Saturday, November 04, 2006

The missing link

Train like an animal.
Eat like a horse.
Sleep like a baby.
Grow like a weed.

I always had the feeling that there was something missing in the method of DLM. I have done the circles 7 times or more for different types of problemsets. It gave me the feeling that my motor was running at full throttle.
But the car didn't go.
It was evident that there was something missing between the motor and the wheels. Something that DLM forgot to tell us. Either because he didn't realize the importance or he just didn't know.

I have searched for about a year what that could be.
Now I have found it.
Almost just by accident.
Well, not really of course, because I tried systematically.
What I mean to say is that I hadn't predicted it nor anticipated it.

My approach to chess was very unbalanced. You can compare it with the situation in agriculture before the discovery of fertilizer. After farming the land for centuries the land was totally exhausted. The structure of the ground was extreme good though because of all the work on the land.
With the use of only a little fertilizer the crops exploded from the land.
That's how I feel right now.
Ok, after almost two years of blogging you should be accustomed to my ravings.
This is always the finest hour, after the first premature results of an experiment speculating about the future. Without harsh facts that disturb a future expectation.
Please accept it, this enthousiasm keeps me going.

What are we talking about?
I'm talking about positional play.
About pawn play, to be precise.
I didn't know anything about pawn play.
The book "Winning chess strategies"from Yasser Seirawan was really an eye opener.
This book I got from one of the Knights who jousted me (us).
I bet that the genuine Lance Armstrong Foundation yellow "Live Strong" wristband wouldn't have improved my chess so much:)

After only two weeks study of the PCT strategy module and Yasser's book, both Margriet and I showed a remarkable difference in our play. I saw totally new things in my game that I would have missed before. It was quite evident that my opponent missed it too.
Margriet played 4 times with a 1696 guy. One slow and three blitz games. She won the slow game and two of the three blitz games.

I don't know where this is going to lead me. What I do know though, is that seeing things that I never saw before and what is very hard or impossible to see for an opponent who lacks the knowledge, must lead to extra wins.
Of course the very basis of improvement is tactical exercises. But the engine needs a clutch.

BTW I use the words "positional" and "strategical" in an interchangable way. But the words are probably not synonymous. What's the difference?


  1. You admire Karpov? Well I have a book available in German, «Stellungsbeurteilung und Plan», Ullstein Verlag, that gives excellent advice how to play various position types. He classifies them after the center types (open, closed, dynamic, static) and explains how to attack and to defend. For example, with closed centers, you must attack with a pawn storm, not with the pieces. The defender must try to destroy the closed center. Very, very good stuff.

  2. Mouse,
    thanks for the tip! I found a cheap second hand version on the web and I ordered it.

  3. I'm jealous: I wish I was weaker positionally than tactically. It seems to be pretty easy to make up for lack of positional knowledge compared to tactical.

    It sounds like you are good enough with tactics to move on to play with the big boys. Given the elementary information in Seirewan, if you integrate positional work into your play I predict 2000+ within a year or two.

    It seems this quote was written for you Tempo. It is one of my favorite quotes from all my chess books. Simple (no pun intended), almost obvious, but profound.

    Now, would you please hurry up and get to 70,000 at CTS so we can put you in the flippin' 'knights victorious' column??? Only 451 problems to go. I think we have a new name for you: Teaser Knight. Every other month you're like "I've got this great new plan." Then, right before you finish, you move on to something else. Please, stop torturing us!

  4. Ever have that feeling of deja vu?
    Since reading the Soltis book on pawn structures (Pawn Structure Chess) the way I approach a chess game hasn't been the same. It will clarify your approach to playing openings, too. You should definitely pick it up.

    Funny how all of this tactical training makes the transition to strategic play so much easier. I don't think I would have fully appreciated the style of play possessed by Karpov and Kramnik without it.

    Feels like I have been lost in the woods wandering around aimlessly until I climbed a tall tree and spotted the trail home.

    Looks like I'm going fire up PCT and start working those strategy modules based on your (and Margriet's) recommendation.

    "I saw totally new things in my game that I would have missed before. It was quite evident that my opponent missed it too."
    LMAO!! I've had that feeling more than once lately also. Ever feel like it's so easy that it's almost cheating? The other feeling I get is when I realize that my opponent has just played a move that is instantly positionally losing. It matches the same reaction I get when an opponent drops a piece.

  5. Blue,
    when will my name be written in the Hall of Fame? I wrote a very old post about that.

    It says that I don't want to be measured by my efforts but by my results. Since the program is developed for 127 days, I want to increase my rating by 127 points. (1 point a day = 127 points in 127 days = 400 points in 400 days)

    My start rating was 1701 (after years plateauing), now my rating is 1743. I will graduate at 1828. So there is still some work to do.
    If you add Slowtempo to Temposchlucker at CTS, I'm above 70k by far.

    It seems to be pretty easy to make up for lack of positional knowledge compared to tactical.

    Not quite. I did positional study in the past which lead to much aha-erlebnisse (aha-experiences), but it didn't have much effect on my rating. If you look at my latest game you see that I abandoned the bishop pair in favour for eliminating a defender. How did I know that was correct? That is based on experience. So the most difficult part is the valuation of the positional characteristics.

    Tactics are omnipresent. How did I know the b2 pawn was poisonous, how did I know I couldn't take on d4 although I had enough attackers? It's all tactics.
    Only now I'm tactical strong enough to reach my positional goals.

  6. Sancho,
    Feels like I have been lost in the woods wandering around aimlessly until I climbed a tall tree and spotted the trail home.

    Exactly. It just very difficult to cut through all well-meant good advice to come to what's really important. I've only scratched the surface, but this is going to make the difference!

  7. Congrats Tempo! Really happy to hear that you might have found what you've been looking for.


  8. Tempo,

    MDLM tried a series of things before trying tactical training: grandmaster lessons, endgame and opening studies, reading Silmans books on strategy. All which he thought did not improve his rating. I am wondering if the tactical training served as the fertilizer to bring all this prior knowledge to grow. Sort of like your experience in reverse.

  9. I think the difference between positional and strategic is that you can make positional moves without having a plan. The strategy comes after one side gains an advantage or imbalances occur. Your strategy would be you plan to take advantage of your opponents weaknesses or planning on how to make the best of you imbalance. The openings have a lot of strategy in them as well though few opening books talk about the strategy rather than the variations.

    I guess one of the other knights confirmed what I suspected about MDLM. He already had a positional foundation and was weak tactically. Tactical training should help everyone but if you are losing games due to positional weakness more tactical study is not likely to help much.

  10. I was also thinking that some months ago you were complaining that you could get games where there was endgame play to practice your end game. I think you will probably find yourself in more endgame postions when you practice your positional play. After you gain a superior pawn structure you can trade down to the endgame where before you may have continued with a more aggressive style of play.

  11. OK, OK Tempo. So, Ironically, it will be positional work that puts you into the win column.

    I think Jim is right, that it wasn't the seven circles per se, but the seven circles in synergy with all his previous positional knowledge, that brought MDLM such monster gains. I think he underestimated or misrepresented this factor when he was promoting his stuff.

    Very early on in this quest, when I barely knew the rules, I bought his hype. But it became clear after reading everyone else (especially Wolff, whose Idiots Guide is what I will recommend to every beginner who asks me what they should read), that MDLM's argument that tactics is all that is needed is bogus. Tempo's comment at that post shows how much you've matured since then. And in a matter of days.