Test, Evaluate and Improve Your Chess

This last Tuesday, IM Danny Kopec gave a lecture at the Marshall Chess Club based on his new book “Test, Evaluate and Improve Your Chess.” The lecture was long- much longer than your average chess lecture- but it was also extraordinarily well attended and Kopec seemed to have quite a few doting followers in the audience who traveled across state lines just to hear him speak.

In any case, his book is pretty good I have to admit. Many of the positions are basic tactical positions or positions where you have to find the correct pawn lever. However, some of the positions later in the book are quite complicated and well analyzed. In particular, there is a chapter on rook and pawns that I really enjoyed, and am planning on going over again. The following position was one that I think demonstrates the importance of rook activity in such a concrete way as to be memorable.

In this position, the material is equal but white’s rook is more active than black’s, which is tied to the defense of the outside pawn. This is the only feature of the position that maters and to find the right plan you must have the specific knowledge that rook activity is crucial. If black merely holds onto the pawn, then white will march his king across the board, push the rook back, and potentially win in some cases. So- in order to draw- black must give up the pawn with 1…Rb8 2.Rxa5 Rb1+ 3.Kg2 Ra1 – Tarrasch’s Rule- the rook goes behind the passer and the draw is assured now that black’s rook has more activity than white’s- which is now tied to the defense of the a-pawn.

The book is replete with such positions- particularly in the rook and pawn chapter- and I think it’s worth picking up a copy if you find one around. I was pleased to get mine for free from Danny Kopec to review here- it’s rare that I get such decent schwag but sometimes my part-time position at the Marshall pays off in that regard.