Forming a plan is the most important goal of logical chess thought. Without a good plan, we are reduced to tactical opportunism, rather than harnessing the power of our pieces to achieve specific tasks and make methodical progress towards victory.

However, few chess-players - even those fortunate enough to have a trainer - develop a disciplined approach to planning. In this book, one of the world's leading chess teachers provides step-by-step guidelines for identifying the features of a position onto which our strategy should be latched. He adopts a thoroughly modern approach, recognizing that the opponent will have his own plans and be attempting to disrupt ours. The effectiveness of Kosikov's methods - in particular the STEPS algorithm - is shown by his pupils' over-the-board proficiency.

Having presented the basics of orderly strategic thinking, Kosikov shows them at work in a variety of middlegame and endgame situations, especially the strategic minefield of minor-piece play. Examples are taken from both classic games and modern grandmaster play, together with instructive moments from games by the author's pupils.

Alexei Kosikov is a chess master from Ukraine who has enjoyed an illustrious career as a chess trainer. He has nurtured a vast array of chess talents, including nine who have achieved grandmaster titles, perhaps most notably Vladimir Baklan and Dmitry Komarov. He has written extensively about chess - and combinations in particular - and was a frequent lecturer at the Yusupov/Dvoretsky elite chess school, to whose training manuals he also contributed.

Download a pdf file with a sample from the book.

"Working through this book will definitely raise your playing strength as the attention is directed to the strategical and long-term aspects of the game. " - Uwe Bekemann, Deutscher Fernschachbund (

"Alexei Kosikov, renowned chess trainer, has recorded his knowledge of chess strategy in a book for Gambit. By means of a series of small goals, the reader is assisted to find the big plan ... important, also, are the so-called STEPS, teaching the self-discipline needed before making a move" - Bab Wilders, Nederlands Dagblad

" do you come up with a good plan? This is one of the most difficult aspects of the game for ordinary club players, something which this book sets out to address...But this is not just an instructional primer. In order that the reader may reap the maximum benefit from the author's input there is a liberal sprinkling of exercises throughout the book..." - Alan Sutton, En Passant

"A wealth of sample games dissected move by move help to illustrate key principles in this excellent self-study guide for intermediate to advanced chess players striving to improve their game." - James A Cox, Midwest Book Review

"A coach from the days of the Soviet Union, who was a frequent lecturer at the Yusupov/Dvoretsky chess school for elite players, Kosikov is little known in the West (a peak FIDE rating of 2476 and no IM title means he had few international opportunities) but this book should do much to change this state of affairs. Kosikov's primer on chess strategy not only covers a wide range of topics it just as importantly offers the reader the opportunity to solve over 70 exercises which come with detailed solutions. Highly recommended" - IM John Donaldson

"...the more I looked at the contents of this book, the more I came to realise that is offering some serious study material which lifts it clearly beyond the level of a standard primer aimed primarily at improving club players." - Sean Marsh,

"Kosikov does not overload you with Prophylactic thinking,but explains at the hand of practical examples sometimes taken from classic and other times from modern play. Important is the problem of exchanging as Kosikov explains: As already noted, the question of exchanging pieces is one of the keys to a chess-player's level of strategic understanding. And indeed,when we ask about the bishop-pair and whether it constitutes an advantage, the problem of exchanging is highly relevant.When we envisage an exchange, its appropriateness can by no means always be confirmed by variations and calculation. Knowledge and logic have to come to our aid here. Conclusion: This book will certainly help you to improve your playing skills!" - John Elburg,

"One thing that I especially like is that Kosikov's guide is very practical. Starting on page 109, for example, he discusses the concept of 'serial errors.' Since I'm writing this review a day after being in this situation I found it especially relevant. How many times have we missed an opponent's saving idea only to make a mistake moments later that allows equality and then a further mistake that costs us the game. The tables can turn so quickly in chess! But Kosikov reminds us: 'don't castigate yourself!' and 'start again from the beginning!' It's nice to see a middlegame planning theorist who can write as though he's actually played a tournament game before. I also want to mention the exercises in the book which are plentiful, well thought out, and feature nice explanatory answers. Now I'm a lazy reader so I found myself skipping straight to the solutions (misses the point I suppose), but if you're looking to improve, this is going to be great. ... Despite my perpetual delusion that the newest opening manual will finally get me my master title, I've only ever used two kinds of chess books to improve: tactics manuals and middlegame planning books. Kosikov's book falls into the latter category, so check it out!" - Josh Specht,