Sunday, March 29, 2015

Chess Science vs Art

There's an interesting question in whether the game of chess is artistic or scientific. One might take a Game from the great Max Euwe and opt scientific due the mathematicians methodical and precise play. One might also look at a game from Mikhail Tal and consider it more artistic do to his extremely flashy play that looks almost magic-like. Lets really examine both perspectives.

The Science of Tactics

The goal of science is to really test a theory for approval or disproval. A large portion of chess tactics require testing a solution out (in your head). So in reality, you are using basic scientific principals to determine whether your a move will prove favorable or disadvantageous. This is especially true when testing tactical combinations that can be narrowed down to a subset of effective and often forced results.

The Art of Strategy

Chess strategy on the other hand can be far more artistic. Artistic doesn't necessarily mean completely lacking in structure and neither does strategy. Ive found strategy really favors an open mind and an open eye. With that said, there needs to be some sort of discipline when it comes to committing to an option, but not before you have accessed the situation properly.

So art or science you ask? I like to answer with a tad bit of both.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Tactics vs Strategic Question

A common theme learning chess players tend to struggle with, is finding a direct path to improvement. As you may know, there are 2 relatively well known qualities in a chess position, strategic and tactical. Some people claim chess is 90% tactics, yet I tend to agree.

For inexperienced players, missing tactical variations is far more common and game decisive than amongst stronger seasoned players. However, when listening to interviews and analysis gathered amongst experienced and stronger players, the tactics are often pointed out in a very relaxed way. This is of course because seasoned players recognize the tactical elements straightforward.

The bulk of the annotations, and analysis are to scrutinize the positional points that may lend to tactical possibilities. This is because at higher levels of play, strategic blunders have a far greater impact in the grand scheme since the advantageous position leads to more opportunities for tactical combinations.      

This doesn't happen as often amongst newer players because there tends to be a greater disregard for strategical elements. Now under these circumstances, the difference between a strong beginner and a weaker beginner isn't decided by the game of chess as a whole, but only a straightforward sub-portion of the game, one of which most seasoned players have already acquired + extra.

Tactics are much easier to learn since forced moves are straight-forward when you work them out. Strategical elements are not as easily quantified by routine, but more of ingenuity and experience.

Hopefully, this article will help you with making decisions on how to study. Keep practicing and most importantly, have fun :)

Friday, February 20, 2015


I've been on a brief hiatus from chess to work on a few other things in life. I also work as computer programmer and it's been quite an exciting stretch in my career. 

Even though I haven't competed much, I've been still working on a few puzzles. It's been less stressful no doubt, but I really do enjoy competing and blogging. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chess Talent and Titles

One frequent question comes up in chess and most performance based aveneus. "Can anyone become a master, or is it birth talent?". Not only is it often asked, but it's heavily debated to this day.

To get the obvious out of the way. Possible is a dangerous keyword. It is possible that every top skilled player gets sick long enough for you to meet requirements held by the federation. The odds of that happening makes that argument unrealistic. The real question is "Can anyone develop the skills required to reach a level needed to win a Master title". My answer lies somewhere to a combination of factors and I lean to the answer of "no".

Many top players will often take the stance that talent itself is only one of many barriers, if not requirements. A second issue is nurture. Growing up with the "right" influence makes a significant deal on how you exploit your talents. That is not to say having a chessboard shoved to you at a young age will make much difference. The key is not chess as much as "mastery". Mastery at chess can be developed outside of chess itself at a young age. Learning to solve or at least approach problems analytically at a young age makes a major difference. Sometimes this works out better if you are encouraged and have a cast of motivators throughout your life. Sometimes you learn by beating the odds and making ends meet. It's all about how you exploit your talents in the here and now.

Skill itself can be taught and learned, often by will. So asking if anyone can become a "good", or "knowledgeable" chess player, the answer most definitely is yes. However, not anyone can, by odds, have the perfect set of talents, right training path, motivation to develop skills, and competitive opportunity to thread the needle. That is why masters are defined with the requirements they are.

So where does this leave you? Well, who's to say you are anyone? Who's to say you can't thread the needle. Your situation may seem so off-target that it seems impossible, but who cares really. No one will really if you were talented until it's all said and done and even then... You can't predict the future and it's too late to change the past. Instead, be confident and play the game you love and develop your mastery of the game.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Best Way to Improve Concentration

A big question is how does one keep their mental composure when playing chess... or perhaps doing anything in life.

Sure, when you're on a roll you're on a roll. What happens when things get complicated? Your whole focus tends to break down. You make a move and seconds later you think... "gah I can't believe I overlooked that important detail". Then it goes to... "I hope they don't see that mistake". Then it goes "how do I make up for that blunder".

Concentrating can make all the difference. Even if you blunder horribly, if you concentrate hard you can still win the war on attrition by keeping your opponent on edge and making up lost ground.

So what is the best way to concentrate? Well... concentration often starts before the match. Practicing good structure to your thinking goes a long way. Good structure to thoughts are applied to each move not just to some. Just because you have blundered or the situation looks completely foreign, it doesn't mean sticking to your thought structure will prove any less valid.

Armatures tend to break away from their practice is scary situations. Sometimes it's safer play, sometimes riskier gambles. Regardless of the direction, the intent is always negligible and tends to domino uncontrollably. That means you giving the keys to your opponent.

So with all things said and done practicing structure to your ideas is key. The practicing part engraves this into your system so your knee-jerk reaction is using your brain and not just your nerves. If you find yourself not concentrating... slowdown. Forget the clock... for a moment, and add a bit of structure. It will save you time in following up and will, if nothing else, give you direction.