Upgrade to Chess.com Premium!

Concrete Approach

  • WGM Natalia_Pogonina
  • | May 15, 2012
  • | 11553 views
  • | 47 comments

When referring to general chess principles, approaches and structures in my articles I always add a disclaimer warning that a lot depends on the particular situation. A certain method might work in 9 cases out of 9, only to fail in the 10th. A general evaluation of the position is not sufficient for choosing the right plan and move. Chess engines have revolutionized our understanding of the game; many opening lines have been reconsidered. Some positions that were previously considered strategically hopeless are now being saved by precise play. Other variations turned out to be winning. By analyzing at home using engines modern chess players are often opting for strategically risky positions if they know they can back up their play with some concrete lines.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t study the classical strategic principles anymore. We can’t rely on brute force and try to calculate and evaluate all the possible continuations. And even the most uncommon and odd moves are based on some strategic concepts. Strong moves can’t be illogical.

A concrete approach is, first and foremost, not relying on platitudes. Here and there we have people claiming a two bishop advantage, all rook endgames being drawn, a bishop better than a knight in an open position and so on without even carefully assessing what’s happening on the board. Yes, one has to take note of all those factors, but it is also important to check if the calculations and your impression of what the game is going to be like support the principles. Some weaknesses might turn out to be strengths, and vice versa.

The more complicated the position, the more important it is to apply a concrete approach. The simpler it is, the more critical positional understanding is. That is one of the main reasons why young and sharp-eyed players love tactical struggles, while the seasoned veterans prefer grinding out technical endgames that are well-known to them.

The position after 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. a3 Bc3+ 6. Qc3 0-0 7. Bg5 or 4… 0-0 5. a3 Bc3+ 6. Qc3 d5 7. Bg5 has been known from the year 1930. Black has tried a lot of moves here, but only in 2009 the novelty 7…с5 was introduced. It is based on a pawn sacrifice in the main line and on severely damaging the pawn structure in one of the variations. The author of this move is Anand’s second Radoslav Wojtaszek, who used it against Alexei Dreev (both players are of 2700+ calibre). Up to this moment over 30 games have been played in this variation, including some of the very top-level ones.  Below you can view a recent game of mine featuring this line:



Comments


  • 4 months ago

    sepehr-adab

    you are byoutifoll

  • 13 months ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    Let’s stay in touch on social networks! Here are my official accounts:

    Twitter
    YouTube
    Facebook:
    Account 1, Account 2, Account 3
    VKontakte
    LiveJournal
    Google+

  • 2 years ago

    ChazR

    Ms. Pogonina, you continue to astound me.  Harracho.  I am a very old man, but I coach a pro-boxer very effectively.  As I have posted before, a person does need to do it to teach it.  Please keep writing articles.  You are one of the main reasons chess is alive and well.  Best wishes to you and your husband.  

  • 2 years ago

    harp396

    Helpful article, thank you!

  • 2 years ago

    silverhawkz

    i agree madam!Smile

  • 2 years ago

    ChazR

    My gifted friend, satorichess, thank you for your well reasoned note.  Before I even respond, I want to compliment you and thank CHESS.com for making this dialogue possible. 

    Here is my blog:  limits on teaching are limits on the student.  In other words, as Boethius observed 500 years ago, there are no difficult subjects, only difficult learners (paraphrase).

    I am not sure about your emphasis on technique.  As Bach said, “Music must come from the heart.”  As a musician and guest conductor, I agree.  Not meaning to brag, but as a teenager, playing the glissando in Rapsody in Blue, I did not even read the manuscript.  Likewise in chess, poker, backgammon, whatever, better than technique is a feeling, a knowing, an intuition.  Auditions for studio musician required I sight read and play perfectly anything.  Perhaps, instead of technique, we could use intonation?

    Later, in the military as a cryptologist/analyst/special forces (ABN)/spy, I came across an interesting fact.  The best code breakers were, get this, crossword addicts, chess players, and musicians!

    You are so correct to say a player must learn to react on the spot.  That is why Bobby was 2700+ at speed chess.  That is being in the moment and focus and intensity in the moment.  That is the Zen of chess.

    P.S.  Miles Davis was a genius and so was Duke Ellington.

