Ideas on Planning from the Greatest Chess Coach

Ideas on Planning from the Greatest Chess Coach‎

WIM energia
21 | Strategy

                In my younger years I was a big fan of Dvoretsky’s books. I read them all, even though I did not fully understand them. I still like to go back to the chess shelf to flip through pages from his books to see the many marks and underlining symbols I made while going through them. It feels good to see how much work I put into chess as a teenager. The books are not easy-- they are very time consuming but the material is of high quality and there are tons of positions to solve on any topic. I took a couple of lessons from Mark Dvoretsky when he was visiting New York a couple of years ago. In my opinion, he is true chess trainer and sage. In the following article I would like to analyze the positions using his guidelines and words of wisdom.

All of the quotes are taken from his book Strategic Play: School of Chess Excellence. Unlike Dorfman, Dvoretsky does not give a system or a method one can apply to any given position. He characterizes positional play as evaluating the position and selecting a plan. He says that “ any position many factors operate simultaneously, and the art of evaluation consists of being able to select from them the most important at the given moment." He does not believe in a unified plan –- one that can be carried in a chess game from the beginning to the end -- since a player must face many different problems after every move, requiring a change in plan at any time. Only in limited cases one can carry a plan that spans throughout many moves: “when we have studied the position very well previously, or if the opponent is completely deprived of counterplay and we can carry out unhindered any regroupings." Dvoretsky is more fond of plans that are 2-3 moves long that carry a specific idea.

Since I come from a Ukrainian background where positional play is deeply valued but I myself am a tactical dynamic player, I am particularly fond of Dvoretsky when he says “Play that is positionally competent, but is non-dynamic and insufficiently concrete, rarely leads to success.” I always hear about players who supposedly have profound positional understanding, yet their rating lags behind contemporaries without such a reputation. Could Dvoretsky be onto something?  I believe that seeing tactical nuances in position and having feel for the dynamics of it and piece coordination can be as important, if not more important, than understanding the structures.

In Position 7 the position is pretty closed. Let us look for the most important element of the position as Dvoretsky would suggest. The knights positions seem of critical importance as the Nc5 is the key plus that Black has. One can notice the a4 and d3 weaknesses. Another important element in evaluating the position is that all the White pawns are on the light squares, while Black has most of his pawns on the dark squares. This suggests that any king and bishop endgame could be fatal for White. The tactical elements also have to come into consideration as there is an x-ray on the c-file and a potential break in the center with d5. Black is better. Let us consider 2-3 moves plan for Black. Shuffling pieces around won't suffice; one has to open play. The d5 pawn thrust does not work yet. The only reasonable plan is to start opening the position on the kingside. g6 or Kh8 preparing g6 are both reasonable. Then doubling on g-file: it will take about 3-4 moves to do it. Therefore, we are set for now and must just wait for our opponent's response. In the following game Black got to realize both strategical and tactical ideas.





The following position is simpler than the previous. In this position the critical element is White's rook lined up on the d-file opposite Black's queen.  Additionally, the potential weakening of the e6 square, and its related tactics are important as well. We need to find Black's best play. Perhaps Rc7 defending the knight and preparing Qa8 to break the pin, a plan which requires two moves. If White tries to double on the d-file then Rc7 followed by Qc8, keeping the knight defended, is possible. There is not too much time here for White. Therefore, White should try to create some direct threats like Nxe6 or Bh3. Nxe6 requires lots of calculations and lots of time and energy, while Bh3 is a much quieter move. Before starting the calculations of Nxe6 I think White should evaluate Bh3 first to assess how much advantage is there. In fact, Bh3 has the same idea of Nxe6 and it seems there is no clear way to defend against it. So, if one has time and energy then he should calculate Nxe6 after making it clear that Bh3 is dangerous enough.

The examples for the next week are taken from my play in Philadelphia last weekend.








More from WIM energia
A Farewell!

A Farewell!

Positional Methods From Carlsen's Play, The End

Positional Methods From Carlsen's Play, The End