Friday, May 25, 2007

Positional elements, analysis and integration of

First a short announcement: I've finally created a link list. Look to the left and you shall find. If someone linking to me isn't added, let me know and I'll consider including you (which I most likely will, unless you write really wicked stuff).

Okay, it's time to go mendelejev again, this time to identify groups of positional factors (not to be confused with the semi-positional elements in the tactical inventory, that I've written about else).

What I once learned and retained is the following, these four groups:

1. Safety of the king
2. lines and diagonals (lines includes rows)
3. squares and pawns (including weak pawns/squares, pawn-formation, etc)
4. Placement of the pieces.

Edit: actually, I haven't retained it correctly after all, since "space" must be, and was, included. Yet I'm sure there were exactly four groups. Maybe space belongs with "placement of the pieces"? No... um. Whatever, let's add a fifth category until further notice:

5. Space

(Edit 2: and what about the center, shouldn't that be mentioned? Uhmm.)

Does that cover it all?

I thought I had got it from "The Art of the Middlegame" (Keres/Kotov), but I've searching in that book and can't find it. Perhaps it was from "Thinking like a Grandmaster". Anyone know? Or maybe I just compiled the list myself, using these works. Don't remember, although I do remember Keres (or Kotov) specifically saying something about the value of extracting the various elements, specifically comparing the activity to creating the periodic system.

Ayn Rand identified four elements in fiction: plot, characterization, style and theme. She pointed out that these parts are not separate in the fiction itself, it's just in our mind that we can pick out the parts and analyze them by themselves. For example, through the character's actions we learn both about the character himself (characterization) and it also drives (or should do) the plot forward, and it's also part of the theme and expressed in a certain style, and so on.

Likewise in chess. Having weak squares around the castled king both falls under "safety of the king" and "squares and pawns", and possibly under "placement of the pieces" (you would like a black knight on h3, wouldn't you?) as well as lines and diagonals (like that killer bishop on b7 that is just about to shoot the white king in the head). These things are picked apart intellectually only, in reality they are connected (and they should be connected in our minds too, part of the process of analysis is to discover these connections. So analysis has a close relation to integration and 'holism', actually. Or should have.)

To be continued. I've already written the next part (actually I haven't, but I thought I would by the time I published this, but I will), which is about connecting positional analysis with goals. What exactly do we *do* with these positional elements after they've been identified? In GTD terms, what's out purpose and what's the next action?

(I like the phrasal verb to "go mendelejev", and I think I'll make "mendelejevism" its own category/label. Good thing about not having english as your first language; you get to say anything, including making up your own words and phrases. : ))

(And btw, I've now seen the first season, and 1/3 of the second, of Babylon 5, and I like it a lot. I'll have more to say about that.)


Blue Devil Knight said...

Whatever works is my motto. Each author has a slightly different set of criteria, and sometimes offers arguments that it is the best one, that others' lists have 'pseudo factors.' This isn't math, it's chess, so it doesn't matter if the factors aren't independent (though it would matter if we were trying to construct an axiomatic system for geometry, say, which we are obviously not).

I'm not sure about lines/diagonals in relation to placement of the pieces. Perhaps space was on the original list of four, and placement of the pieces was part of number two (pieces want to be on open lines).

I find useful in practice to use:
a) Piece activity
b) King Safety
c) Pawn structure

The latter includes space, weak squares, etc as special cases.

For me, piece activity is God, and I discussed it extensively here.

That will eventually go into my thought process document, though in a significantly revised form.

transformation said...

thank you. it is alway good to visit here. now... ?

i cannot fault your desire to distinguish parts of a methodology, so that, at the board often under pressure or time demand or both, one needs a routine, or a habit, to ask, what we have missed?

i am not sure race car drivers have a sequence such as: 'ok, how close is the car ahead?', 'how tight is this turn?', 'how much gas do i have or rubber on my tires?' or 'if i try for first or second place in this awkward squeeze i might risk going off the road altogether, so will try for a calm fourth, and not risk team points or money?', but they of course must necessarily consider all of these things.

so in chess, of course, time, space, force, mobility but what matters more than the fact of whether you have the correct assortment to your list is the benefit of trying to reconcile what is important, to fix this into our brains. latter on, we wont have time to practice king safety, or outpost, or mobility or blockaide, etc.

so i say, instead of the distinction of the elements, i say what is valuable is the effort to distinguish protocols and the effort and the attempt is what matters, not the accuracy or perfectio of its constituencies.

this is like Gurdjieff, who used to say that it was the effort to wake up (spiritually) rather than the fact of it that mattered...

warmly, david

XY said...

BDK said "Whatever works is my motto" and Transformation said "i cannot fault your desire to distinguish parts of a methodology"

Actually, I wasn't trying to identify a methodology. It would be really ineffective to go through a list like this in a game, especially a blitz game (which is what I play), and especially after having added tactical principles etc. As I've said several times in earlier posts, the fewer the better. Long lists are both useless and boring for the purpose of actual play.

Still, I think it benefits understanding of chess to try to classify its elements like this. I've found it good a way to "think about" chess, I make connections I wouldn't otherwise have made. And classification is fun to do.

Crashdummie said...

Thanks for reminding me why chess is so not my thing – to much planning & analyze is required. I think I’m to restless for this game. But I can always cheer for the players!

(that wouldn’t be annoying at all now would it)

XY said...

Hello crashie, didn't think you would show up here, när jag vet vad du tycker om schack. :)

Fast jag skriver inte bara om schack, se t ex min eminenta tv-serie lista som jag skrev för ett tag sedan.

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