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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Know Thyself.

Pin It It is important to know the positive and negative features of your opponent, but it is no less important to know the same about yourself. That is why Alekhine put it first on his list. You will not find much help in this from asking other people. Only a severely self-critical outllok will help a player to assess his strong and weak points and so further the process of improving his play.


During the process of improvement, a player may well find that one aspect of his play stands still while other aspects are going forward. To combat this tendency of lopsided improvement I recommend a periodic check-up.

The check-up should consist of analysing of all the games you have played since tha last such examination and in particular the games you lost must be examined with a fine tooth-comb. Every move must be studied scrupulously, mistakes criticised and conclusions drawn.

Every aspect of the game should be examined at this time; how you play opening, your endgame technique, your mastery of middle game play.

Drawing general conclusions about your main weaknesses can provide a great stimulus to further growth. There was a time when Botvinnik himself admitted to play sharp complicated positions. 'Here my old fault of a lack of tactical vision showed itself,' he wrote in the notes to a game, yet this was at a time when he was already Soviety champion!

By hard work he managed to eradicate this fault and his games subsequently contained the most tricky and complicated combinations. In the same way Bronstein had to work hard at improving his play in the endgame.

You also have to know your own strong and weak points from the point of view of tournament play. How do you react to losses; how do you hehave after you have committed an inaccuracy or blunder? Do you go red, turn pale or can you remain poker-faced? You must not let your opponent know how you feel.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Know Your Opponent.

Pin It Grandmasters are very well informed about the strong opponents whom they meet frequently in top class events. Some players keep a special file for each opponent, and as far as they know the same practice is followed by other grandmasters. These files contain a summary of the characteristics of the player and advice to oneself on what points should be concentrated on in view of his strong and weak points.



A great deal of attention is devoted to the opponent's games. All of these have to be studied and conclusions drawn. These have to be studied and conclusions drawn. These conclusions are then added to the file. Then you can plan the openings and actual variations which you will adopt next time you meet. Previous games with a particular opponent are a guide to the next encounter and you try to work out what his attitude will be and what form he is in.

You make a not of how he behaves during a game and whether he has any weaknesses as a tournament player. Thus, for example, it is well known that Efim Geller and Mikhail Tal often lose a game early on in the event, but this only stirs up their fighting instincts and they play on with redoubled vigour. On the other hand, Laszlo Szabo reacts badly to losses and once he has lost his first game in a tournament his play goes down.

This knowledge of your opponent, not just as a player but also as a person, is very important How often have I heard from Botvinnik remarkably deep comments on his fellow grandmasters. Speaking of Korchnoi's wonderful tournament victories he once said, 'Korchnoi is a marvellous tournament fighter. He makes a be-line for the enemy, but at the same time he rarely fails to spot errors.' This phrase 'rarely faith to spot errors.' is a fine description of the accuracy which Korchnoi manages to combine with his fighting play.
Botvinnik remarked of Petrosian,'He has the rare gift of putting his pieces so that they always defend each other'. Of one tall grandmaster he said, 'He's very fond of long moves'. Once at a joint training session we were analysing a position in which White had bishops at d3 and b2 pointed menacingly at the balck king. The former world champion's comment was,'This is the sort of position where Kotov would finish him off quickly. But this was far from being the first time when he showed a surprising acquaintance with my play. 'Kotov has poorly developed sense of danger,' he said once.


We all study our opponent and try to work out which positions he likes and which ones he cannot stand. We also know the external signs which indicate that he does not like the look of his position, though these signs vary immensely. With some players their ears turn red, others start pulling their hair, others shake their feet about under the table. All this must be known, and taken into acount. In the tense struggle of a tournament game even the slightest trifle that helps you to know what the opponent is thinking is valuable.

Chess And Life.

Pin It People learn how to play chess at different ages, but most frequently when they are children or teenagers. They become very keen and spend al their spare time playing. Then for some the attraction lessens, whereas for other their love of the game increases all the time. It is from the latter group that we normally get our first-category players and then our candidate masters and masters.

What should a teenager do when he has gained the title of candidate Master? After all, life demands that he fulfil his obligations to study and work. Where does chess fit in? Considerable experience shows that chess does not get in the way of these obligations. It is not difficult to combine a very strong attraction to chess with work and study. My own experience was that chess did no harm my studies at school and in college, and even proved to be helpful as it played a part in developing habits of logical thought.




Can chess be a profession ? Once, in bulgaria, an orchestra conductor asked Bondarevsky, 'Tell me, grandmaster, do you have a profession?" Bondarevsky smiled an in his turn posed the question, 'Do you?' The conductor realised that his question had not been very tactful, and apologised.

We are firmly of the opinion that a person can devote all his efforts to the game all his life Chess has come to deserve this. As Botvinnik put it, 'Chess is no whit inferior to the viloline, and we have a large number of professional violinist .' At the same time, however, I wish to warn the young reader that when he is taking his first steps in the big world he should not give up his work and studies for the sake of concentrating on chess alone.

How often have I come across those so-called 'unrecognised' talents. What a pitiful sight they are! The only correct approach is to combine work with chess activities. Only when you get the fullest recognition and become a grandmaster can you devote yourself entirely to the art of chess. Even then the decision demands serious thought; it is still far from easy to have the fate of you and your family dependent upon the hazards of tournament play. Moreover, there are a number of players who are able in one way or another to continue to follow their chosen profession and yet still manage to achieve excellent results in tournaments.

The factor of success.

The following comment by World Champion Alekhine is well known; 'I consider that there are three factors necessary for success. Firstly, an understanding of one's strengths and weaknesses; and finally a higher aim than passing satisfaction. I see this aim as the desire to achieve those scientific and artistic values which put chess on a par with a number of other arts.

Let us consider these three factors, starting with the last one. The reader will doubtless understand what is mean. I have had occasion to se just the opposite when in a Pioneer Palace the player giving a simultaneous exhibition has put a piece en prise His young opponent, eager for the win, captures it and gets high praise from the resident trainer. That could hardly be called high aim. But we do know the service rendered to the game by such outstanding players as Riumin, ragozin and Simagin, for whom the quality of the game they were playing was a more important factor than the result. This is where they saw the true significance of their endeavours, and theirs is the example which we should all follow.