  • 2 years ago

    fireballz

    thanks!

  • 2 years ago

    Elubas

    I agree as well, Chaz. Strong players just know what a good position looks like! They can tell the difference between "an exposed king, and yet it's still barely safe to grab the pawn," and, "exposed king; it's suicide to go pawn grabbing." Stuff like that. An accumulation of well-learned experiences starts to become a part of your head and allow you to use that experience to approximate the judgment of other, similar looking positions.

    @satorichess: I disagree with you a little bit -- in my first paragraph, I described something which, though, amazing, is plausible with experience. An artist could probably improvise too, but, to me, it seems like precision would be more important in a painting than in, contrastingly, a nice sounding melody. Thus, improvisation isn't what we look for when it comes to painters.

    Think of opening study more like this: it's like a lot of scientific studies where we slowly learn more and more about our universe -- except in this case, it's the chess universe. Learning more and more opening lines is like unraveling just a little bit more of the mystery -- you see the sense of progression, here? It's nice. Personally, as much as I appreciate creativity, the sense of progression you get from analyzing the same position ( I'm referring to the start position in chess!) and learning more and more about it is even more appealing to me.

  • 2 years ago

    satorichess

    The second important point (and this is what as a musician I'm interested to chess) is improvisation. In modern music from jazz to rock you must learn at some stage to be a good improviser on your instrument. What does it mean to improvise? Why it is not a contradiction that to learn to be a great improviser on stage you must study hard for years or even for lives?

    It's a kind of zen process where you have to learn to react on the spot. If you are a musician on stage you just can stop the band and say: "Ok this one sucks let me do another take" maybe you can do this on a recording situation but not on live stage. Can you think about this for a moment please? This is why people like Keith Jarret for instance who just go out on the stage and are able to improvise a concert from beginning to end with high precision are so appreciated. It's the most difficult thing in the world if you think about it. A writer or a painter can work for years on a subject then deliver it to the public when they feel it's done. It is well known than Leonardo da Vinci worked on his masterpiece Monnalisa since the last day of his life.....making minor adjustments here or there until the last day of his life can you imagine this? But maybe this is why it's a worldly renowned masterpiece now. A jazz musician just don't have this privilege once you are on the stage it's done. Now this is a very technical issue and I don't want to annoy anybody with details but what I want to say is this. A GM preparing for a tournament nowadays has a computer approach. They have databases with millions of game and variation and just go trough this the harder they can. But this is a mechanical approach, the comparison with music should be, Ok you have to improvise on Miles Davis "So what" Let's study every possible solos which has been made since than and see what you can do. Which in fact is what a computer does. Computer can nowadays improvise on any tunes basically the same way as they can play chess against anybody. But this is just mechanical and that's why we (still at least:-) don't go on theater to see computers improvise. It's just not interesting. A good musician don't really need to study every single solos that has been played to improvise..this would be just a waste of time and a crazy thing to do. He must learn to react on the spot and this is why Fischer chess were invented. This is where the real interesting nature of chess and music (if you like) lies. Those are the great goals of those discipline very close to life. In life very seldom you have the privilege of rehearsals......your house is burning what kind of rehearsals have you really made for this? So don't learn mechanics (at least not only) but the "show me what you don't know now"......it's far way more interesting as a discipline to study in my opinion.

  • 2 years ago

    satorichess

    Very good point chazR I really agree with you on this. As a matter of fact what I was simply trying to say being a teacher myself is that there are some obvious limit to what you can teach (expecially on an online situation). The thing is a teacher (in any discipline) can basically teach you one thing.....tecnique, tecnique, and again tecnique. Wich is a lot belive me specially at an early stage because what you need to learn is the discipline basically. Then there are most subtles subject that just can be taught....at least in a normal way. Let me make a clear example of this with music once again wich is my main discipline. A student can be well prepared (sometimes for weeks or months in advance) on a particular piece of music than he/she just go out on the stage and simply fail because he cannot handle the pressure of being exposed to an audience. The same can be in chess. So not only you need good preparation but you need to be put on the real context and see how you react and this (like anything else) just require practice. The great Miles Davis use to say at rehearsals "ok this is what you can play, now play me what you don't know" you see? It's a very difficult subject and requires years of practice and sometimes just to be with the great guys and breath with them can teach a lot more than any books.....but this is anyway phase II of your apprenticeship.....first technique technique technique.

