Summary - Naroditsky Method
The Naroditsky Method GM Daniel Naroditsky This superb 15 hour course from prodigy GM Naroditsky reveals his method for getting better at chess. Broken down into sections on the opening, tactics, calculation, positional play and endgames, Daniel explains what you need to do to get real improvement in each of these areas. In each of the 18 chapters, GM Naroditsky selects his favorite examples and talks you through his chess philosophy and thought process, guiding you around all the common mistakes players make and delivering you to the perfect solution. In addition, Daniel reveals his method for training and improving in each area: how to build an opening repertoire that suits you; the best ways to improve your tactical ability and how learn the endgame. As someone who has experienced phenomenal success and rapid improvement, Daniel’s advice on how to apply what he teaches is invaluable and his focus on principles makes this advanced material accessible to any determined improver. Includes a 1 hour bonus of Daniel playing online blitz, voicing his thoughts and analysis in real time!
Chapters: 1. Laying the Groundwork 2. How to Select an Opening Repertoire 3. Punishing Opening Rebels 4. How to Study the Opening 5. Opening Preparation 6. Initiative 7. Intuition 8. Imbalances 9. Becoming a Tactical Beast 10. Calculation 11. Introduction to Positional Chess 12. Unspoken Rules of Positional Chess 13. Understanding Piece Placement 14. Introduction to the Endgame 15. Theoretical Endgames 16. Practical Endgames 17. Endgame Tactics 18. Common Themes and Concepts in the Endgame Bonus: Live Blitz with GM Daniel Naroditsky
Chapter 1: Laying the Groundwork 1. As we journey to becoming stronger players, we tend to move from general opening principles (knights before bishops, control the center) to detailed theory. Daniel argues it’s important to still understand our openings from a conceptual perspective in order to cope well in unfamiliar positions. 2. One of the biggest mistakes players make in the opening is to live in a vacuum, playing the moves they want to without properly taking into account the moves of their opponent. 3. Principle 1: Don’t just go with the flow. Daniel demonstrates an early game in which his opponent made the mistake of just “going with the flow”, playing a natural move that is actually a strategic error. 4. Another common mistake is to play a weaker move to avoid being “moveordered” into a different opening. 5. Always try to work out what’s really going on in the position, what move is crying out to be played. Don’t just develop routinely. 6. If you sense you have a really good position but the variation you’re analyzing doesn’t give you the major advantage you’re looking for, try the moves in a different order. In the game, instead of playing 9.a3 to prepare d6, Daniel discovers the immediate 9.d6 (which involves a rook sac) wins on the spot. 7. Principle 2: Base your central strategy around how your opponent’s pawns and pieces affect the center. Controlling the center is a major strategic advantage, develop with this goal (and your opponent’s attempts to stop it) in mind. 8. Give your opponent a chance to go into an opening they’re not comfortable with. 9. When your opponent plays an unexpected move, don’t assume it’s preparation, don’t assume it must be good. Look for the drawbacks. 10. Back up your intuition with analysis.
Chapter 2: How to Select an Opening Repertoire 1. Building a repertoire that suits your style of play and study time constraints is hugely important to your development. Many players are held back for years by not having the right repertoire. 2. Principle 3: Choose your repertoire based on the type of positions you prefer. Do you like sharp positions with a lot of calculation or do you prefer a more positional game, slowly building up pressure?
3. Principle 4: The amount of time you have to study openings is critical in your selection. If you don’t have much time, you’d be better studying less theoretical openings. Also, knowing how much time you have allows you to plan your study better. 4. Go through each of the opening moves you’re likely to face (mainly 1.e4 and 1.d4 if Black) and write down what you play against them. Rate each of the lines from 1-5 with 1 being “I hate this line” and 5 being “this line is perfect”. Now you know which lines you need to change and what you should study next. 5. While playing fringe openings isn’t necessarily bad, it deprives you of the valuable learning experiences you find in more mainstream openings.
Chapter 3: Punishing Opening Rebels 1. As well as someone who plays offbeat openings, an opening rebel can be someone who doesn’t take this phase of the game seriously, playing natural moves without thinking. 2. We can find ways to punish this by asking “what changed?” after they play a move. 3. Principle 4: If you make a mistake in the opening and find yourself in a worse position, don’t just blindly continue with your plan. Reevaluate. 4. Principle 5: When you see a tempting tactic, pause, check it works and check if there is anything even better. 5. Opening rebels who play something outlandish (like 1…g5 in the game) are generally just going for surprise value and don’t have anything too scary prepared.
