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Planning: Setting Up Tactics vs. Ideas

  • #1

    Hi all,

     

    The basic questions are these:

    A) How do you further enable tactics when you are playing someone of equal strength? 

    B) How does the appearance of a tactical theme idea (your calculations reveal the possibility of a tactical theme) affect your play?

     

    Below there are a few of my thoughts on this and the questions should be easier for you to answer as I try to clarify what I'm trying to ask as well. I would love to hear your thoughts and advice.

    _________________________________________________________________ 

    Let us assume a few things for this topic:

    1) Players are around ~1400 

    2) These players are of equal strength.

    3) Neither player will commit an outright obvious blunder or allow a tactic that would be on the level of a 1400 player.

     

    So, in regards to the scenario above and to the title of this topic, I would like to start off by further discussing the scenario and by bringing up two different methods for debate.

     

    It is my opinion that 1400's play far from perfect chess and a Class A player could tear them to shreds tactically is basically a fact of chess. They are simply stronger tactically. What isn't so simple to me, is what to do when you are playing someone equally and how to approach tactics in general.

     

    To me, it seems logical that tactics flow from a superior position. Therefore, instead of setting up a tactical sequence you could simply seek to follow your ideas and have a better position based on how you evaluate it. We will call this being "idea dominant" for the sake of this topic. 

     

    Another approach would be to actively try to set up a tactic. You see a tactical theme and your moves are based around that.  We will call this being "set-up dominant".

     

    Just to be clear, both methods are playing the same style until a possible tactical theme idea appears.

     

    "Idea dominant" to me is letting your opponent allow a tactic that they can no longer stop. It has a focus on following ideas.

    "Set-up dominant" to me is playing logical moves that are based around trying to force your opponent to allow the tactic. It has a focus on tactical themes.

     

    To me, "idea dominant" seems like the way to go regardless but I'm not so sure. They say that chess is 99% tactics so the other approach seems like it may be logical as well. 

     

    I would like to hear peoples opinions on the matter.  Is it one or the other? Or does it depend on the situation?  Or is it a different method all together?

     

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2

         It's a myth that chess is 99% tactics.Or an intentional exaggeration to emphasize their significance.

           When you ask  "which strategy is the correct one?" it's like asking , "when I drive , should I turn right or left?".How would you answer that?It's impossible to tell , right?It depends on where you want to go.Now imagine that you have never gone in the place you are supposed to go and you have to search for it.Obviously if you go with a fixed strategy "go always right" or "go always left" you will only do circles or reach a dead end.

             You are looking for an easy answer that will cover the gaps and make you approach the game with more confidence.Unfortunately there are no easy answers in chess otherwise we would all knew them.In chess all are interconnected.Sometimes minor threats are used to accumulate small positional advantages and other times you use your positionally strong placed pieces to create tactics.You need a strong positional understanding and a high tactical awareness.That is why it is such a difficult game.

         In each position there are some moves that are correct and some  that are wrong.In some positions the choice is very limited and it's like trying to balance on a thin rope.You have to find the best move.The position doesn't care what you want to do.Do you want to win?Then find the best move , there is no other way.

    Rephrasing the well known saying : 

    "When chessplayers make plans , Gods laugh"

         

  • #3
    DeirdreSkye wrote:

         It's a myth that chess is 99% tactics.Or an intentional exaggeration to emphasize their significance.

           When you ask  "which strategy is the correct one?" it's like asking , "when I drive , should I turn right or left?".How would you answer that?It's impossible to tell , right?It depends on where you want to go.Now imagine that you have never gone in the place you are supposed to go and you have to search for it.Obviously if you go with a fixed strategy "go always right" or "go always left" you will only do circles or reach a dead end.

             You are looking for an easy answer that will cover the gaps and make you approach the game with more confidence.Unfortunately there are no easy answers in chess otherwise we would all knew them.In chess all are interconnected.Sometimes minor threats are used to accumulate small positional advantages and other times you use your positionally strong placed pieces to create tactics.You need a strong positional understanding and a high tactical awareness.That is why it is such a difficult game.

         In each position there are some moves that are correct and some  that are wrong.In some positions the choice is very limited and it's like trying to balance on a thin rope.You have to find the best move.The position doesn't care what you want to do.Do you want to win?Then find the best move , there is no other way.

    Rephrasing the well known saying : 

    "When chessplayers make plans , Gods laugh"

         

     

    Thanks ,as always, for your reply. I especially like the last line. Now I would like to bring up another purpose of this post (the main one), I was wanting an unbiased opinion on whether the set-up dominant method was inherently or fundamentally wrong. I guess just asking would do the same thing, but for some reason this way seemed better at the time. I've noticed that it seems to be a recurring theme that when I think that playing towards a tactical theme that is looming over my opponent's head seems to be the way to go, I always regret playing that way. It has been kind of difficult to diagnose whether it is a weakness of mine or a fundamentally wrong way to play. I think that I have been playing tactical "hope chess" a few games. Eventhough playing that way doesn't seem to be wrong per say when I analyze it without a computer. Another factor is that before I play this way I feel that I have the better position and there is more than one way to skin a cat.

