7 Circles and chess study

I was looking at the MDLM part 2 pdf again. In both diagrams I believe his position has the advantage. It’s his opponent’s move and it “looks” like they have something. The thing is, if you can realize that they don’t have that move, which is “grasping at straws”, then you will also begin to realize the trouble they were in.

In diagram one, White is down 2 pawns and the exchange and needs 2 moves to get his rook to the back rank, will need to play Nc3 as ..Bf6 is probable. Black is 0-0-0 with rook out quickly anyhow, White is looking busted.

In diagram two, it is hard to find White’s reply of …Qh5 but that is also commensurate to the desperation of Black’s position in which not having Black’s “grasping at straws” move means it is obviously busted.

Not only that, but there is something else very important to note. White’s first move of the “combination” is to trade rooks on b8. Why? Well it’s the best move for a couple reasons but one is so that if Black tries to sac his queen he won’t be be able to recapture the bishop on the 8th rank with doubled rooks whilst still being able to push his a-pawn home. HE is CALCULATING well, not simply spotting the tactic, plus he has worked himself into the winning position, not something that happened in one move if you look at how far each side has advanced their pawn. His opponent replies to …Qh5 mate threat with the natural-looking …g6 when instead ..RxBc8 limits the damage to only the loss of the exchange. HIS OPPONENT is either NOT CALCULATING well or realized he is doomed and making a tongue-in-cheek reply. So, it’s not simply just tactics.

My belief is that calculating is the most important thing at the board. One reason I believe this is at faster time-controls I do a whole lot less of it and am a weaker player, can tell by results plus post-game analysis. MDLM is very right in a general sense, that tactics are huge. Also, calculation isn’t as useful when you don’t know a lot of ideas or you are not being creative. For example, if you have positional, tactical, opening idea, endgame knowledge, then it becomes easier to calculate. If you have knowledge of only tactics, let’s say, then you will primarily be calculating tactics and not so much some of these other components.

My own current tactical progress is that I am able to solve tactical problems which I went over quickly a year ago, often just looked at the answers the first time through, but it does take me considerable time to find them, and I do have the big advantage of knowing that they exist, so it does become more of a calculation exercise for me.

I am starting to study some opening lines in monographs. I got to the point where someone stumped me and I couldn’t figure out how not to lose with Black merely with Crafty’s help. Turned out there are book lines that address White’s idea, main lines in fact, and I really was only perhaps aware of them in passing, but didn’t understand at all how they worked, looked like it was dropping pawns, etc, so I had dismissed it out-of-hand. Big help and a lot better than ditching an opening variation right before a tournament. The ideas in main lines usually strike me as coming from someone who didn’t merely blitz it out of his hat, but really spent time on finding the secrets of a position.

After reaching 1800’s, I hit a roadblock on FICS and OTB. Given enough time to calculate in a game, time-control wise, it’s easy to simply dismiss as “Oh, just study tactics”, well that’s IF I have enough time during a game. Under 1800, I wouldn’t put as much focus on others learning openings because you really do have to improve calculation skills. Once you have calculation skills but are limited by time, then I think it is much better to not be clueless in the opening trying to figure out how to “invent the wheel” there, if serious about a jump in one’s ratings. But by then, just a little opening study, very focused, can help a lot. This is because it only applies to a certain position or two that one is having trouble with, and is not used as an excuse for a quest on gaining “universal positional knowledge”.

The right monograph can really impart some must-know general knowledge as well. Of 4 monographs I had, 3 were useless on a certain opening I was looking at – they were more repertoire-suggestion/game-collection books. The other one talked about general tactical strategic themes in key positions before getting to the games.

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5 thoughts on “7 Circles and chess study

  1. Hey LinuxGuy!

    You hit the nail on the head!

    I was able to make my first OTB tournament this past weekend and went 0-3!!

    I have been studying my tactics, working on endgames, etc. etc.

    BUT I have not had enough OTB experience and have not learned how to calculate patiently or correctly.

    I NEED to play more.

    Your post affirmed that for me!

    Thanks!

  2. One always forgets that one must have a position in which tactical shots exist before one can can execute a tactic. With other words, one must build a position with positional chess first and this indeed requires calculation of lines. So yes, calculation is indeed a big part of chess.

