Improve Your Chess - Lars Hansen



"If you want to reach the heights, you should study the entire history of chess. I can't give any clear logical explanation for it, but I think it is absolutely essential to soak up the whole of chess history." - VLADIMIR KRAMNIK

In this book Lars Bo Hansen shows how chess understanding has evolved and explains how and why a study of the great champions of the past and present will significantly improve your chess. Although modern chess is a highly concrete game where calculation is paramount and principles often appear to take a back seat, Hansen argues that the principles have become implicit at top level: "you cannot win games only by following Steinitz's or Nimzowitsch's principles, but you will certainly lose games if you don't know these principles!"

Hansen shows that pattern recognition - one of the most vital aspects of chess mastery - is built up highly effectively by studying historic games, and cites many examples which will immediately form part of your armoury. Building upon the structure of his acclaimed work How Chess Games are Won and Lost, Hansen also argues that the transitions opening-to-middlegame and middlegame-to-endgame are best understood by studying the games of the great champions.

Throughout the book, the emphasis is firmly on improving your chess, and equipping you to improve your chess further by studying on your own. At the same time, you will enjoy a feast of the most instructive chess games of all time - both classical and modern. The final chapter discusses the future development of chess style.

Lars Bo Hansen is a well-known grandmaster from Denmark. He has won the Danish Championship on two occasions, and represented his country in four olympiads, winning a bronze medal for his individual performance in 1990. His many tournament victories include first prize in the strong Copenhagen Open in both 1997 and 2000. Away from the board, he teaches and lectures on business studies, with a particular focus on marketing, organization and strategy. This is his fourth book for Gambit.

Gambit books by Lars Bo Hansen: Foundations of Chess Strategy, Secrets of Endgame Strategy, How Chess Games are Won and Lost, Improve Your Chess - by Learning from the Champions.

Download a pdf file with a sample from the book.

"The selected games - about 100 including snippets - are interesting and of excellent quality, and they support Hansen's theories. The target audience of the book is quite broad, though it is definitely not for beginners. Then again, you could say that if you have not yet read Watson (Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy and Chess Strategy in Action) then you could profitably start with this book" - Henry Tanner, Suomen Shakki

"This is a book for those players ambitious enough to want to become universal players, comfortable in all kinds of positions. As such, it demands a lot of thought and individual effort from the student. Those who engage in this effort should be rewarded by finding that they are comfortable in almost every position they achieve in practical play." - Derek Grimmell,

"Lars Bo Hansen presents the reader with a frankly excellent coverage of the developments our game has seen. It's quite difficult to explain the content, because to be honest, there's a bit of everything. I really like this work! There are many excellent observations that Hansen makes throughout and there's also a brilliant final chapter, discussing 'chess in the future' which makes this a very unique work! Some of the best annotations I've seen are here in this book and so I could recommend this to anyone" - IM Stephen Gordon

"DRUM ROLL... announcing one of the very best authors of the past decade, GM Lars Bo Hansen. His four books, from 2005 to 2009, contain more useful comments, more secrets, and more ideas to win more games than anything else I have read, by one author, in ...ever!" - Bob Long, Gilbert & Lange

"He divides chess history into seven phases, beginning with the romantic, scientific and hypermodern phases of the pre-war era. These are very distinct phases, each with its own very distinctive style, which was almost an antithesis of all that had gone before it. Then in the post-war era we have three phases which he categorises as dynamic, universal and concrete, which are not so easy to define but which develop naturally from their forerunners. Finally he gazes into his crystal ball and looks at how he feels chess will develop in the future - the era of transformation. In each phase he examines games which were played by the great champions of their era, but in addition he presents modern games which were played in the style and spirit of the particular era under discussion. This demonstrates his underlying thesis that the best players have studied and understood all aspects of chess history and development, have absorbed the ideas and lessons of the past, and are thus far more rounded players. I found this an interesting and thought-provoking book ... for the more experienced and higher graded player there is a great deal of food for thought." - Alan Sutton, En Passant

"Highly recommended. This is Lars Bo's fourth book for Gambit and the most instructive, especially due to the well chosen game selection ... will help 99% of players get a proper chess education" - Sune Berg Hansen, Politiken

"A book to appeal to all chessplayers. En Passant Hansen takes us through the development of chess styles... lots of beautiful games from the champions are naturally present" - Bab Wilders, Nederlands Dagblad

" In contemporary chess literature, apart from the big stars such as Kasparov and Shirov, authors that are always worth buying and reading include Jonathan Rowson, John Watson and, as I discovered only a year ago, Lars Bo Hansen - I positively reviewed his book How Chess Games are Won and Lost last year. Now, Hansen has written an even more ambitious book. ... Hansen has a remarkable ability to make connections and switches between past and present, practical and theoretical, personal and objective without ever losing the thread of his story. ... With Improve Your Chess, Lars Bo Hansen has produced yet another wonderful book which is both extremely valuable to the practical player and very interesting for the philosophers among us. By explaining relevant chess games and theories from the classics, his own practice and recent super grandmaster tournaments, without ever sounding pompous or over-ambitious, the Danish grandmaster has stumbled upon the winning (if not entirely original) formula of modern chess books which is sure to inspire more works in the future - all of which will be worth your attention." - Arne Moll,, full review is at

"In a must-win situation, Polgar played the Bishop Opening against Gelfand. It did not turn out well for her, but she drew inspiration from the past, employing a 56-year-old gambit idea of the legendary Estonian grandmaster Paul Keres. The attacking fury she created out of nowhere was so intense and shocking that even the great defender Gelfand didn't have the answers. Lars Bo Hansen writes beautifully about similar historical connections and why they are important and worth studying in his excellent new book, Improve Your Chess: By Learning From the Champions" - GM Lubomir Kavalek, Washington Post

"The author does a fine job tracing the development of chess but this reviewer is of the opinion that the most fascinating part of Improve Your Chess: By Learning from the Champions, is the last where Hansen forecasts where top level chess is heading with ever stronger computer programs having an increasingly strong influence. ... a thought provoking book" - IM John Donaldson

"With prose explanations taking priority over analytical variations, this book presents an interesting survey of the development of chess through the ages and should inspire the student to dig out more historical nuggets. A few well-chosen way markers help the reader navigate the stormy seas of chess rather than trying to soak up the whole lot. There's far more to chess than just picking up the latest list of opening novelties, as this book shows." - Sean Marsh,

"Hansen manages to put his ideas across both accurately and comprehensively" - Uwe Bekemann, Deutscher Fernschachbund

"Reading this book is both entertaining and instructive." - Martin Rieger,

"...a collection of annotated games by an entertaining and thoughtful writer who has some interesting and challenging things to say about such issues as pattern recognition." - John Saunders, BCM

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