  • #4

    You have to give an example.Chess is a game of facts.

    It's impossible to discuss in such  general way.

  • #5

    Actually, I just noticed something....

     

    I had a few examples that I thought would be good but after taking a fresh look it seems that my whole basis is wrong. 

     

    The tactical theme disappointed me because that tactical theme didn't happen. What I have failed to take into account until just now is that going after that tactical theme was right because it was pivotal in creating another tactic that worked. That is the thing with forcing moves, and why I was confusing myself when they "weren't working the way I wanted".

     

    I was getting so flustered that my first tactical theme was getting thwarted that I didn't even notice that it created another one a few moves later. 

     

    To your point: I agree with you, but I quite like to generalize some times since I seem to have more control of the topic. It's a shame that not everyone is as helpful as you (or tries to be). Some people just like to bash my amateur play without any attempt to help. That gets rather annoying and is unfortunately frequent on these forums.

  • #6

    If I can add the following: I would wager the main problem most beginners have isn’t so much tactics as it is basic positional understanding.  As you say, tactics flow from a superior position.  If you have a better position, you are more likely to find a winning shot, and conversely, if you have an inferior position, you are more likely to blunder.

    I have played several people lower rated than me over the last year, and in almost all I get better positions because my opponents do something silly.  They waste tempos on a3 or h3, or they fail to fight for an open file, or they several moves trading a good knight for a bad bishop.  Most common of all, they get to a position where they don’t know what to do and they make a random move, often a pawn move, and that weakens them terribly.  I apply pressure, they crack more, I win.  That’s the general outline.  It's not so much that I outplay them as they outplay themselves (with no disrespect intended.  

    Most of these games are decided by blunders or relatively simple tactics, but they only blunder because they are in a worse position.  Said another way, if we swapped sides, they would play much higher than their rating, just because the position is easier to play.  They’ll make fewer blunders because it is harder to blunder in a good position.  I thus think it isn’t tactics that let most people down, but rather what happens before the tactics can even occur, and that comes down to basic positional understanding, or idea-focus in your terminology.

    If tactics flow from a superior position, then it seems we should be studying this, how to get a superior position, before we seriously study tactics.  That’s a simplification, of course, because tactics help and support and ultimately crown positional play, but ignoring it or discarding it seems dangerous, and it seems to me to be the main reason people can solve complex puzzles but never use tactics in their own games.  If you rarely have a good position, of course you’ll rarely get to show your tactical skill.

    I suppose, in the end, that this a long way of saying this: focus on improving your position and the tactics will follow.  If you don’t know your tactics, obviously this won’t work, but if you don’t know how to improve your position, it won’t work either.  We need both.

  • #7

    "If tactics flow from a superior position, then it seems we should be studying this, how to get a superior position, before we seriously study tactics.  That’s a simplification, of course, because tactics help and support and ultimately crown positional play, but ignoring it or discarding it seems dangerous, and it seems to me to be the main reason people can solve complex puzzles but never use tactics in their own games."

     

    Quite the conundrum indeed. I've read quite a bit on positional play since my favorite player was Petrosian and later Karpov. The idea of active prophylaxis made me ecstatic and I couldn't wait to use it in my games. To my dismay it seems that positional play is more of a work in progress for most people, especially beginners. The guidelines you read seem to only help you find their exceptions. Over time I've learned more about what weakens your position and how to prevent it. It took me a long time to wrap my head around the subtleties of a weak color complex and the like. I've also learned that playing over GM games has been way more beneficial to me than trying to read material on positional play which tends to be too advanced. Even though the concept itself can be grasped easily, translating it into the specific position and its individual needs can be quite challenging. Especially when you don't have similar positions to draw from in your memory.

     

    These are just some of my thoughts on the matter. Thank you for your input.

  • #8
    K_Brown wrote:

    Actually, I just noticed something....

     

    I had a few examples that I thought would be good but after taking a fresh look it seems that my whole basis is wrong. 

     

    The tactical theme disappointed me because that tactical theme didn't happen. What I have failed to take into account until just now is that going after that tactical theme was right because it was pivotal in creating another tactic that worked. That is the thing with forcing moves, and why I was confusing myself when they "weren't working the way I wanted".

     

    I was getting so flustered that my first tactical theme was getting thwarted that I didn't even notice that it created another one a few moves later. 

     

    To your point: I agree with you, but I quite like to generalize some times since I seem to have more control of the topic. It's a shame that not everyone is as helpful as you (or tries to be). Some people just like to bash my amateur play without any attempt to help. That gets rather annoying and is unfortunately frequent on these forums.

