Who is Fpawn?

Fpawn’s Chess Lessons

Weekly Schedule



Adult tourneys


Kids tourneys

ICC Tutorial


Rating List

National Rankings


USCF Ratings







Recommended Books and Software

Fine’s 30 Rules of Chess

Top 10 Things to Remember at Chess Tournaments

Notable Chess Quotes

20 Middlegame Questions to Ponder

Chess Openings

Annotated Games



Recommended Books and Software


TACTICS PUZZLES (practice, practice, practice)

1.      1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate by Reinfeld (1000-1600) ***

2.      5334 Problems, Combinations, and Games by Polgar (1000-1600) **

3.      1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations by Reinfeld (1200-1800) ****

4.      Chess Endgame Quiz by Evans (1400-2000) **

5.      Sharpen Your Tactics by Lein (1600-2200) ***


MIDDLEGAME BOOKS (good to read and learn from)

1.      World Champion Combinations by Keene (1000-1600) *

2.      Chess Tactics for Advanced Players by Averbakh (1200-1800) **

3.      My System by Nimzowitsch (1400-1800) ****

4.      101 Brilliant Chess Miniatures by Nunn (1600-2000) *

5.      The Art of Positional Play by Reschevsky (1600-2000) **

6.      Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by Tal (1600-2200) ****

7.      A Guide to Attacking Chess by Christiansen (1600-2200) ****

8.      Road to Chess Improvement by Yermolinsky (1600-2200) ***

9.      Understanding Pawn Play in Chess by Marovic (1600-2200) **

10.  Fire on Board editions 1 and 2 by Shirov (1800-2200) ***


The Success Chess website also has a large list of recommended books by Richard Shorman and Henry Vinerts. Note that their “advanced” books tend to be for 1000-1400 players, which is the lower end of my teaching range. Enjoy!


SOFTWARE (everyone should have at least one chess playing program)

1.      Chessmaster 10 (http://www.chessmaster.com/) – good interactive interface (1000-1600) *

2.      CT-Art 3.0 – tactics training software (1000-1800) **

3.      Fritz 10 – strong engine plus medium sized database for about $50 (1600+) ****

4.      Rybka 2.3 (http://www.rybkachess.com/) – very strong engine (2000+) **

5.      Chessbase 9.0 (http://www.chessbase.com/) – very expensive but useful for top players (2000+) ***


Print a chess notation sheet to use for your own tournament games!


Back to top.


Reuben Fine’s 30 Rules of Chess (with some minor editing)




1. Open with a center pawn.

2. Develop with threats.

3. Play knights before bishops.

4. Castle as soon as possible.

5. Avoid developing the queen too early.

6. Do not move the same piece twice without a good reason.

7. Use your minor pieces to fight for the center.

8. Maintain at least one pawn in the center.

9. Make as few pawn moves as possible.

10. Avoid sacrificing without a clear and adequate reason.




1. All of your moves must fit into a plan suggested by a weakness in the position.

2. Combinations are based on double attack.

3. When ahead material, exchange pieces (especially queens) but not pawns.

4. Avoid serious pawn structure weaknesses.

5. In cramped positions, free yourself by trading pieces.

6. Do not bring your king out with your opponent’s queen on the board.

7. If your opponent has one or more exposed pieces, look for a combination.

8. In superior positions, attack the enemy king by opening lines for your pieces.

9. In even positions, coordinate the action of all of your pieces.

10. In inferior positions, the best defense is a counter-attack (if possible).




1. The king must be active in the endgame.

2. Avoid passive pieces that merely defend.

3. Passed pawns must be pushed.

4. The easiest endgames to win are pure pawn endings with extra pawn(s).

5. When ahead material, exchange pieces, not pawns.

6. Do not place your pawns on the same color squares as your bishop.

7. Bishops are superior to knights when there are pawns on both sides of the board.

8. Rooks belong behind passed pawns.

9. A rook on the seventh rank is usually worth a pawn.

10. Blockade passed pawns using the king.


Back to top.


Top 10 Things to Remember at Chess Tournaments (by Fpawn)


#10. Make sure every move has a purpose. A good move performs two functions at once (e.g. double attack). A great move does three things.

#9: After each move by your opponent, ask yourself: “Is he threatening anything?”

#8: Kids attack better than they defend. So A-T-T-A-C-K!

#7: If you don't know the opening, remember the opening rules.

#6: Don’t give up just because you blundered. Play hard and look for tricks--your opponent might mess up as well.

#5: Think of the five elements of chess: material, space, time, center control and king safety.

#4: Look out for tAcTiCs!

#3: This deserves additional emphasis: *C*A*S*T*L*E* *E*A*R*L*Y*

#2: When winning, trade pieces but not pawns. Conversely, when losing, try to avoid piece trades.

#1: T A K E Y O U R T I M E!!!


Back to top.


