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What is a "practical" move?

What is a "practical" move?

Jul 5, 2017, 6:42 AM 0

What is meant when a move is described as "practical"? When I first heard this term it baffled me. After seeing it used by expert commentators a number of times, I now have an idea of what it means.

It means that the move in question is good but not because it is strong in an objective sense. So how can a move be "good" if it is not strong?

It can be good because the opponent is short of time and the move causes complications, requiring them to think for a long time. Alternatively, it could mean that the player making the move is themself short on time and hence plays a safe move to avoid complications. Or they could have a winning superiority, which can be exploited in a number of ways, and here "practical" would mean a simple way that avoids complications, though it is not the quickest way to win. Another possibility is that the move is a bluff or trap in a lost position, so that the move might avoid a loss if the opponent does not read it correctly. Another possibility is that the move is strong because of psychological reasons. Finally, the move may be bad in an objective sense, but if its refutation requires extremely accurate play by the opponent, then it may well result in a win.

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