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  1. 30 Oct '11 09:56
    People keep saying that you need a plan. I have never had one and I have no idea how to have it. I just can't understand the concept.

    When I see that some move wins material or leads to checkmate, or pawn promotion, or impoves a piece, or whatever, I make the move, but I don't think it's a plan, is it? I understand it must be long-term and uncertain do be a plan. How do I set long-term plans in a non-arbitrary way? When I don't see a combination, I just try to improve my position -- keep my rooks on the open files, knights in the center of the board, king safe, bishops aiming around the enemy king. How do I say to myself, "Now, I'll attack the queenside." How do I choose?
  2. 30 Oct '11 10:45 / 1 edit
    For me a plan is having options if your opponent decides to do this, that or the other thing. At the start this usually involves development of the pieces to give yourself a greater position to attack and set traps in the middle game.
  3. 30 Oct '11 12:20
    ...a plan is a plan? and without a plan we cant play chess or your doomed to lose!
  4. 30 Oct '11 13:14
    Originally posted by PAWN RIOT
    ...a plan is a plan? and without a plan we cant play chess or your doomed to lose!
    I lose very often, that's true. That's why I would like to understand this planning thing. The only thing I can do, if it's easy enough for me, is find a sequence of moves that unavoidably leads to a desired short-term outcome. I'm a chess oportunist. How do I go about not being one?
  5. Standard member atticus2
    Frustrate the Bad
    30 Oct '11 13:14
    A move is a response to a move. A plan is a response to a position.

    The difference is entirely human: engines can't plan. Humans however need to organise information into coherent wholes; hence, the plan.

    But a plan is no use unless it's the right plan. This may seem obvious, but it's far from easy to arrange. To give an example:

    The other night, I played an OTB game, my opponent a capable 2100+ player. After 40 moves, I'd established a decisive advantage - post-game analysis by Rybka put me +5.25. But the position on the board was highly complex, and into the final few minutes, fraught with tension. I was faced with four plans to convert my advantage:

    Plan A - forced zugzwang, threatened mate in 1, and won on the spot
    Plan B - forced a pawn through to promotion after a N sac, winning
    Plan C - maintained a bind, and brought my K into the attack, winning
    Plan D - won a pawn with check, but allowed counterplay

    Guess which plan I chose? That's right: Plan D. And I lost the game!

    How is that possible? I'm still trying to work that out myself. But the truth is, I never considered Plan A; never saw the idea until Rybka showed me. But I did analyse Plan B & Plan C. Both looked fine. Then I saw Plan D - and played the key move quickly without really analysing it. I thought it was better than B or C - and my clock was ticking. In other words, I was spoiled for choice, and under pressure, made the wrong choice, painfully!

    In the process, I fell into the trap GM Kotov warns against: faced with several winning plans, one becomes "dizzy with success". Indeed, Kotov says, we end up doing exactly as I did - investing time on certain plans, but then impulsively dashing off an inferior move under clock pressure.

    So planning is essential. But it brings it's own risks too 🙁
  6. Donation ketchuplover
    G.O.A.T.
    30 Oct '11 14:10
    Long think. Wrong think. I think.
  7. 30 Oct '11 14:49
    Originally posted by WanderingKing
    People keep saying that you need a plan. I have never had one and I have no idea how to have it. I just can't understand the concept.

    When I see that some move wins material or leads to checkmate, or pawn promotion, or impoves a piece, or whatever, I make the move, but I don't think it's a plan, is it? I understand it must be long-term and uncertain ...[text shortened]... he enemy king. How do I say to myself, "Now, I'll attack the queenside." How do I choose?


    This position occured in one of my league games, playing for my chess club. I had black.

    The position looks completely level. Both sides have doubled pawns on the f-file, but are otherwise very solid.

    In order to make progress, I had to come up with a plan.

    It was difficult to see how I could do anything on the kingside.

    I could maybe do something in the centre, such as doubling rooks, but I wasn't sure what that would accomplish.

