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Building a solid foundation



 
 
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  #1  
Old July 25th 03, 07:46 AM
Russell Reagan
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Default Building a solid foundation

I would like to know what stronger players think is a good book (or small
set of books) to build a solid foundation for playing chess. Most people
want a quick fix, but I am asking for a book (or books) that when studied,
will give a player a solid foundation for moving on to become a strong
player.

I am not exactly sure if this is a good example, but the Inner Game of Chess
comes to mind. It seems like it teaches a method to play chess which will be
applicable to any situation on the board. You still have to fill in some of
the details such as gaining knowledge, becoming tactically sound, and so on,
but the overall system seems like it would give one a solid foundation to
build upon.

An example of what I am trying to avoid is this. People say that you should
start with tactics because they are the most important, and they are a good
foundation. I think that what happens is that people (mostly beginners and
weaker players, which is most of us) get wrapped up in tactics and their
"chess growth" is stunted. They spend all of their time looking for cheap
tactics and never progress as a player. A book like the Inner Game of Chess
would teach you that tactics are not the end, but one of the many means to
the real end.

I am currently picturing chess ability as a tree. I am looking for the roots
and trunk of the tree (the solid part). The branches are things that you
fill in later, like tactics, endgame, opening, pawn structure, and so on. If
someone learns tactics first, they're left with one branch and have no
direction, and they never get any better.

I appreciate your thoughts and comments.


  #2  
Old July 25th 03, 08:58 AM
Ron
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Posts: n/a
Default Building a solid foundation

In article [email protected],
"Russell Reagan" wrote:

An example of what I am trying to avoid is this. People say that you should
start with tactics because they are the most important, and they are a good
foundation. I think that what happens is that people (mostly beginners and
weaker players, which is most of us) get wrapped up in tactics and their
"chess growth" is stunted. They spend all of their time looking for cheap
tactics and never progress as a player. A book like the Inner Game of Chess
would teach you that tactics are not the end, but one of the many means to
the real end.


I wasn't crazy about the inner game of chess. The thing is that while I
think is good to formalize your process, it really doesn't matter what
your process is if you can't instantly see a three-move combination.

Tactics ARE the foundation of chess. Without a sound grounding in them,
nothing else matters.
  #3  
Old July 25th 03, 09:58 AM
Frank
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Posts: n/a
Default Building a solid foundation

On Fri, 25 Jul 2003 05:46:38 GMT, "Russell Reagan"
wrote:

I would like to know what stronger players think is a good book (or small
set of books) to build a solid foundation for playing chess. Most people
want a quick fix, but I am asking for a book (or books) that when studied,
will give a player a solid foundation for moving on to become a strong
player.

I am not exactly sure if this is a good example, but the Inner Game of Chess
comes to mind. It seems like it teaches a method to play chess which will be
applicable to any situation on the board. You still have to fill in some of
the details such as gaining knowledge, becoming tactically sound, and so on,
but the overall system seems like it would give one a solid foundation to
build upon.

An example of what I am trying to avoid is this. People say that you should
start with tactics because they are the most important, and they are a good
foundation. I think that what happens is that people (mostly beginners and
weaker players, which is most of us) get wrapped up in tactics and their
"chess growth" is stunted. They spend all of their time looking for cheap
tactics and never progress as a player. A book like the Inner Game of Chess
would teach you that tactics are not the end, but one of the many means to
the real end.

I am currently picturing chess ability as a tree. I am looking for the roots
and trunk of the tree (the solid part). The branches are things that you
fill in later, like tactics, endgame, opening, pawn structure, and so on. If
someone learns tactics first, they're left with one branch and have no
direction, and they never get any better.

I appreciate your thoughts and comments.


I think you're basing your ideas about chess on a false assumption,
namely that there is a core or fundamental aspect to chess. I've only
been playing for around 8 years (tournaments for just 2 years), but
I've seen nothing that would indicate that this is true. A solid
thinking process, tactics, strategy, endings, openings; all of these
things are important, and I highly doubt any one thing is more
fundamental than the others.

IMO, tactics are usually learned first because they are most easily
understood (require the least amount of prerequisite knowledge) and
because the results of tactics are the most consequent. Most easily
understood because one of the easiest concepts to grasp in chess is
that of material; you see all your pieces on the board and those of
your opponents. While a material-minded approach is not always
suitable, it's quite easy to grasp. So it seems natural to me that
the first thing you'd learn to do is figure out how to capture your
opponent's pieces. Tactics. Tactics are also most consequent, and by
that I mean a strong knowledge of tactics is most likely to sway the
result. You can deviate from openings, you may never actually reach a
playable endgame, a structured thinking process is useless if you have
no way of coming up with good ideas to think about, and securing a
weak square may yield you a comfortable advantage, but winning a queen
for free usually leads to a trivially won position immediately.

