Monday, November 06, 2006

Be flexible.

Update: Please all welcome our newest Knight Karpyan.
May his pieces stay longer with him than his girlfriend!

If my insights change 180 degrees every half hour I'm very happy with that. It means that my insight is growing. It's just a matter of not to be bound at a certain opinion, no matter how true it might look at a certain moment. At the mean time I realize that you as reader of my blog have you be very flexible. I appreciate your patience! It's Blue Devil who is to blame. He asks such good questions!

Blue Devil asked if it is true what MDLM said (free citation):

At class level the tactical opportunities DO appear out of thin air.
So Positional, Middlegame, Strategic (PMS) play is NOT required at class level.

This was my comment:

very good you ask this question again!
I'm much better in tactics than I was before the circles. But it doesn't pay off, ratingwise.
The reason is that I often reach a good position, but that at a certain moment the position is quiet. At that moment I start to use time. I come in time trouble and have to draw or even worse.

The average length of my games is about 25 moves. That is extreme short. What I'm gonna say now may sound very weird. But if my average game length was 75 moves, I had 3 times as much chance to outplay my opponent tactically.

So I must learn to move fast in quiet positions. Which brings us to the question: "must that be a PMS-certified-move?"

The answer is: probably not. If it is a mediocre move that just keeps the game going, that's probably good enough.

But I'm just not able to produce conscious a mediocre move! If my candidate move isn't good enough, I go into hibernation untill I have found something better.
So if I have to learn to make any move just to keep the game going, I prefer that it is a PMS-certified-move.

And that's how it is. I have tasted the potency of positional insight, and I want more!
Margriet and I have finished Yasser's book and we are now playing thru the games of Capablanca, commented by the master himself.

If I make a move, I always had the idea that the possibilities were infinite. That if I would move a knight to the rim, that there would always come a moment that I could bring it back to the center.
But in practice that possibility is non existent most of the times. Every move excludes heaps of possibilities. That's why every game is so different. Have you ever played two games that were close lookalikes?
Study of pawn play lifts a tip of the veil and shows what you are excluding with every pawn move. How you can rule out the possibilities of the opponent while increasing the possibilities of your own.

There is a lot of work to do.
We started with the excellent book "Pawn structure chess" of Andrew Soltis. Hattip to Sancho.
To learn to move in quiet positions we do the strategic modules of PCT. I'm busy with module 2 and have an error rate of about 70% the first time. Which gives enough room for improvement:)


  1. Hi Tempo,
    here's my two cents on this: I believe improving is all about working on your weaknesses. I haven't read de la Maza's book, but as far as I know it is based on one single person's success story. While his success has been impressive, it is still only one person and can't be generalized that easy. May be he was simply really bad at tactics before he started and therefore the (tactics) circles helped a lot.

    From what you write in this post, your biggest problem right now seems to be time management. If this was also an issue before you started the circles, then your improvement will be less impressive because the circles won't help with this.

    Conclusion: we are all individualists (and chess players might be even more individualistic than the general population :-) and what worked out great for one person probably helps others, too, but it does not mean that it has to bring 400 pts for everybody.

    Anyway - keep on fighting and blogging!

  2. I wonder about your following statement

    "But if my average game length was 75 moves, I had 3 times as much chance to outplay my opponent tactically."

    The reason being that a 75 move game tends to have alot of the pieces traded off making many of the tactics transparent and easier to spot. A 75 move game goes to the endgame and what wins the endgame of even pieces is it pspsc or tactics? I don't know this answer.

    I think one of the factors that favor the tactical saavy is complex positions. In this game with someone 300 points higher than I had a few moves that would of picked up a piece. But my not be saavy enough I did not see them

    It suppose it is a matter of playing in a manner that the position requires since one can not always force sharp positions.

  3. Tak,
    its probably not exactly 3 times. But I played once against sombody who had 300 points less than me. He walked along the abyss during the whole game. Unintentionally he made a good move everytime. It just happened that his silly idea's about the game he thought he was playing lead to moves which were good by accident. At move 53 he finally made a mistake, so I could sweep him from the board. Afterwards I talked with him to verify if he indeed hadn't seen what threatened him all the time. He was just 53 moves lucky.

    There's another nice story. Margriet had just learned how to play when she played blitz with a 2100 rated player. I had learned her a few tricks and she got his queen at move 10. Then he started to focus and laid trap after trap. She never noticed, but did good moves all the time by accident untill all pieces were traded. Then it appeared that she didn't know how to finish him with K+Q vs K!
    (no need to say he left the building with a sack over his head!)

    Tactics often appear when one of the players make a mistake. They appear seldom in the first 10 moves of the opening. So my opponents have only 15 moves to make a mistake. That's too short.

  4. Please put me in for a new high rating 1630. thanks Jim

  5. Sancho,
    we use the game section of "Chess fundamentals" by Capablanca

  6. Tempo,
    I hope I can discourage you from using the term "PMS-certified-move." In English, PMS is typically the acronym for pre-menstrual syndrome, which is characterized by female psychotic behavior. How about SMP?

    De La Maza's success could also be attributed to his natural talents as well. If I am correct, he was a Ph.D student in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. So we are not really dealing with someone who didn't already have some serious calculating ability.

    I have to agree with others. You should really train to your weaknesses whether that is what you really want to do or not.

  7. Pale,
    which is characterized by female psychotic behavior

    I didn't know that that was bound to a limited period of time. SMP is fine with me.

    De La Maza's success could also be attributed to his natural talents as well.

    I'm always careful with this kind of simple explanations of failure. To prevent that I use it as an excuse and reason not to work.

    You should really train to your weaknesses whether that is what you really want to do or not.

    I thought my weakness (as of anybody else at class level)was tactics, and in fact, it was.
    But it proved to be not the only weakness. I'm glad I know, so I can work on it.