Chapter 4: How to Study the Opening 1. Principle 6: Store your opening work. Whether on the computer or in a notebook, it’s important to be able to reference and revise what you’ve learned. 2. This process helps you pick out the most useful lines as well as helping you remember them. 3. Daniel writes down many of his discoveries from all sorts of positions, not just in the opening. This gave rise to the publication of his books – they were expanded versions of his notes.
4. Principle 7: Find a strong GM who regularly plays the opening you’re studying and analyze as many of their games in that opening as possible. 5. Look at critical points in those games. If the GM lost, why did they lose? How did they react to a surprise move? What moves or attacks do they like to play? 6. You can practice your openings by playing through the moves without seeing what’s next. You can do this easily in ChessBase or by covering up your notes. 7. If, when practicing, you play a move that’s not in the file, work out why the move in your notes is better or, if it isn’t, look at adding that line.
Chapter 5: Opening Preparation 1. If your opponent plays many different openings then try to predict what they might play based on them preparing for you. 2. When you have an idea what your opponent will play, look at your (and their) old games in that line. Find improvements and take them on! 3. Make sure you understand the ideas for each side and how to counter them. 4. Principle 8: Put in the time to work out all the “what ifs”. Even if you don’t get to show your discoveries in this game, they will repay you handsomely over the years. 5. Before a tournament, look at areas of the opening you’re struggling with and then review these lines before the game.
Chapter 6: Initiative 1. Principle 9: The initiative is a temporary advantage in piece placement. 2. Examine how your opponent’s move differs from the on you were expecting. Can you – and should you – still make your intended move? 3. Seizing the initiative is a matter of recognizing your opponent’s inaccuracy and pouncing on it in the appropriate way. 4. When your opponent prepares a threat, look for a way to counter with a threat of your own. If they have to react to your threat instead of continuing with their own, you’ll be calling the shots. 5. Principle 10: When you have the initiative, feel the urgency. Don’t allow your opponent time to consolidate. 6. When you push the initiative, your opponent will often have to give up some material, maybe a pawn. Do your best to keep the position as uncomfortable as possible for them. Don’t allow them to get the initiative.
Chapter 7: Intuition 1. Principle 11: Your intuition will suggest ideas based on your experience. In the Onischuk game, White plays 37.c5!!, sacrificing a pawn to lock in Black’s bishop. Onischuk’s intuition told him the out-of-play Bishop negated the material advantage. 2. Many times you’ll find it near impossible to calculate a forced winning line but you can be guided by your intuition, your sense of who is better. 3. Intuition is not a substitute for calculation. It’s a supplement, suggesting ideas to analyze or evaluate. 4. Looking for potential weaknesses and asking “what if” is a good way to find resources. See Black’s missed sacrifice in the Tal Baron game. 5. Intuition can come into play when you assess the level of counterplay for each side. If your opponent has a strong threat that takes 6 moves to play out, you know you need to act quickly.
Chapter 8: Imbalances 1. Principle 12: Creating imbalances and playing your side well gives you great winning chances. 2. An imbalance could be material such as a knight for 3 pawns or positional such as doubled pawns in return for control of an outpost. 3. Be prepared to make concessions in returns for the advantage you’re seeking. 4. We see a classic example from Vishy Anand as he chooses to double his pawns in the opening. The deep strategy behind this move is that Anand can force exchanges, bring his King to e6 then advance his pawns, gaining a passed pawn and winning. 5. When you sacrifice you should have a sense of urgency. Look to prove your compensation before your opponent consolidates.
Chapter 9: Becoming a Tactical Beast 1. Tactics is anything concerned with winning material or delivering checkmate. 2. Principle 13: You need to do more than just solve puzzles to make real progress in your tactics training. 3. You can improve your tactical ability by trying to solve puzzles in “blitz mode”, recognizing patterns and using your intuition. 4. Tactics can be split into ‘simple’ – requiring 3-4 moves and involving common themes – to ‘complex’, which are usually deeper and more obscure.
5. During tactics training, emulate a real game situation as closely as possible – using a clock and forcing yourself to make a decision. 6. To test your calculation, spend all your time on the first move. You still have to work out the whole line(s) of course but, once you’ve found it, play the subsequent moves quickly. If you make a mistake and fail the puzzle, go back to the starting position and try and find out why.
