Having a Reason

Jul 3, 2010, 10:43 AM |

A topic that comes up in lessons for beginners time and again is that one should always have a reason for the move they want to make. That is, every single move should be principled. Improving position, taking up space, developing minor pieces, disrupting through check, and so on. This line of thought is well known, and nothing new. The question I want to ask in this post is thus: is making it easier to have a reason for your next move reason enough for the current move? 

Advanced players will always have at least a plausibly good reason for each move they make. Masters will always have very good reasons for their moves, even if they turn out to be poor moves in hindsight. Amateur players, on the other hand - myself included, often find themselves in board positions where they are left without a compelling move. I find that once or twice per game, I wish my opponent would have provoked a more obvious response. There are times where I wish I could pass the turn. This kind of thinking is only born out of my ignorance and inability to see subtle opportunities for improvement. 

What I have noticed, however, is that in these positions, I can often instigate an exchange that leaves the board in a fairly equal state post exchange - or series of exchanges. Once the board is simplified through removing a minor piece or two and maybe a centre pawn or two, the new board may present more obvious move choices, and thus make it easier to find a reason to make a move. Now, if it is the case that we must always have a reason for our moves, which seems fairly obvious, then is "making it easier to find a reason" itself reason enough for the amateur to make a move?

I think it is. Until I develop a more nuanced vision of the board, I think that making my next decision easier to make is, in principle, a good reason to make a particular move. 

What say you?