchettoed bishops Want their diagonals to stay open. Only allow them to close if you get compensation.
Central pawns and rooks Advancing the pawns will give you files for the roks.
First rule of rooks Use your pawns to blast open files, in both open and closed positions.
Second rule of rooks Don't open a file if you think that the opponent will take it away from you.
Third rule of rooks Only open files that help your other positive imbalances.
Fourth rule of rooks Open files are only useful/threats if they have penetration points. Take them away or open them up as needed.
Stopping your opponent's play Can give you time to create your own play at leisure.
The Mindless Kinghunter Goes after the king when he has no attack.
Decentralization Moving away from the center. Should be viewed with suspicion
Undefended pieces Are nasty tactical surprises waiting to happen
Defending against wing attacks Counter attack in the center
Retreating Is okay if it accomplishes an important goal
Picking a side Pick one and concentrate on it.
The Mandatory Kinghunter If the position does call for a king attack, you must go for it.
Open positions and timing You must attack quickly in an open position or your opponent will.
First rule of mental toughness Always expect your opponent to see your threat and make the best reply.
Second rule of mental toughness Always play to win against everyone.
Third rule of mental toughness If you have a good plan, don't let your opponent scare you off of it.
Fourth rule of mental toughness Play with confidence. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone can be beaten.
Fifth rule of mental toughness If you're losing, tighten everything up and hang on like grim death. Make him play perfect and work for the point.
Sixth rule of mental toughness If you're opponent is under time pressure, don't play at his pace. That negates your advantage.
Created by: ichabod801