30 Dec 2016

4 typical chess mistakes in defense you should never make!

We are humans and we make mistakes, this is normal. There are some typical cases in which chess players make the same mistake(s) repeatedly. In this lesson about defense, you will recognize and understand those mistakes. It will help you avoid those mistakes in your future games and it will drive you in cloud nine! 🙂

Mistake #1 – Underestimating opponents’ threats

typical chess mistakeWhite to play

When we are playing a game, our opponent sits opposite to us and he/she wants to win as much as we want to. Don’t forget that we are not the only one playing the game, and what is more important we are not the only ones who are playing to win. Thus, we should pay attention to our opponent’s threats and we should ask ourselves: what does she/he have in mind?

Topalov who plays with the White pieces in the game above, played Nd2. This was the decisive mistake because after 35…dxc3 White has huge problems. Two connected passed pawns are very strong and Black managed to win the game afterwards. The game continued: 36.Nc4 Re8 37.Rxb7+ Qxb7 38.Qxe8 Qb1+ [38…Qb1+ 39.Qe1 c2–+] 0–1

Mistake #2 – Blunders

typical chess mistakeBlack to play

A blunder is like a slipping on a banana peel. Sometimes, even the TOP grandmasters can make such terrible mistakes. It is not something they intend to do; it is simply a mistake, an error. After the blunder, the position immediately collapses.

Adams who plays with the Black pieces is forced to move his King. The correct reply is Ka7 in order to protect the Knight on b6. Instead, he played Ka8 and lost a piece after the forcing variation: 34.Rxd8+ Rxd8 35.Qf6
typical chess mistakeBlack to play

This is a double attack to both the unprotected d8-rook and b6-knight. White won the game afterwards. 35…Nc4 36.Qxd8+ Ka7 37.Qd3 Nxb2 38.Qf5 Qa1+ 39.Kd2 Nc4+ 40.Ke2 Qxc3 41.Qxc5+ 1–0

Suggestion: You may like to read about “Two chess opening mistakes you should never make

Mistake #3 – Counting on your opponent to play not in the best way

typical chess mistakeBlack to play

In the above game, Nakamura played the move 13.Ne2 very quickly. Perhaps he confuses his opening preparation or he just would like to confuse his opponent. Please let me remind you that he is one of the best blitz players in the world. Unfortunately, Blitz is very different from classical chess.

After the forcing variation: 13…Nxe4 14.Bxd8 Nxd2 15.Be7 Rf7 16.Bxc5 Nxf1 17.Rxf1 b6 18.Bb4 Ba6 we are getting to the following position:
typical chess mistakeWhite to play

White has strategically lost the position because the pawn on c4 is a very weak one and Black’s plan is very simple. Black will double his rooks on the c-file and they will capture the weak pawn. Black won the game easily.

Mistake #4 – Play without castling

typical chess mistakeBlack to play

The most dangerous strategy is to leave your King in the center of the board, because the center usually can be opened easily. Thus, my advice is to castle as soon as possible and keep those pawns snug (f2,g2 and h2) right in front of your king.

Many chess players leave their King in the center for long time, and because of that they lose their games. I hope that you will not make this mistake and will secure your King. 🙂

P.S. Did you like this article? Feel free to write your thoughts in the comments below. Also please do share it with your friends. 🙂

Quick Succes in chess

28 Dec 2016

Release of the “Defending Champion” chess course

The day has finally come – today we’ve released our new chess course “Defending Champion”! If you want to strengthen your defensive skills and stop losing games under pressure, then this course is for you.

As promised, we’re providing you with a massive 35% discount (save about USD $40) on this course. Simply use the coupon “defend35” when purchasing this course. If you don’t know how to use a discount code, please see here. This is a limited-period offer: it will be valid from today till Wednesday, 4 Jan. (inclusive).

Why defense?

Defense is a very important chess skill. In at least 50% of chess games, we need to defend. In some games, we play with the Black pieces and White makes the first move; for that reason, White has the opportunity to start the attack/initiative. On some other occasions, one will make a mistake and be forced to defend. Thus, defense is as important as attack.

Many players struggle to get out of hard positions and they crumble under pressure. If you study the course carefully, then you will be able to defend correctly against all level of players.

Is this course right for you?

This course is suitable for beginners and intermediate-level players, but it will be helpful for advanced players, too. Even if your ELO is 1900+, this course will help you improve your defensive skills and you’ll learn some new things.

Key topics covered in the course

Defending Champion chess course contents

  • How to defend in the opening?
  • Stop losing material
  • How to evaluate a position?
  • Simplification in chess
  • Economic defense
  • How to consolidate and save a lost position?
  • Active defense and counterattack
  • A fortress
  • Psychology of defense
  • Dealing with gambits
  • Three main methods
  • Eliminating errors

The course also contains powerful practical tasks: it is necessary to put the received knowledge into practice. There are nine practical tasks (over 100 games) in this course, which will help you to understand and remember the ideas presented in the course better. The training program has a detailed explanation of WHAT and HOW exactly you should perform the practical tasks.

P.S. We’re also celebrating this holiday season – if you would like to study other RCA courses, this is the perfect time: you can get a huge 30% discount on all our courses till 31st Dec. Simply use coupon “holidays30”. Find more details here.

GM Igor Smirnov’s Holiday spirits Part-2

Our new chess course “Defending Champion” has been released today. If you want to strengthen your defensive skills and stop losing games under pressure, then this course is for you. You can grab this course with a huge 35% discount (save about USD $40!). Simply use the coupon “defend35”. You can find more details here.
designThis is the second part of the ‘Christmas special article’, where I’ll share my Holiday spirits with you. 🙂 If you missed the first part, you can read it here.

Nowadays people still use large chess sets….
huge chess setIn Salzburg (Austria), you can play chess on the ground. Salzburg is famous as the home town of genius composer Mozart.
Salzburg museumMozart’s room became a museum

Sometimes Magnus Carlsen is called the ‘Mozart of chess’, highlighting the similarity between these two prodigies.

It was interesting to know that Mozart’s father was a music teacher and wrote a famous book about the art of violin-play. The ‘genius’ results of his son are not so mysterious… they were a combination of proper teaching and hard work.

Christmas is a time of wonders.
Igor Smirnov alienWho is this alien behind me? Did he land on Earth with this massive UFO?
Olympic stadium MunichNot quite.:) The architectural construction around me is the Olympic stadium in Munich (Germany). It’s very futuristic though.

Nevertheless, even a gigantic opponent can be defeated, as painted on the wall in Regensburg (Germany).
Regensburg wall paintingIf you want to know how, study my new course “Defending Champion”. 🙂 On a serious note, this image showcases the Bible story about David and Goliath.

May this holiday season bring joy and happiness to you and yours! I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays once again, and a very Happy New Year in advance. 🙂

P.S. Don’t forget to celebrate the holidays with us – grab our courses with a huge 30% discount. Use coupon “holidays30”. You can find more details here and shop now.

25 Dec 2016

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

In this article I’d like to share my Holiday spirits with you. Have fun! 🙂 In this Christmas season, I’ve visited the country that originated the tradition of Christmas trees – Germany.

The custom was brought to North America by German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania and Ohio in the 18th century.
GM Igor Smirnov celebrates ChristmasChristmas market in Munich, Germany

Germans are also the ones who established a tradition to illuminate streets during the Christmas time.

It’s great to see the rise of interest in chess in Germany lately. In 2016, Germans were the second largest group (after US) of those who studied RCA courses.
 alt=Albrecht (on the right) is an amateur chess player and a great guy! Here, I’d like to thank Albrecht and all the German students who invited me. Sadly, I could not visit many cities and had to miss some of the invitations. Thanks a lot for your hospitality! 🙂

In the residence of Bavarian kings (who ruled this German region in 1508-1918), I’ve found marvelous chess board.
 alt=It’s made of gold and precious stones, and should be worth a whole lot of money.

In ‘Deutsches museum’ there was one of the old models of electronic chess boards.
 alt=You can play your move on the board, while the computer shows you its reply on the screen. Large machinery was required to make this computer work.
 alt=Ok, here I’m kidding. 🙂 It’s irrelevant to the chess comp from the previous photo.

Nevertheless, in this photo, my wife stands near to the old version of the computer (back in those days where a comp could hardly fit into your pocket!).

<<To be continued>>

P.S. What do you like about Christmas? How do you usually spend the Holidays? 🙂 Feel free to share your Christmas Vibes with us in the comments below.

19 Dec 2016

What can you learn from our chess course "Defending Champion"?

In my previous article, I wrote that we’ll be launching a new chess course called “Defending Champion” soon. The authors of this course are FM Marko Makaj (our guest coach) and myself (Igor Smirnov). Also, we gave a little preview (video lesson) for the course, if you missed it, you can find it here.

