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I don’t know what thinking long and hard is but, thinking long and hard is not for chess, and less when playing in a torunament game where you only have sixty minutes for the entire game. What we need is thinking right, specific, and very concrete things. When playing in a torunament game we don’t have all the time in the world to find our next move; we need to efficiently use our thinking time to come up with a good strong or solid move. The truth is that it is only a number of specific things we’ve got to think during a tournament game. I’m not attempting to describe or explain a thought process during a game, or how you should think about finding a move, that’s a separate story; I’m not describing all the elements and skills involved to evaluate a position either, that’s another separate story. What I’m trying to lay out is “what” things we need to think about to play chess and come up with our move.

Let me make an analogy with swimming; if you want to go swimming, assuming you have a place to go, you need a swimming suit (very much mandatory), sandals or flip-flops, goggles, and a towel, that’s it. Now you are good to go to a great diving experience, assuming you know how to swim.

Contrasts

Contrasts

What are those things in chess?

Check mate: We want to think about check mate. What… We want to avoid check mate to our king; we want to make sure we are not being mated next move; we want to get closer to check mate our opponent’s king.

Threats and tactics: We want to find/resolve/meet all those immediate threats and tactics if we want to push the balance in our favor; not and easy thing to master.

A game plan (which can/should change as the game progresses): If you know the answer to “what to do?” in a given position then you’ve got a plan. Right or wrong, we’ve got to find a game plan. It is better to have a wrong plan than having no plan at all. Usually, when we know what to do in a given position, our next moves will come easy to our mind. I believe it is very much in the answer to this question “what to do” what makes chess a very challenging game and often times very difficult to play well. I believe it is in the answer to this question “what to do” that we set ourselves to learn about all those positional elements (static or dynamic) about chess, like initiative, pawn structure, weak pawns, bishop pair, weak squares, development advantage, material advantage, king safety, space advantage, and many others.

Sure you can study, learn, and better understand all those positional elements, so that you can come up with a stronger move or plan faster, and eventually become a stronger player. However, if you want to play a chess tournament game fairly well you need to think of these three specific things and in a reasonable amount of time (and usually for both sides), check mate, threats and tactics, and the game plan, they are very much present in all stages of the game, in the opening, during the middle game, and in the end game.

Is it ‘thinking hard’ putting our head hard when we are thinking? I don’t know. Is it ‘thinking long’ thinking for an hour not knowing what we are thinking about? I can’t do it.

I don’t know what thinking long and hard is but, I know I can think of specific things for a limited amount of time.

Questo, que lotro.. salud!.

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Most anyone knows that check mate is the primary goal in chess and that check mate ends the game. But only very few players understand check mate. There is a big difference between knowing something and understanding it. What? Yes, knowing something does not necessarily mean we understand it, and I’m not getting into any philosophical discussion about these two concepts; you can find better sources for that.

Check mate is one of the many elements of chess that we fight or play for. He who delivers check mate wins the game and the game ends; that’s usually one of our first lessons in chess. So far so good. However, what we are not specifically told is that “he who first delivers check mate wins the game“. Or if we are told about that we don’t get to understand it completely. And it makes a big difference in our subsequent knowledge and understanding of the game.

Sunset in Frankfort

Sunset in Frankfort

By making emphasis in that particular quality “who first delivers” we add a sense of urgency when we play a chess game. We start knowing that, in some way, the game is a race, and then to understand why it is important not to waste time playing moves that won’t get us closer to delivering check mate. Yes, that’s what we want in a chess game…. to be first delivering check mate.

Not only is check mate an important element of the game, it is also an element of force. What? Yes, check mate, or better yet, the event of check-matting our opponent is an element we can use to force our opponent to do specific moves or to limit his choices. In chess that is called check mate threat. The check mate threat is so powerful, our opponent has no other choice but to defend against it, if he doesn’t want to loose the game, or we will otherwise deliver check mate on the next move.

Chess Grand Masters understand this element very well and at Grand Master play check mate is a critical element of success. If we want to become stronger chess players we want to know and understand that a check mate threat forces our opponent and that he who first delivers check mate wins the game.

Questo que lotro…, salud!

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Welcome to Think Board!

I’m starting to blog today about a variety of topics and issues in the areas of information technology, photography, and chess.

Right now I don’t know what exactly I will be posting or the frequency of my posts but, the plan is to discuss very specific and concrete things so that they serve a purpose.

I’d like to thank all at Word Press for such a great service and communication tools.

Please leave your comments and feedback.

Hope you all find the Think Board helpful.

Questo que lotro, salud!

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