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  1. 21 Sep '06 17:24 / 1 edit
    (Sorry, I don't know what happened to my Title there)
    Hey gang,

    I used to play here a while back, was even a subscriber. Although I probably won't start any games up here soon, this is still the best chess forum I can find, so I'm glad to be back.

    I want to raise a discussion that has been bothering me recently. Some players stongly believe the following statement:

    Amateurs and players under 1800 (some say 2000) should ONLY study tactics.

    One usually see's this statement made when someone says "I'm a 1600 player and reading a middle game/strategy book." To which someone replies "You should study tactics untill you are 1800."

    I would disagree with this statement. I believe that tactics are a very important aspect for this level of play, but that your speed of improvement would be stunted if you did not also study opening, middle game and endgame strategies in the 1200 - 2000 range.

    The following points are well understood (although the percentages are just a guess on my part)
    - 95% of non-expert chess games were lost due to tactical blunders.
    - In 95% of non-expert games one or more opportunities for a winning tactical play were missed.

    I would argue, however, that it is good strategic play that results in good opportunities for tactical play, and poor strategic play that results in poor opportunities for tactical play. Even the most basic of opening strategies, get your pieces developed, is mandatory if you're wanting any change of good combinations

    For instance, the opening 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4, going for what is known as the Scholars Mate, has a lot of tactical play for white, often threatening mate in from various angles and attacking black's pawns all along the frontier. It is often a favorite for 1300 players to use against 1200 players. Of course, most of us know that the opening isn't sound, resulting in White eventually having to run home and being far behind in development.

    Tactics do not teach you that is is wrong to bring out your Queen so early, or not to attack before your pieces are developed. You don't need to be a 2000 player for this to benefit you.

    In addition:
    - Tactics does not teach you to castle
    - Tactics does not teach you to control the center
    - Tactics does not teach you to connect your Rooks
    - Tactics does not teach you to attempt to disrupt your opponent pawn structure.

    These are all strategic points.

    Another point is that strategies are what take over when there are no tactical opportunities available.

    For instance, suppose you're black looking at board with a completely closed off center, both sides castled King-side, and each player's pieces trapped for the most part on their own sides of the closed center. A tactical black player of non-expert strength would look at this game in dismay. "Everything's jammed up. Oh well, I'll throw my pawns at the queenside try clear it out so I can get my Bishops and Queen out. Maybe I can win some material." That's not a bad thought, but it would probably mobilize the opponents army as well. A non-expert player who had read The Art of the Middle Game by Keres and Kotov would look at this a say "I remember that if the center is closed and both sides castled kingside, a player should be able to initiate a kingside pawn storm without danger of counter-attack in the center." Using a strategic principals he/she could get the advantage.

    Sorry for the long post, but what do you all think?
  2. 21 Sep '06 17:29
    Hi Iron Man
  3. 21 Sep '06 18:30
    I'm not a very stong player so i can't really comment on what it may be best to study when rated 1800 but i tried learning tactics for a while. I found that i did notice improvements in my game but they were slow coming. My ability to visualise moves increased and my rating did go up. However i found doing endless tactical problems hard work.

    Now after a break from playing i have started again and have picked up a book addressing stratagy for the kings indian defence, looking at this like pawn structures and themes and i'm finding i'm understanding the game as a whole lots better. Tactical oportunities just seem to come naturally.

    I think underlying stratagies are more important that the tactics. But then, i am only rated mid-1300 (normally anyway)
  4. 21 Sep '06 18:59
    Originally posted by Caro Kann
    Hi Iron Man
    Hi SantaDrummer.
  5. Standard member leisurelysloth
    Man of Steel
    21 Sep '06 19:34
    Originally posted by IronPawnX
    (Sorry, I don't know what happened to my Title there)
    Hey gang,

    I used to play here a while back, was even a subscriber. Although I probably won't start any games up here soon, this is still the best chess forum I can find, so I'm glad to be back.

    I want to raise a discussion that has been bothering me recently. Some players stongly believe th ...[text shortened]... get the advantage.

    Sorry for the long post, but what do you all think?
    It sounds like you've got a pretty good understanding of the game. How is it that you've got a sub-1100 rating?
  6. 21 Sep '06 19:35
    Originally posted by leisurelysloth
    It sounds like you've got a pretty good understanding of the game. How is it that you've got a sub-1100 rating?
    Timeouts, and he hasn't played here in a while.
  7. 21 Sep '06 19:52 / 1 edit
    Yeah, bingo. I've improved a lot since I used to play here, so I timed out all my games. I was about 1500 when I was playing here, with only a 1300 actual USCF rating. Now I rate at about 1450 USCF, so I don't know how I'd do here. I'm definately a non-expert, so I'm very interested in other's opinions on this issue.

    And Nickhawker,

    I wouldn't go so far as to say that tactics aren't as important as strategies. That is not true. No strategy in the world will help you if you keep dropping all your pieces. But I do believe that only the two hand in hand will make you better.

    One point that I forgot to make is that I would think that studying tactics only would allow you to form some bad habbits that violate stratigic play. If you managed to make it to 1800, then you would have to fix all those bad habbits. Not cool.
  8. Standard member Yuga
    Renaissance
    21 Sep '06 20:27 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by IronPawnX
    percentages just a guess;95% of non-expert chess games were lost due to tactical blunders;one or more opportunities for a winning tactical play were missed.Good strategic play that results in good opportunities for tactical play; Tactics does not teach you to.
    Tactics don't teach you many things. Learn the basics, and learn how to plan, i.e. learn how to properly evaluate a given position.

    "A tactic is a method employed to help achieve a certain goal. Strategy is the overall plan." (wikipidia.com)

    Non-expert players usually don't lose solely because of tactics that were missed. A large percentage of players will attribute their losses to tactics (a blunder there, an oversight here, etc.) Often, the problem is that many players do not understand the nuances of the game; in particular, many players lack the chess knowledge to properly evaluate a position. One gains chess knowledge from experience, and thorough, honest, accurate analysis of one's play - even if it means abandoning preconceptions that one has about chess.

    Basic advice: It is essential to understand mistakes and learn from them. Some players are oblivious to the mistakes they are making, or don't make the effort to improve their play, and therefore, will not improve their chess as much as one potentially could.