Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Experiments with piece activity and steerability

In an attempt to place the white pieces as active as possible, I came up with a Colle-Zukertort system-like structure. So I fired up 15 cc-games with 1.d4 to test it. I have never played 1.d4 before so it will be interesting anyway. I feel to be on another planet.
The Colle-Zukertort system is frowned upon by higher rated players since is is unambitious for white. It is interesting of course to see why a theoretical active placement of the pieces is known as a passive setup. That must have something to do with the fact that I have only taken my own pieces into account.

Further I like to introduce the term relative piece activity, which indicates my piece activity in comparison to the activity of the enemy pieces. If I talk in the future about piece activity, I mean this relative piece activity.

Next to piece activity I introduced the term steerability of a game lately.
An open game leads to tactical opportunities for both sides. This makes it difficult to steer it in the direction you want. I want to find out if a closed game increases the steerability of the game. So if black chooses to answer 1.d4 with the Kings Indian Defense, I intend to answer with the Petrosian variant of the classical mainline. That often leads to a closed center.

To be clear: I don't have a preference for the systems I describe here. I just think about these things and try to verify in practice what I have found. I have no opinion beforehand, I will not be disappointed if it proves to be a dead end. If a gambit proves to be the best way to increase the relative activity of my pieces then it is fine with me too.

What I try to accomplish is to escape from the dictatorship of the variants. Which means that I want to steer the viarants in stead of that the variants are steering me. As is the case usually now.


  1. Well with all do respect, aren't you making this way too complicated?

  2. Montse,
    actually I try to simplify matters. What's your idea?

  3. "A common mistake made when considering the history of the Colle system is, a wide-spread dividing the Colle opening into so called "Colle-Zukertort" and "Colle-Koltanowski" systems. The difference is in pawn chain and dark-squared bishop position. The first means pawns b3 and c2 and Bishop b2, the last - pawns b2 and c3 and bishop on its original square c1. Adam Harvey, an author and compiler of the notable book "Colle plays The Colle System" (Chess Enterprises, 2002) indicates: "In researching all of the extant games as Colle played as White from 1922-1932 I have found that in none of these did he adopt the Zukertort Opening. In all of games where Colle reached a position after 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.Bd3 c5, he invariably played 5.c3… If one looks at the literature on the so-called Colle-Zukertort system, there is only one game by Colle is ever mentioned… However this game is not the genuine article, as Black does not play d7-d5. Whilst there are some similarities to the Zukertort opening… what Colle actually plays is a variant of his own set up against Queen Indian set-up for Black… In view of the above it is clear that the titles "Colle-Zukertort System" or "Colle system, Zukertort Variation" are misnomers. If anyone should be credited with developing this opening after Zukertort`s death, then Akiba Rubinstein, who played it regularly… would be a better candidate". So we have two different systems: Colle or Colle-Koltanowski system and Zukertort or Zukertort-Rubinstein system."

    And also, you mention the opening is frowned upon. I like to add that many find it boring, dull, etc. etc.
    And they are generally the same people that say the same about, and frown upon openings such as the London system, the Trompowsky, the French, Sicilian Alapin (to name a few)... Always these particular openings. Sometimes i wonder if they aren't just out to get you to play into their hands, because they just hate to face these particular openings and do not really have a way of dealing with them. I know i do. For instance, if i had a choice (playing black) after 1.d4 Nf6, i would choose not to be confronted by 2.Bg5.

    It is not a matter of boring or dull, it's a matter of popular vs unpopular. And everybody want's to be popular, right?

  4. You surprise me, Tempo. You are better in tactics than me, you did more CTS training than 99.9% of users. And yet you leave the field for a closed opening where the chances of tactics are minimal? The problem with steerability as I see it is that a steerable game can be steered also by the opponent. Do I understand it right, steerability means less risk? And less risk means less fun, right?

  5. Mouse,
    I started with gambits in order to learn tactics. Now I'm relative good in tactics, I want to learn positional play. For me, positional play is about piece activity. I want to find out how I can reach maximum relative piece activity. To that order I experiment with different piece constellations in order to find the laws that govern piece activity. In fact this has probably little to do with open or closed positions.

    Steerability is a quite different matter. As the saying goes:
    A tactician is someone who knows what to do when there is something to be done.
    A positional player is someone who knows what to do when there is nothing to be done.

    Tactics are relative easy to spot. That's because the method to measure the tactic is rather blunt: do you gain matter or not?
    But the imponderabilia of positional play are much harder to see and to value.
    So the chance to make the difference in steerability is much greater in positional play than it is in tactics. Closed positions offer less possibility for tactics so maybe they are better suited when you know how to steer.

    All this is just reasoning, not an opinion. I only put the reasoning to the test.

  6. Mouse II,
    Do I understand it right, steerability means less risk? And less risk means less fun, right?

    You steer by more subtle means. When the blunt tactics rule, there is no room for subtle methods. I enjoy subtle means more than blunt means.

    I don't enjoy risk. If I would, I had choosen another sport:)

  7. 1. god gave humans sundays for rest.
    and god gave you ample brain cells, and it is a pleasure--for me--to watch you.

    2. i took wormstars/wormwoods leads, and started at redHotPawn. this place is SO smart. so very smart. wonderfull.

    highly recommended.

    3. a wise man once said, that much of western philosophy, as we know it, is founded upon not only self aggrandizment, but the confusion of truth versus accuracy. here, it seems, we can argue as to whether what you say is true or not, the old scholastic-acquainas argument as to how many angils dance on the head of a needle. but, i say, if this gives you energy, go for it. you need not defend or explain, but , rather share your experiences and plans.

    4. you call it activity. to me, i almost see it as piece position. euwe-kramer discusses dynamic versus static play, and, this, it seems is the distinction here.

    love your stuff and take care.

    ps, i now get 6 of 12 days off after working 14 of 16 days (WALKING 120 miles in a gigantic store, literally, or 210 km.) time to sit and absorb! and play a ton of bullet games! 0/4!