Saturday, February 3, 2007


The other night I had a flu-induced nightmare about chess. With a superior game, I moved my Queen where it could be captured, and my opponent simply took it. I made another move then immediately resigned in disgust, seizing the offending piece and hurling it against the wall, where it shattered.

On that note: I am nearly a month into my First Circle, not having missed a single day of training!

Some of the exercises, I have found, are meant to be "felt" positionally: you make a move or sequence of moves that sets you up for an attack, and at the end of the exercise your attack is clearly winning, though you have yet to either deliver checkmate or make any sort of material gain whatsoever. For example, consider the following position from a game by CTA's author, Maxim Blokh:

I believe this is exercise #910. The correct move is 1....b4!, opening up lines for an attack on White's king. Initially, the main thing to understand is that this move is NOT a sacrifice: although White has three pieces attacking that square to Black's two, the d5-knight will be removed on the next move. If that knight is the first to capture on b4, however, then 2....Nxe5 wins back the pawn.

Would everyone agree with my assessment of this kind of position, namely, that in some of the exercises you have to "feel" how good your resulting position will be, rather than know a concrete set of variations that lead to mate or win of material?

1 comment:

Jojosh_the_Pi said...

The majority of moves during a game (70-90%?) don't lead to an immediate material gain or mating attack. Knowing how to evaluate these positions ("what's really going on") is vital.

At my level of "expertise" (ha!), I know enough to understand some of the major principles, but looking at any position, Mr. GM, IM, or Expert will find stuff I'd never dream of seeing. Probably some of it is due to a better instinct, some of it because more knowledge means a better idea of which moves and variations to consider.

Masters apprently look at a lot of concrete variations (basing this on Soltis' The Inner Game of Chess). In the position you gave, even though the end position may be based on feeling, it requires concrete variation I'm not sure that feel is the best word (but I can't think of anything better!)