Chapter 10: Calculation 1. GM Alexander Kotov was the first to formalize calculation into a method but his process isn’t easy to remember or always practical. 2. Kotov suggests that we often see the best move but choose another because we made the mistake of analyzing one move deeper than the other. 3. Principle 14: Don’t stop your line of calculation too soon. 4. Principle 15: Apply the concept of candidate moves to your opponent’s moves as well as your own. 5. Just because you can find a win against your opponent’s most challenging counter, don’t assume your move wins against every defense. 6. Principle 16: Calculation is about persistence, discipline and the ability to not be troubled if a line doesn’t work. 7. Principle 17: When calculating, never judge a position based on its appearance. Be objective. 8. When you’re calculating well, you put tremendous psychological pressure on your opponent, increasing the likelihood of them making a mistake. 9. Principle 18: Falsification. When you see a move that looks good, that you like, do everything you can to try and refute it before playing it.
Chapter 11: Introduction to Positional Chess 1. Principle 19: Positional chess is the ability to ‘feel’ the pieces and how they should be placed. 2. Talk to your pieces. How do they feel about where they stand or being traded? 3. Be prepared to interweave high-level positional thinking with short-term tactical thinking. Your long-term goal must work tactically! 4. “Playing like a GM” doesn’t have to mean concealing your intentions. You can be upfront and direct if your opponent has trouble defending. 5. At every move ask yourself “what does my opponent want?” This doesn’t just mean “what are they attacking?” It can also mean which pieces they want to
trade, which pawns they want to move and so on.
Chapter 12: Unspoken Rules of Positional Chess 1. Take note of your positional intuition. For instance, if you’re opponent has the bishop pair, beware of ways they can open up the position. 2. A square is only weak if it can be accessed and made use of. 3. Through experience, GMs are able to sense the critical moment when the advantage has disappeared or changed hands and we should look carefully for these moments in our own games. 4. Principle 20: Positional chess is not a passive body of knowledge. You can find your own ideas by noticing things about the position.
Chapter 13: Understanding Piece Placement 1. Principle 21: Piece placement is about finding the best squares for your pieces and how to coordinate them effectively. It is perhaps the most important element of positional chess. 2. Equal to putting your pieces on good squares is forcing your opponent’s to bad squares. 3. Be aware of the difference between genuine activity and pseudo-activity – pieces that look active but aren’t really effecting the game. 4. Principle 22: Don’t be satisfied with getting one of your pieces to a great square. Improve the rest. 5. Principle 23: Be willing to give up one of your well-placed pieces for a different type of advantage such as material. 6. Kasparov’s 23…Re7!! is an example of moving a piece to a seemingly bad square in anticipation of the position changing in the next few moves.
Chapter 14: Introduction to the Endgame 1. Endgames fall into 2 categories: theoretical, which are very precise and the outcome is known, and practical, which are decided by the strength of calculation and positional feel. 2. Endgames are 99% tactics. They are concrete and require accurate calculation.
Chapter 15: Theoretical Endgames 1. You only have to learn theoretical endgames once to reap the rewards for the rest of the time you play chess. 2. Every improver should begin learning the key endgames as soon as possible. 3. Principle 24: You need to be able to recognize when a theoretical endgame is reached and know the winning/drawing method. 4. When training endgames, question why one move works and another doesn’t or what the difference would be if the pawn was on a different square. The questioning process will help you understand and remember the winning method.
Chapter 16: Practical Endgames 1. Principle 25: Practical endgames require many of the same approaches used in the middlegame. 2. Calculate as much and as far as you can. This should be much easier than in the middlegame due to the reduced pieces. 3. If your opponent is able to meet your threats, look for waiting moves that interrupt your opponent’s rhythm. 4. Principle 26: The goal of any chess move is just to make your position better than your opponent’s. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Chapter 17: Endgame Tactics 1. Pawn promotion becomes a common theme in the endgame and should be looked out for. 2. When your opponent is tied to passive defense, look for ways to improve your other pieces (often the King) and breakthrough either by pawn break, shouldering or some other method.
Chapter 18: Common Themes and Concepts in the Endgame 1. Principle 27: The key themes in the endgame can be summed up by the acronym PPCK: Piece activity, passed pawns, calculation and King activity. 2. When thinking about piece activity, ask yourself what role that piece is
playing. If it isn’t performing a role then it shouldn’t be considered truly active. 3. Passed pawns can be either a curse or blessing, depending on how well supported they are. 4. Tactics play a large role in the endgame and improvers need to calculate as deeply as possible. 5. With less pieces on the board, the King is safer from mating threats and should be used to put pressure on your opponent’s pieces and pawns as well as control squares.