Friday, September 08, 2023

The dawn of positional play

 In chess education the hardest part is to find out where to begin. It took me 18 years to find the beginning of how to train tactics. 

In the same time I have often looked at positional play, but I didn't find where to begin. I solved a few riddles, like developing the PoPLoAFun system, the sitting ducks and to give an exact definition of piece activity, but I couldn't find the beginning of the rest.

The problem with positional play is that there is way too much good advice. For years I waded knee deep trough the well intended positional guidelines.

The problem is twofold. First you have no hierarchical framework, so you don't know if you spend your time on the right things, and secondly the given rules are given without the exact why, so you don't know the precise conditions under which the rules must be applied.

Take for instance the adage "to take is a mistake". Without knowing when to apply it and when not, it is just another silly well meant advice. Of course there is some truth in it, but it takes a lot of time to find find out what that is.

In the previous post I revealed where to start with positional study: with pawns and exchanges. I found out that the books that I have treat every aspect of positional play as being the same. Only 10% is about pawns and exchanges. This means that 90% of the work that I did is useless. Take for instance the rule "determine your worst piece and improve it". Followed by a treatise of each piece and where it belongs. In itself it is some sort of correct rule. But without knowing the right prerequisites it is a waste of time. Improving your worst piece is about bringing an attacker to the beginning of the line of attack. That only makes sense when your pieces are not all active already. But you must learn what there is to do when your pieces are already activated. 

So the building of an hierarchical positional framework has finally started. The good thing is that everything that I do in this realm goes times 750. Since my tactical database consists of 750 unique tactical techniques, and all these techniques might be used to force something, if I only knew what to do.

I already managed to determine 5 exact rules for exchanging pieces under which preconditions, so the what times the how is 5 x 750 = 3750 extra chances to get an advantage.

The pawn stuff is not easy at all. Or maybe it is. But at least I know now where to begin.

1 comment:

  1. You state the following (partial excerpt):

    "Since my tactical database consists of 750 UNIQUE tactical techniques, . . ." [Emphasis added]

    Given the limited number of checkmates and tactical devices/themes (far fewer than 750 "UNIQUE" categories as listed on sites like Chess Tempo), what criteria are you using to differentiate this many techniques?

    Just curious.