Going for a Title: Chapter 5 "Imagination is Required"
These three words my coach said have become my mantra: "imagination is required." Indeed theory is the foundation of the game, but imagination and creativity get points and victory, particularly at higher levels of play. So whenever I'm stuck or feel like I've lost the advantage, I now look for imaginative solutions and repeat that mantra instead of smacking my head off the table or trying to play ideas above my current level.
This example is one of the puzzles my coach sent me. It requires a little creative thought to reach a win, but when you find it you'll be proud (and I'll be proud of you! ) White to move and win.
I do believe that a major factor in the separation of amateur and professional in just about any field is creativity. Anand, Kasparov, Fischer, and many more of the greats are defined by their imaginative and adaptable play. Paul Morphy is certainly a study in imagination and development of your own playing style. One game I spent a night studying recently was Morphy's "Opera Game." I played through the match dissecting it about 4 times trying to understand why Morphy made the choices he did. Take a look for yourself, this game is a great study in many key concepts as well as creativity.
This match, played in 1858, is still studied and played today. Paul Morphy v. The Duke of Brunswick and Count Isouard.
In this match, Morphy took on two strong players who together could not conquer his creativity and vision. This match indeed shows his brilliance at development, applying pressure, and seeing the entire board. Some moves truly stand out to me as examples of elevated principles of the game. Move 10 for instance, his opponent may be wondering which side he will castle. The whole strategy developed by his opponents would need to be re-evaluated should he decide to castle one side over another. Move 12, when Morphy castles queenside applies more pressure to the d7 square while securing his king and continuing to establish dominance in all positions.
Move 16 is an awesome example of a sacrifice for victory. Sacrificing his queen to ensure victory is a beautiful ending constructed through imagination and is, in my opinion, a work of art. Indeed games like this help players of all levels to understand this game we love even more. Much like learning a piece of music, studying a game allows us to all "jam" to the same song. Our creativity allows us to have our solos after the rhythm of theory is laid down.
Below is the finisher of a game I recently played and was darn proud to win. I'm playing here as black. Take a second and see if you can spot the winning combo.
...d2 - Qa2 Qe1+ - Rxe1 dxe1Q#
I have two weeks left to prep for my first tournament. Aside from brushing up on my endgame theory and working on my openings and tactics, I have been playing many games against other players on chess.com, or as I call them, the "chess fam". I've also been fortunate to be reached out to by some IMs, GMs, and other talented players in the community. Thank you all for being so awesome, generous, and showing that THIS is the world's game!!
Be sure to comment below with your tournament stories or any insight you may have! #ChessFam