How to Beat a Grandmaster
How to Beat a Grandmaster
Secrets Every Amateur Should Know About Playing the Pros
Perfect Bound Softcover
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Unlike sports like football or basketball, chess is one of those rare games where amateurs can hope to beat professional players. Since each player only has his brain to guide him and there is plenty of room in chess for creative guessing, it is possible that an amateur can occasionally beat a grandmaster in chess.


The typical grandmaster plays chess for a living and can thus afford to practice for dozens of hours each week. In contrast, the typical amateur usually plays chess recreationally for only a few hours each week. This book shares some practical tips that allow chess players—with some effort and investment on their part—to maximize their chances against grandmasters. The rationale behind this book is that although not every amateur may become a grandmaster, every amateur can hope to occasionally play a good game against a grandmaster.


            When I was twelve and a Class D chess player, I played in a simultaneous exhibition against a grandmaster (GM) for the first time. My opponent was the legendary ex-world champion, Anatoly Karpov. Although the odds were heavily stacked against me, I’ve always felt that the game ended embarrassingly early.


GM Anatoly Karpov-Chris Seck

Singapore, 1997


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 O-O 8.Bc4 Nc6 9.Qd2 Bd7 10.O-O-O Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.h4 Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 14.h5 Re8 15.hxg6 fxg6 16.e5 dxe5 17.Ne6 Qc8 18.Nxg7 Kxg7 19.Bg5 1-0


            Years passed. As a student, I worked hard at chess. I read a lot of chess books, and my playing strength slowly improved until my rating hit a plateau of USCF 1800. From that point onwards, I would occasionally accidentally manage to beat an expert or even a low-level master. But against GMs, I lost 100 percent of my games, without even a single draw. Here’s one of my more notable masterpieces—from the GM’s perspective, that is.


GM Saidali Iuldachev-Chris Seck

Singapore, 2001


1.e4 e6 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 Bd6 5.g3 Ne7 6.Bg2 Nbc6 7.O-O O-O 8.Nh4 b6 9.f4 dxe4 10.dxe4 Ba6 11.Re1 Rc8 12.c3 e5 13.f5 c4 14.f6 gxf6 15.Bh3 Bc5+ 16.Kh1 Rc7 17.Rf1 Bc8 18.Bxc8 Qxc8 19.Rxf6 b5 20.Qh5 Ng6 21.Ndf3 Qh3 22.Ng5 1-0


            To be sure, at the scholastic level, being an 1800 player was enough to win a couple of minor school tournaments. I was elected president of my high school chess club, and my scholastic achievements eventually helped me get into Stanford University.


            But I remained dissatisfied. My rating remained stuck at the 1800-1900 plateau, and I knew no way to improve further. Moreover, my lifelong ambition remained unfulfilled. I wanted to beat a GM. Sure, it’s good to beat other amateurs, but wouldn’t it be nice to beat a GM—someone who is really good at the game?


            So, I read more chess books. But while the existing chess literature featured plenty of GM-vs.-GM games, they rarely showed GM-vs.-amateur games. None of them offered practical advice on how a weaker player could hope to prevail against a stronger one. Moreover, the few published GM-vs.-amateur games tended to be one-sided matches where the amateur would voluntarily make a couple of beginner’s mistakes and concede the game after a token positional struggle. Quite simply, it wasn’t the stuff that I was looking for.



Author Chris Seck was president of his high school chess club and the Stanford University Chess Club. He has studied under several grandmasters, won several scholastic tournaments, and has represented his native Singapore in international chess tournaments. He is currently living in Palo Alto, California.


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Perfect Bound Softcover
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