Friday, November 24, 2006

Answer to Nezha

Nezha asked me the following:

Tempo - Is this what you've done:

1. Study tactics for 3+ years
2. Then learn "basic" positional play.

However, i've always assumed that you already know basic positional play. Or there is something different from this book. Like it presented the material more clearly, etc.. (For example, I read Euwe's book and it left my head spinning. It was too soon that time. I could'nt follow the lines)

Nezha, you miss the main point. I already knew basic positional play. As all experienced amateurs I knew about holes, outposts, bishoppair, double pawns and the like. As everybody I felt it as a revelation when confronted for the first time with this material. As everybody I was disappointed when I got the bishoppair after a long struggle and then lost it within two moves by a stupid knight. I just lacked the tactical skill to work with positional idea's.

First: tactics.
After a long tactical training, I'm now pretty well able to reach what I want and to keep it. Tactics are no longer a goal in itself but it became a means to reach a goal.

Second: positional play.
I see tactics pretty fast now. But when there are no tactics I start to use time because I have little experience with positional moves. I never trained them. I'm inclined to look for deeper tactics instead. Using exorbitant amounts of time. Doing the strategical modules of PCT helps me to see simple positional ideas faster.
Seeing simple positional ideas fast makes my games longer. The longer my games, the more chance that my opponent makes a tactical mistake along the way. With short games in time trouble I always had to accept draws from lesser players.

Third: strategy.
Especially the knowledge of pawn structures has lead to the insight that it is possible to have long term plans. I always thought that was nonsense because I looked at a chess game as a ship with two captains. You can't predict whereto a ship with two captains will be going.
But that is not true. With pawns you can cut out possibilities or introduce new possibilities for a much longer term. You have to place your pieces in accordance with the pawn structure to get maximum coordination of your pieces.
This strategical knowledge was always lost in the tsunami of positional information. Now I know where to look for I am able to find the important information.
I started with correspondence chess in order to learn to apply the new acquired knowledge.

I use the following books:
Pawn structure chess - Soltis
Chess fundamentals - Capablanca
World championship matches 1921 - 1927 - Capablanca
Good moves guide - Larsen


  1. Do you look at positional and strategic considerations separately? Strategic play = play with plans that are positional in nature?

  2. Yes, they have a different scope in time. If you have a struggle for an outpost you basically look a few moves ahead. That's a tactical struggle for a positional idea.

    Strategical decisions are long term decisions because the are most of the time irreversable. That is because there are pawns involved. Pawns have little mobility and can move only one way. If you decide to open a line, you must be able to occupy it, otherwise the opponent will take over. In 95% of the cases you will not be able to close the line again when things go wrong.

  3. tempo, soltis pawn structure, i was thinking after your last comment at my blog last night--that i needed to tell you was on my list after alburt, averbakh, mueller, shereshevsky, soltis. i love that book. i think that for class 'B' it is a very important book.

    you talk about me being as 'ambitious' as j'adube. i'm not so sure about that. there are many highly motivated students here, not least of which you, and so am rated average among you all. maybe the word is 'focused'. but, again, maybe my focus average among the many lasers here.

    i am back 'sharpening the saw', and after 500+ games, need to pause again and review an run some analytics, especially at endings.

    your blog continues to entertain and instruct alike. thank you.

    warm regards, dk