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wadvana 354 ( +1 | -1 )
The MOST important element of Chess I wanted to start this thread because there are hundreds of players, who come accross the sound advice that below the master level - TACTICS is the most important thing. Indeed, I went to the tediuos extent and did a search on a large (friends) database using games under 2200 level to check the stats.
71% of these games were DECISIVE
thus leaving only 29% being drawn.
So it's a no brainer, that there was a decisive element in the vast majority of under 2200 level games. This element is no doubt Tactics.
We all know this, So why dont most of us start doing about it. Forget about mastering the art of transpositions (Like that matters when you're playing in a u1800 tournament and always get executed by move 20) and especially that Tartakower-Makogonov-Bondarevesky Variation of the Queens Gambit -


Its like, finding a cure to a disese, but instead of starting to implement the cure, you start working on other parts of a bacteria.

I dont know how this may be coming accross to everyone, its such a simple subject heard thousands of times before, but have chessplayers developed a blindspot for this subject.

Here's what Anand said in a online interview when asked -:

"Vishy, in my opinion, positional play is the hardest thing to learn (and understand) in chess. How do you recommend I learn this part of the game?"

"Vishy: Nowadays, I think tactics bring far more points, while positional play is something you develop just looking at other games."

There you have the bottom line by the Indian genius.
Chess strategy and a thinking process is also essential for finding good moves in a chess game. But those ideas become very natural once they are engraved in memory - which should happen when you study annotated master games.

You may build up a fine position by applying good chess strategy, but what happens if you fail to follow up with a tactic designed to win the game - and instead your opponent holds the game to a draw using a fine defence.

At the end of the day, tactics can help you win and even draw, in the fastest manner possible - Who wants to wait around with a slow srtuggle when you can win on the spot. AND the GREAT thing is that the Under 2200 level is official the land of tactical exploitation, you can expect to get a tactical opportunity in 70% of your games, depending on what openings you play (A tactical opportunity dosent always mean a mating combination or win of material, it could be just a combination that gives a better endgame or superior minor piece etc). Once you get above the master level you can start to use your fine positional skills in getting an advantage, because thats the only way at such a level.

So go on,,, Start today! Get a good collection of tactical puzzles. Or a Tactical traning CD such as CT - ART 3.0 by Convecta for intermediate players up to Grandmaster level, OR you can invest in the fine CD "Intensive Tactics Course" by Renko (Chessbase)

I suggest a study plan of 30 mins of tactical puzzle solving per day. Get them hammered into you big time, so you start to see more and more each time.
YOU will get better if you work at it. My personal experience is similar. I started a few months ago with a rating of 1500-1600. Now I am playing OTB with a 1900 rating, and 2100 on ICC. Tactics was the main priority in my training.

You can message me with your thoughts and suggestions.
Good luck to everyone.

More: Chess
soikins 5 ( +1 | -1 )
you said it, man O. I'm getting down to tactics. CT-Art 3.0, here I come...
anaxagoras 90 ( +1 | -1 )
...and didn't Fischer say something like "tactical opportunities arise from positional superiority?"

Yes, everyone agrees that tactics are the first and most important thing for an amateur to master. I know that I lose most of my games to tactical mistakes, and win most of my games for the same reason. However, there are also works like Silman's "The Amateur's Mind" which advocate a holistic approach to learning chess, the point being that tactical opportunities just aren't going to appear out of thin air if you are not able to identify which side of the board you should focus on.
People expect definite borders between notions like "strategy," "tactics," and "position." Yet so often a tactical opportunity is only recognizable if one understands the notion of a weak square, rank or file, that the intelligibility of only studying tactics is severely degraded.
drgandalf 28 ( +1 | -1 )
IMO The player who relies on tactics will not progress into matery. Yet, without tactics, a player stays stuck below 1600. Mastering tactics is essential, but endgame mastery is likewise important, in order to break out of the pack. Openings belong in the domain of masters.
wadvana 179 ( +1 | -1 )
This is all very true. Understanding a position is important. But this comes with time and experience, otherwise the knowledge will feel artificial to a player - one may be inclined to try out an idea - but hesitates to do so because its not part of a structured thought process (Ala Silman - Imbalances).
But having a strong tactical ability will glue the joints of your strategic and positional understanding. Tactics are not independant.
Top players are always trying out different ideas, many times even anti-positional ones with success - The following is a good example:

Kasparov - Khalifman {Linares 2002 1/2-1/2}
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Ba5 6.Bd2 Nc6 7.Qg4 Kf8 8.dxc5!?

A surprising move. I would like to know how to explain that move using the imbalances thought process.
Tactics underly everything else, but true to the point positional superiority is proportional to tactics, since either can arise out of another. But getting positional superiority isnt going to help if you cant exploit it tactically (Karpov's games illustrate this point clearly) And plus, when you're superior in position, it dosent always mean you're going to be able to apply your schematic thinking and win the game itself, your opponent may mix things up and then the only way to win is to immediatlyu exploit the weakness he has created in his camp.

Solving tactical puzzles in a proper way, no doubt helps in calculating and visualization abilities and most important understanding the chess board - which are all strengths which will help other areas of chess.

I'm not trying to argue about it, I just wanted to get people inspired to start working on the important part of their game - since it worked for me.

The point I'm to make is obvious, outstanding players continue to tell us that Tactics are most important. Everyone can make their own mind up.
anaxagoras 53 ( +1 | -1 )
You're right that you're not arguing about it!
"when you're superior in position, it dosent always mean you're going to be able to apply your schematic thinking and win the game itself, your opponent may mix things up and then the only way to win is to immediatlyu exploit the weakness he has created in his camp."

Of course, and that's one of Silman's most important points about having a fighting attitude.

