Exploiting A Position

During a visit to a second hand book shop yesterday I found a book I hadn’t seen before, Chess Coaching by John Littlewood. I have to say that it’s one of the best coaching guides I’ve come across with a heavy emphasis on the development of tactical vision. It also had some coaching ideas I haven’t seen before.

One of them John called ‘exploiting a position’ which goes as follows. He would take a position with a particular tactical theme and put it on the demonstration board. After that he would then improvise other tactical ideas from this position by adding or taking away a piece or two. The advantages are clear, it builds on existing patterns and also avoids the usual delay in setting up a totally new position.

Now one might argue that this can be avoided by having material prepared on a laptop and then shown on a projector. But in practice this kind of equipment is rare, especially in your typical chess venue. It’s also not easy for weaker coaches to come up with this kind of material, even if they work on it at home with a computer.

Here’s one of the examples John uses for this, the famous Lasker – Euwe game in which the then World Champion loses a piece against the veteran Emanuel Lasker. First of all we have the actual game:

John then extends the value of the position by changing it slightly:

Finally he makes one more small change, moving White’s a-pawn to a4 and asks whether 1.b4 still wins a piece. Here is the answer:

This is really great coaching material which shows the value that a strong player can bring; John went on to remark that an able coach should be able to improvise these variations from just about any position. This was not hard for him as he was a brilliant tactician, others will find it a lot more difficult.

Nigel Davies


Author: NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Nigel has written a number of chess books that are available at Amazon: