More Bits & Pieces

More Bits & Pieces

IM Silman
May 2, 2011, 12:00 AM |
25 | Other

member Yigor asked:

Please tell me what you think about 1.d4 Nc6 2.d5 Ne5 3.Nc3?

Dear Yigor:

A logical question. I probably should have given it a quick nod in my article. However, my article on this line wasn’t meant to be thorough (that would have taken dozens of pages, and put all my readers to sleep), so I only mentioned white’s two most popular moves: 3.f4 (which is tempting and quite reasonable), and 3.e4, which is considered best. In general, players like to retain some flexibility if they have several good moves to choose from. Though 3.f4 isn’t flexible, it is forcing (and has scored well), so it deserves to be looked at. 3.e4 is very flexible, keeping all developing options open. However, 3.Nc3 avoids the obviously useful e2-e4, blocks the c2-pawn, and allows a …Bb4 pin in some lines (at this exact moment, 3.Nc3 isn’t necessary).

Please don’t misunderstand – 3.Nc3 is fine. In fact, in many cases it might transpose back into some of the lines I gave. But why give up flexibility and options for no reason when you can play 3.e4, which immediately tries to claim the center and threatens to overwhelm Black with f2-f4 follow by e4-e5? Another way of looking at it: 3.e4 puts Black under instant pressure and severely limits his options. 3.Nc3 doesn’t put Black under any pressure and gives Black the freedom to choose any reply he deems good.

member Polydiatonic said (concerning his question about the difference between tactics and combinations):

Thank you for your interesting and thorough answer to my forum question. I guess the one thing that I’m still wondering about is the requirement of a sacrifice for a combination to exist.

Dear Polydiatonic:

I am beginning to get the impression that people think I make everything up! While I do make up tons of stuff (if I deem my fantasy to be harmless or entertaining), I answer all serious questions with enough facts to give you a definitive answer (whenever possible), or at the very least an honest opinion. As my article pointed out, while the term “tactics” can be looked at in various ways, the term “combination” is pretty much set in stone as far as the following two points are concerned: 1) A combination has tactics in it. 2) A combination involves a sacrifice.

This isn’t an invention by me. Far greater minds than mine made these “rules” clear many years ago.

Anyway, thank you Mr. Polydiatonic! I found your question to be interesting and different than those I usually get. It was much appreciated.

member Musiclife said:

I have a hard time seeing any point in differentiating between tactics and combinations.  I think it’s more meaningful to just say they’re the same, and start studying something besides semantics.

Dear Musiclife:

I love music. I listen to rock, jazz, electronica, and just about everything else as an evening goes by. Since I listen to music, which clearly makes me a music expert, I hereby claim that jazz, rock, and electronica are all the same since they are composed of musical notes (both tactics and combinations are made up of chess moves, which makes them the same too … NOT).

On the other hand, I’m forced to agree with your greater point: to most people, the differences between tactics and combos are hard to fathom, and I don’t think it’s necessary to do so (though fun and interesting and WORTHWHILE if you have a desire to grok it ... please don’t put down those with curious minds). Instead, one’s time might be far better spent working on your calculation skills, learning all the tactical patterns that enable one to create a combination, studying your openings and/or endings, exploring the wonders of chess history, etc. Chess offers so many avenues of exploration that a lifetime can be devoted to any one aspect of the game!

member Nothing12345 (rated 1512) said:

If there are no Dovretsky books on the list then your books don’t deserve to be on the list either.

Dear Nothing 12345:

Your hero’s name is spelled: Dvoretsky. Mark Dvoretsky is a magnificent chess writer, but his material tends towards higher ratings. In fact, even masters can find his stuff hard going. I mentioned my books on my book list because they are more in tune with the vast majority of readers, who are not close to master strength. I write for non-masters, Dvoretsky writes for players 2100 on up (even titled players!). Thus, if you are rated 2100 or higher (much higher!), his work would most likely be more appropriate for you than mine.

Speaking of Dvoretsky, I noticed a discussion on where people were wondering whether they should get his endgame book or mine. Many endgame books are very detailed and tend to be rather dry reading. As a result, quite a few of these endgame books – though filled with great information – are too daunting for most players to get through. Thus, they are placed in the bookcase after one brief read, never to be studied again. The simple fact is this: if you aren’t going to read it, then it’s useless to you.

As is the case with most Dvoretsky books, his endgame book is very good, but contains lots of advanced material that, in my view, does more to scare the lower rated player than to help him. I would say that Dvoretsky Endgame Manual is for players 2000 and up. Mine is designed for beginners to expert, and gives each level a finite amount of material to consume (thereby offering light at the end of that endgame tunnel). Clearly, both Dvoretsky and I are sticking to our usual MOs with our endgame books.

member chessguitar asked:

My college English Professor is a chess master. He and many people have told me that to be a master, one must start young. I’m 34, retired, and getting back into the game. Does this mean my brain is dead and I cannot become a Master if I’m willing to work hard at it several hours a day?

Dear chess guitar:

It’s always nice to end a column with good news. I completely disagree with those that are telling you that making master (2200) after 30 isn’t possible. While it’s true that, in the vast majority of cases, you do need to start very young (6 or 7 years old is ideal) IF you are hoping to get a grandmaster or international master title, anyone of almost any age can achieve a national master rating (2200) if he/she creates a proper study program, gets a teacher (which helps), and puts in the necessary work (and there will be a LOT of work!).

There’s a book called CHESS MASTER AT ANY AGE by Rolf Wetzell that is all about a gentleman who became a master after 50! I’m not recommending the book, but it does prove my point – if 2200 is your goal, and you’re willing to work very hard, put countless hours into the game, and not give up when defeat after defeat make you feel “enough is enough”, then you have a real chance of achieving that goal.

However, the real joy of this path is playing the game, learning to understand many of its subtleties, discovering the magic of chess history (some people devote their lives to chess history), and perhaps becoming an aficionado of chess openings, endgames, or any number of other chess-related things. If you’re open to all of this, then you can’t lose.

More from IM Silman
How To Learn Chess Patterns

How To Learn Chess Patterns

The Extremely Important Manipulation Of Pawn Structures

The Extremely Important Manipulation Of Pawn Structures