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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Modern Ideas in Chess

…by Richard Reti

      This classic has been on my shelf for a number of years (I don’t even remember buying it), but I’ve never read it. Recently however I’ve been taking a look at it. In the early 1920’s Reti published a series of articles in chess magazines partly to espouse his ideas, but mostly to blast a dirtbag named Franz Gutmayer. See my post on him HERE.
      Later though Reti expunged this controversial material and issued the book in the form in which it now available. In the book Reti explains he has tried to show the development of chess from Anderssen to Steinitz. He discusses the development of positional play, combinations and Morphy then Steinitz before moving on to “The Steinitz School” which includes a discussion on Tarrasch with several annotated games. Then he discusses perfecting technique and then moves on to “New Ideas” and finally there is a chapter entitled “Conclusion.”
      His comments on the hyper-modern style are interesting. He wrote, “As we younger masters learned to know Capablanca’s method of play, by which each move is to be regarded as an element of a scheme, that no move is to made for itself alone (contrary sometimes to Morphy’s principle that every move should have its concomitant development), we began to see that moves formerly considered self-understood and made, as it were, automatically by every good player, had to be discarded.”
      “…What is really a rule of chess? …an attempt to formulate a method of winning a given position or of reaching an ultimate object, and to apply that method to similar positions. As, however, no two positions are quite alike, the so called rule, if applied to an apparently similar position, may possibly be wrong, or at least as regards that particular position. It is the aim of the modern school not to treat every position according to one general law, but according to the principle inherent in the position. An acquaintance with other positions and the rules applicable to the treatment thereof is of great use for the purpose of analyzing and obtaining a grasp of the particular position under consideration…the source of the greatest errors is found to be in those moves that are made merely according to rule and not based on the individual plan or thought of the player.”
  I’m not really interested in trying to improve my chess these days, but the games are quite interesting to play over. This game between Tarrasch and Walbrodt remains one of my favorites ever since I first saw it many years ago. 
      Tarrasch produced many games where the theme was exploiting greater commend of the board and this is one. The game was played in the last round and Tarrasch had to win in order to tie for first with Pillsbury.

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