Monday, April 16, 2012

Applying the method to positional chess

Cure tactical flaw.
In the previous post I found a major flaw in my approach to tactics and I belief I have found the way to cure it at the same time. The flaw is that I act as a headless chicken when investigating a tactic. The cure is to look in a systematic way. I expect that it will take a few months to cure.

Preventing radio silence.
Since I don't want to have a radio silence during these months, I will think out loud about the ensuing step. Can we deploy this method to positional chess too? I see no reason why not.
Today I read all my posts I have written sofar about positional play (quite a lot!).

What is the goal?
The first problem we have to solve is to find out the core of the matter. My breakthrough in the previous post came about when I realized that I must be on the lookout for one of the six methods to gain wood. Without one, there can be no gain of wood hence no tactic. Can we find an analogy in positional play?

In my blogposts I found no less than six different appoaches to the matter. Six schools of thought. We must indicate one as being the best or find a way to reconcile them.
  • Improving chance.
  • Pawn targets.
  • Accumulating little advantages and convert them to one big advantage.
  • Preparing tactics.
  • Treat a positional target as a tactic.
  • Fixed list with positional elements.
Let's investigate this list.

Improving chance.
The pieces in a  chessposition are fast and volatile. Too fast and volatile to get them. By denying the pieces space their possibilities are limited. Limiting the possibility of pieces to react to attacks enhances your chances. This is closely related to piece activity. The pawns dictate which piece is active and which not. With pawns you can take manoeuvring space away from the hostile pieces. Overall this seems to be a good strategy. It is not a basic positional element. It consist of basic positional elements though.

As long as the pawns are mobile, it is difficult to say whether a piece is good or bad. Only when the pawnstructure is fixed you can say something about that.

Pawn targets.
Both the King and the pawns are slow moving. They are the natural targets of the chessgame. The pawns especially since their mobility is limited to 3 directions at most, often less. The King is vulnerable since every piece can act as an attacker. The stages are:
  • Induce a weakness.
  • Fixate the weakness.
  • Exploit the weakness.
  • Conquer it.
Attacking two weaknesses alternately is best.
Attacking a weakness leads to obligations for the enemy pieces. That is another way to enhance chance and limiting posibilities.
Looking around for the possibility to create weak pawns definitely is a basic positional element.

Accumulating advantages.
Accumulate many little advantages and convert them into one big advantage is an idea from the Botvinnik school, if I'm not mistaken. I read somewhere an article from a grandmaster lately who said that this idea was outdated. I tend to believe him. At first the idea of accumulating advantages  sound very logical. But in practice it is much less clear how to work with that. For now I forget this idea.

Preparing tactics.
How do tactics come about? Where do you have to place your pieces?
Must you set up a battery beforehand?
Improving piece activity in itself is a pretty vague description. Sometimes your pieces seem to be active like hell but they accomplish nothing. Piece activity without a relation to a specific target is useless.
Due to the fact that pieces are so volatile I don't think you can prepare a specific tactic by setting your pieces ready for it. That idea is usefull for slow moving targets like a pawn or the king, but the other pieces are too fast. You cannot force them into a tactic. Unless of course their mobility is greatly reduced due to lack of space or obligations.

Treat positional target as a tactic.
It is a charming idea. Just like you can win a piece with a knightfork you should be able to make a knightfork where one of the targets is replaced by an outpost square.
Allthough charming, I don't think it works that way.

Fixed list with basic positional elements.
Such list could look like this for instance:
  • Open up lines/diagonals.
  • Occupy an open line.
  • Challenge the hostile occupation of an open line.
  • Create outpost.
  • Improve your worst piece.
  • Sac pawn to open line or clear square.
  • Restrict opponents pieces.
  • Claim space.
  • Create pawn targets.
  • Sac pawn for passer.
  • Color complex.
  • Lead in development.
From the given schools of thought I think that a fixed list with basic positional elements resembles a list with basic tactical elements the most. The can have the form of patterns. Hence we can learn them the same way as we learn the tactical patterns. If there are any usefull idea's in the other five schools of thought we can decompose into new basic positional elements and add them to the list.


  1. CT doesnt offer positional training.
    aox found some positional training with free chess software, cant remember the name by now, but he might answer this.

    I noticed during my games that I see some basic tactics ahead. I am threatening a tactic, and in that way I restrict the opponent´s posibilities.
    Though positional play can be different to tactics, the tactics also improves your positional play. These are more short term gains, and it is much more about making the most of your piece activity.
    Especially useful for an improved piece activity I found the training of pin, discovery and fork puzzles useful. I guess here my positional play improved the most. But frankly I cant think of a good reason why these 3 tags helped me the most in positional gains. It doesnt make sense. distraction should work, too, but it is not what I feel I notice during my games. I am unsure about it, though. Forks and discoveries were the puzzles I trained the longest, maybe that is why. And for pins, it makes sense that if I am aware of more pin possibilities, that this increases my play for piece activity tremendously. Pins are very common in a chess game. They are everywhere all the time.

    Old previous subjects (off topic here):
    Here I have a nice puzzle where pattern recognition hurt me. My move was also the most common error and the average rating of players who did the same pattern recognition error was high, too.
    It is simple, but the pattern recognition prevents you from seeing clear. If I had not trained this pattern I could have solved it. I guess, last year (when I knew less) I would have pushed the right move.

  2. @Aox,
    do you know which free progam Munich is talking about? Do you know other programs?

  3. I was taking about chess hero. I already analysed some strategical/positional books for errors. I can detect easy and hard problems ( by a program ) but i cant detect pattern like "open lines".

    So i think i know how to apply "our" trainings-program to positional chess.

    I know 2(3) programs about strategy/positional play:
    Chessimo/strategie, Chessok/Strategie(and Chessok/Middlegame).
    There are a vew Chessbase CD's too...

    These programs might work as a training like empirical rabbit or munich but if your kind of training will benefit from these programs? I dont think so. It might be enough to use a book?