Druss Blog

An account of my attempts to try and improve my chess.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Modifying my approach

In my last post I described how I'm bored with grinding through tactical problems. So I have decided to try and change my approach. I'm not giving up tactical problems, but I'm going to try and incorporate some positional training as well. I will continue to solve tactical problems daily, but I will try to think differently about my goal. My old goal was to solve CT Art problems in seven circles, getting quicker and quicker until I could solve the lot in a day ... as MDLM suggests. But I found this was driving me to grind through problems just for the sake of it, which was no fun and boring. My new approach is to think that I will spend a certain amount of day solving them, but with no long term goal in mind.

Aagaard's new book is interesting, and in a lot of ways is a response to John Watson's Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy and rule independence. Aagaard claims that there are positional rules, but you have to know when to apply them and when not to. He has some interesting examples (a number of which from Kasparov's games) where he points to a key, single positional move as being the crucial turning point in the game.

I have also bought a couple of Kasparov's DVDs on opening theory ... the Najdorf and the Queens Gambit Declined. Again, it is interesting that Kasparov emphasises key position aspects of the positions. For example, freeing black's light squared bishop in the Najdorf. However, he also emphasises the importance of tactics in the new age of computer chess. Tactics are vital, but so are positional and strategic play.

I'm coming round to thinking of tactics as essential, but not the whole answer. It is as if tactics are like grammar and spelling in a piece of writing. If they are poor then it is rubbish, they are an essential part, but they are not the whole answer.

So what to do?

Well, I will continue with my tactical training as I described. But also I am not going to forget positional play. Partly this will involve finishing reading Aagaard and other similar books, and of course all the Silman ones. But it may involve trying Chess Strategy by Convekta, which I have bought already but not experimented with much. I may even try a seven circles approach with Silman's Reassess Your Chess Workbook and Convekta's Chess Strategy program, but I'll see how it goes.

The other thing I want to try is winning won positions. I want to get an example of a position where some chess books says, "and white has a decisive advantage" and try playing it out with Fritz. Hopefully this will give me a much more intuitive feel for why positional advantages work, and when they don't.

However, one thing I need to think about is what are the positional advantages I want to try and play? What are the key positional advantages? Is there any book out there which lists them?


At 9:19 PM, Blogger funkyfantom said...

I like this :

"...Aagaard claims that there are positional rules, but you have to know when to apply them and when not to...".

Doesn't that beg the question? Are there rules for knowing when to apply the positional rules, or not?

It seems to be that these "rules" are really guidelines, and the more experience you have, the more accurate you can be in knowing when the guidelines apply.

Or more concretely, a GM just "knows" when to start the variation calculation engines, when to apply
basic rules (ie. "a knight on the rim is dim" ), and when to just trust instinct.

At 11:23 PM, Blogger King of the Spill said...

Interesting post. I agree; parts of the circles are seriously lacking in "fun".

You bring up some thorny issues, issues that masters cannot even agree upon.

I see it like cooking; the position is meat and vegetables and tactics are spice. There is no best overall recipe, although top chefs can win contests again and again.

>>>Is there any book out there which lists them?

I am not sure what your question is exactly. Beside "Excelling at Positional Chess" by Aagaard, there are books by Fine, Silman, Watson, Nimzovich, Weeramantry, Kotov, and many others.

At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have a recommendation for you that might help you.

i too tried just doing a lot of tactics and some of the same conclusions as you.

Instead, now all I study is tactics and the games of world champions. I first try to guess the move before looking at what the GM played. I give myself 2 minutes or more each move and more if it is a critical position. This way I can learn positional play, openings and endgames all at once. Besides world champions know more about chess than all these average GM's.

I think tactics and studying games of world champions is all it takes. My results are really improving. try it.

Good luck fellow patzer

At 6:17 AM, Blogger King of the Spill said...

This might help: link


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