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ABOUT CHESS (And some interesting positions)

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(WARNING: If after reading this post you feel absolutely confused, it’s normal. In fact the idea is to make you feel so so as to make you start thinking about Chess from, perhaps, a different point of view.)

I have mentioned this before: Does Chess build your character or simply it shows your character? The same question can be applied to music, or any other form of art. Since I was taught the game when I was a young boy and began to play seriously from 1979 onwards and official CC since 1986 , I have tried to find some explanations with a bit of non-professional self-psychoanalysis…

It is very beautiful to add a bit narrative to the matter and speak lyrically of the matter. No, that is not the way. My conclusions contain more questions than answers, more doubts than certainties and, sometimes, the answer poses more problems than the question itself…

I think Chess helps both to build the player’s character but also shows certain peculiarities of it. (Then you can notice it, maintain or try to change those findings…).In my case, for instance, Chess was a powerful tool which helped me to lose a pathological fear to taking decisions (for fear of making mistakes, accept the responsibility of them, etc.). It also helped me to avoid that common mistake in many people which consists of always looking for someone to blame for everything which happens instead of dealing with the mistakes or wrongs, and putting the effort not on finding a real or imaginary culprit but on dealing with the error straightaway.

Another point worth mentioning is to accept that everything in Chess and life is relative. There are no absolute truths, universal patterns of behaviour, hidden or occult systems to get everything at will.  Chess taught me that there are many logical things and they can be good guidelines but also that there are many illogical, contradictory, absurd even apparently impossible things, situations which, nevertheless, can also take place. And the latter can be wonderful grounds to learn something new outside our old patterns . And so  in the same way we must accept that there are as many ideas or opinions as people in the world, a Tal or a Shirov coexist with a Petrosian and a Karpov. In Chess, as in life, the sum of the parts is always greater to the whole itself… Contradictory? Yes. Wonderful? Again, yeah.

I think it was B. Lee, influenced by  studies of different schools of philosophy, who said that “all form of knowledge is really self-knowledge”. And another reference for those interested in the matter of “self-awareness and knowing that one knows” is the medieval Islamic philosopher Avicenna (980-1037) (I have found a very interesting  paper by Deborah L. Black , Department of Philosophy and Centre for Medieval Studies , University of Toronto.)

Another thing I have realized with the passing of time is that that old way of classifying chessplayers into “positional” or “attacking” ones may be helpful to a certain extent, but it can become too restrictive when not directly wrong. Take Fischer for instance: is he an attacking player? Yes, but not like Tal, so… Is he a positional player? Yes, but not like Petrosian or Karpov, so… Nevertheless, Karpov and Fischer shared their admiration for the same player: Capablanca. And this explains why those super GMs always reject being ascribed to a certain style. Karpov reacted with dislike when somebody asked him about what his Chess style was like: “Chess style?.- I don’t have a Chess style”.

I suppose “your style” is more the openings you like and the type of positions they can lead to: Fischer played 1.e4 in nearly all his games. Karpov played 1.e4 as his only first move for many years. BUT Fischer preferred reaching open positions even with no Pawn in the centre while Karpov always aimed mainly to half-open positions. (And Spassky preferred 1.e4 leading to complicated if not chaotic middlegame plans “though there is a method in it”, according to his character).  You can play Sicilians Fischer/Shirov style or play Sicilians Karpov style: in one case you will be playing aggressive Najdorf variations and in the other, quiet Paulsen-Kan ones.  And so on…

I have always been interested in the ideas of self-awareness, the state of alert (taken from Gudjieff), how to avoid living/acting out of sheer inertia, and how to learn not only data and facts but learning how to learn. We contemplate everything -Chess too-  from behind our eyes, the world seems to always be opposite us… Can we contemplate ourselves from the other side of Chess, or rather from “inside “ Chess?. Is it possible?. Where do learning and self-learning really lie? .- Over to you…

Now the exercises will be a bit different: endgame compositions with no long solutions but really beautiful because they may represent the logical and the irrational at the same time. (Solutions below the positions)

1.- Kliatskin 1924. White to move , wins. Find out how (three moves solve the problem)

Kliatskin 1924

2.- Saritchev brothers 1928. White moves and manages to draw.  A Kasparov’s favourite -I have read somewhere-.

Kakaritchev brothers 1928

3.- Gurgenidze & Mitrofanov, 1928. White to move and wins. Difficult but beautiful.

Gurgenidze and Mitrofanov 1982

Well, put the position on  your chessboard and try to find the first move. Look it up and play the first correct one by White and Black’s reply. Keep on doing so with the rest of moves . Good luck!


1.- 1. c7  Rc7 (1…Nc8/2. Rb7!!) 2.ab6  Rb8  3. b7 .-

2.- 1.  Rc8!  b5  2. Rd7!  b4  3. Rd6!  Bf5  4. Ke5!  Bc8  5. Kd4  Ba6  6. c8Q  Bxc8  7. Kc4 It is a draw.

3.-  1. Rb1 c4  2. Kc6  h4  3. Kb7  h3  4. Ka8  c3  5. bc3  Qb8  6. Rb8  h2  7. Rh8! 



Written by QChess

February 14, 2015 at 7:32 am

2 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on Chess Musings.


    February 19, 2015 at 2:00 am

    • Dear Chessmusings ,
      Thank you very much for reblogging my post.


      February 19, 2015 at 8:20 am

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