Rizzitano presents lessons from his own experiences that will be most relevant to club and tournament players. He shows how by analyzing their own games, players can gain a greater understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, and he explains they can shape their approach to chess to make the most of their abilities. Major topics include: Developing a reliable and coherent opening repertoire; The importance of understanding opening theory rather than simply memorizing it; Theoretical novelties: finding your own, and facing the opponent’s; Opening selection depending upon the nature of the game and event; Risk management and ‘playing for a win’; Competing successfully against higher-rated opposition; Accumulating small advantages: a safe method when the opponent plays for a draw; The power of the initiative: lighting a fire and keeping it burning.

James Rizzitano is a strong international master who dominated chess in the New England region during a 14-year period from 1976 to 1989 – he won 157 out of 336 events in which he competed. His career highlights include victories over Alburt, Benjamin, Benko, Christiansen, Dlugy, I.Gurevich, and Wolff, and exciting draws with de Firmian, Larsen, Speelman, and the legendary former world champion Tal.

Gambit books by Rizzitano: Understanding Your Chess, How to Beat 1 d4, Chess Explained: the Taimanov Sicilian, Chess Explained: the Queen’s Gambit Declined, Play the Najdorf Sicilian.

Download a pdf file with a sample from the book.

“And the games themselves? Strong emphasis on the Lopez and King’s Indian, five (!) games against Patrick Wolff, ten versus ‘Local Hero’ John Curdo and top GMs in the shape of Speelman, Larsen, Benko and even Tal. I found this more enjoyable than many dusty textbooks” – James Pratt, British Chess Magazine

“Vigorito-Williams, BBC Ch 2007...I won easily because of my familiarity with the analysis in Rizzitano’s Understanding Your Chess” – IM David Vigorito, Chess Horizons

“...a lot of inspiration for chessplayers” – Harald Fietz, Schach Magazin 64

“In conclusion, this book is far more instructive than most of the games collections by grandmasters. The balance of material reflects what a student needs to know in the important aspects of the game. I wholeheartedly recommend Understanding Your Chess to all players of average strength and above. In particular this is an excellent book for players who are either stuck at one level or improving too slowly and want ideas about how to better their play.” - John Watson, TWIC

“This neatly and intelligently written book supplies ample and often unique advice for the tournament player.” – Harold Dondis and Patrick Wolff, Globe Correspondents

“Overall, I found this book to fill a nice spot in chess literature. There are very few US players who have written a biography and given insight into what it takes to succeed in our tournaments. The games reinforce the instructional themes and vice versa. There is a lot of interesting material here and the reader will benefit from having an inside look. I recommend this book to tournament players seeking to improve.” – Lou Mercuri, Chess Horizons

“I wish to applaud Gambit for introducing many authors who are not ‘big names’ but whose final product is of the highest quality. I think this fresh approach greatly enhances chess publishing.” – Andy Ansel, Chess Today

“Games collections are nothing new in the chess field, but here the author’s approach in presenting each game as a learning experience and not simply choosing the best games of his career, is an innovatiove approach which works well. The didacticism is not overdone, so that it does not come across as a dry school text book but as an enjoyable read, and there are many valuable lessons to be learnt from it.” – Alan Sutton, En Passant

“For the club player who can play only as a hobby, it is necessary to examine your own games – especially losses. To assist with this, International Master James Rizzitano has written this book, utilising a lot of his own work. There is a lot of attention given to your opening repertoire, not just learning by rote, but to comprehending the ideas: also understanding when you have the initiative and what you can risk with that, how to play against a stronger opponent, and so forth. This is a very good book for the club player who genuinely wishes to improve through self-study. Clearly written for its target audience, it is both instructive and entertaining” – Bab Wilders, Nederlands Dagblad

“At first I wondered whether I loved the book because I know many of the players and I understood the tensions of New England chess. But far more than just the games (and their high quality) are the lessons that Rizzitano imparts. Never go to bed until you understand why you lost is perhaps the single best advice anyone could offer. Here you will find an insatiable desire to win, a thirst for the initiative, but throughout, a subjective commitment to careful chess.” – Jon Edwards, ChessCafe.com

“...if it is entertaining chess, some instruction, and a flash from the past that you enjoy, this is book worth looking into.” – Alex Dunne, ICCF Amici (www.amici.iccf)

“IM Rizzitano’s Understanding Your Chess succeeds both as an instructional work and as a game collection. I particularly enjoyed the vignette about his battles with National Master John Curdo, the measuring stick for New England players for several decades. Highly Recommended.” – John Donaldson