June 3, 2015

Middlegame Pawn Structures by GM Ivan Sokolov

  • Grand Master Igor Smirnov, Chess Coach, Author and Publisher.
  • In my previous article, I informed you that we’d have some new and interesting material in June. That’s why, today, I’m very excited to announce that we have a new premium video added to our RCA Shop. :)


    First, let me clarify for you that we’re NOT just providing you with random products/study material. As I often say, in an effort to give YOU the best, we’re providing you with high-quality chess lessons.

    Remember the tip: what matters is the QUALITY of your learning and not the quantity!


    Students have asked me many times for my opinion about DVDs by various chess authors. I don’t want to praise or criticize any particular author. Instead, I can reveal my opinion of them in general.

    There are a lot of strong players in the world. Unfortunately, when it comes to coaching:

    • Some of them don’t have a real desire to teach you anything (they just make money out of it).
    • Some do not have coaching skills. They can play well but can’t explain how they do so.

    In either case, DVDs produced by such players are rather superficial, and you can hardly learn anything from them.


    Moreover, finding a good author/coach/DVD is very difficult. Anyway, I’ve already started doing this for you. :) Over the last months, I’ve watched a lot of DVDs and will share the best ones with yousoon.

    Currently, we’ve found a very instructive course “Middlegame Pawn Structures” by GM Ivan Sokolov. What I really like about Sokolov is that he’s not only a very strong player, but he can also EXPLAIN his ideas clearly and in great detail.


    Let me emphasize once again that it’s a unique course, and it was very hard for me to spot it amongst hundreds of superficial tutorials.

    In this course, you’ll learn about the following:

    • typical middlegame pawn structures
    • the main plans
    • how these general ideas are implemented in practical games
    • and many other things


    Knowledge of typical pawns structures, together with corresponding strategic ideas and tactical motives, helps tremendously! These pawn configurations may arise from various openings.

    It’s very instructive to see HOW a top-level Grandmaster explains these ideas and reveals what he thinks about during real games.

    Personally, I enjoyed the Sokolov’s product a lot. He’s a very solid man, and looks a bit like ‘a professor’, but his lessons are both very instructive and interesting. I’ve discovered a lot of useful ideas and hope you’ll like it, too. :)


    That’s why, today, I’m very glad to announce that we’ve added the premium video of GM Ivan Sokolov on the topic “Middlegame Pawn Structures” to our shop. Additionally, I thought of providing you with a discount during the first few days, to celebrate this ‘announcement’!

    Therefore, you can get the premium video “Middlegame Pawn Structures” by GM Ivan Sokolov with a huge 30% discount (you save about $9)! :) Just use the coupon “soko30“ when placing your order.



    • If you don’t know how to use a discount code, please see here: LINK
    • The discount code will be valid from today until 7 June (inclusive).

    So, don’t miss this great opportunity – hurry up and grab the premium video with the discount!

    And the coolest part is that you will also get an RCA premium video absolutely FREE with every GM Sokolov product you purchase! :)



    <<Get the product now>>

    Moreover, I’d like to show you a preview of the product – you can watch the demo video of the course below:

    P.S. Don’t forget to share your feedback with us (and other students as well), after studying the course, so that we can understand your needs. You can write your comments below or submit your review here: LINK
    • Jesse Turner

      Hi, I purchased the product. The download link in the thank you is giving me an empty zip file. Please advise.. I tried twice, the download link says max of 3 downloads, so I am afraid to try again.

      • RCA_moderator

        Hi Jesse,
        We are sorry that you had this problem. Our temporary download links will not work more than 3 times for security purposes. Regarding this I have sent an e-mail with solution.

        Prasaadh / Student Support Officer.

    • mlegein

      Prasaadh. I too have purchased the Sokolov video and the zip file is empty. I used up my three download attempts and have sent an email to support but have not received any reply.
      Can you help?
      Michel Legein

      • RCA_moderator

        HI Michel,
        We are sorry for the inconvenience.
        We are currently resolving the issue. I have sent an e-mail regarding this to your personal e-mail id.
        You can continue our communication there.

        Prasaadh / Student Support Officer

    • Ayush

      I already have that DVD and I saw it 2 times its very intereao to see sokolov ideas and thought s during game.and thk yu igor for selecting chessbase DVD for us

      • Igor Smirnov

        1) I’m glad you enjoyed this course, I liked it too! :) Thanks for your feedback!

        2) I’ll keep searching for the other REALLY instructive courses. If/when I find something, I’ll publish it here for you. While selling partner products, I’ll be providing discounts and bonuses, so that you can benefit from the best offer.

        3) There was a temporary trouble with a download link, I’m sorry about that. Now everything is fixed, you’ll get download link right after your order. As usual, you are always welcome to contact our support in case of any help required:

        • ayush

          dear igor,i had purchased this dvd from gm simon williams official site.andi saw it. it was fantastic to see sokolov simple technique of explanation.and his thought process .dear igor,after unlocking gms mind second edition which new course are you going to make for us ??thankyu in advance for this great reply .

