Monday, February 19, 2007

Less is more.

What have I found sofar?
There is indeed a broad area of chess between tactics and positional play (to improve your position). In this area are such complex positions that you need special skills to cope with it.

I can't possibly estimate in which amount of my games this plays a role. Somewhere between 25% and 60% of my games I guess. It is quite evident that I MUST get these special skills in order to play some decent chess. Otherwise I convict myself to "mature man's play" and " a mature man's openingsrepertoire" for the rest of my life, being in trouble everytime when my opponent lures me into complexity.

It took me 10 hours to analyze the complex position from my previous posts. Now I have the feeling that I "understand" it. That I can play it against a higher rated player and still win, so to say:)
I try to imagine what is needed to learn to do the same analysis in 20 minutes in stead of 10 hours.

First what is NOT necessary:
  • Do more tactics. Most tactics are so "simple" that you can solve them within an hour. This position is much more complex.
  • Do visualisation exersises. Even when I moved the pieces by hand, it didn't help me to find the crux. Once I had found the crux, I had no problem to visualise it.
  • Do calculation exercises. Once you see the underlying structure, the calculation of the variations is no longer a problem. Which means that my calculation skills already suffice.
All these points are handy, and I encourage everybody to train these things, but the contribution of these points is rather small.

What is paramount is that you understand the position. That you see how the pieces of the black position are connected. Once you see that the queen supports e6 and that e6 supports f5, you can see that you start a chainreaction when you threaten the queen. When the queen can no longer support e6, e6 falls and hence f5. What is further important is that the knight which supports e6 is overburdened. Once you know all this, you know what does not play a role in the position.

And that is what this is all about. Once you know what is NOT important, you can enlighten the burden with more than 90%. When you have to investigate much less lines, your skills will probably proof to be good enough. It's the fine art of pruning. Less is more.

In order to train I fetched a copy of Practical Chess Analysis from Mark Buckley (hattip Blue Devil/Patrick). This book contains a lot of complex positions to analyze and calculate.

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