Thursday, March 30, 2006

You've got a weak hole

I'm working through Wolff's chapter on weak squares. He defines a weak square as a square that an enemy pawn will have a good deal of trouble defending. He defines a hole as a weak square that cannot legally be defended by an enemy pawn (e.g., an isolani). In my last game I looked for weak squares on every move, something I have never done before. It was quite liberating: it felt like a new powerful strategy has been opened up to me. Successfully occupying these squares, a positional goal, should give me lots more tactical opportunities.

Wolff says that there are no weak squares on the opponent's second rank, because they can never be defended by a pawn. I would rather say the glass is half full: using his definition, all of the squares on the first and second rank are holes, and so require defense by pieces!

It is embarassing how little I still know about this game. I really should have read Wolff's book before doing anything else. TCT doesn't explain things very well: it is problem-oriented, not explanation-oriented, and focuses almost exclusively on tactics.

On the up side, last February I didn't know how to castle queenside, or the en passant rule. In other words, I've picked up a few things in the past year. I played in a tournament last April, just three weeks after starting to play (I wanted to get a baseline chess rating, to see if I had any "natural" skill). Before my first game, I was asking my opponent, some punk kid, how to castle queenside. He must have been licking his chops. :)


Blogger Temposchlucker said...

It is embarassing how little I still know about this game.

The point is, there are a lot of things to know. You are progressing very fast, but you can't see that because the road is so long. You have to learn a little patience, youg padawan. Things like weak squares and the like are useless when you still drop pieces every now and then. You haven't finished TCT, so you have not learned about weak squares from TCT yet. You can't learn everything at the same time, can you?

Even I was embarrased because I know so little about the game lately. What I have to learn in endings equals to the amount I have already learnt about chess until know. That is literally true. So it will cost me a few years to play endings on a decent level.

3/30/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tempo, you are right that TCT discusses this stuff in Step 4. However, compare their explanation to Wolff's. He has a whole chapter on it compared to a couple of sentences.

I just think for someone as new as me, I should have started with a more wordy, text-heavy book.

However, because of TCT, I know a lot more tactics than I would otherwise! And that is key for the beginner, as I think everyone agrees.

3/30/2006 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Pawnsensei said...

Hey BD,

Didn't you gain like 200 points in one year? That sounds good to me! BTW, you wouldn't have been able to gauge your natural ability by playing in a tournament. Usually you can't tell how much natural talent someone has until they pass 2000 or so. That's around where people start hitting their ceilings.


3/30/2006 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger katar said...


Sounds like you are really on your way (to chess stardom!), in my opinion. I miss the Sunday annotated game from you, though. :)

I see that you mailed my book "priority" for $6 while I mailed yours "media" for $1.50. So you may have to wait, but it's on the way. I owe you one, so let me know if you think of anything.

3/31/2006 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger King of the Spill said...

That's great, and I suspect it will help you in viewing other people's games.

Another more general thing comes to mind: every piece on the board has a little hole directly underneath it because that piece cannot protect the square that it resides on. Pretty simple really, thinking of everything as a potential target.

4/01/2006 03:40:00 AM  
Blogger Calvin said...

hey. I recall that you are training the chessplanner thinking process with the pandolfini solitaire chess book. I was thinking of doing the same thing. If you wanted to, we could do one or two a week and meet at FICS or something and go over the game and our thoughts after each move. it could be a good way for us both to get some training in. if you're interested in the idea, let me know.

4/01/2006 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...

This is something you
really don't want your cellmate to
be saying. (;-)

4/01/2006 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...


That sounds like a great idea! I plan on working throught the book after I finish the present 'Precircle' in my training, which will probably take a couple more months. I'm adding a third Precircle in which I work through the first 25 games in Pandolfini using Chessplanner. Want me to get in touch with you when I begin?

4/02/2006 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Calvin said...

That would be great. I will probably just start with the last 25 just so we can go through them together and the games will be fresh in my mind. Definitely just let me know when you are ready.

4/02/2006 06:37:00 PM  

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