  • 2 years ago

    ChazR

    I have been lucky to know some big names in chess, and they all told me, in one way or another, the game at that level is "internal."  In other words, as I understand it, at the highest level of play (or any level), the game is more about  who your are and your self awareness.  How do you react to time pressure?  How to you handle the transition from the middle game to the end game?  Do you fall into the "quiessence" trap of moving automatically?  How do you train and how is training preparation for the day when you go up against a top player?  The answer to these questions are the spiritual level of the game.

  • 2 years ago

    satorichess

    Elubas if you are curious and interested on the topic I suggest to check out previous Natalia articles and comments here on chess com you will find this has been extensively debated over time.

    Regards

  • 2 years ago

    Elubas

    satorichess: Normally, I would keep quiet; the only reason I responded was that it was ironic to me that I could argue the opposite position to your own, using the same information (that she is a woman). I can't proclaim either of these positions to be absolutely true, but I would be careful about using this argument because imagine if the opposite were indeed true!

    I am genuinely curious to know more about the struggles women face in the chess world, because I'm ignorant about it. After all, I'm not a woman, so I certainly can't experience these things. I'm totally open to the possibility that they face a lot of difficulties, but I think they also have some financial advantages, which is a really significant factor in my opinion, seeing that being a man or woman can make the difference between being able to do what you love for a living, and not being able to.

  • 2 years ago

    NKT73

    The concrete approach sounds good and after reading it, I just drew an opponent with 1301 Elo!  It is my first draw at this personal new high level for me [on Chessmaster 10th Edition for the 2000-2004 outdated XBOX].  By the way, ratings do not matter when playing humans, however the computer calculates deeper with higher set ones though.  P.S.  Co-incidentally my game ended in a threefold repetition as well.  We were meant to be!heheCool

  • 2 years ago

    satorichess

    Elubas do you really want to get on this once again? It's been discussed many times already and it's not just a matter of rating. Just the fact that seems so difficult for ordinary people (not to mention professional chess players I guess) to understand this..... each time it makes me feel even more sympathetic with Natalia.


  • 2 years ago

    Elubas

    "...she's a great fighter because to be a woman in the super competitive chess world it's not really a Sunday walk..."

    But isn't it kind of the opposite? If a male had the same rating as her, he would probably find it harder to win money at tournaments. Even if there are more immature comments against women, I would take the better chance at making a living -- even with the irrational, sexist, but easily ignorable, comments -- rather than a more difficult financial living with chess, any day.

    And I accept this. But because of the above, I think it can be argued that being a woman may actually be an advantage, not a disadvantage.


  • 2 years ago

    satorichess

    Sometimes the post here just make me so laugh, it reminds me of my high school days, with intense teaching and discussion, stupid jokes, and the inevitable love notes of the guy that any summers fell in love with the teacher :-) ha,ha, amazing.....

    The point I made is addressed on generic problems and issues on the world of chess,and only aimed at a general discussion on teaching, the conception/perception of art science nowadays and computer related problems not in any way on GM Natalia schoolmates.....just to make things clear.

    I'm a teacher (on other discipline) myself, and not only I think Natalia she's an excellent (and very patient) Internet teacher, she's a young lady talented chess genius (I guess she's only 27 or something) she's a great fighter because to be a woman in the super competitive chess world it's not really a Sunday walk, and I'm quite sure she will be a great personal coach one day if she only would like to do that. Am I missing something? Ho yes I think one of Bobby Fischer second was a cab driver and not a very handsome one really :-) (see how lucky you are?) and by the way Steve Jobs never had any University degree. Points and medals are OK if you have it but best of all is talent and hard work. Think different :-)

    The great Italian violin player Niccolò Paganini used to say:

    Genius is perseverance


  • 2 years ago

    parsoumash

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 2 years ago

    pignata

    ok I figured out why. Tongue out

  • 2 years ago

    pignata

    I'm trying to figure out why not 5. Qa4 Embarassed

    Can anyone exlpain me?

Back to Top

Post your reply: