Middlegame Seminar (Intermediate-Advanced)

Winter Term

Lead by coach and former club secretary Leslie Tang, this is an exciting seminar for beginner to intermediate players (1200-1750). Join Leslie in the Hart House Reading Room every Friday, 6-7pm to improve your game!

Tentative syllabus (by week):

Week 1 – Fundamental Pieces
This lesson will give you a comprehensive idea of how pieces move and work together. The lesson will highlight the importance of a piece’s strengths and weaknesses.
Week 2 – Pawn Structures
Pawn structures are one of the most important parts of a chess game. They can lead to a swift victory or painful defeat. We will study the strengths and weaknesses of each piece in relations to certain pawn structures.
Week 3 – Positional Weaknesses
Many positional weaknesses are derived from specific pawn structures. This is a more in-depth lesson on identifying weaknesses and constructing strategies revolving those weaknesses.
Week 4 – Closed Positions
Many games have positions where players carefully maneuver pieces before attacking weaknesses. This lesson will highlight ideas on how to approach closed positions.
Week 5 – Open Positions
Similar to closed positions, open positions are the analogue for games with more easily maneuverable pieces. This lesson will focus on how to critically think of open positions.
Week 6 – Trading Pieces
Chess is a game of trading pieces. While positioning is important, being able to identify which pieces are the best is not so obvious. This lesson will demonstrate that an effective piece can always lose its edge and that trading it may be valuable strategy.
Week 7Transitioning
This lesson will thoroughly teach you on how to solidify advantages or salvage yourself in disadvantaged games.
Week 8Putting it into action!
A game will be played, teacher versus students, where many of the ideas taught through the workshop will be discussed through peers and with the teacher.

Fall Term

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.