Understanding Prophylaxis – Play Like a Master! – IM Valeri Lilov (Lilov Chess Institute)

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Understanding Prophylaxis – Play Like a Master!

Prophylaxis is perhaps the most difficult concept to master to every club player. It seems to be very complicated, full of subtle and unintelligible moves, that only GMs can handle.

Nothing further from reality!

In this free preview of his Middlegame Mastery Course, IM Valeri Lilov clearly explains how this powerful concept can be applied in your own games.

But first things first: what is the prophylaxis? It’s thinking of what’s your opponent trying to do and, in case it’s necessary, to prevent it. It’s easy to say, but not easy to do.

IM Lilov takes two excellent games of GM Sergey Dolmatov to explain the details behind the way of thinking that will catapult your chess knowledge.

Look carefully to the position on the right and think a bit about what would you play with the white pieces.

It’s not too difficult to understand that Black would love to play …d6-d5, as this will free all his constrained pieces.

But, after watching more thoughtfully, Dolmatov discovered that Black can’t immediately play …d5. For example, after a random move like 18.Rad1, 18…d5 can be answered by 19.Bxf8 Kxf8 20.b4!, fixing the new weakness on c5 and sealing the Bb7, which will be a permanent problem for Black.

For that reason, Black should prevent this playing first 18.Rad1 bxa4! 19.bxa4 and only now 19…d5!, with a good game (as White can’t play b3-b4 now)

This excellent reasoning make it clear that White should prevent this bxa4! idea. So, Dolmatov played the brilliant 18.Rab1!! This apparently silly move, is a very profound one that prevents all of Black’s ideas.

For example, if now 18…bxa4 19.bxa4 d5 White can take advantage of the open b-file to play 20.Bxf8 Kxf8 21.exd5 cxd5 22.dxe5, winning a pawn, as if Black takes on e5 he loses the Bb7!

If you want to really comprehend the prophylaxis, then watching this full class of IM Valeri Lilov will surely make a great impression in you.

And if there are lots of more critical concepts that you need to learn, IM Lilov is the right choice to study with, even what seems really difficult as planning, maneuvering or decision making. Get his full Middlegame Mastery Course clicling here.


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