    In the end, I decided to try to play on the queenside.

    The plan was to push my queenside pawns and hope to open up lines and create targets for my rooks to attack.


    Here is the position a few moves later. I've already made quite a lot of progress in pushing my pawns, but there is still some work to do.



    I now had to decide whether to:

    a) exchange on c3 in order to open up the b-file for my rook

    or b) push the pawn to b3, gaining space on the queenside.

    I chose the latter option.


    A few moves later we reached this position.

    White's pawn on b2 is the weakness that I want to target.

    If I can win that pawn, I should easily win the game, because my own pawn on the b-file is so far advanced.

    I first needed to bring my queen on a1 or a2 in order to attack the pawn.


    The only thing left to do now is to find a way to bring my knight around to a4.



    Mission accomplished! The pawn cannot be defended.

    I won the pawn and the game soon after.

    Here are all the moves.

  8. Standard member nimzo5
    Ronin
    30 Oct '11 15:35
    DT just gave a great example of planning and atticus2 the issue of deciding on which plan to implement.

    For a less advanced player, learning to plan comes from understanding the building blocks of strategy and attack/defense.

    In DT's example he rejected an attack on the Kingside, in order to come to that conclusion you have to be able to first
    1) try and visualize what sort of attacking formation you would like to have.
    2) calculate if it is possible to be realized assuming your opponent is aware of your plan.

    That is really the basis of planning though, ask yourself where you would like your pieces to be and then assess if it is possible to achieve that.

    Dt's final plan of pushing pawns on the Queenside and creating a weakness is a more strategic idea. I'm sure DT was relying on past experience to evaluate his plan instead of bruce force "probing" to find what sort of weaknesses can be created.

    A lot of thematic strategic ideas are picked up from studying games and examining your own games with a stronger player who has a wealth of these sorts of ideas already.

    I don't know about Atticus2 but frequently what I find is that I generally don't miss the critical moment decision, but that I get lazy a bit later and miss a detail that costs me a half point. The classic example of using 30-45min to find the right plan/analysis and then later be short on time/energy/will power to convert it properly. Last year that cost me a gm (simul) scalp, an fm scalp and an NM scalp in a two month span.
    Recipe for that I believe is regular practice of analyzing critical positons (again returning to Kotov). Just my .02.
  9. Standard member atticus2
    Frustrate the Bad
    30 Oct '11 17:20 / 4 edits
    It's worth observing, in DT's example, how tactics feature only at the very end. Everything else involved positional, strategic, judgement.

    Moreover, the Plan got changed mid-execution! DT began by pushing pawns to open lines and create targets on the Q-side for his Rooks. But he jettisoned the Rooks once his pawn reached b3. In other words, a Plan is not an excuse for inflexibility.

    Then there is the matter of one's opponent. He is unlikely, if capable, of sitting around quietly while you execute your Plan. He'll counter with his own. Or if that isn't possible, he'll cut across your Plan with sound defence. DT's opponent did neither until too late. I'd be interested to know how David planned to meet the more resilient defence if his opponent had played 30.Nf1 (heading via e3 to d1) instead of 30.Kh2 as played. I think White still has time for something like g3, Kg2, Ne3, Nd1 as Black repositions his N
  10. 30 Oct '11 19:54
    Originally posted by atticus2
    It's worth observing, in DT's example, how tactics feature only at the very end. Everything else involved positional, strategic, judgement.

    Moreover, the Plan got changed mid-execution! DT began by pushing pawns to open lines and create targets on the Q-side for his Rooks. But he jettisoned the Rooks once his pawn reached b3. In other words, a Plan is n ...[text shortened]... ink White still has time for something like g3, Kg2, Ne3, Nd1 as Black repositions his N
    Yes, atticus2 is right. Normally, in well contested games, both players will strive to impose their own plans and do everything they can to prevent their opponent from carrying out his.

