BLACK TO MOVE AND WIN
Highlight below to see solution:[
Levitt (2455) - Martin,A (2420), Great Britain (ch)
White to move and win!
Highlight to see solution: [1.f6! gxf6 2.Kxg2! Kg5 3.a4 bxa3 4.bxa3 Kf5 5.a4 Ke5 6.d6! cxd6 7.c6! dxc6 8.a5+-]
This list enumerates 30 strategic elements one NEEDS TO BE FAMILIAR WITH to build a plan around.
As an exercise, in a perfect world with no work to go to(!), it would benefit everybody to take their last 20 games and review the plans listed above involved in those games and try and enumerate them.
What is a plan?
Several definitions exist across the web for a chess plan. Here is one that fits for us:
Plan - A method or line of play designed to improve a position. A chess player should always have a plan. Your plan often lasts only as long as it takes for your opponent to make a move.
Jeremy Silman thoughts on finding a viable plan:
Pachman articulates it in this manner:
So, the key to finding good plans in chess MUST exist in knowing what strategic elements exist in chess. Easy, eh?...
Let's take a simple example, the Isolated Queen Pawn Strategic Element.
If you, as white, own the IQP, there are several things you need to be aware of:
This is basic, classical IQP stuff you can look up in any decent classical strategy book, and can qualify as a 'plan' framework. The difference between the classical and modern view of the IQP is that the modern view does not stress so much about the simplification rule if other factors in the position exist that make it tenable. That is 'Rule Independence' for you...
When encountered with an IQP, these simple rules should immediately become aware to you perfectly.
Here I have fleshed out (barely) the strategic elements that a player needs to be aware of and can identify perfectly in order to come up with the proper plan in a chess position. Note I said 'position'. Chess is a very complex game and your plans can switch several times over several moves, and usually do in some positions. The ability to recognize when the pursuit of one plan over another (or the pursuit of an integrated plan) is a skill that we, as students, need to work on with vigor.
You'll note that Day1 and Day3 have SG1's assigned to them. This gives us a good, solid 2 segments of study per training cycle (of the 16 total) to study strategic elements.
What to study first?
With over 30 basic strategic elements, how do we know which ones to study first? As usual, we will let our own games determine this. If you have decided to play a few correspondence games, then you can use those games as catalysts to figure out which strategic elements to study first off. Most of these 'studies' are fairly simple in nature and can be completed superficially in an hour. Of course, deep understanding comes with experience. But it will be valuable to us to perhaps scan over each strategic element and define it with a simple example. If time permits me, I will attempt to articulate such a thing in the near future. Now, I'll give you one example from the Pachman Book:
White: Material Disadvantage; Active Q, N and B; Rooks ready to go to open files.
Black: Material Advantage; Behind in development; passivly placed pieces.
This enumeration of the strategic elements gives each side great clues in what their respective plans will be:
White: Use his better placed pieces and create tactical threats and launch an attack against the black king
Black: Parry any immediate threats, complete development, convert material advantage by simplification.
This may seem simple to alot of players and it really is in most positions. Often when one watches games at tournaments we see players completely disregard the strategic aspects of a position. We want to eliminate that type of play from our games and concentrate on creating good strategic-based plans we can execute.
I hope this helps everyone get a better grasp on what strategic thinking is and do use your "SG" time to address these flaws in your game.
As usual, please post and comments here at the blog!