          • RCA_moderator

            Hi Ayush,

            Igor has a busy schedule and can’t answer all the questions unfortunately.

            We are always improving Remote Chess Academy and updating with new products, please follow our blog for updates and announcements. You can also subscribe to our newsletter at if you haven’t done so yet.

            Best regards,
            Silvestras | Student Support Officer

            • Ayush

              Thankyu so much ,for reply,I will follow this rca blog for improvement. I had one little request to Mr Igor ,sir please release a 3 rd edition of unlocking GMs mind .

            • Ayush

              Dear igor,there are 100 of chessbsase DVDs,foxy tiny size,Roman lab DVDs, ginger gm shop DVDs ,grandmaster damain memos DVDs.and lot of stuffs. You are a gm a little can you watch those stuffs and tell us which chess DVDs are the best and what can we learn from them??

            • Igor Smirnov

              Well, I’ve being studying chess for 21 years, it’s quite enough time to study lots of things… :)
              Of course I have not learnt all the existing DVDs, but there’s no need for that. If I see 1 DVD of an author, and dislike his teaching style/methods – there’s 99% guarantee that his other DVDs are bad as well.

              In addition to that, my whole team of RCA supports me. And I receive plenty of feedback from the students. We do make HUGE preparatory work for you, Ayush, so that you can ‘collect the fruits’ easily.

            • Ayush

              Thankyu so much Igor for this valuable response. And you are saying that you are going to release a new course?? What’s new in this course?? And second ly igor ,I am Indian. And in India people are obbessed to studies only. They spent lot of time in study and to find jobs but they can’t get it.they waste 18 years of their life’s in studies and much more.thirdly Igor youchad only added 3 bonus video lessons on second edition of unlocking GMs mind from your side and rest of the materials are from dlugy side and he can’t explain the things clearly.

        • ayush

          hello dear igor,sir in india there are 36 gms,58 ims among which 8 are women grandmaster.and this huge quantity of talents are born in chennai.igor in chennai there is im abhijeet kunte whose private training of 1 hours cost 2500/-rs.and this is too huge and i cannot afford private training.what should i do??you said in your book physocology of champions that a private coach is necessary to become a titiled player and achive training goals!!sir please help mei???

          • Igor Smirnov

            Having a private coach is great. However, as you said, often people can’t afford it or simply can’t find a good coach. Based on my experience, I can also say that a coach can not accept too many private students, otherwise his quality of coaching gets decreased.

            Actually, this is the reason why I started RCA some years ago. Through the courses and webinars you get a similar experience that you would have with a coach (and it costs much cheaper than a private coach).

            I’m woking on some new training feaures for you as well. Unfortunately it took a hell of a time to realize, but we’ll finalize it anyway.

            • Jonathan

              Thank you for all your hard work, Igor. I’ve benefitted so much from your courses; they truly are top notch. While the webinars are nice bursts of information, I’ve always valued your courses as they also provide a whole month’s worth, if not more, of practical problems and such.

              I understand it must be harder to make a full course now, as you’ve covered all the basics and generalities such as middlegame and endgame. Still, Opening Lab 2 was released in 2013 and we’ve only had one course since then. Good things come to those who wait, though, and I hope you continue to blow us away with fantastic chess training in the months and years ahead.

            • DD

              Hi Jonathan,
              I agree with you 100%.
              I should add that the book “Champion Psychology” really shines.
              Lasker said “Chess is a struggle” but sometimes I wonder which the contenders are.
              Maybe Carsten really struggles with his opponents.
              Myself, I am struggling mainly with my own blunders, my lack of discipline, my laziness.
              In my opinion indeed Lasker taught, and Igor following in his footsteps teaches , chess in the right way i.e. as a mean of personal development and growth.
              Best Regards,

            • Igor Smirnov

              Thanks for your appreciation and feedback, guys!

              If you are interested in a certain topic(s), you are welcome to write your request here in comments. I’ll cover it in a new course, or at least in a webinar or free video. Thanks in advance!

            • DD

              Dear Igor,
              Personally, I’ve been always fascinated by the mythical idea of a 300 positions set that would convey , if each of them were fully understood, the knowledge/skills of a chess master.
              I know it is just a myth but in practice, it should be possible to summarize the most important concepts by “crossing” the principles to the three phases of the game.
              Model thinking process examples, model calculation examples, also “mandatory” theoretical endgame etc. positions should be included.
              I would keep out openings theory, and of course training methods that have specific RCA courses.
              This collection of commented positions would be for me very useful to keep fresh my in mind the big picture, with the right priorities. If I need more details, I can always dive into (or buy in case I have not yet) the full courses themselves.
              Just an idea…
              Best Regards!

