There is an old adage in business that goes “Ideas are worthless”. IOW, it’s all about execution.
What amazes me so much from playing lots of opponents on the internet is how well that most players are able to spot the “killer idea” in a position. Then the difference between the win and loss usually turns into who pulls off their ideas better. Preparation, should I prepare the idea, should I not, or should I look it off entirely? Or even, is this the right idea given other circumstances that have taken place on the board? Will this idea essentially override other factors at the end of the day?
If we just read chess books for ideas, how much would our rating really improve? Probably not much, because the execution of the ideas are nearly a separate issue. Ideawise, I can learn just as much from a B player at times as from an Expert. I don’t think higher-rating = more idea-savvy, I think it simply means better execution. Sometimes, say at the GM brilliancy level, the execution is so much better that the ideas also become better.
When I was a totally weak chessplayer, I loved that I was always learning new ideas. I would not even calculate something because I did not think such an idea was possible. Now it’s like, okay, me and my opponents are seeing the (same) ideas, but who is calculating them better? The “video-game” element of chess becomes lessened and it becomes more about who wants to do their “homework” on the position more. Playing the Black pieces definitely seems to require more of this “homework” at the board. Luckily, both players usually miss the finer elements of attack/defense tactical possibilities and rather focus in on the key elements. I’m still appalled at how many of my games are ultimately decided by tactical accuracy, not ideas, regardless of whether the position was winning or losing at the time.
What it means is that playing against better players can actually be more boring because they are simply going to calculate it accurately. You could just about save your money and play Fritz. hehe.
I mean, I still remember the time I put some of Alekhine’s games against Crafty and on one game by like move 38 he had a .25 advantage or something against “Joe the Plumber”. Joe blunders and the rest of the game is history. Of course Alekhine was brilliant in bamboozling his opponents with tactics and such, but sometimes I think it’s naive that we are always going to find “better ideas” from their games, rather than mostly better execution. Of course the super GMs are brilliant and have these amazing games that we can all appreciate and think to ourselves “Wow, I could never have done that!” and yes, that is what makes them so fun.
I just played a game on FICS against an 1860 level player. After the game I studied the position and came up with the correct idea. Interestingly, Crafty thought it was dead even (my idea) until a couple moves into it, when it suddenly became winning. So I figured out the correct idea after a long think after the game, but Crafty can out-execute me, seemingly effortlessly.
My judgment relies on execution, but also intuition because there are so many response lines to look at that you would have to visualize quickly like Crafty to see so many of these side-lines. Incidentally, in my last game against ksv, the right idea was Bd3 followed by f5 threatening f6, a stock idea in that position with Bg7 and Ne7, but it’s calculating the execution of it is theoretically dense in terms of move lines. The hard part is determining the right stock-idea, and then calculating out why it should work. For example, someone might try to use the stock idea of Qd2, then Bh6 in that position, but that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere; the emphasis should be on the light-squares insted.