Middlegame Seminar (Intermediate-Advanced)

Lead by National Master and ex-Varsity player Jonathan Yu (CFC 2225), this is a fun series of interactive workshops for beginner to intermediate players (1200-1750). We will design each workshop to be as unconnected as possible so there will be benefit and enjoyment regardless of your ability to attend consecutive classes.

A message from Jonathan:

It is highly beneficial and recommended to play some games and socialize after the workshop. Honestly, my ability to teach you chess is extremely limited compared to the vast potential of you learning chess from your peers.

The purpose of this exercise is to offer a personal perspective on the game and share your own ideas and thoughts! If you have questions or comments about anything (not necessarily chess) during workshops, please ask!


Tentative Syllabus (by week):

  1. Logical Opening Play:
    How can we play sensible moves in the earliest phase of the game by developing our own opening axioms?
  2. Valuing exchanges:
    What pieces are we looking to exchange? The relative value of pieces based on their positioning and type and their relation to pawn structure.
  3. Calculating:
    Train your calculating and tactical ability together on chesstempo.
  4. Chess MMI stations:
    5 stations at 5 minute/station. Experience what it’s like to be a serious chess player.
  5. Exchanges for dynamic and static purposes:
    Exchanging to change pawn structure, improve mobility of pieces and other practical purposes.
  6. Rook Endgames:
    Introduction to a family of precise endgames where it is useful to memorize edge case positions (the tipping point between a draw and a win). Special ideas and techniques will also receive appropriate elucidation (e.g., Lucena, Philidor position, shouldering, umbrella, etc).
  7. Student Presentation
  8. Student Presentation

Recommended chess resources:

  • Lichess.org
  • Chesstempo.com
  • Hart House Chess Club and its Library!
  • Chess Fundamentals by Capablanca

Checklist of skills and concepts to be discussed throughout the workshop:

  • Development: try to improve and/or develop your worst piece
  • Knights: finding weak squares, knight trades, restriction of knights
  • Bishops: weak diagonals, unopposed bishops, bad vs good, bishop trades
  • Bishop vs Knight: bishop pair, comparative value, practical considerations
  • Rooks: open files and ranks, 7th rank trades
  • Queen: balancing safety and influence, joining the battle at a moment’s notice
  • Pawn structure: weak pawns, passed pawns, static vs dynamic pawn structure,
    the relationship between pawn structure and the mobility of your and your opponent’s pieces
  • Space: restriction of your opponent’s pieces and the increased mobility of your own, corresponding square control
  • Initiative: making your opponents react to your moves
  • Material vs Position: poisoned pawns, sacrifice for positional compensation or King safety, exchange sacrifices (B v R, R + B v Q, B + N v R + 2P)
  • Endgame considerations: how pawn structure affects the endgame and determines which pieces you would like to exchange

Instructor: Jonathan Yu
E-mail: yujonat2@gmail.com

Please send Jonathan an e-mail to let him know that you would like to join the workshop!

Where: Hart House Reading Room
When: Friday evenings, 6:00 – 7:00 PM
(Please note that there will be no class on October 18th.)

Free entry for Hart House Chess Club Members!*

*An annual student membership costs only $25 and it is valid for the entire year.