Due to positonal study my chess thinking is evolving.
At the moment I have identified three battles in chess.
The battle of the pieces.
The main ingredient is piece activity about which I have written a lot in the past. Piece activity consists of 4 elements:
- A safe home or outpost, where the pieces can stand without getting harassed by pawns. (sub-battle for a good outpost)
- A pathway or open line, leading into hostile territory. Pieces try to dominate the open line. (sub-battle for the open lines).
- Bridge head or invasion square or focal point, where pieces try to infiltrate into enemy territory. (sub-battle for invasion squares)
- Targets. A piece needs targets to attack. Usually a weak pawn or the enemy king. (sub-battle for inducing weaknesses.)
If you look closely to the 4 elements of piece activity, then you see that it are pawns that play the decisive role in the 4 sub-battles of piece activity:
- It are pawns that tell you which square is suited for an outpost.
- It are pawns that determine which lines and which diagonals are open and which are closed.
- An invasion square lies behind the influence of hostile pawns.
- It are the pawns that decide on which pawns are weak.
There is little known about the battle of the pawns. Thusfar I have identified the following area's of interest:
- Volatility. As long as the pawns aren't blockaded or restricted, the pawnstructure is volatile. In this case it is impossible to formulate final verdicts on which piece is better, since it can change with every pawnmove.
- Pawnbreaks. A lot of openings have thematic pawnbreaks. These pawnbreaks tend to change the assessment of the piece activity dramatically.
- All pawnmoves influence the piece activity.
- The exercise what do you want for Christmas is based on the pawnstructure. Since the best places for the pieces are based on it.
- Pawns can become targets in their own right when left alone by their brothers.
- The idea to improve your worst piece is based on the position of the pawns, since the pawns both make that piece bad and dictate which square is best. Hence which pieces should be traded off is indicated by the pawns.
- Endgame residu. What are the leftovers from the middlegame? From time to time you have to ask yourself: if I think away all pieces, is the resulting pawnendgame won? This tells you when it is time to trade off pieces in order to reach a beneficial endgame. This is a common idea. Most people tend to inflict you routinely with double pawns, backward pawns, isolated pawns and pawn islands. I think this endgame residu tends to be overrated. Since your decisions in the middlegame should be based on middlegame considerations. Only when there is no conflict with the middlegame considerations you can make moves that solely leaves a beneficial endgame residu.
Thusfar I found 2 area's of interest: tempo's and the initiative.
Unit of measurement.
Time in chess is measured in tempo's. What you actually measure is the distance from the initial position of a piece to the position where the piece exerts the most activity. Hence it is a measure for development. Counting tempo's can be usefull in the opening. Once all pieces are deployed, there is no longer a necessity to count tempo's. Nimzowitch talked in this context about the difference between falling asleep during your work or after your work.
But often even in the middlegame tempo's can start to play a role again. Due to pawnmoves, there is a continuous change in the assessment of the piece activity. So from time to time you have to ask yourself which is your worst piece. And count the amount of tempo's you need to put it on a more active square.
During the development phase you can play the trick that you trade an undeveloped piece for a fully developed one, which will give you an edge in the race for tempo's.
The initiative is based on the forcing character of a move. Forcing moves are of course checks, captures and threats. I assume all forcing moves fall in one of those three categories. Threats can have a wide range from very gross to very subtle.
The chance that you can get the initiative is influenced by the activity of the pieces, the availability of targets, the availability of outposts etc.. Hence by the pawnstructure! Besides that, it is important who is to move.
When the game starts, white has the premove. If he developes in the most efficient way, black will not be able to fully equalize. Hence white will reach the middlegame as first. And the first forcing moves will be of whites hand. The fact that there is a slight difference in scorings percentage between white and black is the statistical outing of this phenomenon.
The core of the matter lies in the amount of tasks that you complete. Most moves serve a single purpose, hence perform a single step towards the completion of a task. The art in the battle for the initiative is to find multipurpose moves, which perform two steps of two tasks at the same time with only one move. A multipurpose move can serve two attacking tasks, or an attacking task and a defending task, or two defending tasks at the same time.
A forcing move requires a reaction. Usually such reaction is possible. Only if there is a lack of space, the reaction can become problematic.
If the forcing move is a multipurpose move, there can be a problem to meet both threats at the same time with only one move.
Besides the 3 chess related battles there are other battles to be fought. For instance the whining about blunders, which is a battle against yourself. Blundering is mainly based on the problem of an undisciplined mind. Allthough the outcome of such non-chess battles can influence the result of your games, I don't think a chessblog is the appropriate place to talk about these matters. The treatment room of a shrink sounds more suitable:)