Some of D.C.'s strengths

Some of D.C.'s strengths

Dec 24, 2013, 10:24 AM |

The "Black Pearl" has blown ashore at Roaring Beach.  Her youngest and handsomest member paces the sand.

My father, John Cogill.

Last night, the old pirate & I took a bottle of wine for a walk on Roaring Beach, then returned to the Hub, where Ilan sat down with us over a bottle of his whisky.  Thankyou, Ilan!

Of the many things discussed, we had a brief exchange about chess.  Ilan referred to my saying to Brett, "Oh, you've beaten Ilan, have you?!  You're doing pretty well then: he's a good player."  Ilan said he felt "pressured" by this.  Appreciated, yes - but overall not sure if he liked it, perhaps. 


This initiated a brief exchange, in which I opined that Ilan & David C. are the strongest players of our group.  David also has since objected to this, saying he doesn't want hierarchies; so feel free to repeat their criticisms, expand on them, comment on them yourselves.  Both of my dear and respected friends feel ambivalent about what I want to discuss here, but I want to have a go, anyway.  If you get cross with me, let me know how cross you are, and why!  Better still, put your opinions down on the BLOG, here.  We shall see.


ILAN, you asked me for a list of 10 commandments for good chess.  I will keep considering that suggestion, but I doubt that it can be done.  For the time being, you might like to play around with the highlighted terms below. More information on using these terms is contained later on.

  • Mobility
  • Piece-Placement
  • Time
  • Space
  • Material


What I propose discussing here is more about a recognition of different strengths shown in David's & Ilan's chess games.  Accompanying these strengths are certain weaknesses, and these too I will discuss.  That might not embarass Ilan as much as talking about his strengths!


Beginning now with David's recent game played with me, David's known strengths are apparent. 

He is ahead in Time.  If you count the number of moves needed to get black's pieces onto their current squares, you come up with 10, with black to move!  By contrast, white could be said to have had only 9 moves.  Somehow, David has stolen 2 extra moves...see below.  In terms of Space, his pieces occupy and exclude mine from the king's side.  Piece-Placement?  His queen, knight and white-squared bishop are aggressively placed on the king's side.  He has pinned my knight to my queen, reducing my Mobility.  His best successes are the central knight on e5 and the fianchettoed bishop on g7, occupying the long diagonal.   This last is an unusual strength for David, as its virtue is patience.  It could become very powerful, particularly as he has swapped my black-squared bishop for his knight.  To realise this power, he needs to develop his pieces on the queen's side, whereas his notion of real chess is the adventurous attack directly against the opposing king.  Rc8 is a move he should consider asap.  He must also find a way of placing a rook on the e-file.  His queen is vulnerable, though aggressive.  His bishop on h5 is working well now, but has poor Mobility.  His rooks are joined on the back rank, but are not yet used. He wants one on e8, and can't do it.  The other would be very good on c8, and could work in conjunction with his fianchettoed bishop.  White's Placements are more conservative.  Rook on f1 has an open file, but the other is undeveloped.  Queen and joined knights are central, though rather locked.  From earlier tactical flurries and threats, David has got my queen misplaced and vulnerable.  If only he had that rook on e8, then he would force white to scramble about defensively to protect the white queen.  This would gain black more Time, again, unless white could combine defense with attack.  My white-squared bishop has good mobility, and has performed an essential defensive function, guarding e8.  Without it, my queen may have been pinned to my king.


David focuses very well on the use of a group of pieces as an attacking unit.  Queen and knights are excellent in attacks on the opposing king, and here David excells.  "But my brain's got holes in it," he complains, in that language-challenging style he has. (Is his brain a leaky boat? or a sieve? Is it connected to faulty eyes, afflicted with macular degeneration?)  An aspect of his holiness, of His Holiness's holes, is that he doesn't see his long-term strengths or another's long-term weaknesses. He doesn't satisfy himself with his current advantages,  nor does he tolerate a patient accumulation of strengths.  Instead, he is forever "scanning for a scam"!  (Yup, them's Courtney's words.)  He wants a quick win, often with knights and queen.  David, I haven't seen you use your rooks much!  Give that a go, maybe.  As a thought-experiment, or a learning task, in your next game.  Then take a break by getting one of both of your knights jumping about for 3-5 moves in succession.  They are brilliant in some circumstances, such as in densely populated middle-games, and you're the man for that job.


I'll continue this BLOG later, with some thoughts about how Ilan may be different and similar to David.