Originally posted by basso
So, I think if I can understand the game better, I will play better. So off to get another chess book in the hope that it will enlighten me to the mysteries of chess, and help me to understand the game better, and hence play better.
Chess understanding will get you to about a master level rating, but not necessarily further.
Here's my theory: I believe chess understanding is lacking from about a 2200 level downward. From master strength upward, chess understanding is actually about the same.
I think many players (myself included of course) limit the scope of their ideas in chess by playing according to dogmatic or simply bad principles thus not considering essential factors of a position. But from about master level and above, such players have about the same understanding of evaluating positions (all masters regardless of strength will generally analyze the same variations/options in a given position), but the better masters have a better intuitive understanding of how variations will turn out; I think that is why many people have great difficulty in ever achieving anything greater than a master rating OTB - however, a master level player playing correspondence chess will be able to calculate the essential variations better with the analysis board feature - and this ability combined with the ability to properly evaluate positions certainly allows OTB master level players to consistently beat the top chess engines in correspondence chess.
Put it this way: master level players and above have about the same understanding of chess knowledge so they will consider the same lines, but the a higher level master will evaluate the positions that come out of the very same lines the lower level master considered more accurately in different variations and would play accordingly.
This would be an interesting study: get a bunch of players, from a rating of 1000 to super-GM strength, have them evaluate a set of chess positions, noting what lines they were analyzing (and for what reasons) and then what line each player would proceed with. I'd guess that masters onward would analyze about the same number of lines, for the same reasons, the same lines to about the same depth, and consider the same aspects of a position, but the lesser masters would more often misevaluate the resultant position of the lines analyzed than the higher masters.
I wonder if such a study has been done? If not, one could take a set of games from lower rated masters, assiduously analyze for the mistakes made and then take sets of progressively higher rated master games, analyze those for what mistakes were made, and try to reason why those mistakes were made - and ask, were those mistakes made because of flawed chess understanding or because of flawed application of the same chess principles; i.e. lower masters considering the same ideas as higher masters but misevaluating the resultant positions -I'm inclined to believe this is the case.