31 Aug 2016

Chess Crossword Contest

Today, I have some unexpected and amazing news. My wife, Alyona, has prepared a ‘chess surprise’ for you. :) This is a chess crossword! While solving it, you will reinforce your knowledge of chess terms, and hopefully will have fun along the way.
Chess CrosswordTo make it more entertaining, we’ve decided to create a contest with this crossword puzzle – hence, the “RCA Crossword Contest” begins TODAY! :)

Contest details

  • The contest will run from today (31 August) till Thursday, 8 September.
  • The LASTEST DATE for you to send in the answers (solving the crossword puzzle) will be 8 Sept.

How to participate?

You should download the following files to participate in the contest:

  • “Questions” (Word file) – this file contains the questions for the crossword puzzle: DOWNLOAD
  • “Crossword” (Excel file) – this file contains the blank crossword where you have to write the answers/words: DOWNLOAD
  • After solving the crossword (by writing your answers in the empty boxes in the “Crossword” Excel file), you should send the “Crossword” file to us at support@chess-teacher.com with the e-mail subject “RCA Crossword”.

Crossword Puzzle
Note: some of the boxes in the crossword will have two numbers (both horizontal and vertical). In that case, the first number’s answer should be horizontal and the next number’s answer should be vertical.

For example, as seen in this image, a box has two numbers. Therefore, the answer to the first number, “1″, will be horizontal and the answer to “3″ will be vertical.

We have created a FAQ section for this crossword contest. If you have any doubts, you’re very welcome to check the FAQ section here or contact our Support team here.

How will the winners be chosen?

The winners will be chosen on a “first come, first served” basis. The first 50 participants who send their answers to us will be the winners.
Top 50Note: we can be a bit ‘flexible’ – a participant is allowed to make a maximum of two mistakes ONLY (i.e. two wrong words in the crossword). :) If there are more than two mistakes, you probably won’t have a chance to become a winner.


And here comes the special part – prizes for the winners! Below are the prize details for the winners (the first 50 participants to solve the crossword correctly):

  • 1st place – an RCA paid course for FREE + a FREE premium video of your choice
  • 2nd and 3rd place – an RCA paid course for FREE
  • 11th to 15th place – 45 USD voucher on any product
  • 16th to 20th place – 40 USD voucher on any product
  • 21st to 25th place – 35 USD voucher on any product
  • 26th to 30th place – 30 USD voucher on any product
  • 31st to 35th place – 25 USD voucher on any product
  • 36th to 50th place – 20 USD voucher on any product

Note: I’ve planned to treat all participants nicely. After all, winning is not everything, but participation matters! So I will offer something cool to all participants at the end of the competition. Therefore, stay tuned! :)

Will you be able to solve the whole crossword properly? Are you ready to accept our challenge? :) I wish you all the best!
Igor Smirnov
P.S. In the above picture, my wife and I look like Bollywood movie actors. At least, my Indian friends say so … I’m not so sure – maybe they just want to play a trick on a Grandmaster. :)

27 Aug 2016

GM Igor Smirnov answers students’ questions

As you may already know, I conducted a live “Ask Me Anything (AMA) event” on the RCA Facebook page on 15 August. I conducted this event to celebrate the release of our new course “Winning the Middlegame” (released on the 17th). If you missed it, you can check the Facebook post here and go through the questions asked by our students.
Ask Me AnythingI was on roll as I answered the students’ questions for about 2 hours:) I had to make sure I answer almost every single question and to do so properly – to provide you with the right answer and the tips/advise for YOUR improvement.

Yet, unfortunately, I was not able to answer a few questions and I missed a few questions as some students posted their questions directly in our FB page instead of following the “procedure” to comment down the event post. Therefore, I’ve decided to answer the unanswered questions today! :)

Let’s go to the questions right away:

Q1: Hello Igor, one tiny thing, that it is better to study, games with the chessbase or the same with board and book? Antonio Cortes Montoya

It’s better to study with chess board + book, but I know you’ll use ‘chessbase’ anyway, don’t you? :)

The good thing about using real chess board is that it somehow provokes you to think. While observing a game using software, you are enticed to press ‘forward arrow’ and scroll through the game too quickly.

