GM Igor Smirnov answers students’ questions

Comments: 18

As you may already know, I conducted a live “Ask Me Anything (AMA) event” on the RCA Facebook page on 15 August. I conducted this event to celebrate the release of our new course “Winning the Middlegame” (released on the 17th). If you missed it, you can check the Facebook post here and go through the questions asked by our students.
Ask Me AnythingI was on roll as I answered the students’ questions for about 2 hours. 🙂 I had to make sure I answer almost every single question and to do so properly – to provide you with the right answer and the tips/advise for YOUR improvement.


Yet, unfortunately, I was not able to answer a few questions and I missed a few questions as some students posted their questions directly in our FB page instead of following the “procedure” to comment down the event post. Therefore, I’ve decided to answer the unanswered questions today! 🙂


Let’s go to the questions right away:


Q1: Hello Igor, one tiny thing, that it is better to study, games with the chessbase or the same with board and book? Antonio Cortes Montoya


It’s better to study with chess board + book, but I know you’ll use ‘chessbase’ anyway, don’t you? 🙂


The good thing about using real chess board is that it somehow provokes you to think. While observing a game using software, you are enticed to press ‘forward arrow’ and scroll through the game too quickly.


On a positive side, computer engine can help you see the lines and evaluation. Therefore, you can check if your ideas are right or wrong.


Q2: Sir, Is London System better than Colle System Jai Prakash Singh


Any opening is good when a good player plays it. 🙂


Objectively speaking, both London and Colle systems deviate from the fundamental chess principles. Thus, these are not the most powerful openings.


However, it’s easy to study and play such openings. White plays the same moves against almost any replies of Black. That’s why some players prefer to play London/Colle.


In my view ‘London system’ is a bit dull. GMs make jokes about it, saying that ‘White is fighting for a draw’.
London System

London System


I would recommend that you play Colle. People commonly consider ‘d4-e3-c3’ pawn setup to be ‘Colle opening’
Colle Opening

Colle Opening


It’s not bad, but I would rather recommend that you fianchetto your queen-side bishop – it’s more aggressive.


Suggested: you may like to study our article “Best chess openings and how to pick one for youhere.

chess middlegame
You may hope to get a position as shown in the above diagram in the middlegame. White has good prospects in the king-side attack.


Q3: What variation can you advice to play against Tropovsky? – Misyuryaev Sergey

Trompowsky Attack
Trompowsky Attack violates one of the opening principles, and therefore can’t be really dangerous for Black. Any logical response will give a good position for Black, for instance 2…Ne4, 2…d5, 2…e6.


I like 2…d5 variation, as it’s both solid and active. If you would like to study it seriously, check out the course “The Grandmaster’s Openings Laboratory“.


Q4: Playing Black against Vienna 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 d5 I was confronted with 4. Qe2. After 4…Nxe4 I lost a Pawn, and eventually the game. What is the best response to 4. Qe2 — ? Thanks – Dada Dadamax

Vienna Chess

Black to play

4…Nc6 looks good to me. In case of 5.fe you’ve got an unpleasant surprise for your opponent – 5…Nd4! And White is struggling.


Now, just find that guy and challenge him again. You’ll beat him badly! 🙂


Q5: How GMs remember all those complicated variations in their opening line? – Jhec Bello


  • GMs understand strategic principles very well. That’s why they don’t have to memorize lines mechanically, they UNDERSTAND the lines, and ‘digest’ them naturally.
  • GMs are professional players. Same with other professionals, GM’s have their ‘8-hours working day’. Of course, one can learn plenty of things while studying it for days and years.


Q6: What do you do to relax and recharge after training or tournament – Jhec Bello


Some of my foreign friends think that I manufacture ‘Smirnoff vodka’, and this is my recipe for relaxation. 🙂


On a serious tone, I do physical sport, reading, communication with family, strolling through the park, etc. Aside from that, I’m a big fan of self-improvement topic, and it energizes me a lot.


Also, there are some psychological tips for chess players specifically. But on the top of all that, it’s your life philosophy that matters the most.


Finally, I’ve already written a whole book ‘Champion psychology’ about this topic.


Q7: Heres a question, are you planning to make all of your courses available on mobile devices? This is the only downside I can see to any of your courses, and I have them all ! Igor Smirnov – Philip Porter


Hi Philip, it’s nice to hear from you again! Thanks for your nice words!


I plan to update the RCA website and make it mobile friendly. Hopefully, we’ll launch the update within a month.


As for the courses, I will definitely strive to adapt future courses to mobile devices. Not sure if it’s worth the effort for the past courses…  Will you really review them once again in case they start working on mobile devices?


Q8: What are you thinking algorithm step by step that can be used in every positions? – Misyuryaev Sergey


Chess thinkingIt’s a very good question, although it’s really HUGE, almost like “How to play chess?” question 🙂


This is exactly what I explained in details in the courses “The Grandmaster’s Positional Understanding” and “The Grandmaster’s Secrets“.


