Playing with Your Pieces - Aronian in Tata

  • GM jfriedel
  • | Jan 21, 2012

There is a common debate on the subject of what separates the different echelons of chessplayers.  Some say it is tactics, others strategy.  A lot of folks are of the opinion that opening knowledge is very important.  Others claim that endgame skill is what bridges the gap between levels.  Personally, I think the answer is a bit more complicated.  Moreover, the higher up the ladder you go, the more complex the differences become.  For example, the separation between an expert and master might be due to openings, tactical sharpness, or something along those lines.  However, if you are talking about a 2550 and 2650, it gets a little more subtle.  Don’t get me wrong, a 2650 is quite likely to have better opening prep.  But how is it better?  Is it more about depth or breadth?  How much is based on understanding, intuition/experience, or simply the memorization of opening lines?  I think this varies greatly from player to player as well, but I’m sure there are general patterns that can be found.   

 Apart from the standard areas of chess, I think there are other skills in a player’s arsenal that can make a huge difference.   The one I’m going to focus on in this article is piece coordination.  Simply put, stronger players just know how to play with their pieces.  Take a look at a typical game between a GM and a 2300.  More often than not, you’ll notice that the GM has nice looking pieces that are working together in harmony.  The lower rated opponent, however, will often have at least one piece that looks funny.  It could be a bishop that is locked in by pawns.  Perhaps they’ll have a knight that is stranded on the edge of the board.  Maybe they’ll have a rook or queen that looks out of play.  I mentioned GM vs. 2300 as those examples are often the most striking.  You can see the same thing occur, however, when an elite GM plays against a weaker one.  The best person to look to for this, at least in my view, is Levon Aronian.  I’ve seen him take what looks like a disorganized blob of pieces and have them blowing holes in his opponent’s position before they realize what is happening.  This is not only true against weaker players, but also against other top GMs.  Let’s check out his games from the ongoing Tata Steel tournament, and I’ll try to shed some light on my lunacy.





Knowing how to play with your pieces is an underrated skill, and I hope going over these games helped improve your understanding on the subject!


  • 4 years ago


    Nice smart i hope thia help me alot

  • 5 years ago


    nice art

  • 5 years ago


    I'm collecting. Surely is a nice game>

  • 5 years ago


  • 5 years ago


    good article. fun to watch chess games.

  • 5 years ago


    Nice and interesting article. There is a lot to learn. Great work!

  • 5 years ago


    Nice article i enjoyed

  • 5 years ago


    Nice article, keep them up!

  • 5 years ago


    I'm so proud that Aronian is Armenian!Wink

  • 5 years ago


    brilliant play!!

  • 5 years ago


    great article!! 

  • 5 years ago


    very nice!!

  • 5 years ago


    wonderful write-up.....very informative...cheers

  • 5 years ago


    Great article,very instructive!

  • 5 years ago

    GM jfriedel

    Thanks to everyone, except perhaps Kayden...

    I'll be covering round 9 of Tata with The Poet on Tuesday the 24th at 8:30 AM Eastern!

  • 5 years ago


    Good stuff.

    Quite a lot to read, could just go halfway through the first game and then my head just exploded. I'll clean my screen and finish the article later :)

  • 5 years ago


    Aronian-Nakamura,  exellant

  • 5 years ago


    @NrthrnKnght: me too :)

  • 5 years ago


    Awesome article, very insightful. On a side note, Aronian is playing some amazing chess at the moment.

  • 5 years ago


    Good article.  I've long noticed that higher rated players seem to have an amazing ability to strategically place and then coordinate the use of their pieces, but I've never figured out how to use this knowledge in my own games.    

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