GM Igor Smirnov AMA event highlights

Comments: 21

About a week ago, on 20 July (International Chess Day), I conducted an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) event on Reddit. The event lasted two hours and I wrote over 2000 words of advice, anecdotes and even jokes. 🙂

One of the students has summarized all of my thoughts into different categories. Reddit is slightly frustrating in format because of too many threads. This student has organized them across several different topics and published it on his personal blog (LINK).

I found it very nice and instructive, and would like to share it with you now. You can find the original Reddit thread here – LINK.

On Chess Training:

  • Use ACTIVE learning – think for yourself to find the best moves. Just watching videos is for Hollywood, not for serious chess training.
  • Inconsistent training brings inconsistent results. It is rare for people to have a well-thought-out training plan or even a plan at all. Check out these resources– Free: RCA Rapid Improvement Plan (LINK); Paid: Self-taught Grandmaster (LINK).
  • If you’ve been away from chess for a while, just play a few practice games and solve a few problems. Your understanding won’t disappear.

On Grandmasters:


  • Opening preparation is much more important and powerful at the IM/GM level.
  • In particular, planning and an organized thinking system are what allow GMs to see 10-15 moves ahead.
  • IMs and GMs have comprehensive knowledge about chess, whereas NMs tend to be more specialized in some areas.
  • Grandmasters play mercilessly, always creating problems for opponents, while lesser players (including FMs) just follow well-known rules.


On playing:


  • An anti-blunder check is always required, even in time trouble. It is the most important part of your thinking system (or at least the part you never skip).
  • They key, as always, is to keep your piece activity high (learn more about this in “Grandmaster’s Positional Understanding”: LINK).
  • With regard to planning, only plan during critical positions. You don’t need to plan and re-plan every move.
  • Blitz is also useful for getting lots of experience in different openings, quickly.



  • “Everything is hard until it is easy”. Never give up.
  • Intuition in chess is powerful. It often shows us the best move that our current chess understanding can see.
  • Computers are not “sucking the joy out of chess”. They are a tool that serves us. Analogy: cars run faster than people, but we still run.
  • Don’t complicate things: complexity prevents progress.


P.S. I hope you had a nice time at my ‘AMA’ event and learnt at least one thing that was new and interesting! 🙂 Thanks for participating.
Comments: 21

Comments 12

  1. Thanks. I could only dream of benig able to play that well in a blitz game! This game was played under the normal time limit (90 minutes plus 30 second increment). In blitz games I usually notice tactical possibilities just after it’s too late to play them or avoid them.

  2. If you keep your attacking style of playing, even in blitz games your opponents will suffer. It’s harder to defend than to attack. As an attacker, you simply move forward and look for forcing moves. It’s much harder to figure out what a defender should do.
    Good luck in your chess battles!

  3. Hi Ayush,
    Igor has a busy schedule but I will help you.
    It is a surprise!! Please follow our blog to get the news when it is released.

    Student Support Officer

  4. Thank you so much for this information .god bless Igor always he s just awesome coach. Dear Igor what would you say about mr Danny Ko pec DVDs ??

    1. Hi Ayush,

      Igor has a busy schedule, but I’ll try to answer your question.

      I don’t think Igor has reviewed all of the DVDs that’s been published by various chess authors. I think the best option for you would be to search for reviews and feedback about these DVDs online.

      Best regards,
      Silvestras | Student Support Officer.

    1. Hello SAI,

      Thank you for the suggestions, we will definitely consider creating a content for teaching chess to children.

      Best regards,
      Silvestras | Student Support Officer

  5. As for the planning, I do agree you don’t need to replan in every move. But sometimes you have to make corrections in your plan when pawn structure and/or material changes. But what is for sure, is that plans are extremely important. Yes, your principles are very useful, but you need to have a plan, a general direction to even know what are you even doing. When it comes to planning, intuition and your chess understanding is the most important and powerful thing. When you get experience in chess, learn typical middlegame patterns, your brain usually just intuitively composes a plan very quickly.

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