Saturday, May 12, 2007

Tactics and Strategy

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
- Sun Tzu 

And computers may have proven Sun wrong.

I am nearly 100 percent sure that tactics is by far where most strength is to be gained at my level. It is why I am a knight, it is why my child is a knightlet.

If you know nothing except tactics, you can avoid bad situations, and capitalize and punish your opponents mistakes. As a matter of fact you are nearly obligated to, that is why they are mistakes. If you don't punish the mistakes, the moves may become too powerful, and you may lose. In many ways this is precisely the heart of class play.

Computers are designed to play this way. Strategies are divined/implied by lack of bad things happening to you. Tactics are the computers way of punishing bad play by the opponent. It turns out if you play that way, in general, if you can look 8 moves out or (16 ply) within the time control, you will play world championship class chess. Nowadays you can buy a run of the mill desktop computer, and you can play someone the strength of a grandmaster. Unfortunately, they can't tell you why a move is being played, other than, it does the least damage and/or it inflicts the most damage.

The point of the circles, as I understand it, is to drop the wool from your eyes so you can see the tactics on the board. It does so by literally programming your brain to see them. To create a melange of positions, and do so repeatedly, to give yourself the database of possibilities to draw from as you are looking at the board. The ability to find the tactical refutations of bad plans. And to similarly avoid tactical issues.

It is of course, in general, difficult to be specific about errors. The world of errors in chess is much much larger than the world of truth. So documentation tends to be about the truth, even though, for the knights we live in a world of errors. We need not know how to parry the perfect counter strike. It is more important and more relevant to learn how to strike down our opponent.

But, I don't think it is an impossible to task to move through the Intermediate. I think that tactical puzzle study is vital to that task. We have to "see" to win. But it is also soulless and slow to come. And we know that there is more.

That more, is to understand what is happening. What are the strategies of the opening. Beyond the Opening basics that we had all have learned. In this tableau, where would I like my pieces, what is my method of prosecution. What is my opponents goal. How are they attempting to interfere with me? How am I attempting to interfere with them.

In developing candidate moves, I must find the tactics created by error, but I find joy in understanding how to prosecute the game.

It is finding this understanding, that will give me the joy going forward.

More Later

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