The pieces of the puzzle seem to add up finally.

It took me 23 years to find the essence of the transformation from knowledge into skill and to devise a usable method.

Since a year, my tactical training has taken off in accordance with my newly devised method.

Immediately, during tournament play, I was confronted with the other holes in my bucket, like poor openings knowledge, poor positional play, poor endgame technique and in general having no clue what I'm doing. Result = what times how. I figured out the how in 23 yearsbut did not know much about the what.

Since I didn't need to use time anymore for figuring out a study method, I have the time to plug the other holes in my bucket.

In the past, I talked about the two natural targets of the chess game: the two slow moving pieces. I used to call them the sitting ducks: the king and the pawns.

Vukovic put me on the track of the King with the Art of Attack in Chess. He talks about the preconditions that need to be met before you go all out. What lacks in his book, is the phase before the preconditions are met. Well not exactly lacking, but he himself admits that that phase of the game needs further investigation.

My own PoPLoAFun system turned out to fill the gap between the opening and the commitment to an assault on the King. Basically the PoPLoAFun system is about analyzing and increasing the piece activity. With one very important difference with common knowledge. I concocted a more precise definition of piece activity: for piece activity you need both an attacker AND a target. When the target is unknown, there is no piece activity.

Vukovic provided a more precise clue about the points of pressure (PoPs). His focal points are the same as my PoPs. And his auxiliary focal points are the same as my pivotal points on the line of attack (LoA).

The second duck

So the assault on the king is covered. It only need to be worked out in practice. What remained unclear though, what about the second duck, the pawns? I suspected that that was described in My System. I had read the book three times, what led me to that conclusion. But I was put a bit off by deciphering his enigmatic style of writing. It would me take years to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Luckily, GM Alex Fishbein came to the rescue. He has edited My System in order to make it more readable. It is called a Fast Track edition, if I'm not mistaken. I read this book last week, and indeed, as I already suspected, Nimzowitsch has devised a coherent system of how to convert the pawns into targets and how to handle them.

So, together with the middlegame books of CM Can Kabadayi and GM Arkell's endings, I have collected most knowledge of the what I must do in the middle game. That is not bad in only 14 months.

In my last OTB game I got a Queenside majority. Then I blundered two pawns away. It was the first time that I got a queenside majority on purpose. I was so focused on trading pieces that I forgot to look after my pawns.

Luckily my tactical prowess is on the rise lately, so I schwindled it into a draw.

Getting a queenside majority and trading the pieces to convert the pawns into a queen, is accompanied with its own tactics and patterns. So my skill training must be adapted with the right problem set in order to absorb the patterns into skill. Which will be the bane of my further progress. All mentioned areas in this post have their own specific tactics and patterns, and need their own specific problem set for skill training.


  1. I found a couple of excellent resources for investigating the Carlsbad structure and the associated piece placement. This structure can arise from a wide variety of different openings, frequently from a variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined, Exchange variation. Here’s the basic pawn structure, with the two Kings placed after kingside castling; all other pieces have been removed.

    FEN: 6k1/pp3ppp/2p5/3p4/3P4/4P3/PP3PPP/6K1 w - - 0 1

    #1: GM Talks: Master the Carlsbad Pawn Structure - The Full Course with GM Sune Berg Hansen


    #1:This video course is 3:10 hours long and covers both White and Black strategies. GM Hansen utilizes a specific Grandmaster game to illustrate the strategic plan(s) available for both sides based on the underlying pawn structure. [. . . ] represents games that can be found on Chess Tempo or at

    — Content of The Carlsbad Pawn Structure Masterclass —
    00:00 Appetizer/Introduction: Carlsbad Structure and why it is so important in the Queens gambit [Milko Bobotsov vs Tigran Petrosian]
    13:56 Chapter 1: Plans for White - The Minority Attack a Model Game by Loek Van Wely [Loek Van Wely vs Nigel Short]
    29:16 Chapter 2: Plans for White - The Pillsbury Attack [Harry Pillsbury vs Georg Marco]
    37:51 Chapter 3: Plans for White - The Central Build-Up with f3 and e4 with Garry Kasparov [Garry Kasparov vs Ulf Andersson]
    48:43 Chapter 4: Plans for White – Opening the Centre with e3-e4 [Anatoly Karpov vs Artur Yusupov]
    1:05:10 Chapter 5: Plans for White – Castling Queenside! [Yevgeniy Vladimirov vs Paul Van Der Sterren]
    1:20:53 Chapter 6: Plans for Black - Blacks options vs the Minority attack in the Carlsbad Pawn Structure

    Black’s options vs the Minority Attack:

    1) Leave the queenside as it is
    2) The same but with the a-pawns exchanged
    3) Prepare to meet b5 with c5
    4) Same but with the a-pawns exchanged
    5) Play a6 and a5 and use the b4 square
    6) Take on b5 and play a5
    7) Play b5 and put a knight on c4
    8) Play b6 (Tartakower style) to meet b5 with c5

    1:35:55 Chapter 7: Plans for Black - Examples of defending against the minority attack - part one [Victor Erdos vs Sune Berg Hansen] [Rafal Antoniewski vs Jakob Vang Glud]
    1:51:49 Chapter 8: Plans for Black (Aggressive) - Defending against the minority attack - part two [Atanas Kizov vs Jakob Vang Glud] [Aleksandra Goryachkina vs Michael Adams]
    2:06:40 Chapter 9: Plans for Black – What to do against the f3-e4 plan? [Jens Kristiansen vs Sune Berg Hansen]
    2:21:53 Chapter 10: Legends - Keith Arkell loves the white side [Keith Arkell vs Johan de Wolf]
    2:44:39 Chapter 11: Legends - The Black Heroes in Action – Julian Radulski in Memoriam [Bozidar Stankovic vs Julian Radulski] [Aleksandr Lenderman vs Julian Radulski]

    #2: Zlotnik’s Middlegame Manual: Typical Structures and Strategic Maneuvres, Boris Zlotnik, © 2020, New In Chess

    An in-depth chapter devoted to detailed analysis of the variations associated with the Carlsbad formation.

  2. The Karlsbad structure often arises from the Caro Kann. Since I already have decided on the French defense, I will often have to deal with other pawn structures. The French is often about nibbling away the center, so Nimzowitsch must help me out there. Nimzowitsch writes about pawn breaks and when they are freeing or not.

    Learning how to play a minority attack is very important.

    As is the IQP and its descendants. Which is a chapter in My System.


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