I like my lists short

I have studied a lot of positional problems lately. I have been able to compress my list with questions I have to ask myself in order to analyze a position to one item. I solve 90% of the problems correctly. Which is qiute opposite to what I'm used to. At PCT 30% correct wasn't uncommon in the past.
Today I got a position where I reached the end of the line though.

Until today my one and only question was:
What will be the future of this piece?
Of course I know exactly what I mean with this. This question remembers me where to look at.
It is about piece activity.
And piece activity is about outposts, open lines and targets.
I have to ask it for every piece, even the opponent's.
During the process of answering this question, the right proceeding reveals itself.
The only trouble is that I have limited experience, so that I cannot know that if I do the move that logically arises from the thoughtprocess, it will get me the result I hoped for. For instance if I decide that to sac the exchange is logical, since that lousy misplaced rook will get me rid of that fierce bishop, I don't know if it will be worth it due to lack of experience.

Today there was a position in the good move guide from move 7 of a game of Botvinnik.
I could predict almost all the moves of Botvinnik from move 7 to move 32 just by asking me this one question. The few I missed, were still consistent with the question.
But then I encountered this position.

Since almost all the pieces of white have reached their full potential, I couldn't come up with a move. Interesting situation. I can't see how to improve the piece activity any further and there are still no winning tactics! In a real game this would mean time trouble for me and hence accepting a draw in magnificient position!

The right move here is 33. h3!
When I think about, it is a logical proceeding of course.
The white pieces are much more mobile than the black pieces. So to bring the attack from the queenside to the kingside cannot be followed by the defensive pieces.
Darn! I have to extend my list with a second question, I guess.
Let's see. . .


  1. I have the same problem. Often I end up with a wonderful position, but no obvious tactics, and have no idea what to do. Typically at this juncture it's time to start an attack (otherwise my positional advantage may be equalized or worse). Perhaps the question "Is it time to start the final attack, and where?" would have lead you to the right move?

  2. I think your actual problem might be you didn't have a plan. you developed your pieces, expecting tactics to miraculously appear. sometimes it happens, and it surely enchances the possibilities greatly. but if your opponent is skilled enough, it won't happen. he'll just defend well and nothing happens. but if you had a plan like 'break through to the king' as the positioning of your rooks seem to suggest, you probably wouldn't have advanced your pawns so that you'd end up without possibility to break. don't leave it to your opponent's strategical blunders to grant you an attack, make sure you are the one who decides wether you can break through. (not that the h3-plan was bad, it just seems quite passive as you have no muscle there. black king is perfectly safe regardless of your well positioned pieces.)

    you could also force the other rook on the dead-end a-file by threatening his a-pawn, and then bust through the center.

    if I was black here and you'd start the slow h3-plan, I'd exchange knights on b6, bust through b-file and invade your camp. suddenly white king would be dangerously exposed. unless you could create dangerous enough counter attack, and I think h3-plan is far too slow for that.

    my 2 cents.

  3. that all said, it's a completely different thing to play against botvinnik et al. :) and I also suspect the assignments might disregard stuff for educational reasons, just like the zen-larsen's positions.

    okay, the more I think of it, I'm probably wrong. the unavoidable patzer hubris has struck again. :) but I still doubt some attacking player would go on with h3...

  4. just to get another point of view, I plugged the position into fritz. at depth 16, it likes the h3 the second best +1.75 (so it's probably also a choice for an attacking player), first choice Bf1 +1.76, but my attacking of a3-pawn forcing the other rook on the a-file gets also +1.70 so it's not that bad either...

  5. Hope you had a good first round at Corus. No results posted yet, but I see you on the list.

    Your post has inspired me to formulate a rule: If all your pieces are good, consider moving a pawn. In this case this would have helped, but in other cases it may be wrong. Anyway, you always can make waiting moves with pieces until your opponent blunders. Or else you will have not more than a draw which is not enough in a superior position.


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