Finding my way in the chessdevelopment- and training jungle in order to improve my rating.
Monday, January 25, 2010
The what and the how. (continued)
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My play at Corus shows two evident areas for improvement. The what and the how. What to do (positional play) and how to do it (tactical play). I'm working hard on the what-department by experimenting with the ideas of Nimzowitsch in my play. Of course that leads to the occassional disaster, but since I'm on a loosing streak anyway I don't bother. I'm learning and I feel happy with what I learn. Gaining the points back and more will be just a matter of time.
But walking around at Corus and following interviews I can't help but think about the how. I expect to need one or two years to fully incorporate the ideas of Nimzowitsch in my play. But I have to look at the future and think about what will be next. My experiences at Corus point clearly at the how-department. In the group next to me there is a 10 year old German girl who has a rating of 1842. At a certain moment she had black and encountered the Blackmar-Diemergambit. She obviously had never seen it before because she took a long think. Yet she managed to put here pieces on the right squares and outplayed her opponent tactically. I doubt she has read My System twice. Or even know the name of the author, for that matter.
The tactical skills comes from the player, the positional knowledge stemms from the coach. If the grandmasters of group A give their post mortem analysis, they show long tactical variations with ease. They have no problem to go 10 ply or so back to the original position. Positional knowledge is only implicitly manifest.
Ton Sybrands is a former worldchampion checkers. He is able to play blindfolded 25 games simultaneously and scores 92%. He is a decent chessplayer. But he can't play blindfoldchess above average. What kind of skill is that? He learned checkers while he was young and he learned chess while he was relatively old. This seems to be a clear indication towards the direction that age of learning is paramount. Indirect there must be a relation to grandmasters getting a lower rating when aging. The knowledge developes, so the understanding of the game of the older grandmaster grows, but his skills have stopped to assimilate the new patterns and they stick to the old ones. Thus losing games to the youth which uses the new knowledge. I must run now for my next game.
We have some strange contradictions here. Papa Polgar proved that the skills aren't innate. Sijbrands proved that it works only at a young age. MDLM has proven that it is possible at an adult age. Jan Timman has proven that it declines with age. The Knights Errant have proven that an adult who is plateauing at around 1500 for some years can gain about 250 points by mere exposure to tactical combinations. No matter in what regimen. No matter the effort. No matter the duration. No matter the amount of chessproblems. Repetition not necessary. Why only 250? Why not much more? Why not zero since we are adults?
What we need is a whole new look at the how-department. A new system for tactical training that differs from what we have proven to fail. Or maybe it isn't about tactics, but about calculation or visualisation or whatever.