Thursday, February 01, 2007

Steerability and closed positions.

Today I studied an awesome closed game of Kavalek vs Kasparov. It was annotated by Mark Diesen from who says that in closed positions often the usual value of a piece has no meaning. What matters is the total amount of attacking pieces that you can redirect to the side of the board where the action takes place. If that amount is greater than the amount of defenders, it is often time to sacrifice. Because the defender has little space at the side at which he is attacked, he cannot find always the right defending moves. Once the king is naked, the remaining attacking pieces can cash in.

This is shown in this beautiful game here.
So maybe the idea of steerability of a game in relation to closed games is just nonsense. What is certainly nonsense is that there are less possibilities for tactics in closed positions. Maybe even the opposite, if you look at this game and Mark's comment.


  1. Did you see the game annotated in a video by mark diesen?If this is the case please post the name of the video.

  2. I'm relatively new to the game but have begun to wrap a lot of thought into your notion of 'steerability'. I recently have been playing the French defense and often find my queen-side bishop trapped inside a pawn island.

    I'm still merely surveying openings and centering my efforts on tactics at this point...but the notion of steerability, especially as you have expressed it, is looming large on my mind.

  3. Looking at this game the term «closed» becomes relative. In fact it is very tactical. BTW it seems this is posted 3 times!

  4. Mouse,
    thx, I didn't notice. Blogger is somewhat troublesome lately.

    About the position: I have played the Kings Indian myself for a long time and I always considered it closed when white's pawn arrived at d5. Kasparov showed the coiled spring that is behind your pawns. Just think away your own pawns at f5 and e5 and all the pieces jump at white!

  5. Tempo, I have not yet found out why you introduced the term «steerability». For me it is exactly the same as activity. If a position is active, it is always steerable. If it is passive, it never can be steerable. Right?

  6. amazing game. especially because I'm currently picking up KID (any good online resources, anyone?)... took me ages to figure out why white didn't take the offered knight on f4, but I guess you just don't accept that kind of an offer from kasparov easily. :)

    I find all this abstract hypothesizing confusing. I know it's just tempo's way of thinking aloud, but I just can't get rid of the thought that chasing for such a rule-based approach is time wasted. if it was possible, engines would've reached perfect positional & strategical play ages ago.

    I like to keep to very concrete ideas. multipurpose move, good. double attack, good. streerability... eeh.. very vague. I think such vague concepts only give the illusion of controlling the chaos of chess, not deeper knowledge about it.

    time and time again the masters keep repeating very simple things. if you listen andrew martin, the things he says are always very simple, very concrete. even when he's analysing where a master went wrong. and if you think how far you would go with just your current knowledge, if you didn't forget to apply the things you already know, 2000 would be a breeze. but we fail to apply the things we already know, very basic things.

    chess is a simple game. :)