On improving the chess player
Each chess player is improving in his own ways. Our masters care little about the transfer of their experience to youth. forcing many first-timers gropingly to seek the right methods of working on themselves. A typical example of such a “wandering in the dark” is my quest for chess. The desire to facilitate the task of young Soviet chess players seeking to improve their skills suggested the idea of this article to me. I hope that my thoughts, supported by the concrete experience of chess improvement, will be able to provide them with at least some help.
I got the first category in 1934. By this time I already had a number of successes in competitions. Further performances in tournaments of the first category and mixed tournaments with the participation of the masters proceeded with varying success. In 1936 it became clear to me that with my chess style, with my chess knowledge, something was unsuccessful. I had to do a general check of my views on chess. Unfortunately, it should be noted that Moscow masters and first-class students when they meet with each other over a serious exchange of views on creative issues prefer an obsessive “blitz” or, at best, analysis of new products. Naturally, in such conditions it was not possible to obtain instructions from anyone, much less real help in playing the middlegame. I had to discover the long-opened “America” myself.
First of all, it became clear to me that the main trouble is not a superficial knowledge of the openings or a lack of technique in the endgame, but a misunderstanding of the middlegame. The biggest drawback was the inability to calculate options. I spent a lot of time thinking about relatively simple positions, and this led to time pressure. In addition, I often allowed rude views. And, finally, the most important thing: after the game, I always found that my opponent considered significantly more options at the board than I did. It became obvious to me that it was necessary to work hard and hard on the calculation technique.
An equally significant drawback was the excessive generality of thinking, admiration for general principles. It often happened that, having received an excellent position at the opening, I was literally lost, not knowing what to do next. I tried to implement some kind of ephemeral plans, pursued intricate strategic ideas, stubbornly ignoring specific options. It is not surprising that very often the promising positions I created were suddenly falling apart like a house of cards. To move forward, it was also necessary to eradicate this shortcoming.
I focused all my attention on these two fundamental questions of the middlegame.
The ability to accurately calculate a certain number of options to determine the position is the main condition for the chess player’s creative success. In practice, the possibility of calculating options is complicated by the need to meet a strictly limited time.
When considering options, some chess players have a whole series of errors and errors. Some consider a small number of branches for as many moves as possible. Others, on the contrary, make out a lot of two-three-way options. The correct solution to this problem is to find a “middle ground” in each individual case. The ability to quickly navigate the maze of options is given by long and hard training.
At one of the stages of my chess growth, I attached decisive importance to strategic plans. I assigned a secondary role to chess tactical complications. What this one-sidedness led to can be seen in the following example.
This situation was met in the game with Panov, played in the Moscow championship of 1936. I systematically carried out the Queen’s side attack plan. The ugly arrangement of enemy figures seemed to me to be a consequence of the correctness of my strategies. It followed: 1. c4 — c5 Kf7 – g5. A blow, after which it turns out that it is convenient for White to defend his kingside. It turns out that Black’s pieces are located very expediently. White answered: 2. Rfd1 and after 2.. .f3 3. h4 K: e4 4. C: f3 L: a2 5. Q: a2 Kc3 6. Qd2 Qf6 got a lost position without a pawn.
As Panov demonstrated after the game, White has 1 … .Kg5! no satisfactory protection. His options are spectacular and based on subtle tactical attacks. On 2. Le1 decides 2 … f3 3. Cfl (or 3. h4 K: e4 4. L: e4 fg with threats Ф: d5, Фd7 and Cf5) 3 … C: h3! 4. C: h3 K: h3 5. Kp: h3 Фg5 6. g4 Ce7 7. Kpg3 Of4! 8. Kph3 Qh6 9. Kpg3 Ch4 10. Kp: f3 Rf8 11. Kpg2 L: f2, and they win. Black’s combination is very beautiful, far and accurately calculated. I bring my own comments to this moment in the party, drawn up at a later period, when I already realized to a large extent my misconceptions.
“Of all the many options with complications and combinations, I can’t bring a single one that I could clearly see at the board.