On a positive side, computer engine can help you see the lines and evaluation. Therefore, you can check if your ideas are right or wrong.

Q2: Sir, Is London System better than Colle System Jai Prakash Singh

Any opening is good when a good player plays it. :)

Objectively speaking, both London and Colle systems deviate from the fundamental chess principles. Thus, these are not the most powerful openings.

However, it’s easy to study and play such openings. White plays the same moves against almost any replies of Black. That’s why some players prefer to play London/Colle.

In my view ‘London system’ is a bit dull. GMs make jokes about it, saying that ‘White is fighting for a draw’.
London System
London System

I would recommend that you play Colle. People commonly consider ‘d4-e3-c3’ pawn setup to be ‘Colle opening’
Colle Opening
Colle Opening

It’s not bad, but I would rather recommend that you fianchetto your queen-side bishop – it’s more aggressive.

Suggested: you may like to study our article “Best chess openings and how to pick one for you” here.
chess middlegame
You may hope to get a position as shown in the above diagram in the middlegame. White has good prospects in the king-side attack.

Q3: What variation can you advice to play against Tropovsky? – Misyuryaev Sergey
Trompowsky Attack
Trompowsky Attack violates one of the opening principles, and therefore can’t be really dangerous for Black. Any logical response will give a good position for Black, for instance 2…Ne4, 2…d5, 2…e6.

I like 2…d5 variation, as it’s both solid and active. If you would like to study it seriously, check out the course “The Grandmaster’s Openings Laboratory“.

Q4: Playing Black against Vienna 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 d5 I was confronted with 4. Qe2. After 4…Nxe4 I lost a Pawn, and eventually the game. What is the best response to 4. Qe2 — ? Thanks - Dada Dadamax
Vienna Chess
Black to play

4…Nc6 looks good to me. In case of 5.fe you’ve got an unpleasant surprise for your opponent – 5…Nd4! And White is struggling.

Now, just find that guy and challenge him again. You’ll beat him badly! :)

Q5: How GMs remember all those complicated variations in their opening line? – Jhec Bello

  • GMs understand strategic principles very well. That’s why they don’t have to memorize lines mechanically, they UNDERSTAND the lines, and ‘digest’ them naturally.
  • GMs are professional players. Same with other professionals, GM’s have their ‘8-hours working day’. Of course, one can learn plenty of things while studying it for days and years.

Q6: What do you do to relax and recharge after training or tournament – Jhec Bello

Some of my foreign friends think that I manufacture ‘Smirnoff vodka’, and this is my recipe for relaxation. :)

On a serious tone, I do physical sport, reading, communication with family, strolling through the park, etc. Aside from that, I’m a big fan of self-improvement topic, and it energizes me a lot.

Also, there are some psychological tips for chess players specifically. But on the top of all that, it’s your life philosophy that matters the most.

Finally, I’ve already written a whole book ‘Champion psychology’ about this topic.

Q7: Heres a question, are you planning to make all of your courses available on mobile devices? This is the only downside I can see to any of your courses, and I have them all ! Igor Smirnov - Philip Porter

Hi Philip, it’s nice to hear from you again! Thanks for your nice words!

I plan to update the RCA website and make it mobile friendly. Hopefully, we’ll launch the update within a month.

As for the courses, I will definitely strive to adapt future courses to mobile devices. Not sure if it’s worth the effort for the past courses…  Will you really review them once again in case they start working on mobile devices?

Q8: What are you thinking algorithm step by step that can be used in every positions? – Misyuryaev Sergey

Chess thinkingIt’s a very good question, although it’s really HUGE, almost like “How to play chess?” question :)

This is exactly what I explained in details in the courses “The Grandmaster’s Positional Understanding” and “The Grandmaster’s Secrets“.

If you are tight in budget, however, check out my free videos about preventing blunders. This is a very good point to start from, while buying your thinking algorithm.

Q9: hallo. sir my question is…… i learned basic chess moves in 2013… i have no FIDE rating… but i love to play chess…. i always played chess in online.. my internet chess rating is 1500+… and am stuck in there only from one year…. i took part here in local in one tournement and i defeated three FIDE rated players of rating 1200+,1400+ and 1450+…. and i lost to age category players of just 1100+,&1200+,…and that tournement was my first tournement which was organised just before 4 months back and since then i didnt took part in any tournment…… in that tournement didnt make any single draw but eigther won or i lost ,thats what happen there … i dont know what to do now… is i need to quit chess or i should continue…and also there is lot of pressure on me for finding a job …i have completed my graduation and dont have a job also….. i bought ur book promoted pawn just before one month and it is having very good information. i completed 12 chapters in that book… and now i dont know what to do…. please guide me - Dost Nizam

Hi Dost,

Although I’m a chess coach, in your case, frankly, I would recommend that you opt for a standard job (not related to chess). For a beginner-level player, it’s hard to make living from chess.

Still, you’ll be able to devote a few hours for your chess study before or after your work. Start from the course “The Grandmaster’s Secrets”. You’ll see improvement within a few months of training. Once your chess level gets higher, you’ll be able to shift to chess playing/coaching.

Also, you may give it a try and apply for a job at RCA: Join RCA - Career We are constantly growing, and from time to time there are new open vacancies.

Note: questions 10 and 11 meets the same answer.

Q10: What’s the best way to analyze my games – Ahmed Seif

Q11: Hi sir, I want to know the study plan for intermediate player ( how we can proceed further)..as i am stuck around 1600+ rating on chess.com and not able to increase. some times it got inscreased by 1750 but again i came back to 1600, now there is no improvement in my rating…:( can you suggest some good book resources and a details structure for how i should study and from where i should study..??? so that it can enhance our skills..I think every body have this question that how they have to proceed from an intermediate level to advance level player. – Kanhaiya Gupta

With very few exceptions, most of the players at your level suffer for lack of proper coaching/guidance. As a result, you suffer from unstable results.
sadI developed a complete course dedicated to effective self-training, it’s called “Self-taught Grandmaster”

If you are tight in budget, study the free mini-course “Chess Training Plan for Rapid Improvement”.

Good luck!

Q12: Hi Mr Smirnov I wanna ask you about the engines what’s most important depth or calculation speed ? Second when l analyse my games can I use one engine or more ? Thanks in advance –Ahmed Seif

Hi Ahmed,

GMs often use a few engines while analysing openings. Each engine has its style, and one may hope to find new or unexpected opening moves for an opponent. However, for your needs it’s absolutely enough to use 1 engine.

Not sure if I got your question about depth/speed. Anyway, you may pick ANY engine. Stockfish, Houdini, Rybka etc… – don’t worry, they all are good.

P.S. In order to thank you for asking the questions, we’ve prepared a little present for you. The PDF report “Tips to improve middlegame play” contains the most powerful ideas from RCA’s best middlegame lessons. You may download it here (of course, it’s totally FREE).

Interesting games from the Sinquefield Cup 2016

Today, we analyze the most interesting games from the recent Sinquefield Cup 2016. This tournament took place in St Louis, and the most interesting point about it is that we could see ten of the strongest chess players in the world in action.
Sinquefield Cup
(photo from the official site)

They were fighting for $300,000 in prize money over the nine-round competition. Of course, the winner would also be the Sinquefield Cup Champion for 2016.

Seven of these players were:

  • Peter Svidler (2751)
  • Ding Liren (2755)
  • Veselin Topalov (2761)
  • Anish Giri (2769)
  • Viswanathan Anand (2770)
  • Levon Aronian (2784)
  • Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2819)

By the way, Maxime (or MVL as he is known) is the second-highest rated player in the world after World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Nearly all the brightest and extremely powerful grandmasters were competing in this tournament, so we can see a lot of interesting, entertaining and incredible games.

