By what is success in chess determined? Usually, in answer to this question, two necessary factors are singled out: talent and work. However, ability and a desire to work, on their own, are insufficient. Of great significance are physical condition, com-petitive character and the ability to concentrate during a game. It is no less important to choose correctly the direction of the work and to be able to carry it out qualitatively. Of course, this is by no means a simple problem. At the first session of our school we try to help our pupils to master the skills of working independently on chess. It stands to reason that, in order to choose the required direction for self-improvement, a critical appreciation of your play is needed. It is the authors' deep conviction that a necessary condition for the development of a player is a serious study of his own games. Therefore a central place in the book is occupied by the topic 'The analysis of your own games'. The reader will find numerous specific methodological recommendations on how to carry out this work. Without a broad chess culture, a knowledge of the creative heritage of the great masters from the past, it is hard to expect to achieve good results. This is why we try to show the reader various ways of using the rich heritage of chess.
Naturally, topics such as 'The analysis of your own games' and 'Studying the classics' are practically inexhaustible. The first topic is examined from various points of view in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 9th parts of the book, and the second topic is covered in the 3rd and 4th parts. Part 6 is devoted to original king manoeuvres, but the more general topic 'Non-standard manoeuvres' is studied in the 5th part, as well as the 9th and certain other parts of the book. Part 7 is a compilation of advice by outstanding grandmasters about how to improve at chess. Finally, specially for this second edition, the large 8th part has been written, inviting the reader to test his strength by independently solving exercises on a variety of themes.
A few words about the structure of the book. Each of the first six parts opens with a lecture, read at a session of the school. Then follow exercises (for this new edition many new exercises have been added, and some old ones replaced) and additional material. These supplements, linked thematically with the lectures, have been taken from publications by the authors in the magazines Shakhmaty v SSSR and 64 - often they have been augmented and revised specially for this book. In this second edition two new articles have been included.
Of course, the work in our school is not restricted merely to the reading of lectures. Great attention is given to a joint analysis of games, individual consultations, the development of specific homework and its checking. From part 9 the reader can gain some impression of the form that these lessons take.
It has been the aim of the authors that every reader should be able to find something interesting and useful in this book. The suggested procedures and methods will, I hope, become the key to your chess improvement.
Of course, even a very good methodology will not be effective, if it is applied mechanically, without independent Interpretation. But for the serious, thoughtful player this book can become a good stimulus to creative and competitive development. Our work has continued. A second session of the school was held, where the main topic was the opening - the general principles of playing it, the methods of studying opening theory, the approach to the formation of your own opening repertoire, the link between the opening and middlegame, and so on (cf. Secrets of Opening Preparation). Plans for subsequent sessions include endgame technique, middlegame strategy, and practical playing procedures. The readers can become acquainted with this work from the later books in the series School of Future Champions.