            • Jonathan

              I would love to see a course fully devoted to defence. From defending worse positions to defending unsound sacrifices, the art of finding ‘only moves,’ setting up fortresses, that type of thing. I can get a fully winning position, but if I play it against a computer it can drag it out for 30moves, just setting up frustrating obstacles. It’s so common to get a good position and win a pawn, but then it gives your opponent some activity, and just one inaccurate move and suddenly that activity becomes really threatening. I would love to learn how to avoid that when I’m playing, and also take advantage of it when my opponent makes typical defensive mistakes.

              I also think treating a strategic opening could work really well. Something like play the Spanish or Play the Nizmo, where the focus isn’t on memorizing lines per se, but learning the strategic plans and nuances of these positions, so that we can better understand the theory. So many books just throw variation upon variation at you; it would be nice to learn the deep underlying structure of these openings first, and then understand the theory after. (These openings also tend to be the ones I understand the least, so that would really help me!)

            • DD

              Hi Jonathan,
              Just to share some thought about defense.
              One thing that I learnt from Igor’s courses is that if I end up defending, something went really wrong before, and on that something is exactly where to put training efforts.
              That’s why I train more on the attack (and counterattack: if you have one you are not even really on the defensive).
              If I apply correctly the principles (i.e. I support them with adequate calculation) , my potential activity will never be less than my opponent’s.
              So I would say , borrowing an analogy from another field, attack is the light and defense is the darkness, the real thing is the light…
              Just my opinion though..
              Best Regards !

            • Jonathan

              Thanks for the reply, DD. I agree, in general going on the defensive is a sign that things aren’t going well. But sometimes that does happen, and you need to find a way to survive. Computers are very good at this, and it isn’t just about having more activity; it’s often about denying the opponent certain invasion squares. I can see this after the fact, but while in a game I have no idea what to do or how to set up the best resistance.

              More to the point, an opponent may offer an unsound sacrifice, but only if you can find the right counter moves. Heck, sometimes I sacrifice something, I win a game, but afterwards when I look at it with a computer I see that a simple series of moves completely thwarts my attack. Learning how to defend will help attacking skills, because you can more easily see if the usual defensive ideas work.

              In one of his courses, I think Winning Plan but I’m not sure, Smirnov states that the easiest way for GMs to beat amateur players is to start an attack, any attack, because amateurs have such weak defensive skills. I agree. Creating a course would help remedy this.

            • DD

              Dear Jonathan,
              Thanks for this explanation, what you are saying makes complete sense to me.
              The reality is that I am still struggling with the basics, and I’ve been considering defense “per se” low in priority as a skill to invest training time on.
              Too many things to fix before, in my case.
              For example: why am I not able to apply consistently a (seemingly) ridiculous three-steps thinking process yet?
              BTW I like your reference and usage of computers: they really are the ideal “universal player” we should compare to. And they are excelling not only at chess, but on many other tasks, as we humans should do!

              Have a nice one!

            • ayush

              dear igor,fischer had invented a fischer variation of ruy lopez where he won too many games with white in this variation and it is too hard to handle it from blacks point of view .can you please tell us with a video lessons how to play as black in such type of sittuation??and i had one more request.can you please upgrade the unlocking gms mind 2nd edition .??(i mean the 5 lessons which is made by dlugy)it would be too helpful if yu upgrade this 5 video lessons in your style…thankyu in advance.

            • Day_Dreamer

              I’d love to see Igor Smirnov’s story as a chess prodigy and becoming the Grandmaster in a book or video.
              An auto-biography of GM Smirnov’s chess development, witty advices that worked for advancement, remarkable games and encounters with the Champions (directly or indirectly).

            • ayush

              yes jonathan ,you are right it takes time to release new course by igor because quality matters not quantity.

            • ayush

              thankyu so much igor for this valuable response and for starting rca .unfortunately i came to know about this site in december 2012 whereas you had started this site in 2011.i am waiting to see your new training features and the new course that you are making.

    • Day_Dreamer

      I agree, i’ve seen some good reviews and demo video and its good. I’ll be getting a copy for sure.
      Also wondering, if there’s a possibility to include 2015 Webinars in the shop soon? How can we purchase (add to cart) those if not found in the shop. GM Smirnov, are you and the RCA team preparing a new chess course? Thanks in advance.

      • RCA_moderator

        Hi Day_Dreamer,

        We will update the Premium Video section as soon as possible.
        Regarding the new course, we will let our students know by making an announcement on our blog and via a newsletter before any new course is published.

        Best regards,
        Silvestras | Student Support Officer

    • Prabhakar Krishna

      When I apply discount coupon “soko30′ a message comes that ” discount coupon does not exist” ?

      • RCA_moderator

        Hi Prabhakar,
        Thank you for your interest in purchasing our courses.
        Soko30 was a discount coupon which was created during a release of new premium video.
        It does not exist since the offer has been expired.

        Student Support Officer

    • Kirollos Sawires Ageeb

      thank u so much u r the greatest teacher i have ever seen

      • RCA_moderator

        Your constant support and positive reaction is inspires to provide more quality chess content.

        Prasaadh | Support Officer

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