Today I’d like to share with you a few more details of the course and how it will help you master the art of defense! 🙂 First, you can find the cover image of the course below:
Defending Champion

Who can study the course?

The course is suitable for beginners and intermediate level players, but it will be helpful for advanced level players, too. Even if your ELO is 1900+ (or even 2000+), this course will help you improve your defending skills and you’ll learn some new things. Therefore, anyone can study this course.

Why “defense” is important?

Defense is a very important chess skill. At least in about 50% of a chess game, we need to defend. In some games, we play with Black pieces and White makes the first move, and for that reason, White has the opportunity to start the attack/initiative.
Defending ChampionIn some other occasions, one will make a mistake and he or she is forced to defend. Thus, defense is as important as attack. After all, that’s how Sergey Karjakin manged to survive some of the early games of the recent World Championship against Magnus Carlsen🙂

What can you learn from the course?

If you carefully study the course, then you will be able to defend correctly against all level of players. You will learn a lot of new ideas and at the end of the course, you’re provided with the right way of thinking. We’ll give you a complete system which you can apply, for sure, after the study of the course.

Course contents

  • No. of video lessons – 15
  • No. of practical parts – 9
  • Course duration – 305 minutes
  • There are almost 100 analyzed games in the practical part

P.S. Stay tuned, guys, for we’ll release the course soon! 🙂

16 Dec 2016

How to become a defending champion in chess?

Remote Chess Academy (RCA) is very happy to announce that its new course is almost ready – it’s called “Defending Champion”.

As you can learn from the title of the course, this course deals with one of the most important topics of the chess game – defense. The authors of this course are FM Marko Makaj (our guest coach) and myself (Igor Smirnov).

The course will be released soon, so please stay tuned! 🙂 Meanwhile, let’s talk more about this topic and have a little preview of the course.

Nowadays, many chess players face huge problems when it comes to defending the position when the opponent is attacking.
Defending in ChessWhile contemplating about this topic, we’re faced with the following questions:
  • How to create a solid repertoire against an attacking player?
  • When to defend and when to ignore opponent’s attack/idea?
  • Do you always have something ‘better’ not to resign?
  • How to stop losing initiative/material?
  • How to make counter-attack (instead of just defense)?
  • and the list goes on..
But the main question is “How to make a perfect defense or fortress?” – like the one we’ve seen in the recent World Championship match where Karjakin showed off his extraordinary defensive skills🙂

All your questions and doubts will be cleared in the upcoming course. Meanwhile, we’d like to offer you a small preview of the course to help you be prepared for the course. 🙂 You can watch the video below:

9 Dec 2016

How to use your rook effectively?

The most commonly misunderstood piece in chess is the rook. Many players have real problems with their rooks and don’t know how to play with them.

Today, IM Vangjel Buli has prepared a new text lesson for you. He will teach you with an illustrative example – a game he played in the Accelerated Dragon variation of the Sicilian Defense. There is one famous Russian rule about rooks – find all the reasons why you should place one rook on an open file and then move the other rook!

Let’s imagine that we have two rooks, one on f1 and the other on a1. Let’s imagine that we have only one open file, the e-file. We should think hard and find reasons for deciding which rook we should move to e1.

If we decide to place the f1-rook there, then we should bring the other rook, the a1-rook, to e1! This is a very well-known rule and it is useful in practice. What I’m trying to say is that some rook moves are mysterious. But after this lesson, you will understand clearly how to play with rooks.

The rooks should go to open files. I hope this is very clear to you. 🙂 What can we do if there is no open file in the position? How should we place our rooks in this situation?

V. Buli – H. Xhakoni [B35]
chess puzzle
White to play

White has finished the opening tasks and developed all of his pieces. How should he play now? This is the critical moment for White because he has a lot of options. Should White play f4, or Nd5, or capture on c6, or develop the queen with Qd2, or play something else?

The position is about equal and has good potential for both sides. Please think for 3-5 minutes from White’s point of view and try to find the best move for White.

11.Re1! We should place the rooks on open files, when we have open files. As the game proceeds, it is possible to exchange some pawns or to exchange some pieces. If we exchange some pawns, then one file can open. Similarly, we can exchange some pieces and then we can have an open file that way.

