Sunday, June 06, 2010

Chess wisdom distillery

Soltis' book The wisest things ever said about chess consists of 288 bits of chess wisdom. It is a great book for the waiting room or the bathroom. The following is my list of the top ten quotes from the book...the number in parenthesis after the quote is its number in the book.

Note I didn't include those bumper stickers that are included in every book about chess ever written such as 'When you find a good move, look for a better one.' While such quotes are great, I wanted to pick things that I have not been desensitized to....

10. In your opponent's time pressure, make nonforcing moves (287)
That forces him to use clock time to think. If he has only one legal move, that doesn't make him suffer enough.

9. With bishops of opposite color, the player with the attack has an extra piece. (9)
His light-squared Bishop will be rendered relatively impotent when you attack with your dark-squared Bishop.

8. An extra pawn wins only if there are pawns on both wings. (57)
His King can't defend both wings at the same time!

7. The stronger the piece, the weaker the defender (32)
Better to defend your pawn with another pawn than with the Queen. Wouldn't your Queen rather be out there kicking some ass?

6. Before making the move you've chosen, take one last look, with the eyes of a beginner. 129
This is especially important if you are rusty and prone to tactical mistakes.

5. Pawns increase in value as they advance. 152
Once a well-defended pawn hits the sixth rank, it is basically worth a piece. If it is a central pawn, it can really wreak havoc, as it effectively cuts the opponent's board in half, disrupts lines of communication among his pieces, and will weigh on his mind heavily every move.

4. When in doubt, move a piece, not a pawn. (127)
Pawn moves are permanent, while silly piece moves can often be undone.

3. Long variation, wrong variation (20)
Humans are not computers. We are extremely error-prone when it comes to calculating long trees of moves in our heads. The shorter the imagined move sequence, the less likely we are to make a mistake.

2. Worst piece first. (231)
One of those extremely helpful slogans for deciding what move to make in the early middlegame. Which piece is least developed, is not participating in the game? Improve it.

1. Modern chess is much too concerned with things like pawn structure. Forget it. Checkmate ends the game. (1)
No explanation needed.