    Openings, hmmmmmm, i dont know if one needs to learn them under 2000, i guess its more positions one needs to know at that level, like annastasia mate or boden mate or … for example.

  3. This may sound crazy, Tommy, but I envy you in a way as you get to learn a lot from these tournament games!

    I’m glad you finally were able to make it to one! It’s been a while. 🙂

    I need to add to this post. 😉

    Chesstiger, the weird thing about this one opening variation is that I “grok” it now. Before, I was totally lost in bum something Egypt, coulda played another 10-20 games before I had a clue, and online games simply aren’t enough time to get that clue in a closed French Tarrasch defense, I’m talking OTB games. After studying those games I could miss mate in one, it’s almost a different part of the brain, yet I understand that opening variation 10x better now and I knew all along that i never understood it before and was too afraid while playing it; for me, that is a huge difference.

    My tactics right now are sorely rusty, quite lousy, but I will say that if you are calculating well come tournament time – and this is a performance sport, not just a knowledge sport as Wetzell so rightly pointed out in his book – you can see and figure out a lot OTB if you are really into the game. It takes G/90 or longer for me to be able to get into the game like that. I would rather calculate well at a game and not be at my best in terms of tactics, openings, endgames, and middlegames, calculation will trump all these.

    What does calculation well entail?? For me, it means that come tournament time I need to cut back on the coffee, be exercising at least modestly, not be all jacked-up when I arrive at the board. Calculation requires patience and observance before anything else, so if you don’t feel patient, aren’t calmly observing and not missing a bunch of stuff, have the energy and are patient and kind to yourself and quietly confident, you can play a game you will be pleased with win or lose. 🙂

    IOW, don’t skip a meal, have poor sleep patterns, be mentally toasted from some other intellectual activity, drinking too much coffee, haven’t exercised in a few days, get in a fight with your girlfriend etc. right before the game.

    Also, studying too much tactics before a game can also have an adverse affect, like you are no longer playing sane positional chess, it turns into ‘bonzai tactics’ time. Or you find yourself making bad losing positional moves that create tactical chances for both sides, all the while calculating that one-whopper, if only your opponent plays into it. This is one way I beat my last ‘tactical’ opponent, I knew he would create chances for both of us. This gets into the psychology realm, where you start to figure out the possible defects of an opponent’s game.

    For instance, Bronstein, too creative for it’s own sake – the Zurich book contained a lot of hand-waving ideas that I don’t think worked concretely (I mean ideas without an actual specific line given, it’s frustrating when I tried some of the ‘ideas’ out). Smyslov, sometimes got carried away with flights of fancy for it’s own sake – you know, the “I am an artiste!” thingy where he sacs his queen and such but misses a detail, but could have played a simpler way. Tal and Nezhmetdinov, speculative sacs. Petrosian, sometimes got too boring for his own good and could “fall asleep” on Spassky’s sacs. I could come up with one of these in < 5 seconds for any past super GM (chess) household name you can think of.

  4. Yeah, my last tournament showed me, that calculation and vision (vision too, otherwise you don’t find the right move to calculate!) are very important and often decide the result. Regarding opening lines: I got essentially better position against expert in my 4th round game just playing the first 10 book moves for the first time ever. I also lost my 2 last club games mostly due to not knowing the right book move. Sometimes, yes, you just play reasonable moves and it’s OK.

  5. Here is an example:
    http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1115316

    Black’s move ..f6 is controversial at that moment because it allows Bd3. Rh3 (not theory from what I’ve been looking at, White should double rooks on g-file) was played firstly to protect Be3. I could could make more comments, but if one is finding this OTB it does take some time and energy, plus you still don’t know what Black and White’s future plans are, you just noticed/analyzed the current position.

    I just happened to accidentally run into this game yesterday, it’s not best theory or anything, but it does follow theory quite similarly in some sense.

    It’s important for Black to consider moves like an early …g5 (h4 stopped it) before …f6, and also …a5 is a good move to throw in at some point, as is Be7. So now you know my opening preparation. I could still get to this position and totally screw it up, but that’s chess. 😉

    This isn’t the only way to play this position, an early …f5 is another system – Nigel Short has played it and knows it.

    It’s easy to get a practically lost game in a cramped opening such as the French. Try letting White get in a free a3-b4 here and then tell me what your “winning strategy” for Black is then….suffer and wait for a tactical shot. hehe.

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