Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Rule independence

In reply to a comment of Blue Devil.

Rules are generalisations by their very nature. This means that concrete analysis of a position will always precede over rules.

In the first 3 of the 5 stages from novice to expert the student is rule dependent. (1. novice, 2. advanced beginner, 3.competent player, 4. proficient player, 5. expert) Then you arrive at the most difficult transition, from 3-4. Gradually you have to replace your dogma's by concrete experience, which is far more detailed and subtle than a rule can ever be.

I think that is impossible to skip the use of general rules and to head for concrete skill by experience right away. My problem with Watsons book is that it might give you the impression that such approach is possible. The second problem I have with it is that it gives the impression that the rules of Nimzowitsch are no longer valid.

His proofs often goes along the following line:

"So you say that all Americans are patriots? I will invite all non-patriot Americans for dinner and send you the bill!". As said earlier, of course any general rule has exceptions aplenty. That by itself doesn't make the rule invalid.

Dvoretsky says in his book of chess excellence part 3 though:
"Until today the idea's of Nimzowitsch have stand the test of time."

(me saying "1", rest of the world saying "2", boo-yelling crowd, exercising crowd-independence)


  1. Is it possible to think of Nimzo's rules like we think about Newton's theories? They're pretty darn good approximations for most practical purposes (e.g. most of our games), but real life and real chess is more complicated. After all, chess has still not been "solved." Every time we make a chess move or make a life decision, we're making a decision in the face of uncertainty. Chess moves are, at best, educated guesses.

    I'm still working on getting through the analysis of your positions. Currently, I'm fighting a FICS addiction.


  2. Howard,
    Is it possible to think of Nimzo's rules like we think about Newton's theories?

    That's a good comparison. And Watson is the biologist who explains the latest developments in science.

  3. Great analogy Howard!! (And I know of no student of physics who learned special relativity before F=ma).

  4. as you know, i just sent you the pgn of my '1,663 game database'.

    i can honestly say, that some of my greatest joys in going through the first 941 games for those 2.5 years, aside from the 60 Fischer games, and the 62 Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Chernev, were of the Nimzovitch collections, both My System and Chess Praxis.

    So simple; so eligently clear.

    you will also notice i even have the supplemental games from the 90's in the Hays edition--i dont cut corners! dk

  5. Hi Tempo!

    Just wanted to clarify my latest comment on overprotection and your answer to the same. I understand that the overprotection is done on a weak square of the opponent (or a square of importance to the current position) but in an actual game it might not always be easy to choose the right one.

    I would greatly appreciate your opinion on this subject in connection to my latest tournament game (posted on my blog). I played it with the idea of overprotection in the back of my mind.

    I managed to advance my pawn from e4 to e5 which severely hampered my opponents pieces. I gave the control of the e5 square a high priority and overprotected it.

    My main question to you is: when my opponent did his pseudo-sacrifice on e5, can this be seen as the spring (as you describe it) coming uncoiled since I then was able to use e5 as an invasion square and from there aim further into my opponents territory at another possible invasion square: f2.