Andrew Martin: First Steps in Chess Technique

by Priyadarshan Banjan
2/25/2015 – To improve your chess it helps to learn about pawn structures, the ideas behind the openings, the openings themselves, solve tactical tasks, and learn the basic and not so basic endgames. But it also helps to work on your thinking habits, to find and practice ways how to think properly and efficiently about chess positions. Andrew Martin shows you how.

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Andrew Martin: First Steps in Chess Technique - A review

For chess-players at club-level, playing good chess is often a question of proper thinking habits. Faulty thinking habits lead to faulty moves, faulty moves lead to losses. With his ‘First Steps in Chess Technique’ middlegame Fritztrainer IM Andrew Martin helps you to think better and improve.

Typically, the ‘First Steps series…’ hosted by IM Andrew Martin is aimed at club players. It empowers them by bridging the gap between theoretical postulates and practical examples, thus building the right foundation for progressing.

As any top sportsman will tell you, possessing the right mindset is the key to performing better during the game. When I began working with this DVD, I expected it to be similar to most chess books that talk about strategy and tactics. I was in for a pleasant surprise. IM Andrew Martin understands that chess is more than just controlling the centre or occupying an outpost. In practical games, right thinking habits can pay rich dividends. As an experienced coach, IM Martin knows precisely what the student needs.

Eloquent: IM Andrew Martin

In twenty instructive videos IM Martin discusses different chess techniques. He starts with consistency, and explains that the quality of moves an amateur makes tends to be volatile. It is impressive how IM Martin shows how important the vague concept of consistency is and how it crops up in many games.


Martin also stresses the importance of short-term plans, and points out how enjoyable and useful it is – especially if you are an amateur – to know the typical in a position because you will know how to proceed and what to calculate.


Martin then addresses a notorious problem that plagues players of all levels but is hardly ever discussed: winning won positions. He emphasizes the importance of solidity and simplicity in positions with a clear advantage, and stresses how important it is to control the opponent’s options. Instead of having to calculate unclear tactics it is much easier to sit comfortably in the driver’s seat and drive the point home.

After that Martin switches roles and shows what to do in a worse position. For me, his tips were something of a revelation. Usually, I simply lose once I get a bad position. Martin does not deny that every player can get into trouble but he knows what to do when this happens. He recommends to identify the positive features of your position and to search for moves that best emphasize these features. Sure, a simple concept, but nevertheless, something extremely useful to keep in mind.

Another useful thinking technique Martin talks about is the way in which masters identify their positional advantages to underline them, for instance, a pawn-majority or a bishop which has no counterpart, which gives you better control of the squares this bishop moves on.


The DVD is filled with innumerable pearls of useful advice which IM Andrew Martin conveys clearly and that is rarely found in chess books. The games Martin presents are from modern master practice – often you see how a master outplays a weaker opponent. However, Martin also includes heavyweight clashes which leads to an ideal mixture to serve the purpose of this DVD.

Annotations: transcripts of what IM Martin teaches in the DVD

A fine feature of this DVD are the annotated games. In his annotations Martin confirms what he speaks about in the videos and allows you to take another, serious look at the games to understand the concepts Martin puts forward better.

Club players will benefit a lot from this DVD. With a running time of approximately three and a half hours, ‘First steps in chess technique’ gives full value for the money invested and is recommended for its originality and instructional value.

Sample video


Andrew Martin: First Steps in Chess Technique

Language: English
Level: Beginner, Advanced

€16.72 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU)
$18.98 (without VAT)

This DVD can be purchased as a hard copy or it can be downloaded directly from the Internet.

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Priyadarshan Banjan is a 23-year-old club player from India. He works as an editor for ChessBase News and ChessBase India. He is a chess fanatic and an avid fan of Vishy Anand. He also maintains a blog on a variety of topics.


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