Friday, July 10, 2015

Losing Control

  YOU’VE gotta have a plan!  You can’t just play out moves, willy nilly… you gotta say whats going to happen- and take your best SHOT.

EVERYONE has a plan! ‘Til  they get Punched in the Mouth”
Mike Tyson

This weeks message is a different one.  I’ve been bouncing back a bit.  Recently, I have been playing less.  Sure there’s been the occasional fight against my sparring partner- and a LOT of chess Puzzles.  But less online duels.  And that’s been to my detriment.

 If there’s any flaws to chess puzzles; its that they always represent something that isn’t always true in chess.  Chess Puzzles, are almost always about seizing the initiative.  Even if the answer isn’t always tactical- its nearly always a move that creates initiative.  A formidable blow to the face; if you will.

Yet chess isn’t always about grasping a definite initiative.  And as said above; you gotta take the hits and while still bruised, keep up smart game. and potentially adapt to one that is changed.  

Having someone play a big play that changes everything, is uncanny and it happens all the time in chess. It’s a total misconception that you predict or anticipate the battle once both sides agree to a given opening.  

This wasn’t said about chess, (its actually political commentary)- but it makes my point eloquently…

You do not get to make your own terrain. The image of warfare that centers on control is famously inept. Winners win by adapting to the changing environment here and now. Rather than making the world over, greatness is measured along the lines of a dance that makes you fit to things and things fit to you

I think this is powerfully accurate assessment of a widely misunderstand concept in chess.  How much of previous assessments in helpful later in a game.  How much can we say of our future prospects given our current position?  Chess has an awesome unpredictability!  I have played games which looked hopeless and turned 180° in my favor.  On the other hand; I have seen mighty tactics on both sides; not change an even game.

Part of being a strong player, I think, I being able to freshly look over your position.  And this another good reason to play long time controls.  If it seems repetitive or redundant to continue to stare over your game move to move- you might be missing something.   How many times on analyzing a game do I see both players miss a definitive tactic for many moves.

One of my most embarrassing frequent blunders is to miss a tactic for several moves; then play a complicated initial maneuver to call attention to it; which my opponent sees and counters- rather than catch the tactic, as it spring from my opponents mistake.   Alerting your opponent to what could happen; because you don’t have the wit to simply do it at once, is one of the reasons why we say that an attack has a limited window of opportunity.   This is particularly true of geometric positions, pins and skewers. 

My reminder is to look harder, at my evolving positions with less assumptions and more flexibility.  I think, in summary, being able to flexibly see opportunities and understand your weaknesses, is the DEFINITIVE skill that determines (most of the time) whether you will win or lose.   The thing is , it is easy to gain the knowledge of most of the basic tactical and strategic motifs of chess.   On the other hand, being patient, exhaustive, and thorough in adapting to ever changing opportunities and dangers…  that is something to seek in game after game.   This is the MENTAL muscle you need to grow if you are to be strong- and you can get that only if your are really regularly playing chess seriously.

I will do better.  My goal is to have at least 7 serious games a week.


  1. You are right that in general that most puzzles aren't simple, practical exercises. OTB, it's often best to put the shots away for one more move while you develop, and then to find practical defenses to positions where there is no crushing shot for either side yet. If you are (sometimes) a genius at attack, and not a consistent defender who finds the simple or elegant defenses, well, let's just say that ratings reflect consistency more than they do any particular quality such as attacking strength.

    BTW, I like your blog posts. :-) I need to get some sort of training regime as well, as mine is eclectic at the moment, or all over the place. ;-)

  2. A good message for this week. as I have to work all through the weekend.

    its funny how my games sometimes mirror my training program itself. just as not every move (nor even every game) offers a definitive blow of tactical expertise- not every week offers time for lots of insights or even lots of time!

    instead, the key is to make the most of what I can do. which for me means looking at past games and trying to see just a little bit deeper and better. I think its very important to keep my training program focused even if it is limited-- while not neccesarily making it habit to have a limited training program.

    at any rate, I think you for the compliment. I like your blog as well. I like your blow by blow account of some of your games and I think you do a great job bringing out the athletic side of our hobby. I think you are a formidable OTB competitor. I look forward to progressing into one... and blogging as I work my way there.