Sunday, April 5, 2015

Improving at Chess

Today I saw a great response by Garry Kasparov on Twitter to the question of how to improve at chess in the computer age.

I remember as a junior having little material to work with back in the early 1980's, and I then got a bulletin of all the games of from the 1981 Linares tournament. These were bare game scores, and I went through every game (there were 66 if my memory is correct) trying to understand the tactical reasons as well as the strategic reasons why moves were played. There were a lot of styles of players from the solid Karpov through the unorthodox Larsen to the attacking Christiansen. I worked on every aspect of the game, but especially the accuracy of moves, or the tactical justification of why moves are chosen.

I remember learning a lot about positional ideas, thinking about development schemes from certain openings, the strength of different castled positions, structural weaknesses and their exploitation, and the nature of exchanging. I tried to discover some endgame secrets, but I think I generally failed at that as my young mind was more into faster methods of winning games of chess.

Anyway, I think it is time to get back to this method and start looking at a tournament as a whole, the good, the bad and the ugly. It has been a long time since I've done this, and when I studied Linares 1981, it was the thing that pushed my rating up to the 1800-2000 standard (I was also playing a lot and analysing my games as best I could).

From that tournament here is a game between surprise winner Larry Christiansen and ex World Champion Boris Spassky. The game starts as an exchange Queen's Gambit Declined, but Christensen livens things up by castling queen side. The game becomes very sharp until it reached this position.
Christiansen as white unleashed the amazing looking move 23.Ne4! where it is attacked by a knight which is pinned, and a pawn which is pinned and a rook, but after 23..Rxe4 Christiansen wins the exchange by simply taking, 24.Qxe4 as both of black pieces that can take white's queen are still pinned!

Anyway, here is the game while I'm off to find the bare game scores of a tournament that I can work through.

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