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A Hundred Posts

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This post will be the 100th one… after a long time without writing. I have been playing and re-reading… 

Playing CC these days is painful. You start a new ICCF tournament. So you receive the list of player in your mail and the games appear in your ICCF page. At first you are delighted: some new opponents, perhaps other(s) you have already played against or are still playing in another group. In the Master class tournaments are made up with 11 players, so 5 games as White, 5 games as Black. I tend to send my first moves on the very start-date (no clues before the alloted time starts to  run…) Some opponents send their first move as soon as they receive the pairing list. Me not. Well, you see your White opponents´first move and then you have to decide which defences you are going to use.  some times you stick to your all-time favourite defences but against some opponents you decide to change: you are in high spirits and decide to “innovate”. In one of my tournaments this has led me to accept IQP isolated Queen Pawns (showing sheer STUPIDITY since I have never liked IQP…) Why have I done that??? I cannot say. So I´m stupid. Perhaps I convinced myself that really nothing happens and so on. But the outcome has been clear: worse positions with the Black and the White pieces. Yes, I am STUPID.) The moral of this is clear: DON’T PLAY WHAT YOU DO NOT LIKE  ALLOWING YOUR OPPONENTS TO ATTACK YOU for free  .

As White the same thing may happen: you are a 1. e4-player BUT you have been playing the English against some training program and you believe 1. c4 is “very interesting”. So you play it only to be taken into some obscure lines you have never seen before and then you are struggling to get a draw as the lesser evil…  (Remember that today everybody uses computers and huge databases to caught you on the hop…). Then you feel pity about yourself defending stupid positions which only shows your own stupidity. Since the ICCF calculates your ELO rating every three months, mine looks like a chain of mountains…

I have played against many opponents with IM/SIM titles. It is very curious to play against them. In fact they are in your own class, but the difference in rating may be of 100 or even more points. Well, they tend to play thinking that their permanent titles are something definitive: no, you have no title but they do have one. So, they “must” beat you. Either you get an absolutely and nearly dead drawn position or be ready to play on and on till the bare Kings are left…

Well, the first you must bear in mind if you are a CC player is that CC is very different from OTB Chess. The second lesson is that a 99,99% of the Chess books have been written by OTB players for OTB players, not for CC ones. So most of the theories about tactics, calculation, and so on are nearly useless for CC players (after all, you can use books, notes, opening databases and Chess programs. OTB PLAYERS CAN’T, in CC you can analyse by moving the pieces on the chessboard. In OTB you can’t either.  We are speaking of the same game but played in different worlds. The third idea has to do with opening theory…I am not going to give away my secret weapons but I can offer a clue: not all the modern opening databases contain absolutely all the games played with a certain line. You have to find the “holes” in them. This implies examining teens of games played by past Masters in obscure tournaments and sometimes these Masters were not the most famous ones…In many cases, when you manage to catch your opponent relatively unaware, the position you reach may show a slight advantage to you or perhaps a bigger one… I have found games played a 80 years ago featuring lines which are still played. Here you have to dig in search of gold… Get it?

Another interesting fact -in my opinion- is that we are still labouring with too many prejudices and commonplaces. We have build a lot of “mental states” , we believe they are true, and what is worse, we use them as a sort of “Holy Writ” believing they are immutable. FORGET about things like the following:

. Playing the White pieces is more advantageous that playing the Black ones =  wrong (and I am not going to discuss statistical data)

. As White you  must make two mistakes before you are lost. As Black, one is enough = wrong.

. White must attack while Black must defend first = wrong.

. 1. e4 players are attacking players while 1. d4 players are positional players = wrong.

. In CC games you can play all sort of openings even those considered relatively /(or even very) inferior = wrong (you have a program your opponents have a program, no zeitnot-mistakes, etc.,  ring a bell??)

. If you copy the moves in GMs’ games you will always obtain the advantageous positions they obtain = wrong (there are many junctions a good program can find for a CC player. And today’s Chess is changing so quickly you cannot copy games from the past without updating them accurately. Forget about playing now with the theory Fischer used in 1970, for instance, let alone if you try to use games played 80 or 90 years ago. This does not mean you will not find IDEAS, but beware of opening lines…)

. Then you may think studying the classics is a waste of time: it is up to you, In my opinion this is also wrong because the more one knows about the development of Chess ideas, the better. I like studying the classics to try to understand how they thought, and compare the changes into the different approaches to Chess throughout time, the development of new ideas, and so on. Bobby Fischer studied Steinitz, Capablanca and the rest of his predecessors. Karpov studied Capablanca and Spassky did the same with Alekhine. Others preferred Lasker, Tarrasch , Keres, Botvinnik or Nimzowitsch. But in this matter you must decide your course of action.

.  “If you lose it is good because  you learn” : absolutely wrong (you learn when training at home. Supposedly we play tournament Chess in official events either OTB or CC – to WIN not to learn…) In life we go to exams at school, university, etc to PASS them and get our goals, not to learn by falling them. So in Chess).

. In CC you should only play a few games so as to devote many hours to them. In my opinion this can be true or wrong, because if it is true that the more games you play the more possibilities to lack enough time to devote to them, it may also be true that you may have a lot of time to devote to them. It depends on your personal situation. After all, a professional GM can find the best move after thinking for a few minutes or play a big blunder after pondering over a position for over half an hour… Petrosian spoke about this curious thing. Chess is about working with threats (yours and your opponents’, using lateral thinking or normal logic, being aware of different factors, and so on.)

. Bobby Fischer said: “At the age of 11 I just got good”. No top GM can explain why/how they “just” got good in the same way that the best among the best deny having a “Chess style”. (Karpov: “I don’t think I have a Chess style” ) Think about it. (But we love definitions, names, narrative… We love explaining things with words to feel relieved, we think we are “positional” players or “attacking” ones, we say we are “fighters” and perhaps we tend to think all this musings are our own character in our daily lives… As GM Rowson explains, we live according to some sort of myth. Which is the myth you are living according to?).

. Perhaps it is very difficult to explain how a chessplayer can become a top GM. Two people can have access to the same literature and the same sort of practice, etc. but one of them may become a GM while the other one remains a club player… This also happens in music, for instance. In cases like these ones, people speak of “talent”, and here we realize it is impossible to describe perhaps not what talent is, but how it developes in some individuals. At least one thing seems clear: “practice makes perfect”, (or takes you nearer and nearer… I hope.) 

mate in 3

M. Schneider (1935) .- Mate in 3 moves. 



Written by QChess

July 1, 2014 at 4:11 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on Chess Musings.


    July 1, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    • Thank you very much for your kindness and interest.QChess


      July 2, 2014 at 11:45 am

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