Tiviakov: Realizing an Advantage

by Mattis Trätmar
2/2/2021 – You gain a good positon in a game. That's great, but how can you "realize" your advantage, how can you increase it, what should you focus on, how should you think about the advantage you have gained. That is what this Fritztrainer is about, with many instructive thoughts, ideas and plans pointed out by Grandmaster Sergei Tiviakov, who is a renowned chess trainer and teacher. Review with examples by Mattis Trätmar.

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Recommendation: Realizing an Advantage by Sergei Tiviakov

Hello there, my name is Mattis and I want to recommend a DVD of ChessBase titled „Realizing an Advantage“. I am a new ChessBase author and I am very happy that I can write articles on different topics, including things like DVD (Fritztrainer) recommendations, book recommendations, studying the classics, studying endgames, the psychology of chess, the importance of concentration in chess, and so on. My first article will be about how to realize an advantage, on which aspects we should focus, in which ways we should think while converting an advantage you have gained. That is what this DVD is about, with many instructive thoughts, ideas and plans pointed out by Serbian grandmaster Sergei Tiviakov, who is a renowned chess trainer and teacher.

First of all I would like to give you an overview of the different aspects and matters which are explained on this DVD. After that I will talk about how I used it to learn some useful things, combined with the question of the importance of his explanations for me and especially for my own practical play.

So, what does it mean to convert an advantage into something more tangible and later on into victory? To start with this topic, it is important to understand what it means by “realizing an advantage”. In my opinion everything in chess is related to the question of how I can best improve my position in the best possible way, and what should I do to reach my goals.

The structure of this DVD is based on different aspects the conversion process. After a short introduction it starts with planning, goes on to matters of the center and space advantage. After that the GM Tiviakov's focus is the exploitation of weaknesses, particularly the principle of two weaknesses. He speaks about pawn structure and he tells you how to convert one type of an advantage into another one. This is called the transformation of advantages. He talks about exchanges and king activity, especially in the endgame. Last but not least, there is a test section in which all the aspects and principles he has dealt with are tested, where you can figure out which parts you have understood well, and where you can further improve.

In the beginning, Tiviakov speaks about the most important points and principles you should always remember. One thing is not to relax too early. "The game is not over until it is over" is an old saying. Another relevant principle is not to waste too much time. Also connected to these principles is that we should try to focus as precisely as it is possible! We should always try to finish our games as quickly and not allow our opponent to get any kind of counterplay. Besides we should not take too many risks during the realization of an advantage! Another important psychological aspect is a proper and adequate time management. We should try to keep slightly more time on our clock (let's say ten minutes) than our opponent has. Besides it is also very important to improve the position to a maximum. All this isn't that easy to understand and more challenging to use in our games. It may sound obvious, but when you look deeper you realize that it is quite difficult. Nevertheless it is very important that, particularly when we want to improve our position, we should keep trying to increase the pressure or even to get a more tangible advantage, in order to convert it into victory. Everything is related to the collection of our small benefits, advantages and preferences. Here is another quote by the former world champion Emanuel Lasker: "The most difficult thing in chess is to win a winning position."

Now, after a short but hopefully reasonable introduction I want to get with the heart of the matter.

The DVD starts with many instructively commented games of strong players of the past, like Anatoli Karpov, Vassili Smyslov, Max Euwe, Bobby Fischer, Michail Botwinnik and Tigran Petrosjan. Sergei Tiviakov shows us in exemplary fashion how to analyze high class games, especially when our focus is on the realization of an advantage. That is very good, and he explains his points without too much unnecessary information. He speaks in a very normal fashion, and I really appreciate his remarks, which are easy to understand and to remember as well.

I will now tell you about my key moments of this DVD and in the context of my learning strategy and my experience with this very important subject. I want to talk about some of the games I find most impressive and with which I think that I learned many things, like which elements I should try to focus on, and on which psychological tricks I should be aware of. I would like to start with an instructive game played in 1994 between Yakovich and Polovodin, with the focus on the process of planning.

When I took a first a look at the diagram position, where the game annotation starts, I thought that the chances should be roughly equal because of the symmetrical structure. But then, after some thinking, I realized that White has an advantage due to his better bishop (compare the bishop on b5 with the black one on e6).

Okay, that's nice to note, but how to proceed? That is the key question we have to ask in such a position. It is clear that we need an adequate, a long-term plan. So first of all we have to ask ourselves what we would like to achieve, under what circumstances we would like to achieve it, where we would like to have our pieces (it is good to have them on active/effective squares). Which pieces we would like to exchange, how we can improve our position in the most precise and, for our opponent, annoying way, and so on.

The move here is 1.Be2 followed by 2.Bf3, eyeing the somehow vulnerable d5 pawn and at the same time clearing the path for White’s knight, while simultaneously attacking the b7 pawn (it's job is already done on b5).

After this short plan has been executed we can think about our other pieces. The rook should be placed on e1, with the chance to occupy the e5-square, where it would immediately attack the weak pawn on d5 too.

Moreover, if we take a look at the queen on b3 we understand that there are better squares for it, e.g. b5, to aim for the e2 square. Another question here is where we would like to place our pawns. Therefore it makes sense to restrict the enemy pieces and their chances to go active. A helpful pawn move could be a3 at some point. So the game continued:


I find the game very instructive – it is a real positional masterpiece! It is very nice to see, how White develops a short-term and later on long-term plan, how he achieves desirable squares for his pieces, how perfect they work together (most of the time every single piece has a job to do, how he doesn't allows any kind of counter chances, how he attacks the weaknesses in Black’s camp, how he wears down his opponent, with the many manoeuvres of the queen, the rook, and particularly the light squared bishop. Furthermore, I find it very cool to see how calm White is, how he uses the method of prophylactic thinking, how he is able to exploit Black’s weaknesses, and how he penetrates Black’s camp, just little by little! A player with an astounding positional understanding and a remarkable composure as well!

After the above game, with the main focus on planning, I would like to show another one that is rather more classic. It was played at the Candidates Match in 1971 between Bobby Fischer and Mark Taimanov.

This is our point of interest: a typical Fischer vs. Taimanov scenario, which arose many times

Here we can see a general configuration, often used by Fischer. He has his powerful bishop on g2, which has an eye on the whole h1-a8 diagonal, against a rather passive knight on Black’s side. Another thing is the active centralized position of White’s rook on e5, whereas Black’s rook is not yet participating in the game. Both factors (active rook and strong bishop) are enough for a small advantage for White. But how to proceed?



What a brilliant game! Fischer showed his skills of technique and endgame strategy. Besides, I really like his patience. At no moment did he hurry, and he outplayed the poor Taimanov by all rules of the game! The win was primary ensured by Fischer's striking understanding of how to play with a rook and superior bishop against Black's knight and rook. Besides he improved his position little by little, mainly using the rule of calmness. I lastly have to mention that his light-squared bishop was always superior to Black's knight, and after the restrictive move 31.c3 it wasn't participating in the game for a long time. Fischer had phenomenal skills at squeezing everything possible out of his opponents. Moreover, it is important to notice that he used the principle of two weaknesses in an instructive way. Very impressive too!

Note that if you want to study the analysis in the above games it is best to maximize (the replay board and your browser window) and then to switch on the engine (fan icon). That way you can really follow the ideas and the thought processes of the great players.

I am a biological-technical assistant by profession, which is why I am deeply interested in natural sciences, apart from chess and writing articles on various topics. I hope that you like my articles and I look forward to feedback, both positive and constructive negative!


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