         I think quite a lot try to be helpful.

  • #9

    I really don't understand what you're saying. And that's actually part of the point - I think your thinking is too vague and academic. This is quite typical for how players <2000 or so think and analyze. To improve, you'll need to make major changes in your thinking process, toward more specific and dynamic analysis.

    If you're interested in professional coaching to help you improve, I'm open to new students. Send me a private message for rates and more info if interested.

  • #10

    Speaking of positional play, I think this little excerpt left the biggest impression on me:

     

    null

     

    Seeing as how this method could lead me to playing a move I probably would never consider otherwise (1.h6), I thought it was pretty neat and it seems to help in practice as well. The only thing right now that I'm noticing is that it seems that my ability to identify weaknesses (a trait that sounds simple and rather easy), or future weaknesses, isn't as good as it needs to be yet. I wouldn't know this if I hadn't read games annotated by masters. It often shocks me when they point out a weak square and I have no idea how that square is weak even after analyzing it for hours trying to figure it out. 

  • #11

     Tactical study will help any player, the whole game contains hidden tactics { like above position you share with us 1.h6! is a tactical and attacking idea; I wouldn't think twice in playing 1.h6, some quick analysis show if black accept the pawn offer, my Queen go to h5 and my knight at g4 and black's position would be very uncomfortable. If a player is diligent and does his tactical study everyday he will noticed a big improvement in his skills and increase in his winning percentage. The problem tactical study require a lot hard work and most players prefer not do the hard work but if do it you will win a lot games. 

     

     I look at your games and you play decent but your biggest problems is your tactics and your attacking abilities, they are lacking; guess what these are the areas you should work on; but if you think you need to work on your positional skills go ahead do it. If you decided it to work on your tactics, get a good book on it { 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations by Fred Reinfeld, its the best book on tactics}, get a good book on Morphy's games collection and Logical Chess Move by Chess  by Chernev, these three books I became a 1800 uscf in one year and half, in my chess club there are players playing a lifetime  and never reaching a otb 1800. Take advice from players who actual did it and who have credentials, a otb rating at least  1800 or higher. I did  by tactics and I am still  studying tactics at expert level, I know my chances of beating a very strong master, I better be strong in tactics and at the endgame not positional skills.

  • #12

    Tactics flow from a superior position IF you recognize the tactic.

    Tactics can flow from equal or inferior positions if your opponent does not realize he is equal or superior.

    Players of equal strength, especially us non-masters, do NOT equally see all the same tactics. One may have more experience with Pawn Storms after castling on opposite sides.  Another may have more experienced with jockeying for an advantage in closed positions. Another may be very strong in the endgame (my strongest part).

    What is important when playing someone of equal strength is reaching a playable middlegame in your style where you feel comfortable you can put a plan together.  This means creating the kinds of Imbalances Jeremy Silman discusses in How to Reassess Your Chess: Superior Minor Piece (good N Outposts, etc.), Pawn Structure (Passed, Isolated, etc.), Space, Material (including local superiority), Control of a Key File, Hole, or Weak Square, Lead in Development, Initiative, King Safety. and Statics vs Dynamics.

  • #13

    I ask a simple question, how many players did over 1000 tactical problems from a book, once, twice, thrice or more? I bet those who advocate positional or strategy NEVER once did 1000 tactical problems, maybe that is why you are weak in tactics. I never met a player who did 1000 tactical problems from a book and not have a decent rating of 1800 elo. I meant many low rate players who never did 1000 tactical problems from a book and never reach 1800 elo.

  • #14
    yureesystem wrote:

    I ask a simple question, how many players did over 1000 tactical problems from a book, once, twice, thrice or more? I bet those who advocate positional or strategy NEVER once did 1000 tactical problems, maybe that is why you are weak in tactics. I never met a player who did 1000 tactical problems from a book and not have a decent rating of 1800 elo. I meant many low rate players who never did 1000 tactical problems from a book and never reach 1800 elo.

     

    Yuri, I really think that's a great question.   Decent insight into chess growth or lack of it.

  • #15

    Tactics do flow in superior position. But at novice level, even if you have inferior position, many will commit tactical blunders. So at novice level, reducing blunders and getting better at tactics is a priority. But you can also study strategies and endgames appropriate for your level. What if you can't find a tactic? What should you do? This is where your positional understanding comes in. Now there are positions in which there is a tactical opportunity but you failed to notice it. By improving your tactical ability, you will find more tactics. But you should also study endgames and strategies appropriate for your level to help you aid on what to do if you can't find a tactic.

  • #16
    Very straightforward and logical advice from everyone. Thank you.
  • #17

    Chess is 100% tactics. You should bring your Queen out on the second move for tactical advantage.

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