Improvisation Is How I Play

Oct 22, 2014, 9:01 AM |

Most people who get seriously into chess spend a lot of time memorizing countless openings and positions. I used to be like that in high school, and I admit it's often necessary when trying break into the upper echelons, but these days I don't have the luxury of spending much time on memorization. Instead, I practice improvisation, or what I like to call "drunken style" chess (similar to the drunken style of so many excellent kung-fu movies). I bob and weave all over the board and constantly re-invent what I'm doing.

As Sun Tzu and Bruce Lee instructed, you should be like water and always adapt to changing conditions. Out of necessity I have adopted this philosophy for chess, and it usually serves me well. Rather than act out a series of scripted moves, I look at every move with fresh eyes and modify what I'm doing based on what's happening or on my intuition. Though I can go only so far with this approach, it keeps chess enjoyable and often flummoxes my booked-up opponents.

Here's a fun example of a club game I played last night. My opponent opened strongly with a variant of the Italian Game that forced me to invent something on the fly, and the unexpected nature of it likely helped it succeed.