Although seven of the eight sections of this book were originally published as separate volumes, they were written with their coordination as a complete chess course in mind. Conveniently prefaced now by a new summarized review of the basic elements of chess, the resulting comprehensive whole provides the instruction that any chessplayer needs to develop a respectable degree of skill.
The integrated progression of subjects is treated in the following order. A player who knows the elements but little more about chess may not need the introductory steps revealed in Book One, but he does need to be warned about the types of mistakes – neglected development and the like – that beginning and intermediate players make so frequently. He can then go on to study opening play in its larger aspects, and examine its consequences in the ensuing middlegame. From this point he proceeds to study the endgame stage, which evolves out of the middlegame previously studied. And finally, having seen the logical relationship which binds together opening, middlegame, and ending, the student is now ready to go back to the initial stage and study the chief openings in rewarding detail.
With this overall scheme in mind, the reader is in a better position to appreciate the detailed treatment in each section.
Book One is a summary of chess fundamentals that provides the first springboard into the “royal” game for beginners, and also serves as a refresher for the more advanced player.
Book Two is a study of the nine most common mistakes made by chessplayers. These include such typical errors as failing to guard against hostile captures, underestimating the opponent’s threats, and making pawn moves that weaken the castled position. Many examples are given to show how these and other mistakes prove disastrous in the opening and middlegame.
Now that the reader has been made aware of the kinds of mistakes he must avoid, he is ready to study the problem of planning the opening so as to get a promising middlegame position. First the subject is treated from White’s point of view (Book Three). Dealing with such problems as control of the center, how to exploit superior development and mobility, and the like. But it is at least equally important to deal with opening problems from Black’s point of view, and this brings us to Book Four; here problems of counterattack and defense are emphasized.
These studies of middlegame play lead logically to a treatment of the endgame stage, for whatever happens in the final part of the game is the consequence of what happened earlier in the opening and middlegame. As a rule, the chief practical problem of endgame play is how to win with a material advantage which has been obtained in the middlegame. In Book Five the different types of endings are classified and studied; many practical examples are explained, and the reader acquires an excellent grasp of the vital problem of converting a material advantage into victory.
But to know how to make use of advantages is not enough; so in Book Six we go on to the related problem of how to make the most of disadvantageous positions. This section contains many valuable pointers that will help the reader to salvage many an apparently lost game.
Now that opening, middlegame, and endgame have been surveyed, what remains? It is now time to survey the chess openings in some detail, paying particular attention to the way in which opening moves are intertwined with the ensuing middlegame play. This material appears in Books Seven and Eight. Each opening is presented with explanations of is basic ideas – the plans of each player, their middlegame goals, the clash that follows their attempts to enforce their disparate conceptions.
Throughout, my aim has been to give the reader a better idea of the fine points of chess as it is played by the masters. The appreciative comments I have had from readers encourage me to believe that a much wider circle of new readers will enjoy this material and apply it profitably in their own games.