If you are tight in budget, however, check out my free videos about preventing blunders. This is a very good point to start from, while buying your thinking algorithm.


Q9: hallo. sir my question is…… i learned basic chess moves in 2013… i have no FIDE rating… but i love to play chess…. i always played chess in online.. my internet chess rating is 1500+… and am stuck in there only from one year…. i took part here in local in one tournement and i defeated three FIDE rated players of rating 1200+,1400+ and 1450+…. and i lost to age category players of just 1100+,&1200+,…and that tournement was my first tournement which was organised just before 4 months back and since then i didnt took part in any tournment…… in that tournement didnt make any single draw but eigther won or i lost ,thats what happen there … i dont know what to do now… is i need to quit chess or i should continue…and also there is lot of pressure on me for finding a job …i have completed my graduation and dont have a job also….. i bought ur book promoted pawn just before one month and it is having very good information. i completed 12 chapters in that book… and now i dont know what to do…. please guide me – Dost Nizam


Hi Dost,


Although I’m a chess coach, in your case, frankly, I would recommend that you opt for a standard job (not related to chess). For a beginner-level player, it’s hard to make living from chess.


Still, you’ll be able to devote a few hours for your chess study before or after your work. Start from the course “The Grandmaster’s Secrets”. You’ll see improvement within a few months of training. Once your chess level gets higher, you’ll be able to shift to chess playing/coaching.


Also, you may give it a try and apply for a job at RCA: We are constantly growing, and from time to time there are new open vacancies.


Note: questions 10 and 11 meets the same answer.


Q10: What’s the best way to analyze my games – Ahmed Seif


Q11: Hi sir, I want to know the study plan for intermediate player ( how we can proceed further) i am stuck around 1600+ rating on and not able to increase. some times it got inscreased by 1750 but again i came back to 1600, now there is no improvement in my rating…:( can you suggest some good book resources and a details structure for how i should study and from where i should study..??? so that it can enhance our skills..I think every body have this question that how they have to proceed from an intermediate level to advance level player. – Kanhaiya Gupta


With very few exceptions, most of the players at your level suffer for lack of proper coaching/guidance. As a result, you suffer from unstable results.
sadI developed a complete course dedicated to effective self-training, it’s called “Self-taught Grandmaster”


If you are tight in budget, study the free mini-course “Chess Training Plan for Rapid Improvement”.


Good luck!


Q12: Hi Mr Smirnov I wanna ask you about the engines what’s most important depth or calculation speed ? Second when l analyse my games can I use one engine or more ? Thanks in advance – Ahmed Seif


Hi Ahmed,


GMs often use a few engines while analysing openings. Each engine has its style, and one may hope to find new or unexpected opening moves for an opponent. However, for your needs it’s absolutely enough to use 1 engine.


Not sure if I got your question about depth/speed. Anyway, you may pick ANY engine. Stockfish, Houdini, Rybka etc… – don’t worry, they all are good.


P.S. In order to thank you for asking the questions, we’ve prepared a little present for you. The PDF report “Tips to improve middlegame play” contains the most powerful ideas from RCA’s best middlegame lessons. You may download it here (of course, it’s totally FREE).
Comments: 18

Comments 12

  1. “Although I’m a chess coach, in your case, frankly, I would recommend that you opt for a standard job (not related to chess). For a beginner-level player, it’s hard to make living from chess.”

    I like your honesty here Igor. Perhaps you should also be a life coach 😉

    1. Thanks Aldrich. GM Igor has a masters in Psychology as well so he knows about human mind as well 🙂

      Prasaadh | Support Officer

  2. outstanding q and A sessions dear igor thankyou so much for this are just great did you know gm mesgen amanov he had developed same training methods as you did in rca and he had produced 25 gms and even 1 world champion.

  3. if i am not wrong, there is a mini 3 page lesson on this topic. on the top half of the page there is a diagram. Bishop takes f6 will win immediately right?

    1. Hello Bejamin,
      Are you referring to the mini course “Chess training for rapid improvement”. I am not exactly sure which topic you are referring to.

      Prasaadh | Support Officer

  4. okk sir thanks for your time dear igor he is offering mei online lessons at 57$ per month and special 25$ but with his private student sir please tell mei how can i pay him i had rupay card and his site don’t support that.

  5. dear sir amanov phislosphy is just like that of igor and his methods are little bit different from igor but he is also a great coach.

  6. Dear Igor,
    I watched your videos about improving a skill.It takes about 3 weeks right?
    Can you make a timetable on practicing anti blunder check with 3 weeks like what to do? how many hours?
    I want a answer from the grandmaster not from any RCA crew
    thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Like this Post?

Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post.


You May Also Like This