Conclusion of Beginners Workshop (Fall 2017)


1Starting on September 22nd and going until December 8th, Hart House Chess Club ran a 12-session workshop for beginner players who wanted to improve their game! The lessons were taught by our Varsity player Panayoti Tsialas and attracted a big number of passionate students!

The lessons examined the following topics:

I. Tactics:
  • Knight Forks
  • Tactical Rook Endgames (skewers + mating nets)
  • Back rank mates
  • The mate on g7 (g2) – Pattern Recognition: a) King has castled short, b) The -g- pawn has been pushed, c) The fianchetto bishop has been traded off or is exiled on the other side of the board, d) Queen invasion and collaboration with Pawn or Bishop (less frequently with Knight)
  • Creating Mating Nets: Mates in two with a non-checking first move
II. Opening Theory
  • An early Queen sortie and how to punish it
  • Pushing the -f- pawn and the weakness of the f7 (f2) square
  • Neglecting piece development in the opening
  • Moving the same piece twice in the opening
  • Starting out 1. e4 e5 – The Italian set-up and some basic ideas and common mistakes for White and Black
III. Middlegame Strategy
  • Wilhelm Steinitz and the Scientific Method in Chess: Material, Time, Space and the Theory of Balance
  • The attack against the enemy’s castled king and its proper preparation. Three conditions for a successful attack: a) Superiority or at least control of the centre, b) Have more attacking pieces on your opponent’s king that he has defenders, c) There must be a weakness on the opponent’s camp (e.g. one of the -f-, -g-, -h- pawns has been pushed)
  • Attacking plans against the king who has not castled: a) Attack down the -e- file, b) Attack via -f7- square, c) Preventing castling
  • Refuting a premature king attack: breaking the centre open
  • The “fishbone”: Splitting in two your opponent’s army by thrusting a pawn into his camp
IV. Endgame Theory:
  • Calculation v. Schematic Thinking: The rule of the square
  • The peculiar case of the -h- passed pawn
V. Other Topics:
  • Chess Analysis – A Simulation Exercise: Avoiding mistakes by re-constructing a player’s decision-making process in real-tournament circumstances (analyzing games and positions from the Pan-Am Qualifier)
  • The tripartite classification of openings (open, semi-open, closed) and how to build your opening repertoire

At the end of this long course, in lieu of a goodbye gift, Panayoti invited all his students to a simultaneous chess exhibition, in which they got to challenge him on the board, demonstrating their newly acquired knowledge! Attendees did not miss the chance to taste Panayoti’s homemade Greek-salad with plenty of feta and delicious Kalamata olives from his hometown!

At the end of the 4-hour long simultaneous exhibition, Panayoti and his students analyzed each of the games for an additional, super-filling 5-hour post-mortem at the Reading Room!

Panayoti would like to personally thank Alexandra Yao, Luc LeClair, Aidan Hallsworth, Zara Toyserkani, Zoe Fong, Su Sanne Tan, Dean Toyserkani, Mariya Aksyonova, Levon Amatuni, Tomas Hogan, BenJohn Libardo, Spandan Sengupta, Andrew Effat and little Andy for their active participation in his beginner lessons!