24 October 2012

Lesson of the Week

The Anthology of Chess Combinations (1995) contains one position from the games of Akiba Rubinstein. It is this week's lesson. The position appeared in the 1927 Polish Championship, which Rubinstein won. His opponent was Moishe Hirschbein.

White to move

This problem is not difficult for the average adult club player, but may prove difficult to scholastic players who are just beginning their life as chess players. In my Tuesday groups, one first grader found the correct move, but most of the other players had difficulty.

I continue to stress the thinking process of first assessing the position, then developing plans. However, this week, I mentioned to the young players that strong players do not always use such a process with every move. Tactics training develops pattern recognition. Good knowledge of patterns allows a player to immediately observe the threats in this position: Black has some vulnerabilities that White is prepared to exploit. Calculation of the combination takes precedence over positional evaluation. Nonetheless, one must see the position at the end of the combination and evaluate that position correctly. In this case, White gains a decisive material advantage.

Young students need preparation to see the tactical opportunities in positions such as this one. Hence, the players again received a sheet with six elementary problems. In each position, they are to find White's correct move. In chess terminology, the correct move is the strongest one.

The fourth problem on the students' sheet did not have a pawn on a2. This difference does not alter the tactic, but it does affect the evaluation. Without the pawn on a2, best play by both sides leads to a draw. With that extra pawn, White has a winning position.

1 comment:

  1. Hi James,

    Another great post.

    Related to the position from the Rubinstein game, it could be helpful for students to really look into how Black's position got so weak to allow the tactic.

    It's unfortunate that many students get so enamored with hopeful game winning tactical blows that they spend hours on tactical problems without ever understanding how to set up the opportunities.

    Then in practical game situations, unless the opponent just gives them a chance, they don't see the positional basis opportunity for a tactical play.

    Worse, they also often lose a lot of time looking for play's that are not there, forget about weaknesses in their position, and sometimes go for unsound sacrifices based on tactical hopes.

    There's a lot of good chess quotes but I always thought one of the most helpful is Fischer's "As usual, tactics flow from a positionally superior game."