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Saturday, August 28, 2010

School of Chess by Kasparov

In my internet games against lower rated players I keep seeing unsound sacrifices. Many times Ihaqve faced sacs on f2 or f7, h2 or h7, and exchange sacs. Also very popular is the sacrifice of a piece for 2P’s after, for example, …h6 and …g5. White often sacs either his B or N for 2P’s in the hopes of a K-side attack. I guess these players have heard the old phrase ‘Chess is 99% tactics’ so they routinely play these moves whether warranted or not. I blame this on the teaching of many authors who emphasize tactics, along with certain specialized openings, as a shortcut to winning. The net result is that any real understanding of the game is lacking. Read what Kasparov wrote in School of Chess:

What is planning…? It is a well-considered order of operations aimed at achieving a definite and concrete objective, the order taking into account the situation on the board and constantly modified by the opponent’s actions. The plan should not be confused with the objective of the game. Some amateur may say ‘I want to checkmate, therefore I play for mate from the very start. So I play according to a plan.’ This is an utterly wrong approach. In the initial position there are no real conditions for mating the opponent’s King. The mate is the ultimate and most desired object of the game, and play for mate from the first move is a wish to satisfy this desire.

Firstly, develop your pieces according to a certain pattern to achieve some superiority in a certain area of the board. Then you increase your pressure in order to obtain concrete positional or material advantage in the middlegame. And finally, you carefully exploit all your advantages in the endgame, obtaining a material superiority that renders any resistance impossible.

The art of positional play is not duly appreciated by the rank and file who often fail to understand why grandmasters are so goods at carrying out beautiful and effective attacks. Many amateurs can solve, no worse than well known masters, problems and studies. And only upon plunging seriously into the intricacies of the game do they realize that the opportunities for effective attacks and combinations are not, as a rule, spontaneous, but they result from positional play based on observance of the laws of chess strategy.

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