Really, we seem to pretty much agree here even with the addendum that there is a relationship between tactics and position.
ccmcacollister 341 ( +1 | -1 )
Anaxagoras ... I made a post for here much as you said in your first. (Mine turned a page & half long. So I erased it. Thx for saying it Right).

Rea;;y teh basic Chess delimna. Near Equality at start. (A tempo, which may be just a tempo, but usually translates to center space advan.also, if 1.Ctr Pawn Move.
The dilemna is: If one player does nothing, then the other side will eventually attain such a dynamic superiority (space + mobilily + development in varying degrees based upon approach) that the other can be overwhelmed, even from teh "start, or other nearly uncompromised position" (EVERY position has Some flaw or weakness) Then both players must try to avoid giving that overwhelming dynamic inbalance by themselves seeking activity. But must allow various weakenings in process, in trade-off, to attain that. These weakening compromises create positional aspects from which tactics will flow as the other tries to apply his mobility toward exploiting them. Agree Tactics & Position are two ends of the same stick. How much a player is willing to compromise his structure for activity/mobility tends to define whether we consider them a "positional" or "tactical" player. Also whether he would prefer to Attack better in reply, or CounterAttack, or instead try to dampen the other players activity. Yet all rely upon the same considerations, with differing emphasis.

In Corr my games generally run a 68 to 72% incidence of unforced sacrifice of pawn, Exchange or more, by one or the other player. (Boring Postal Games ??!)

Karpov is an incredible attacker upon need or want. But of such superior technical & positional skills, rarely Needs to be, unless he Wants to be. But aside from such exceptions, the larger the imbalance between 2 players, the greater the chance of a tactical outcome, if the better player so seeks it to be. Anand has a pretty big such "imbalance" going for him vs 99.95% or so of the Chess world.

Endgames are important. But IMO overated for most players. I deliberately avoided endgame study until making Expert in OTB & Postal play. Choosing to become an opening specialist instead. Tho did have a good grasp thru experience mostly, of the 2 most important & frequent; K+P and R+P endings. But to Need endgame skills you must first be able to Reach a plausible endgame. On the other hand, once you do have the opening & middlegame skills sufficient unto that, an endgame understanding can present a major benefit just in the fact that a player then knows "where he is trying to go", so can consider "how to get there". Especially if obvous tactical considerations are not requiring precidence. If they are, they must be adressed, regardless how ugly that may make potential endgames thereafter.
A good exercise for considering endgame chances in a game, is to one be one pull off the various pieces fromthe board. Leave others on. May discover the remaining structure gives you a "won" Rook ending (many pawn islands, isolani, fractured structure, etc) for EG. Or whatever. Suggests then, that might be where you want to head to. Trade of the Minors. Etc. Important to endgame efficiancy. Don't rout analyze every variation. Think schematically like Capa. Where do things Need to Be, for a winning position. Then figure out how to get them there. Using analysis to uncover and overcome the difficulties in doing so.

ccmcacollister 44 ( +1 | -1 )
PS ... Above my remarks are mainly addressed to the general population. Tho it says to Anax. (jsut to agree with his previous).

But wanted to PS here. IF it WORKS then IT IS "Positional". It only Looks unpositional. In other words, appears to conflict with the accepted generalities. However, it is the generalities that are at fault then. And up to us to know the exceptions when we see them. Good Moves are Good Moves. Winning ideas are Good Ideas.
brobishkin 132 ( +1 | -1 )
Tactics... A man named Richard Teichmann, a leading master in the early 1900's wrote "Chess is 99% tactics"...And he was right... No matter how much theory progress, how radically styles change, chess play would be inconceivable without tactics...

At vertually every move, each player must consider his opponent's tactical threats, he must calculate the best sequence of moves to implement his own plans, and he must try to predict his opponent's opportunities and take measures to interfere with them...

Although most games between masters are planned with meticulous care, the errors are usuallytactical and result from inaccurate or insuffficient calculation... An unforseen resourse, a missed detail, an unexpected zwuschenzug, and sometimes just plain laziness... At times the positions themselves are wild and become vertually impossible to calculate...

Good players develop a tactical instinct, a sense of what is possible or likely and what is not worth calculating... The presence of a weak square, an exposed King, a critical open line, a local preponderance of material, or some other factor that helps determine when a combination or sacrafice is worth examining...

Chess is a tactical game the same way tennis is... Though the game is deeply positional and psychological... One still must hit the ball accurately...


anaxagoras 85 ( +1 | -1 )
We're still agreeing here brobishkin, or at least it seems that way.
Of course you have to hit the ball accurately, but accuracy can't be seperated from where you're supposed to hit the ball. Imagine the man who says, "No matter that I hit the ball out of bounds, I still hit it accurately!" We would say here that he hasn't yet learned what accuracy is.
and I think you would agree here, despite our different preferences for emphasis on the words "tactics" and "position."
I suppose our worry is that you can't make tactical opportunities where you want them. Sometimes there is just no plausible combination for attacking the king, and then you have to say, "what about that backwards pawn on the queenside?" Every strong combinative or tactical player will eschew a kingside thrust when they see such a positional weakness; to do otherwise would not be tactics but irrationality.
ccmcacollister 54 ( +1 | -1 )
On the other hand .... To argue with myself ... I have a friend who is an otb FM that only knew endgames really well until "Expert" & only at X or NM began to look at some opening positions, and mostly only as they occurred within his own games. Of course he is very bright and was able to find ways out of trouble right at the board. But the strength of Mikes game always seemed to be knowing where he wanted to go, because of what he knew re endgames. An almost incomprehesible state to me, with my openings/MGm bias, for the longest time.
brobishkin 1 ( +1 | -1 )
Anax... We are in agreement...