Usually in the Accelerated Dragon variation, White castles on the queenside and, after that, prepares the attack on Black’s kingside. In this particular variation, Black forces White to castle short. White cannot attack Black’s monarch, so he needs to play in the center. The most typical move for White is to play the knight to d5. If Black exchanges this central knight, then White will recapture with the e-pawn and we will have a semi-open file there.

This is the key to the position! White wants to put pressure on the semi-open e-file and, more specifically, on the backward pawn on e7.

Before placing the knight on d5, White is preparing this plan with the mysterious move Re1. This move is connected with all actions in the center. White is planning ahead and trying to coordinate all of his pieces in order to open a file for his rooks.

Suggestion: you may like to see the video lesson “Magical Chess Rooks” by GM Levan Aroshidze.

11…Rac8 12.Qe2!? White intends to bring the rook to d1; for that reason, 12.De2 is a simple evacuation 12…Nxd4 13.Bxd4 Bc6 14.Rad1 b5
chess puzzle
White to play

Black cannot capture the e4-pawn because the pawn on d6 is falling. You can see that clearly in the following variation:

14…e5? 15.Be3 Bxe4 (15…Nxe4?? 16.Nxe4 Bxe4 17.Bd2+- Black loses the bishop) 16.Rxd6 Bc6 17.Red1. White takes control of the d-file and has more active pieces
15.Nd5 Bxd5

The idea for Black is to take on d5 with the bishop and then to exchange the bishop on g7 with that of his opponent on d4, in order to enter into the ending with a good knight vs bad bishop on b3.

chess puzzle
Black to play

Now we can clearly see what the aim of the mysterious rook move was. White has strong pressure on e7, the bishop pair and a more promising position.

16…Rfe8 17.c3 Nd7 18.Bxg7 Kxg7 19.Rd4!
chess puzzle
Black to play

If we compare the White and Black rooks, then we can see that White’s heavy pieces are much more active. Black pieces, including queen and rooks, are not standing well, have no active role, and possibly need to defend the e7-pawn in particular.

Suggestion: learn how to use an open file in chess now.
By contrast, White’s heavy pieces are very active, control a lot of space and are now ready to jump into the attack. Black’s king is not well protected. Black manages to exchange the dark-squared bishops in order to achieve a good knight vs bad bishop on b3, but now he will pay the price. The dark squares and the fianchetto formation are really weak.

White uses his positional advantage to transfer his heavy pieces to the kingside and start attacking there. His plan is to play the queen to d2 and the rook to h4.

19…Nf6 20.Qd2 Rc7 21.Rh4! h5 22.g4!
chess puzzle
Black to play

We place the rooks on open files or try to open files for them. With his last move, White is trying to open files against the king. White would like to exchange some pawns and open files for the rook on h4.

22…Rh8 23.g5 Nh7 24.Qd4+! f6 25.gxf6+ Nxf6 26.Rhe4!
chess puzzle
Black to play

Tactics serve a good strategy. Black’s knight is pinned, so White uses this fact to transfer the rook to the semi-open e-file and press the weak e7-pawn.

26…Kf7 27.Re6 Qb6 28.Qf4 Qb8 29.Bc2 Rg8 30.Qg5 Rg7 31.R1e3 1-0

White uses the rook lift technique. Another common way to develop the rooks is to transfer them in front of pawns. We can do that by moving the rook from the first to the third rank. We can see now that the rook is very active and ready to go to f3, in order to pin the knight, or it can go to g3 and put pressure on the g6-pawn. Black resigns.


1. You can put your rooks on open files.
2. You should put your rook behind a pawn only if this file will be opened in the near future.
3. You can use the rook lift technique to transfer your rook to in front of your pawn.

Author information – IM Vangjel Buli
Vangjel Buli
Vangjel Buli is an Albanian International Master. He started playing chess at eight years of age with the “Partizani Club” in Tirana, the capital city of Albania. He has been a junior champion, and with the Partizani team won a lot of team medals at junior championship level.

He went to Italy in 1994 because of political troubles in Albania and has studied hard, achieving Master, FIDE Master, and then IM titles. His FIDE ELO rating is 2406.

He has stopped playing professional chess in tournaments but is an instructive teacher in many chess clubs in Florence. He has helped a lot of players to become Masters or Fide Masters, so I’m sure his coaching can help you to improve your game.

If you like this article, then please leave a comment below. 🙂 Please also share it with your friends using the ‘social share’ buttons.


We reveal the SECRETS of really strong players – the MOST important strategic and positional rules that enable them to demolish the opposition – in the course “GM’s Positional Understanding