Monday, October 01, 2007

Chess is 99% strategy

Alexander Kotov was already a master with 2400 rating when he found out that he was terribly bad at complex tactical positions in comparison to his opponents. Untill then he always made his moves almost entirily based on strategical considerations.

If I combine this with my latest discovery that I can dismiss days of tactical analysis by simply choosing the right plan in seconds, it is obvious that I'm on to something.

If you see a grandmaster giving a simul, he makes his moves in seconds. But when he does so, he is in 99% of the cases not in a position that he can finish the game with a tactical blow. And thus he must make his move based on a simple strategic plan, which he recognizes to be appropriate in the given position. This means that the pattern recognition takes place on a strategical level and not on a tactical or geometrical level.

In two for the rest equal positions the difference of a mere pawn to be on a2 or a3 can make that the involved tactics are quite different. So a lowlevel patternrecognition will not be sufficient.

Actually that is very logical. My own experience with analysis of complex tactical middlegame positions by means of generalized narratives yielded in fact strategical plans which are applicable in countles similar positions. Tactics are the very basis for strategy. Strategy is the higher level cognitive knowledge of tactics.

Saying that chess is 99% strategy is quite different from saying that the amount of energy you should devote to mastering strategy in comparison to mastering tactics is 99:1. In fact that can be the other way around. Or 10:90 or so. Because almost no move can be made without tactics playing a role. Not manifest, but virtual in the background. As a precondition. After all you have to blundercheck every move.


  1. So it seems you were on a slight deviation from your strategy immersion last year, and you are now getting back on that track.

    Incidentally, did you finish PCT Strategy, and what do you think of it? What types of problems do they have?

  2. I did 2/3 of the strategy modules of PCT. The kind of problems are rather lowlevel like:

    open the king position
    start a pawn storm
    create a passer
    open a file
    occupy a file
    improve your worst piece etc.

    It has helped me a great deal to use my time better when there are no tactics around. I don't intend to finish it, though. I'm a bit done with "repetitions".

    Right now I intend to get the big picture first before I start to worry about details again.

  3. I think it was about a year ago when I first said your problem was with planning. :) dk probably remembers better when it was, as we talked about it on rhp as well. and I'm sure I've repeated it once or twice after that...

    the player with the best plan wins.

  4. WW,
    I remember that well and I took heart. Since I work according to LiLo it took a year to work out.

  5. 99% strategy, 1% tactics... so now openings and endings are 0%?? j/k. A fair question is, what are efficient ways to acquire strategic knowledge? I read The Amateur Mind twice and it was pretty easy to follow but for me it was a bunch of maxims and not specific enough to help my games. Studying master games and opening books/videos in my lines has been more useful, but sometimes you see a technique over and over without quite understanding it.

  6. this has got to be the single best short post i have ever read at chess blogger by any of your bretherin or you. bravo. thank you. fantastically brilliant.

    i wonder if you ever read my posts now, a tiny trickle from you backwards compatable--i must not be sufficiently rewarding to you.

  7. wormwood:
    1. yes, its like me to remember stuff like that. imagine what i was like before twenty years of drinking, and two concussions to my brain last year, four days apart?

    mid Feb 07, possibly late Feb or late Jan, but almost surely mid Feb or early March.

    2. have you stopped blogging or is there some factor exogenus to chess or effort? miss your stuff and YOU cannot possibly that youve nothing to say or nothing to report. what gives, fine Finn?

    warmest, dk

  8. LF,
    To make you happy:
    Non-accidental chess = 100% endgame. It is all a matter of definition:)

    The problem is that you have to internalize the knowledge. That is not easy when things come from outside. That's why I try to paint the big picture myself. Reality corrects me.

  9. DK,
    when you wrote the posts yourself it was rewarding. For the lazyman's solution I don't need you:)

  10. im not so sure that that is fair. i have reservations about putting the ratings matrix up yesterday (so agreed there),

    but, otherwise the analytic article took a lot of work to put up and, i thought had a service or was of service... the note on mig is not copying work of others, but comment on a situation.

    'lazy'. oh yes, i must be very lazy, just look at what i do! how nice of you temposchlucker. wow.

    sometimes you try to be funny, but sometimes you are just rude, as you are here, or is it blunt? so hard to tell which is which.

    i have one more article like this, and the best of them, but you will on principle withhold comment? or have nothing positive to say.

    when you say, 'i hope that it will boast chess in india', after like how many posts, now is that really advanced being, or being a good friend? that is all you can say there???

    i am not feeling good about all that i am saying here or how i am saying it or where i am saying it, since i have your email (but then again never hear back from you there, either), but can you feel good here?

    you can bludgeon me, in temposesque form and say: "dk, i am not here for your feeling, but to get better at chess, and, in so doing talk with those who support that", and, if that be the case, i turn away, for warmer circles.

    goodbye if you must.

    friends do friendly things, and you can be practical to a fault, if not pigheaded at times.

    sorry, but true. chief feature, it is called.

  11. DK: For goodness sacke, stop being such a babie. It isn't a personal afront if people don't comment on every one of you're posts. No need to do so marketing. We know you are there. Relax it.

  12. DK has just been initiated I think. I was initiated about a month ago. If you haven't been offended personally by Tempo, you aren't really a chess blogger.

    When I start fretting about the lack of comments on my posts (after all I put a lot of time into them, dammit!), I try to step back and laugh at myself, and realize they are just a welcome surprise, not something I should expect or give up or go around soliciting comments (it can be like the Jehovah's Witnesses coming to my house sometimes).

    When I get no comments, it is obvious because what I said is so correct, so true, phrased so felicitously, that nobody has anything to add to the masterpiece.

    :) I wish.

  13. David,
    I apologize. I didn't mean to offend you. I was trying to give you a compliment by saying that I like your own posts more than when you cut and paste the work of others.

  14. dear bdk [email]

    "Oh, its not the (last*) first time!

    Freudian slip: i just typed 'last' by accident, as my head is pounding,

    im home sick with this lingering flu that wont go away only worse, so just got up…

    off to the greek ladys house in an hour for chicken soup and a nice chat, never saw her house…

    ‘in much disrepair’ (yikes, ‘if I date you, I need time for tactics and email to BDK and tempo and ChessPawn and chess Relearner…’)

    Love dk,

    Kind of you to write me. thank you.

  15. tempo, FIFO, :D that's indeed true about you. you're such a meticulous worker bee with your projects. :)

    dk, nothing much to write about. no new milestones reached, no big set-backs, no revelations and no new plans. closing in on 1950 RHP, but the big guys are piling up on me and some of those hard, hard games are backfiring, and I'll get some lossess no doubt. I sleep like crap, so no blitz for ages and CTS also goes down the toilet. I had two clear-headed days, ending up in 1630 CTS 95%, but now things are back to 'normal'.

    so, nothing to write home about chess improvement wise, hence no new posts. and as you know, my blog is strictly for chess improvement, so I wont be writing about other things there.

  16. eh, LILO of course tempo, sorry about that. :) I need more sleep...

  17. to annonymous. i guess we can say that a samurai is one who bites his lip, and says nothing. then again, a real samurai might stand up for his honor and quickly draw his sword against a cur or what he percieves as a cur, and that, my friend, is not marketing. if you are so correct, then why need you hide your user id? i stand my words and YOU dont know what offline conversations tempo and i have had, how often, or the history thereof. if you dont want someone who takes his or herself seriously, then please dont ever read my comments or my blog again. honestly, you know what to expect. i am going to be me.