Thursday, August 02, 2007

Why subtle strategic understanding is key for beginners

From Heisman's article Chess Books and Prerequisites:
Many players who are not yet ready for How to Reassess Your Chess mistakenly think that just because it is well written and contains a lot of good information that they understand and do not already know that it must be able to help them immensely. As a full-time chess instructor I have run into dozens of players who feel this way about Silman’s books (or others), including both students and non-students who wish to discuss improvement with me. However, when I look at their rating and their games, it quickly becomes obvious that they are not sufficiently familiar with “removal of the guard” tactical patterns, or other similar basic tactical motifs, to play a reasonable “intermediate tournament player” level game, say 1500-1700 USCF. Instead they have “adult beginner” ratings of 900-1400.

Yet many of them swear by How to Reassess Your Chess because they learned so much from it. The problem is that knowing when a Bishop is superior to a Knight or how to identify the static strengths and weaknesses of your opponent’s position is not too much use if you lose pieces regularly, or don’t understand the principles you need to win a game when you are ahead a piece.


Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I think one reason MDLM had such success is that he had tons of strategic knowledge, but was missing elementary tactics. Once he overcame this deficit, he started to kick ass.

8/02/2007 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger funkyfantom said...

No argument from me against the holy words of Heisman. (;-)

Still, when you lose a game because you walked into an opening line for which your opponent knows the strategy backwards and forwards because he has been playing it for years, and you haven't, it hurts just as much as losing a game because you dropped a piece.

OK, maybe not quite as much.

8/02/2007 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

FF: yes, that is sort of painful, but nothing is as painful as blowing a won game due to a careless blunder. I think that is the worst type of loss psychologically.

8/02/2007 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger XY said...

So basically it's a good idea to practice tactics then. Bet that comes as a shocker to the readers of this blog. If only there was some server with chess tactics. : )

8/02/2007 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Phil Willis said...

I'm not going to put words in Heisman's mouth, but I think what he was getting at was there is a big difference between your chess knowledge and chess ability.

Here's a piece of chess knowledge: losing pieces is bad.

I know that. But in some games, even though I know that - I still lose pieces. Why?

It's not because I don't know it, it's because I don't have the ability to prevent it. Or more accurately: I don't apply what I already know to prevent it.

Reading Silman's book feels good, because you really are gaining a lot of chess knowledge. There was stuff in that book I'd never heard of before. I was gaining knowledge.

How much ability did I gain? That's the interesting question.

Identifying and grabbing a knight outpost means nothing if you're already down a piece.

8/07/2007 11:55:00 PM  

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