Tactics are not the be-all end-all of chess, true; they are just one
means to an end, not a foundation. But without being tactically
sound, you never reach winning king and pawn endgames. Nor do you get
to demonstrate the superiority of your bishop over your opponent's
knight. Because it was all over when you lost the rook and your
opponent exchanged off all the rest of the pieces.

I don't buy that studying tactics first stunts your growth. You study
tactics, you practice tactics, you get good a tactics, and you think
about tactics. And then you stop improving because you find you've
progressed to the point where you need more than tactics to win; your
opponent knows tactics and strategy. So you learn strategy, until you
stop progressing again because your opponent knows more than you. So
maybe you learn some endgames. And then drop a knight to a difficult
combination, so you study more advanced tactics. And so on.

I suppose if you sought a more balanced approach, you could try to
study basic tactics, basic strategy, simple endgames, basic structured
thinking, etc... but I suspect you'd find you wouldn't get to test
your knowledge of aspects other than tactics much; almost all the
endgames I see between players that have just started to study chess
seriously wind up with one side being a piece up, for example. Still,
you do eventually have to learn it all, so if you only care about the
end result and not the results in between, I suppose it might not
matter as much (it has to matter to some degree, though) in what order
you studied chess as long as you studied everything eventually. But
most people like to win once in a while; it's good for morale. And
tactics is the most consequent means towards that end.

Frank
  #4  
Old July 25th 03, 02:00 PM
John Lamont
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Posts: n/a
Default Building a solid foundation

Reassess your chess by Silman is as good as any other, but 90% of your
real improvement will be by tactics and studying master games..
  #5  
Old July 25th 03, 02:01 PM
John Lamont
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Posts: n/a
Default Building a solid foundation

Reassess your chess by Silman is as good as any other, but 90% of your
real improvement will be by tactics and studying master games..
  #6  
Old July 25th 03, 09:43 PM
Neil Coward
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Posts: n/a
Default Building a solid foundation

I love tactics but I don't not convinced about them being a good foundation.
For my grade , I am good at tactics but I always envied the people who could
play proper 'grown up' chess ie positional chess.

Manys the time in a congress (ok ok, once or twice) where I have won in 15
moves because my opponent went wrong in a sharp Giocco piano. I then used to
go an watch the 'real' players work diligently towards getting a piece to a
strong outpost, or to cramp the opponent's position and crush any chance of
counterplay, or deciding when to swap off, when to keep the pieces on, when
to give up a bishop for a knight or a rook for a bishop etc etc.

I think your tactical ability has to rest on your positional ability.
Positional ability gets you there, tactics finish it off.
With just tactics you are just a wildcat, a cheapo merchant, a coffee house
player,
a card sharp with a few aces hidden up your sleeve.
With only positional play you get to a won position but lack the imagination
to turn a promising position into a win.
You need both. Postional play makes tactics easier, once you have used
positional play to get your opponent into all sorts of trouble, then its
easier to finally nail him with tactics.

For instance we've all seen master games where some great master piles on
the pressure for move after move after move then suddenly its a sacrifice
and a mate!

So maybe there is no 'foundation' apart from making sure you work on both
aspects of your
game, postional and tactics, two side of the chess coin in my opinion -
inseperable.

If you enjoy tactics, bring your positional play up to speed, then more
vistas of tactical opportunity will open up for you!

"Russell Reagan" wrote in message
news:[email protected]
I would like to know what stronger players think is a good book (or small
set of books) to build a solid foundation for playing chess. Most people
want a quick fix, but I am asking for a book (or books) that when studied,
will give a player a solid foundation for moving on to become a strong
player.

I am not exactly sure if this is a good example, but the Inner Game of

Chess
comes to mind. It seems like it teaches a method to play chess which will

be
applicable to any situation on the board. You still have to fill in some

of
the details such as gaining knowledge, becoming tactically sound, and so

on,
but the overall system seems like it would give one a solid foundation to
build upon.

An example of what I am trying to avoid is this. People say that you

should
start with tactics because they are the most important, and they are a

good
foundation. I think that what happens is that people (mostly beginners and
weaker players, which is most of us) get wrapped up in tactics and their
"chess growth" is stunted. They spend all of their time looking for cheap
tactics and never progress as a player. A book like the Inner Game of

Chess
would teach you that tactics are not the end, but one of the many means to
the real end.

