Only a Matter of Technique... Or is it?

  • FM Cats4Sale
  • | Aug 6, 2013

If you're a chess player, you've probably heard the hackneyed phrase "it's only a matter of technique" a million times before. In fact, I bet you've probably even been on both sides of the coin when it comes to this "technical phase" of a chessgame. I even will go so far as to say that you regard this phase as, excuse my language, "humdrum," "boring," "monotonous," "scientific," "the death of chess" (did I exaggerate here?) etc. However, with this article, I would like to try to convince all of you that, in actuality, technique is just as creative as Tal's sacrifical melees, and, in my opinion, even more beautiful.

Mikhail Moiseevich Botvinnik (1911-1995, 6th World Champion) was generally known as a boring, technical player. Even Bobby Fischer lauded the founder of the Soviet school as the most "exact" World Champion in history (and we all know how he admired Capablanca!). In the chess world Botvinnik amazed the public with his seeminly logical, simple, and "technical" (oh the horror!) style of play. Here is one example of his greatness:

However, technique is not as straight-laced as one might think. Please, take the following position as an example:

Play it over once more if you would like. If you played purely "technically" (leave black with the bad bishop) you may have cost yourself half a point. However, Petrosian's "technique" was creative (one could say magically mysterious to logic) and brought him the victory.

So, next time you hear it's "only a matter of technique," don't fret!


  • 3 years ago


    Instructine .thnx for the article.

  • 3 years ago


    Good article.  Bc5 in the Petrosian game was the first move I looked at.  It is strange human bias to value the black dsb as bad, when white should be wondering about ways to make progress into black's camp.  The dsb is a key defender of pivot squares that the white knight needs to infiltrate on weak light squares like f5 and e6 (the king as well).  Sometimes we have to overcome our simple biases to make progress. 

  • 3 years ago

    FM Cats4Sale

    And thanks for the nice comments!

  • 3 years ago

    FM Cats4Sale

    Thanks Remellion, corrected.

  • 3 years ago


    Erm, actually Botvinnik lost the endgame against Capablanca in Moscow 1936. He miscalculated Capablanca's defence and played the losing 37. Rd6? and 39. Bf6? (39. Qc3 gives ideas of a mate on h8 or Qc6.)

  • 3 years ago


    Nice article!

  • 3 years ago


    WOnderful article.

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