Do you know who GM Sam Shankland is? Well, he has been over 2700 FIDE, which qualifies as super grandmaster!
He was also the United States Chess Champion in 2018.
Trust us, you could get your chess information from a worse source than Sam.
He has developed something we call the Shankland Method, and he wants to share it with you so your chess improves!
This is a comprehensive, 16-hour course in which he goes over some of his chess games as well as the games of other elite players, honing in on key moments.
In one segment, he plays live blitz games on a chess server (his rating there is in the 3000 range—and he says he isn’t very good!) and explains his chess moves and ideas while he battles other high-ranked players.
The course features a ton of positions in which Shankland asks the viewer to pause the video and really try to find the best move. This is a great way to train.
Shankland explains in great detail how to recognize key squares in chess games, and how to muscle your way into those squares with your pieces. Good stuff!
One thing he really stays consistent on throughout the course is taking your time in complicated positions. Remember, the correct move isn’t always the simplest to find!
For instance, in the still from the course below, can you spot the key square? How would you get your pieces to it?
If you couldn’t identify the key square and break down the position correctly, don’t worry! That’s what Shankland is there for, helping to sharpen our chess vision!
Another idea in chess that Sam Shankland has come up with is “What if I just make the move anyway?”
Sometimes, we are faced with a situation in which we really want to make a certain move but it seems our opponent has blocked us from doing that, even if just temporarily.
So, what do we do?
Sam’s idea is to ask ourselves what if we make the move anyhow?
Of course, we cannot simply do whatever we want in any position just because we want to, and calculation is always necessary, but the underlying idea is big!
Shankland also teaches us in this course how to know when we can ignore threats from our opponents and instead, make counter threats ourselves!
This idea is very important if we wish to rise in the ranks and get better at the game of chess.
In Shankland-Gareev, we are shown the following position and asked to pause the video to decide how Black should respond. Yes, the bishop is hanging—but does he have to move it?
Many times, it’s better to stop your opponent’s ideas rather than react to every threat. This is a good thing!
Here’s a free preview from his course:
Shankland helps us to understand we can look deeper, really sink into positions and then make our moves only once we truly understand what’s going on in the game. You know… how chess is supposed to be played.
Shankland goes over a game featuring ex-world champions Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand, and the viewer is again asked to pause the video and decide how he or she would proceed.
In this exciting game, White sacrificed a piece for activity and an attack, and we learn exactly what is going on through a masterful breakdown of the position.
Was the piece worth it in the end? Watch and find out!
Another important idea Shankland goes over in this course is conversion.
Remember, just because one side is winning doesn’t mean the game is won (or, at least, won easily). We bet you have found that out the hard way by losing a few won chess positions in your own games!
Applying maximum pressure on our opponents is the only way to get ahead in our chess games and keep the upper hand. Shankland teaches us how to do this!
Now we see a very fun game he showcases, Morozevich-Leko, in which White has the potential for a huge attack but Black seems to be stopping it in its tracks.
The question is, how the heck does White proceed? What is the goal in this position and is Black effectively stopping it?
And, of course, his favorite question: What happens if I just do it anyway?
What would you play here as White?
The answer might surprise you! We know it did us.
Watch the video to find out what’s the continuation:
Oftentimes, intuitive moves work on the chess board. But what happens when they aren’t enough?
Intuition works very well, especially the better we get, but it isn’t always the answer.
Sometimes, we need to look deeper—see more—in order to clear away the weeds so we can get to the garden at the heart of a chess position.
Shankland speaks in great detail about how to calculate and see what is going on when otherwise, we may just give up and make a move that looks “kind of” good.
That won’t cut it if we wish to improve our chess!
He teaches us how to play more dynamically, using the whole board to find the truth in the position.
While this specific course isn’t really geared toward total beginners at chess, their games won’t be hurt by watching the videos—we promise!
Shankland assumes we already know the basics and just need a fine-tuning to see the deeper ideas and how to force our goals.
After all, figuring out what we want to do is oftentimes not too difficult; deciding an effective way to accomplish our goals, however, can be tough as nails!
There is definitely no shortage of material here, as Shankland has put together 55 separate video sections, all of which are highly instructive.
If you’re looking for a course that will help you learn ways to navigate difficult chess positions, this is the one for you!