Monday, November 06, 2006

Is this argument sound? (Flashback post)

From page 23 of Rapid Chess Improvement by Michael de la Maza:
One of the most frequently heard objections to focusing on tactics exclusively is: 'In order for a tactical opportunity to arise, positional/middlegame/strategic (PMS) play is required.' This question is asked in many ways, but the core concern of the question is always the same: tactical opportunities do not appear out of thin air, players must work hard to create them.

This may be true at the Master level, but is certainly not true at the class player level. A simple two-step argument suffices to prove this point:

1) Class players know next to nothing about PMS play.
2) Tactical opportunities (and the failure to recognise them)
decide virtually every game between class players.

Clearly if PMS abilities were required to create tactical opportunities, both of these statements would not be true.


Blogger King of the Spill said...

I think his view is that class players will make mistakes or blunders every game, and that is where you can get tactical opportunities.

Great that you have comments working again.

2/12/2006 03:07:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

If I speak for myself that is true.
Very often the position just "happens" to me. Of course it is very difficult to make a plan, let alone a long term plan, since both players steer in different directions. But beside a kingside attack, I have no clue where to head for in a game.

2/12/2006 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger katar said...

Hmmm... The argument becomes less convincing as you progress above 1500. In my 6 club games against class players rated 1500-2000, Crafty has shown me only one instantly decisive tactic that I missed.
Often there is simply NO breakthrough tactic-- and what do you do then??? For example, my recent game (vs. a 1728 who used to be 1950) stayed within 100 centipawns for 35 moves according to Crafty. Tactics were lurking under the surface but both players saw and prevented them.
Of course, if you're playing U1400, your opponent will probably drop the exchange, but relying on the opponent's oversight seems to me a very passive/weak strategy.

2/12/2006 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said...

I think you are holding too high a standard for PMS play. Of course we patzers don't have super solid foundation of positional and middlegame chess, but we have some knowledge. Mobilize your pieces. Castle early. Get your rooks into the game. Simple developing maneuvers ultimately allow for tactics. As Fischer said, "Tactics flow from good positions."

I have been reading Heisman's articles recently. They are like a broken record after awhile, but in a good way. He constantly pounds into you the importance of development. From a good development of your pieces comes a good position from which to attack.

The tactics will be there. Your opponent will make mistakes, but if you can't spot them, then you can't capitalize which only goes to support the importance of tactical stud

2/12/2006 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Pawnsensei said...

Hey BD,

All I can say is "Tactics come first. Tactics come first. Tactics come first."

Remember that game you watched me play the other day? Fritz gave me the advantage (thanks to the pawn I won) over the 1400+ player all the way until I blundered the Rook. At our level we need basic ideas (like those found in Heisman's articles) but until we can stop blundering pieces "Tactics come first."


2/13/2006 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...

IMHO MDLM is exaggerating just a wee bit to further the purpose of selling his book.

( hello oprah? (;-)

In my personal experience playing at about 1700 level on FICS, openings, middlegame strategy, endgames and tactics are all about equally important.

2/13/2006 04:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[new comment]very good you ask this question again!
I'm much better in tactics than I was before the circles. But it doesn't pay off, ratingwise.
The reason is that I often reach a good position, but that at a certain moment the position is quiet. At that moment I start to use time. I come in time trouble and have to draw or even worse.

The average length of my games is about 25 moves. That is extreme short. What I'm gonna say now may sound very weird. But if my average game length was 75 moves, I had 3 times as much chance to outplay my opponent tactically.

So I must learn to move fast in quiet positions. Which brings us to the question: "must that be a PMS-certified-move?"

The answer is: probably not. If it is a mediocre move that just keeps the game going, that's probably good enough.

But I'm just not able to produce conscious a mediocre move! If my candidate move isn't good enough, I go in hibernation untill I have found something better.
So if I have to learn to make any move just to keep the game going, I prefer that it is a PMS-certified-move.

11/06/2006 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Sancho Pawnza said...

I agree with Patrick, the higher you move up the food chain the less stuff they give away. Sitting around waiting for a mistake is a good way to get strangled. Burning a lot of clock time looking for tactical shots (that may or may not exist) is a really good way to find yourself behind the 8-ball. Troyis is a prime example of what happens when you have a series of decisions to make in a finite amount of time.

11/06/2006 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger Sancho Pawnza said...

Tempo makes a very good point. Sometimes it is better to make a sound
move even if it does nothing to the overall evaluation than to sit there and waste the clock. I call this the volley method. Like in tennis once you hit the ball and it crosses the net safely into your opponent's side of play it is up to them to return the ball. Use their time to regroup and formulate a plan.

11/06/2006 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger Loomis said...

Some of the comments here sound right on track to me, but I'd like to share an example from my recent play.

I am rated about 1700 USCF and was playing against a 1950 USCF in a long game (30 moves in 90 minutes, 1 extra hour at 30 moves). I played him even for a while but eventually he took up more kingside space and my position crumbled as the tactics flowed naturally for him out of his better position. The kind of game you can feel really satisfied about if you're on the winning side.

When I put the game through Fritz, Fritz agreed with that evaluation except at one move, just a couple moves before I start to get beat positionally, Fritz gave me +2.5! Yes, my 1950 opponent had hung a piece. Once shown the tactic, it was not difficult to calculate or see why it worked, but we both missed it during the game.

This is a perfect example that PMS abilities were not required for me to create this tactical opportunity. At least not in the sense that I planned it. It is true that pieces had to be well enough placed for my opponent to make the mistake he did. I also had to survive as long as I did for him to make it. So some PMS ability was required, but it is a far cry from PMS creating the tactic.

11/07/2006 12:52:00 PM  

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