GM Ram is a cult book by GM Rashid Ziyatdinov (he was an IM when it was published) which is unusual in that it features a collection of unannotated games from the 1800s and early 1900s and chess positions with no comment or analysis. The opening of the book presents Ziyatdinov’s theory that knowledge of these games and positions would elevate a player to Grandmaster level.

“Knowing” the games and positions is more than just being familiar with them however. It involves memorising the games and play with all key ideas, moves, combinations and important variations. This knowledge willgm-ram then help us find the strongest moves and plans in our own games, often suggesting the right path without conscious thought or examination.

Ziyatdinov presents the example of GM Lev Psakhis who memorised the games in Bobby Fischer’s “My 60 Memorable Games”. Lev Psakhis won the Russian Championship 3 times. Smyslov, Fischer, Kramnik, Kasparov and Carlsen are just some of the names who say that learning from their predecessors’ games was crucial in their chess development.

In Russian folklore it is said that knowledge of 300 positions is required to become a strong master. Ziyatdinov claims 2/3 of these are endgame positions and 1/3 middlegame. Books from GM John Nunn and GM Lev Alburt offer many of these positions and Ziyatdinov gives his collection.

I’ll be posting the games from “GM Ram” with pgn and playable boards as we go on and will put videos up the games too. Much of the benefit will come from analysing the games and working things out for yourself and making sure that you remember the ideas by replaying the games but hopefully the videos will help you compare notes. Most of the games are well-known so there is plenty of analysis for them.

I have created a category “GM Ram” for these posts and a page linking to each of the posts as they go up. Get ready to become GM strength!

3 thoughts on “GM Ram: Ziyatdinov’s Theory”

  • Alchemos says :

    GM Ziyatdinov is also a respected chess trainer.

  • David Milliern says :

    Very interesting idea. I’ve been memorizing classic games from Zurich ’53, NY ’24, and “My Great Predecessors,” and I’ve found some remarkable results in OTB play and some of my metrics, e.g.,’s Tactics Trainer metric and my rating on CT-ART’s positional chess problems. If I study these particular games, which have expressly important positions, I wonder how much more of an effect I might see.


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