Réti on My Mind

Just a few quick thoughts on the remarkable player/author/composer Richard Réti.

We all know about Paul Morphy's Romantic nature - that is, his love afair with combinative chess.  One of the founders of hypermodern chess and a positional player of the first rank had this to say about combinative chess:

                   A combination composed of a sacrifice has more
                   immediate  effect upon the person playing over 
                   the game in which it occurs than another combination, 
                   because the apparent senselessness of the sacrifice is 
                   convincing proof of the design of the player offering it.
                   Hence it comes that the risk of material, and the 
                   victory of the weaker material over the stronger 
                   material, gives the impression of a symbol of the 
                   mastery of mind over matter.  Now we see wherein 
                   lies the pleasure to be derived from a chess
                   combination. It lies in the feeling that a human mind 
                   is behind the game dominating the inanimate pieces
                   with which the game is carried on, and giving them 
                   the breath of life.  We may regard it as an intellectual
                   delight, equal to that afforded us by the knowledge 
                   that behind so many apparently disconnected and
                   seemingly chance happenings in the physical world 
                   lies the one great ruling spirit - the law of Nature.

Réti also put a slightly different spin on the precept that tactics flow from position (which, in a sense, puts positional play on a higher level than tactical play) when he wrote:
A knowledge of tactics is the foundation of positional play.
                  This is a rule which has stood its test in chess history and
                  one which we cannot impress forcibly enough upon the
                  young chess player. A beginner should avoid Queen's 
                  Gambit and French Defence and play open games instead!
                  While he may not win as many games at first, he will in 
                  the long run be amply compensated by acquiring a 
                  thorough knowledge of the game.


                  The scheme of a game is played on positional lines, 
                  the decision of it is, as a rule, effected by combinations. 
                  This is how Lasker's pronouncement that positional play is 
                  the preparation for combinations is to be understood.