The 4 Pillars of Chess Strength (Bryan Smith Method)

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The 4 Pillars of Rapid Chess Improvement – GM Bryan Smith

Master Method Series #15

The 4 Pillars Of Chess Strength (bryan Smith Method)

American GM Bryan Smith believes there are just a few factors that really make the difference in becoming a top player. He calls them “The 4 Pillars of Chess Strength”.

In this course, Bryan helps you climb each of these 4 pillars: calculation, intuitive understanding, concrete knowledge, and psychological factors.

Covering topics rarely found elsewhere such as the Kotov syndrome and how to sense a tactical weakness, The 4 Pillars of Chess Strength is essential material for any competitive player.

About the Author:

Bryan Smith is an American Grandmaster and chess coach. GM Smith has won many international tournaments including Limpedea Cup (Romania), Citta di Erba (Italy), Easter International (Serbia), Philadelphia International, National Chess Congress, US Masters, etc.

Grandmaster Bryan Smith grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Some of his accomplishments include first place in the 2008 National Chess Congress, 2009 National Chess Congress, 2010 Philadelphia International, and 2011 Limpedea Cup.

Is this course for me?

This course will help you understand the most important areas chess players must dominate before reaching a master level, it will help you find the right path for rapid chess improvement, improve your chess training and your overall performance in tournament play.

Here are some of the most important concepts you will learn:

Straight Line Calculation

In “straight line calculation”, the line is very forced, with a clear assessment of the end position (win or draw).
These variations are the easiest to calculate, but you have to be very accurate too, as any mistake can ruin your position. Start your calculation with the more clear-cut lines.

Advanced Calculation

GM Bryan Smith explains how GMs play in complicated positions, you can’t rely solely on calculation, but also need to use your evaluation and intuition. If your opponent attacks, then you have to attack, but if he slows down, then you can also slow down.

The Two Sides of Calculation

Many players forget that they shouldn’t just focus on calculating their own ideas and plans, but they must also think about the opponent’s and calculate those too. If you can’t get a clear advantage with an active move, it’s often a good idea to stop your opponent’s plans with prophylactic thinking.

In the “Concrete Knowledge Chapter”, GM Smith will cover some important knowledge about some of the openings and defenses he recommends his students.

GM Smith advises having two defenses against 1.d4 and two against 1.e4, so as to know different structures, avoid preparation and to have options depending on the style of your next opponent.

The King’s Indian as Black

The 4 Pillars Of Chess Strength (bryan Smith Method)

In the King’s Indian exchange variation (after dxe5 dxe5) Black’s pawn structure is better, as d4 is a strong square, and White can’t take advantage of the d5 square as Black can always play ….c6 to defend it. Apart from the more common pawn break with …f5, Black can also play on the queenside with …b5. Winning space on the queenside gives Black many
squares for his pieces.

The Nature of Specific Endgame Knowledge

Some endgames have to be studied by heart. But for most of them, you only need to know the evaluation (if it’s a draw or a win) and the general idea to reach the objective. GM Smith examines some subtleties in the Q vs. P in the seventh endgame.

Another specific endgame to know is that a rook endgame with 3 vs. 4 pawns on the same flank is an easy draw, as the rook can always give checks to prevent the opposite king from becoming active. However, if it’s a knight endgame the position should be winning.

Study hard and, by the end of the 14½ hours, you will be a razor-sharp, mentally tough competitor, ready to experience a rapid chess improvement that other won’t even believe.

Enjoy the course!

Additional information

Running Time

14 hours 30 minutes



Production House

Chapter List

Chapter Outline

Intro: “The Four Pillars of Chess Strength”


1-Straight Line Calculation
2-Advanced Calculation
3-The Two Sides of Calculation
4-The Kotov Syndrome
5-Forgetting About the Opponent
7-Overlooked Candidate Moves
8-Tunnel Vision

Intuitive Understanding

1-Prophylactic Thinking
2-Physical Space
3-The False Attack
4-Time Advantage
7-A Positional Operation
8-A More Effective Piece
9-Two Bishops
10-King Position in the Long-Term
11-Chess Sins
12-Positional Sacrifice
13-Sensing a Tactical Weakness

Extra: Etudes and Entertainment

2-Etude by Kubel
3-Etude by Moravec
4-Etude by Platov
5-Another Etude by Kubbel
Concrete Knowledge

1-The Spanish as White
2-The King’s Indian as Black
3-The Nature of Specific Endgame Knowledge
5-Pawn Endgames: Space Advantage
6-Pawn Endgames: Triangulation
7-Pawn Endgames: Breakthrough
8-Pawn Endgames: Promotion Tactics
9-Opposite Colored Bishops
10-The Battle of Minor Pieces
11-Activity in the Rook Endgame

Psychological Factors

1-Critical Games
2-Optimism and Pessimism