Finding my way in the chessdevelopment- and training jungle in order to improve my rating.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
When a position becomes more complex the time I need for a move grows exponentially. My short term memory is generating overload errors and I feel paralyzed. The effectiveness of my thinking comes to a grinding halt.
The past 8 years I have focussed on improvement in the right area of the graph above. In terms of the graph I have shifted the point that indicates how much complexity I can handle in 3 minutes considerably to the right. My approach has been multifold. I have tried to increase my ability to handle more complex stuff (probably to no avail) and I have simplified complexity by breaking it down (probably the most fruitful direction to head for). At the moment I don't feel I make much progress in the right area of the graph anymore.
The problem with the right area of the graph is that you have only time to calculate variations. There is no time to contemplate about the finesses of the position. About the pawnstructure, the strategical issues or whatsoever. When every move counts, can decide the game at once that is, then mere calculation is the only thing to embark on. The general advice is to calculate until quiescence. Or even better, to quiescence + 1. Speaking about nonsensical advice, here you have it. I am only able to calculate till my mind stalls. If every move seems to lose I even calculate till the mind stalls + 1. Where the + 1 stands for losing 1 hour on the clock. When I don't want to lose on time I have no other option than to gamble. Complexity downgrades chess to a game of chance.
In order to master complexity I had replaced my opening repertoire by gambits only. For years I haven't played different. With gambits complexity starts at move 3. So gambling and time trouble has been the bane of my play past years. With the acquiring of nerves of steel as added bonus. Of course I have made little progress on the more subtle side of the game. During the games I had simply no time to think about that. There is another side to it. In order to win from a lower rated opponent with a gambit you have to play much better than him. The gambitplayer has taken the responsibility to make the game. You must create the threats. While your opponent has only to react. To only parry all threats in the reassuring knowledge that one slip of you results in a won endgame. He will suffer much less from time trouble than you. On the other hand, the gambitplayer will blow away a much higher rated player every now and then. There is another disadvantage with playing gambits and that is that you are not free to play in whatever direction you like. You can't trade off to an ending at any moment and you cannot trade queens for instance.
But playing the Polabia, as GM Danielsen pronounces it (the Polar Bear), has shown that it is possible to stay clear from complexity and to steer the game into the left part of the graph. This is by the way a proof of the steerability of a game, about which we discussed much in the past. Of course, if my opponent insists in complexity, he can create it. But the gambits against the Polabia don't look all that rosy and premature attacks are, well, premature. And remember, you have to play much better when playing a gambit, for reasons described above. And, I might add, I'm not afraid of gambits since I know what a gambitsplayer hates the most:) Thus my opponent can only steer into complexity with the odds against him. Which is fine with me. Complexity was the bane of my play, after all.
In the left part of the graph there is time for contemplation. Here I refind the issues that the positional chessbooks talk about. The subtleties for which I had no time in the past, busy with complexity as I was.
The Polabia with both white and black has replaced 75% of my gambits. Now I have to find something against 1.e4 which keeps me on the left side of the graph and which suits my taste. Maybe the Scandinavian with 3.Qd6? The rumours of the demise of that opening are clearly exaggerated, according to Rybka. Usually such rumours are of great help to prevent people from preparing themselves against it.