Another very interesting element is that we also had three of the best American chess players, Hikaru Nakamura (2791), Fabiano Caruana (2807) and Wesley So (2771), present.

Let’s discuss it!

Who do you think the best American player is? Who do you think is the strongest or the best player, or who do you like most? You can add your thoughts in the comments below this article. :)
American Chess PlayersWesley So is an incredibly prepared and tactical player (and he won this tournament), Caruana an extremely talented player with a great imagination and, of course, Nakamura is just exciting to watch because he is original!

Now let’s head to the lesson and check out some interesting games and positions.

Topalov, Veselin (2761) – Svidler, Peter (2751) [C88]
Topalov vs Svidler
White to play

Here is the first question for you. In this diagram, Svidler with the Black pieces played 25…Rb4. What do you think of this move? It seems that Black is attacking the d4-pawn but the knight on c6 is shaky and not protected very well. Hence, is it a good move or does Black have any tactical problems?

Suggestion: learn about the strategy behind an open file, how to obtain an open file OR how to use it effectively from our lesson here.

Anand, Viswanathan (2770) – Caruana, Fabiano (2807) [C15]
Anand vs Caruana
Black to play

This was an exciting game between young Caruana and Anand, who seemed to be in great shape in this tournament. White didn’t get any opening advantage. He gave up the bishop pair in order to make the position unbalanced and try for the win; but a little later he gave up his activity by exchanging some of his active pieces, in order to win a pawn.

Right now, White is a pawn up and would like to exchange the queens. What should Black do? If he doesn’t find a precise plan, then White can invade his position or exchange the queens. If the queens are exchanged, then White will have seriouswinning chances. So what do you think – what is the best chance for Black?

Caruana, Fabiano (2807) – Topalov, Veselin (2761) [C84]
Caruana vs Topalov
Black to play

White didn’t play too precisely or go back and forward with his pieces, so Black got a very good opportunity for a strong blow. Can you see it? What is the best move for Black?

Suggestion: you can watch recent chess battles between Candidate players 2016 (Anand, Karjakin, Aronian, Nakamura, Caruana, Giri and so on) here.

Vachier Lagrave, Maxime (2819) – Anand, Viswanathan (2770)
MVL vs Anand
White to play

This final example is absolutely brilliant. I have to tell you that this is one of the best games and is highly instructive. The problem with delay in development is that it has long-term effects on your position.

Move 30, as we can see in the diagram, is really interesting because White has a lot of options. This is the critical moment for White. Can you work out what to do? :)

Please be careful because “whatever shines is not gold”, as the Greeks used to say. White’s most obvious move here is not the best one. For that reason, please take a really close look at this position. It is White’s turn.

I must admit that not all of these positions are really hard but some are. From these games, you can learn and practice your calculation skills.

To analyze these interesting games, IM Valery Lilov has prepared a very nice video for RCA (and for you) and we thank him for that. You can watch the video below:

Note: you may like to check the solutions and complete games here.

Finally, I’d like to inform you that we’ve decided to provide you with more such “entertaining” lessons/content. I hope you really like this “new strategy”, and you are very welcome to leave your comments below – that would be very helpful for us. :)

If you enjoy watching the best moments of the TOP chess tournaments and would like to continue to watch similar videos, then you are very welcome to express your opinion with a comment.

P.S. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is very useful to observe three of the best American players in play – Nakamura, Caruana and So. What do you think of them? Who is the best?


How do Grandmasters actually think during a chess game? Get “Unlocking the Grandmaster’s Mind” now HERE.

This course summarizes how Grandmasters actually think while playing the game of chess and you will get the extraordinary skills a Grandmaster possesses!

20 Aug 2016

Review by a former world number 5 chess player

First, let me remind you of the amazing special offers we’ve provided you with to celebrate the launch of the course “Winning the Middlegame”.

