Monday, October 27, 2008

Chess Study Can Be a Beach!

Greetings from Hilton Head, South Carolina. I've been having a nice time hanging out with my sisters and other family and friends. I will not be adding South Carolina to my "states I've played tournaments in" list on this trip. Maybe another time.

"No tournament down here is for the birds!"

This is the remnants of one position I was looking at from "The Seven Deadly Chess Sins" by Jonathan Rowson. This is what happens when you try to play over a game sitting on the beach on a windy afternoon. I have a small roll up board and it took off in gust of wind. Note: A little artistic license was taken by putting the white king in the clam shell. The rest of the pieces landed as is.

Since I've found Blue Devil Knight's summaries of Rowson's Chess For Zebras so interesting, I thought I'd look at Rowson's other book. I don't have the Zebra book. This first chapter is already giving me food for thought. The first chess sin is thinking. That's something I can relate to since I have a tendency to over think, or lock in on one thing without taking other parts of the position into consideration.

I did find this first position interesting. (Before the wind gust trashed the board)

Bundesliga 1993/94

Rowson asks the reader to consider the position and the possibilities for White. Like most people I'm looking at trying to break through on the king side with perhaps a move like 25. Bh3 with the idea of g4. Instead the game continued 25. a4!? Qd7 26. Qd1 (Was the queen better on h5?)Rc8 27. a5 Rcf8 28. Qa1 Qe7 29. Qa3! (I would not have considered this move because of the doubled isolated pawns after Qxa3. However that's the point Rowson is making.) Qxa3 30. bxa3 (The pawns look weak, but Black can not attack them.) ...Rd8 31. Rb2 Rc7 32. Rb5 (d5 and b7 are vunerable points in Black's position, made possible by White's doubled a pawns.)....Rdd7 33. Kf2 g6 34. Ke3 Kg7 35. Rfb1 Kf7 36. Rc5 Ke7 37.Rbb5 Rxc5 38. dxc5! (Normal thought processes would have come up with Rxc5. However the pawn capture gives White's king a place to penatrate) ...Kd8 39. a6 Kc8 40. Rb6!! Bg8 (40... axb6 41. a7 bxc5 42.a8=Q+) 41. Rf6 Rd8 42. Kd4 bxa6 43. Rd6 1-0

Rowson asked Rozentalis about how he came up with this plan. Rozentalis explained the idea of using his strategic advantange to penetrate Black's position. He felt with the closed position he needed to open the queen side. Rowson's point is how easy it is to stuck on certain ideas. "If you began by looking for combinational breakthroughs on the kingside, you made it much more difficult for yourself to see the position as a whole. This type of problem, where our mind fixes on something and can't get past it, is very typical of the way we think. We are attracted to something and then it pulls us in like a magnet before we can think of anything else."

Guilty as charged! That has been one of my biggest problems in recent losses. I get stuck on one way of approaching a position, or fixated on what I think the issue is, and can't see beyond that line of thinking.

The position above is after White's 17th move in Smyslov - Reshevsky 1948. This is a fllow up game to the Rozentalis game in Chapter 1. I solved the flying chess board issue by drawing a board in the sand. I guess it's a little hard to tell if there are dark or light square weaknesses in the position.

Until my next post, see you later....

..... alligator!


likesforests said...

It's only natural to consider whether we can win immediately on the kingside with 1.Bh3 and 2.g4.

Tactics before strategy.

Rozentalis knew such an attack was doomed to disappointment. (I wonder if he knew instinctively or quickly calculated it out.)

With that realization, logically he looked to create activity in another area of the board.

likesforests said...

How do we overcome a fixation? I suppose knowing we are succeptible to them may help but hopefully he suggests something more. :)

chesstiger said...

"Raisses hand" I am guilty, i bought Chess for Zebra's after reading some of BDK's blog posts about the book.

I guess your post demonstrates one of the first things Rowson says in his book Chess for Zebra's namely "to learn one has to unlearn".

You write it yourself that you become to fixated with one idea and forget the rest of the board. So to improve you have to unlearn your turtle view (low by the ground so one doesn't see the whole picture but just a little piece of it) and learn to watch like those birds in the sky (nothing is blocking your overall view, except maybe clouds but we all have our bad days).

chesstiger said...

Please adjust your link to my blog. I have moved to so that i can use chessflash.

tanc (happyhippo) said...

Hi polly,

Loved your comment about fixation.

I find that fixation is one of the typical mindsets that happens in chess.

That's why during an attack, it is always wise to follow and apply the rule of 2 weaknesses.

If an opponent is defending heavily on one side of the board, create another weakness on the opposite flank. Chances are that at some point your opponent will collapse.

I myself am having a good time away from chess. And I find that I'm getting more refreshed. Prior to this week, I was thinking of actually giving up competition chess but something happened this week to pull me back. My parents-in-laws came or more specifically, my father-in-law (the one who got me interested in chess from the beginning)! :)

Polly said...

Like: Rozentalis knew the attack on the kingside wasn't going to work so he focused his attention on the queenside. It's interesting because his first intention after Qd1 was to push b3, but he realized that gives Black play on the c file.

I started reading the next part called thinking about thinking, but I really have to reread it since it's a rather lengthy narrative and I haven't quite figured out what he's saying. I suppose part of the process is doing what he suggests in the Zebra book about 20 minute studies of complex positions, and forcing ourselves to look at positions more fully.

Tiger: I guess we need to stop always looking for the quick tactic and be more bird like in our view of the board.

I've fixed your link. I'm sure you'll like blogger once you get used to it.

Tanc: For most of us we never can totally give up on chess. Sometimes a break from the competitive scene can refresh us, and help us jump back in with a different perspective.

James Stripes said...


I love those photos!

Polly said...

James: Thanks. I've still got a lot to learn about this camera. Thank goodness for digital photography, otherwise I'd be wasting a lot of film. I'm having a lot of fun photographing the wild life down here. We don't have alligators in NY.

Anonymous said...

Polly, This is totally off topic, but I couldn't find your email: I wanted to say that I started reading Gonzales's Deep Survival, and it's a fantastic book. It jives well with similar books I've read about the brain, and there's something on almost every page that's applicable to chess. Thanks for telling us about this book. I'm looking forward to reading some of his other stuff too.

Howard Goldowsky

Polly said...

Howard: I'm glad you like the book. His website has some really good stuff on it. I keep thinking about going through his list of survival tips and drawing up a chess parallel to it. Just another one of those multitudinous things I've got bouncing around in my brain.