|Jose R. Capablanca - we will be reviewing one of his few losses next week.|
Now an article by Jonathan Kolkey that makes a lot of sense:
Every chess player on earth faces an excruciating situation: we reach a point where we play about as well as we will ever play, and then we never progress any further. Of course not everyone can become a grandmaster, or even a master. In fact, statistically Class B players are quite rare.
Nonetheless, most chess players never come close to maximizing their potential. I suspect that many players remain haunted by a nagging sense that with all the time and effort we invested in the game, we should have been better. We all appear to be suffering collectively from a case of 'arrested development.'
I have reached the conclusion that there must be a huge flaw in the way we are educated about chess. The traditional grandmaster annotation allows the game to unfold in front of the student's eyes. I say that this MUST be supplemented by an equally essential 'post mortem' or autopsy if you will. The autopsy takes the key position and then analyzes them 'backwards', in order to discover exactly how both players arrived at a particular position.
Let me use me as an example. I studied everything I could find as a young tournament player, and slowly moved up the rating board. As an A player, my memory is better than most. I even have a draw against Sammy Reshevsky in a simultaneous exhibition that the grandmaster used in his column - calling me an 'able opponent.' But I peaked at a rating of 1937. I can still hold my own near A player strength on a 'good hair' day.
But I wonder why I never became an expert. I always could calculate variations, but my lack of spatial skills condemns me to a short event horizon of only a few moves ahead. I am forced to play chess based on general principles and keep the game simple, lest I quickly become lost in a thicket of complications.
I now recognize that traditional chess literature never addressed my major shortcoming. Players like me and below with limited foresight cannot hope to transfer lessons from grandmaster games into our own.
GM and IM chess writers - as well as military historical writers - use a technique called 'the fog of war" where the reader is only given only as much information as needed to explain the event's outcome.
I think we should learn the outcome FIRST and then trace the position backwards. In this way, we conveniently circumvent the amateur's limited event horizon.
As an historian, I'm used to analyzing events backwards in a manner similar to that of a coroner performing an autopsy. I believe that only in this fashion can ordinary players understand what is really going on in the game. Indeed, key positional elements, such as development and time, control of the center and files, color schemes and the configuration of minor pieces are best understood in hindsight.
[Editor's note: Let that sink in and we will give an example next post. I'm re-reading this myself!