Sunday, September 30, 2007

Powered by Nimzowitsch

Yesterday I played my first two games in the regional championship. Although I only won the second game, I'm still pleased with my play. My first game was against the Caro-Kan (1866). I outplayed my opponent in the opening and the middlegame. I gained a healthy pawn and had the initiative (Rybka scored it +2.5) but I adopted the wrong plan by trying to trade off to the endgame in stead of picking up another pawn and to continue the attack. Although Rybka still scored my position +1.1 I managed to find another faulty plan so my advantage dissipated. In time trouble I couldn't hold the draw so I managed to lose.

Bill and Marty are quite right in their comments on my post lately. I'm overly focussed on tactics in a position. That's not due to personal preference but to lack of other subjects of focus. Maybe that has something to do with the rigorous tactics training the past few years:) The good news is that it is a problem that is easy to fix since it is due to a lack of knowledge. And a lack of knowledge in chess can usually be replenished within a few weeks.

That's why I'm reading My System now. A word of caution is in place here I think. If you have never thought about the topics Nimzowitch writes about, his writing style invites you to take over his idea's ridgidly. His idea's are not suited to find the best move out of nowhere. In stead you must flavour your own findings with it. Say, you are in doubt between two good candidate moves. Choose the one that is according to his idea's. But let his idea's not replace your own idea's, since they are too subtle to be the base of your play. Although I had read only the first 30 pages, it made already a huge difference in my games yesterday.

Fixing a weakness in your chess education immediately causes a shift in your play demonstrating your next weakness. While I consequent examined my moves according to Nimzowitch, my higher rated opponent committed now and then little sins against his idea's. The pressure was build up because of that, resulting in the loss of a pawn. It was not I who accumulated little advantages, it was my opponent neglecting them and worsening his position "at free will". That I adopted 3 times a wrong plan in the transition to the endgame is the next weakness that revealed itself. The solution of that lays already on my shelf in the form of Hansen's book, ready to be read. But first I'm going to study My System from cover to cover.

The next game I faced the Sokolsky against a lower rated opponent. I have nothing prepared for a long game against it, but Nimzowitch helped me to make healthy moves, which eventually made me win a pawn. Again I made my usual mistakes in the transition to the endgame and the endgame itself, but my errors went by unpunished.

So I find myself back studying according to everyone's idea's and advice. The difference being that you can only get answers according to your questions and I have learned how to ask the right questions.


  1. It sounds like a great attack on two fronts: endgame and middlegame strategy.

    One nice thing about strategy: it is so much easier to improve at it than tactics! I'd MUCH MUCH MUCH rather be weak in strategy strong in tactics than vice-versa, as far as relative ease of making up weaknesses in the two areas. Of course, I'm weak in both, so none of that helps :)

  2. Blue,
    that's quite true, when I read for the first time about strategical issues, I missed the skill to do what I wanted to do. Only now I have gained some tactical skills I can steer the game in a certain direction without compromising my position tactically. So indeed tactical skills are the very basis.

    Besides that, to appreciate and to value strategical issues, it is necessary to know how tactics arise from strategical fundaments.