Sunday, September 14, 2008

Full throttle ahead

Today Margriet and I studied a few hours in Hansen's book, in preparation for the Corus tournament in januari. He has identified the following 15 key principles for the endgame:
  • Pawnstructure
  • Two weaknesses
  • Space advantage
  • Control of squares and files
  • Grip and suppressing counterplay
  • Domination
  • Time: hurry or not?
  • Making the right exchanges
  • Transformation of advantages
  • Two bisshops
  • Bishops or knights?
  • King activity
  • Rook activity
  • Initiative and attack
  • Mate and stalemate.
I realized that all these topics are familiar, but in a way unlike tactics. It is pure theoretical knowledge, without a relationship to practice. I dare to say I have past the sea of openings and tactics safely. For my level and for the moment these two topics are relatively well covered. Which feels as if I'm freed from a burden. But from the endgame I have only experienced stage one: the ridgid application of rules. After the initial excitement of new knowledge, already years ago, the ridgid application of the rules caused the inevitable disappointment. Now it's time to go ahead on this road and to transform the theoretical knowledge into practical experience. Seeing the 15 principles in action must become as familiar as seeing a pin or a discovered attack.

It is remarkable that Hansen often starts to talk about the endgame already when the queens and only one set of light pieces are traded. Probably that is because the principles of the middlegame and of the endgame don't bite each other. The essence of the difference seems to be the safety of the kings. After years of going for the kings throat only, I have to learn to look in a quite new way. Which is thrilling.


  1. This will take you to the next level. Your evolution is clear. The trajectory is not saltatory, but gradualist. Darwin was talking about chess improvement, not species. His publisher made a mistake and substituted "species" for "chess improvement" and sent it off to press.

    The book was 'On the origin of chess improvement' and was to discuss variation within improvers, and how their skills were selected by the environment when they were punished or rewarded for different variations they played.

    I think you have had a lot of mutations lately, and selection is working.

  2. LOL.
    I have put an enormous amount of good advice to the test and 99% died. Those parasites don't eat my energy anymore. Can you imagine how that clears my head? Everything seems so evident now after a break that it is hard to remember how confused I actually was. I feel freed in many ways.

    It's remarkable that Hansen couldn't find examples that illustrate only one principle at the time. There are always at least 5-7 principles at work in every example game. That's quite different from tactics. It's easy to show just a pin. Or a discovered attack solely. And that is part of the problem. You have to judge alot of subtle nuances and rigidity is not going to help you.

  3. I suppose that in the 99% that died are included: blindfold chess, game analysis, etc, which you listed elsewhere (btw what does 'in the refrigerator' mean?); so now could you please say what comprises the 1%? Is this opening study, tactics, and engames, or what?

  4. Indeed alas, using this information in exercises would make it more easy for the reader to transfer it into a motorskill.