Notable Chess Quotes


If you don’t know what to do, find your worst piece and look for a better square. [Jerry Schwarz]


When you have a winning position, K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid). [Michael Aigner]


One bad move nullifies forty good ones. [I.A. Horowitz]


When you see a good move, look for a better one. [Emanuel Lasker]


A win by an unsound combination, however showy, fills me with artistic horror. [Wilhelm Steinitz]


The sign of a great Master is his ability to win a won game quickly and painlessly. [Irving Chernev]


You have to have the fighting spirit. You have to force moves and take chances. [Bobby Fischer]


A young player, specifically because he is so inexperienced, naturally fears an established Master. Only the ambitious player becomes a solid Master, and that by breaking that fear. How? By being prepared to play out every game. He must gamble on losing; there is no other way of winning. We all make mistakes. A determined player makes fewer, and those he does make are more often overlooked simply because of the pressure and tension he exerts on his rival! [William Lombardy]


Without error there can be no brilliancy. [Emanuel Lasker]


A good player is always lucky. [Jose Raul Capablanca]


You need not play well - just help your opponent to play badly. [Genrikh Chepukaitis]


The winner of the game is the player who makes the next-to-last mistake. [Savielly Tartakower]


During a Chess competition, the Master should be a combination of a beast of prey and a monk. [Alexander Alekhine]


Play the opening like a book, the middle game like a magician, and the endgame like a machine. [Rudolf Spielmann]


Your body has to be in top condition. Your Chess deteriorates as your body does. You can't separate body from mind [Bobby Fischer]


A bad plan is better than none at all. [Frank Marshall]


The most powerful weapon in Chess is to have the next move. [David Bronstein]


Pawns are the soul of chess. [Francois Andre Philidor]


The king is a fighting piece. Use it! [Wilhelm Steinitz]


Weak points or holes in the opponent's position must be occupied by pieces not pawns. [Siegbert Tarrasch]


The pin is mightier than the sword. [Fred Reinfeld]


The main objective of any operation in an open file is the eventual occupation of the seventh or eighth rank. [Aaron Nimzovich]


First-class players lose to second-class players because second-class players sometimes play a first-class game. [Siegbert Tarrasch]


Look at Garry Kasparov. After he loses, invariably he wins the next game. He just kills the next guy. That's something that we have to learn to be able to do. [Maurice Ashley]


If your opponent offers you a draw, try to work out why he thinks he's worse off. [Nigel Short]


Nobody ever won by resigning. [Unknown]


By playing at Chess then, we may learn… First: Foresight... Second: Circumspection... Third: Caution... And lastly, we learn by Chess the habit of not being discouraged by present bad appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favorable chance, and that of persevering in the secrets of resources. [Benjamin Franklin]


Who is your opponent tonight? I am playing against the Black pieces. [Akiba Rubinstein]


Not all artists may be Chess players, but all Chess players are artists. [Marcel Duchamp]


Back to top.

20 Middlegame Questions to Ponder


While your opponent is thinking:


1. If he does nothing, DO I HAVE ANY THREATS?

2. What are my weaknesses? Opponent's weaknesses?

3. What is my opponent's plan?


Right after your opponent makes a move:



5. Who has the initiative? Who is attacking/defending?

6. Do I have a forced response?


While calculating your next move:



8. What is my biggest weakness? Can I defend it or should I ignore it?

9. What is my opponent's biggest weakness? How can I attack it?

10. Can I somehow get the initiative?

11. What is the most obvious response for your opponent? Is there a second choice?

12. Who is better after a series of moves?


If you don't know what move to play:



14. What minor pieces are good and which ones are bad?

15. Which pieces, if any, do you want to trade?

16. What is my worst piece? Can I find a better square for it?

17. Can I change the pawn structure to make my pieces better?

18. Have I finished developing?


After you write down your move but before you play it:



20. What can my opponent play in reply to my move?


Back to top.


Chess Openings


Opening monogram:


Learning the Dutch Defense, a comprehensive introduction to playing the black side of all major variations.


Text files with important variations:


Ruy Lopez, for white.

Scotch Game, for white.

French Defense, for white. (Main line 3.Nc3)

Caro Kann, for white. (Main line 3.Nc3)

Alapin Sicilian, for white.

Accelerated Dragon, for black.

Sveshnikov Sicilian, for black.

Anti-Sicilians, for black.

Ruy Lopez, for black. (Archangelsk variation)

Caro Kann, for black.

Dutch Defense, for black.

Slav Defense, for black.


Back to top.

Annotated Games (by Fpawn)


NM Michael Aigner vs NM Nicolas Yap: Game from 2005 People’s Tournament in Berkeley.
NM Michael Aigner vs GM Pavel Blatny: Game from 2003 US Open (first GM scalp!).
Vanessa West vs NM Michael Aigner: Game from 2003 US Open in Los Angeles.
NM Michael Aigner vs GM Aleks Wojtkiewicz: Game from 2001 Firecracker Open (first draw vs GM).
NM Michael Aigner vs NM Rudy Hernandez: Game from 2001 Burlingame club McIlrath Memorial.
NM Michael Aigner vs Kit-Sun Ng: Game from 2000 Pan American Intercollegiate in Milwaukee.
Jason Childress vs Michael Aigner: Game from 1998 Memorial Day at LERA (expert Brilliancy Prize).


Back to top.