I am currently picturing chess ability as a tree. I am looking for the

roots
and trunk of the tree (the solid part). The branches are things that you
fill in later, like tactics, endgame, opening, pawn structure, and so on.

If
someone learns tactics first, they're left with one branch and have no
direction, and they never get any better.

I appreciate your thoughts and comments.




  #7  
Old July 26th 03, 12:08 PM
Neil Coward
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building a solid foundation

It just seems common sense to me to work on all aspects of your game.
Surely working on positional chess and tactics is better than working on
just tactics?

If you love the game, you want to delve deeper into its mysteries, and I
think you will naturally want to look at all aspects of the game.

I think the two are interrelated, its like walking, take a step forward with
your left (positional) foot and you move forward and it enables you to go
even further with your right (tactical) foot, which then means you need to
move forward with your left foot again.

I remember one of my early attempts to play positionally... I was trying to
get a knight into a strong outpost in the centre for about 20 moves but my
opponent stopped all my attempts, so I set up a two move cheapo (rook to d1
so when we swap off in the centre he can't recapture or its rook takes
queen). He fell for this two move cheapo so and not only did I get my knight
to the outpost, but I won a pawn into the bargain. LOL

So this is one example of tactics getting me a postional advantage as you
say can happen but I think postional play is more likely to get you a
postional advantage.

"Ron" wrote in message
...
In article ,
"Neil Coward" wrote:

I think your tactical ability has to rest on your positional ability.
Positional ability gets you there, tactics finish it off.
With just tactics you are just a wildcat, a cheapo merchant, a coffee

house
player,
a card sharp with a few aces hidden up your sleeve.


For instance we've all seen master games where some great master piles

on
the pressure for move after move after move then suddenly its a

sacrifice
and a mate!


I don't know. In my opinion, not only are strong tactics required to
finish off a positional advantage, but they're often how you get them.
You find ways to threaten things, which your opponent has to make
positional concessions to meet. Opponent's don't just give you a
positional advantage.

Dan Heisman has a column at Chesscafe about testing your tactical skill,
with an emphasis on seeing things quickly. It was an eye-opener for me
and I suspect it will be for a lot of players.



  #8  
Old July 26th 03, 05:24 PM
Ed Seedhouse
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Posts: n/a
Default Building a solid foundation

Neil Coward wrote:
It just seems common sense to me to work on all aspects of your game.
Surely working on positional chess and tactics is better than working on
just tactics?


Actually, if you don't have a sufficient tactical basis, you *can't*
work on positional chess. You might think you are doing that but all
you will really be doing is wasting your time. Positional understanding
comes out of tactical understanding.

What you are advising is like trying to build a house without a
foundation. It might look superficially attractive, but just wait until
the first good big storm!



  #9  
Old July 26th 03, 10:31 PM
Ron
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Posts: n/a
Default Building a solid foundation

In article ,
"Neil Coward" wrote:


So this is one example of tactics getting me a postional advantage as you
say can happen but I think postional play is more likely to get you a
postional advantage.


When you play extremely weak opposition, your opponents will sometimes
give themselves positional problems free-- without you forcing them to.

Beyond that, you get the positional advantages you earn.
  #10  
Old July 27th 03, 02:00 AM
Bob Durrett
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Posts: n/a
Default Building a solid foundation


"Russell Reagan" wrote in message
news:[email protected]
I would like to know what stronger players think is a good book (or small
set of books) to build a solid foundation for playing chess. Most people
want a quick fix, but I am asking for a book (or books) that when studied,
will give a player a solid foundation for moving on to become a strong
player.

I am not exactly sure if this is a good example, but the Inner Game of

Chess
comes to mind. It seems like it teaches a method to play chess which will

be
applicable to any situation on the board. You still have to fill in some

of
the details such as gaining knowledge, becoming tactically sound, and so

on,
but the overall system seems like it would give one a solid foundation to
build upon.

An example of what I am trying to avoid is this. People say that you

should
start with tactics because they are the most important, and they are a

good
foundation. I think that what happens is that people (mostly beginners and
weaker players, which is most of us) get wrapped up in tactics and their
"chess growth" is stunted. They spend all of their time looking for cheap
tactics and never progress as a player. A book like the Inner Game of

Chess
would teach you that tactics are not the end, but one of the many means to
the real end.

I am currently picturing chess ability as a tree. I am looking for the

roots
and trunk of the tree (the solid part). The branches are things that you
fill in later, like tactics, endgame, opening, pawn structure, and so on.

If
someone learns tactics first, they're left with one branch and have no
direction, and they never get any better.

I appreciate your thoughts and comments.


Perhaps a good pruning strategy would lead to a higher rating more quickly?
: )

Bob D.


 




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