To preface, I've played chess a while but am just beginning to take it seriously in regards to the studying past games and different techniques. Bear with me as my question is a bit conceptual...

The big question I have is how to use these techniques correctly in a real world situation. Whenever you watch or read about certain types of games to play, the person teaches in a way that you just 'assume' the other person is going to make a certain move, then you make this move, etc etc. Obviously this is not realistic so I'm wondering if that means that the best players just absorb all of these different situations and adapt accordingly?

This seems improbable to me because of the near infinite possible ways a game can be played. Do the greats generally play the same way with slightly nuanced differences? How can one 'assume' what the other player is doing?

Knowing a little history, I believe it was game 3 of the Spassky/Fisher matches where Fisher played way outside of the box...did this throw Spassky off because he was so used to seeing certain moves?

I know I have a couple questions here but in general I'm just trying to find the best way to use tutorials and past matches in the real world.


  • 1
    Part of the answer you'll find here chess.stackexchange.com/questions/13542/… Feb 25, 2016 at 6:30
  • I'm not sure exactly why there's a downvote. I figure forums like this are places where people who want to learn can ask questions, be curious and help expand their mind and knowledge. With no explanation, a downvote is not constructive... Feb 27, 2016 at 7:12

3 Answers 3


It depends on what exactly the tutorial is trying to teach you.

If it is an opening tutorial, say about the Italian game, then obviously after 1.e4 black has any number of responses and you'll have to find a tutorial for each and every one of them.

If the tutorial teaches you about certain strategic situations, then only the sensible responses will be examined, and what is sensible is something you'll learn by being exposed to many different positions and moves. See: How do players "see" several moves ahead?

If the tutorial touches upon a tactical position, for example a mating attack, then it makes a lot of sense for you to try to find the right way to continue if the opponent had made a different move. It'll probably have some easy refutation and you'll learn a lot by trying to find it by yourself.


I also think it depends a lot of what the tutorial is teaching you. If, for example, it is trying to teach the concept of minority attack a good lesson/tutorial will explain when is reasonable to think of starting a minority attack, will explain how to do it (conceptually) and will give examples. The same stands for preventing your opponent's plan. Then go over many games and try to understand when and how different concepts are applied. It will eventually stick to the brain, maybe subconsciously at the beginning, then you will start to recognize patterns.

Applying the concept in real life games is a different matter and I think it starts with correct evaluation of the position. Many times, the evaluation and the lines are guided by the opening you play, the pawn structure resulting in that opening, etc.

Don't worry, you are not the only one struggling to find the correct plan over the board :) I'm also very interested to other answers to this questions. Studying one concept is one thing, knowing when to apply it and having the correct technique to do so is a totally different thing.

As for tactics, I think is a lot about patterns recognition here. There are many websites that allow you to practice tactics online: chess.com, chess tempo, lichess, chess24, etc


The best way to use chess tutorials is to not watch too many of them.

If you want to do 500 chess puzzles in 3 hours then do it: but don't try and do it every day as you will forget that it's a game that does not depend on brute calculative ability.

The ideas are what is important: a combination is a combination of ideas thus watching too many tutorials mean you forget what you learnt at the beginning.

It's called being selective and being over-enthusiastic is a common amatuers mistake that I'm still making.

The best advice I ever got was not to try and play too perfectly.

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