There is a huge 30% discount on the course, which will be valid until Sunday, 21 August. Just use the coupon “middlegame” and that will save you about 36 USD! If you don’t know how to use a discount code, please see here.
Winning the Middlegame

Another great offer is that the first 150 buyers of the course will get my premium video “How to win a won game?” completely FREE! :) We’ve already made more than 100 sales and we’re about to hit the 150 mark and there are only a few more spots left – therefore, hurry up and purchase the course now to be among the first 150 buyers.
You can purchase the course by going to our launch page here.

Moreover, you can purchase the “combo offer” – get “Winning the Middlegame” and “Your Winning Plan” together for just $149 instead of the normal total price of $178 – you will save a huge 29 USD!

Enhance your winning skills and improve your overall strategic understanding with these two courses.
comboVisit the launch page here and you will see this offer after clicking “Order now”.
designIf you are wondering about the quality of my courses and might have any ’trust issues’, I’d say that’s very common. :)Indeed, there are lots of tutorials and courses out there but not all of them are of sufficient quality to help you IMPROVE YOUR game.

Some of our students have shared their feedback about our courses with us (and you can find a lot of this here), which is really helpful for chess players who have never heard of us or those who are not sure about the quality of our paid products, as I said above. That’s why, today, I’d like to share a review by someone special, GM Jaan Ehlvest:)

About GM Jaan Ehlvest:
GM Jaan EhlvestJaan Ehlvest is an Estonian chess player who was awarded the title of Grandmaster by FIDE in 1987 and named Estonian sportsman of the year in 1987 and 1989.

Since 2006, he has represented the United States. He was briefly a world top-10 player when, in 1991, he ascended to the number 5 slot on FIDE’s official list with an ELO rating of 2650.

Recently, he studied my premium video “My Thinking System“, then wrote a review of it and also spoke about my teaching methods. I’m overwhelmed by his message and am very happy to share it with you. :)

Dear chess friend,

My name is Jaan Ehlvest. I was one of the top tournament players during 1988 till 1991 when I finished the World Cup tournament series only behind Kasparov, Karpov and Salov.

Nowadays I am a devoted chess coach. I am one of a very few former elite or todays GMs who have a degree from college. I studied psychology and because of that I was very keen to listen to Igor Smirnov’s webinar about how to think in chess.

Igor is not the first who has tried to find a simple algorithm for novice players to help them think like a Grandmaster. Soviet GM Kotov wrote a book a long time ago “Think like a grandmaster”. Other authors like Silman are also trying to cover this subject. Usually they have too serious a theoretical background which is difficult to apply in practice.

Talking about Smirnov’s concept – it is more practical. I like that he has a lot of examples from practical games. You must follow the best brains, if you are talking about the decision making process in chess. Igor gives good examples using unconsciously the induction and deduction method in chess. The material is presented in a logical hierarchy and must be easy to understand for both the very beginners and the advanced players. Igor however is warning the audience that this is only the beginning. Which is the case in chess, as you need long hours to study even a simple concept.

I myself used some of the materials presented by Igor on Youtube and I was a very satisfied costumer. He covers the subject thoroughly from start to finish. This is probably his only weakness, because I think the webinar should be shorter, like one hour. I would recommend this webinar to serious chess aficionados and I am waiting the follow up of this subject.

Jaan Ehlvest

Thank you very much, Jaan, for your warm words and detailed review! :)

I believe that this review by a former world number 5 player about my courses and teaching methods is very useful for everyone and specially for students who haven’t bought any of my courses yet and still have many doubts about them. 

Therefore, I strongly recommend you to study my course “Winning the Middlegame”, which contains a single system of how you should play the middlegame – and lots more. You can go to the launch page here and grab the course with amazing offers!

P.S. If you have started studying the course (or finished it), please leave your impressions in the comments below. That would be very helpful for other students as well. Thanks in advance. :)