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I'm not so sure I agree with your thought that you should learn how to practice playing with a material disadvantage, hoping that that will mean that you will play better when there is material equality.

Thanks for the notes all. Good discussion going...

CA, I'll note that this wasn't what I was trying to say when saying I was interested in the Smith-Morra Gambit. I meant that I would hope that it would help me to play better when I would be playing a different game/variation and someone would take material from me. It used to be that I would lose material and unless I had a clearly better position (very active pieces, lots of space, and the material I lost was unimportant) that I would panic and inevidibly make moves scrambling to win back the material and end up hurting myself worse.

Now I'm more focused on what other imbalances (yes, I've been reading'd you guess <ggg>) lie in the game rather than just a material advantage or a significant spacial or initiative advantage. I'm nowhere near the complete player I'd like to become...not saying I want to be an expert... Basically I've improved my game significantly in the past year, but know I still have a ton to learn. I'm reading up on openings, but very briefly at this point just to get a sense of what types of moves lead to what types of games, and what options I have for standard openings. Next I was disputing (with myself) whether I should read a book on tactics, or start reading some grandmaster recaps (Bobby Fisher's My Best 60 Games or Alekhine's two book set or whatever). I'm leaning toward tactics, moving towards grandmaster's books later.

Silman's teaching style I found incredibly easy to read through and learn from. He suggests rereading the book a few times, which I may end up doing at some point. I know there are specific chapters I'd like to reread (such as the bishops and combo chapters), but would likely benefit from rereading the entire thing. It did a great job at teaching me how much more to chess there is than just grabbing as much space as possible, developing your pieces the fastest, and looking two moves ahead to try to avoid losing material and trying to win it. His book is a great book for beginners who have knowledge of how to play the game and some of the basics around what is good play, but don't have an understanding of the real inner-workings of the game.

It also deals mostly with the middlegame, and I felt left me fairly clueless of how to reach some of the advantageous positions and play that he taught. I felt like when I was playing, I had to fight through the opening, hoping not to make a blunder and eventually land in a spot that could be considered a middlegame that I could break down and play from there. That's why I went for a book on that I wouldn't have to fight through them as much with that same helpless feeling.

CA, and any others, perhaps you could suggest some good reading/teaching material (in another thread titled appropriately). Keep in mind that most of us on this board are at or below the 1200 rating level...many of us may be well below this level (I know I have no clue how high I would be rated in tourney play).

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