Sunday, July 31, 2005
Ye Old Patzers
I was in the province the other day, and was bored out of my skull. To relieve the tension, I took a walk, and lo and behold! A bunch of old guys playing chess by the roadside. What fortunate luck. Nothing like chess when you need it! So I came near and saw a young guy, maybe in his 20's laying the smack down on the old guys. I noticed that the young guy is very good tactically, but that the old guys needlessly lets him stomp them with combinations. After watching five of these beatings, I asked to play. Reaching a tense middlegame, we came into a position where I had the option of giving check. I felt it doesnt do any good since I had only the queen immediately in hand, and had no other way of feeding more pieces for the attack. His king might even be driven into a better square, and my queen into a bad one. So I made another move. Immediately, a murmur from the crowds rose, and one of the old guys looked at me disdainfully and with his raised eyebrows said in a reproachful voice You should have given check!

If I had lost the game they would surely have thought that me not giving check was the losing move. Fortunately I won. So, no my old friends, chess is not so simple as that. A Check is not a mating net, nor a single queen a barricade

Positional vs Tactical Play
When I had graduated from the circles, and was starting to regularly play online, I had a very simple style of play. Everything centers on tactics. Every move had the goal of making a combination, every move trying to set a tactical shot. As a result, most of my games are wild and wholly where I didnt know to the last minute who will win or lose. Its like being on a roller coaster ride. Sometimes I had the most horrible pawn structure you'll ever see, and still win. I had managed to defeat near 1900 players, but then turn around and lose to U1600 players. Very unpredictable.

But now that I had been starting to study positional play, it has changed. Now I think of a lot of things. Who has the advantage, where to play kingside or queenside, outposts. Things like that. But thinking about those things has a cost. Namely, the amount of energy I spend in finding tactics is sharply curtailed. Previously, if I spend 5 minutes on a move, you can bet its all about tactics, and nothing else. But now a lot of things are filling my mind. As a result, I'm starting to miss simple combinations. The other day, I even missed a mate in 1! And my win/loss statistics has changed too. I dont lose now to U1600 players, BUT dont win against U1900 players anymore. I mostly win against players of my range (U1800). Clearly increasing my chess knowledge is causing conflict with my chess ability.

I dont know what playing style I like better. The more "dangerous" tactical path, or the "stable" positional-tactical way.

I'm thinking of giving it time, maybe a few months to first see where it goes, but the danger here is I get impatient, dump positonal play altogether, and just start another seven-circles.
posted by Nezha at 9:42 PM | Permalink |


  • At 11:36 AM, Blogger Mousetrapper

    Think positional when the position is positional, think tactical when the position is tactical. The crucial point is to know when there are enough targets around to justify the investment in tactical thinking.