    In the game I gave, White seemed to play without a realistic plan and was unaware of what Black was trying to achieve, until it was too late to do anything to about it.

    He made a half-hearted attempt to attack on the Kingside, but it was never likely to succeed.

    He should have realised that Black's play on the queenside was more dangerous and done more to counter it.

    30.Nf1 with the plan of bringing the knight to e3 and then d1 to defend the pawn on b2, was indeed the correct way to defend.

    If my opponent had found these moves, he would probably have drawn the game.

    After all, White only had one weakness to defend (the b2 pawn).

    In order to win, the stronger side would normally need a second weakness, so as to be able to switch the attack from one target to the other.

    It's quite possible that I made the wrong decision at move 23 and that continuing with my original plan with 23..bxc3 was stronger than what I played.

    I had a choice of two plans, both of which were promising, lead to an advantage to Black and would cause White problems.

    It’s not possible to see far enough ahead to know which was best, so I just had to make a choice.
  11. 30 Oct '11 20:00
    Originally posted by atticus2
    A move is a response to a move. A plan is a response to a position.

    The difference is entirely human: engines can't plan. Humans however need to organise information into coherent wholes; hence, the plan.

    But a plan is no use unless it's the right plan. This may seem obvious, but it's far from easy to arrange. To give an example:

    The other night, I ...[text shortened]... under clock pressure.

    So planning is essential. But it brings it's own risks too 🙁
    hey atticus, am interested in this game now... do you think you could post the position/pgn in question?
  12. 30 Oct '11 20:29
    When there are no tactics to gain an advantage, you need to formulate a plan. If your plan is better than your opponent's you will gain an advantage that way. An example of a plan could be to put a knight to a certain great square for him, than thinking about the most effective way to maneuver one of your knights there, while keeping in mind your opponent's plan (what your opponent is trying to achieve with his moves. Of course, as soon as tactics pop up plans often go out the window.
  13. Standard member atticus2
    Frustrate the Bad
    30 Oct '11 20:42
    Originally posted by tharkesh
    hey atticus, am interested in this game now... do you think you could post the position/pgn in question?
    I'm sure I can - when I work out how 🙂 I'm not as adept at posting boards as DT and others. Maybe later
  14. 31 Oct '11 03:43 / 1 edit
    Hi DT

    Would you say Black's strategy was to go for the Queenside play
    and this was accomplished with a series of mini plans, the last of which
    was ganging up on the b2 pawn.

    It appeared White was waiting for you do something and then react.
    I'm guessing he was the lower graded player.

    Here: Instead of his 23.h4


    I can see there is no way to get at the Black King, I would have gone for 23.Ba4


    Chopping the Knight because then the Black Bishop cannot help out
    at the Queenside and b2 (or c3 if you exchange on c3) cannot be overpowered,
    I can defend it as many times as you can attack it.
    (this is not hindsight, I've always preferred Knights to Bishops) 🙂

    Is it any good?
    Would that have held out?
    Did you have a plan v that?
    (something ultra deep like exchange on c3, tie the Queen and Rook down
    holding c3 and bring the King to b3!)

    Nice and instructive as always....Your posts are too infrequent.
  15. Standard member mikelom
    Ajarn
    31 Oct '11 07:02
    A plan of battle that went disastrously wrong:

    http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/gallipoli.htm

    Interesting short read...which ends with

    "Expeditions which are decided upon and organised with insufficient care generally end disastrously.” - Lloyd George.

    ;Like a game of chess, where you have to have an initial plan, this being your opening with what you know and have experiences of the necessary moves to either attack or defend. Your middle game may well change, pending the opposition's moves and strengths of attack, or their weaknesses and non-understanding, where you push slowly or see super gains in strategic moves.
    The British and Allied armies made a complete hash of the middle game, and the end game became a draw as a result.

    Starting a game of chess is, indeed, going into battle and 'not' just with the raw artillery but also with the opposition's more than capable mind too!

    -m.