An unexamined life is not worth living.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Motivation in Chess

I have been on a break from studying chess due to personal reasons and this made me realize that the most important component for improvement in chess is motivation! With much being written about individual moves, combinations, tricks, positional details, training techniques – I rarely see a discussion of how does one become interested in chess, and then keep the passion alive. What drives players, both amateurs and professionals, to play and improve their game?
Do some people get immersed in the game without a strong desire to improve, merely fascinated by its aesthetics?
Do others only focus on the competitive side of the game, without the reflective look at the beauty of some moves?
Perhaps for some - the immersion to the game - is a way of escaping into a different world? For me, as probably for most players it is a combination of such factors that makes me study and play chess.

Sharing secrets of the King’s Indian Defence is very important, but perhaps the grandmasters can help weaker players by explaining more about what drove them to success, what motivated to study hard. Perhaps one book that talks about this subject is Kasparov’s How Life Imitates Chess, which I had reviewed already once, but I’d like to see more written about this.

Happy New Year to everyone, as this is likely my last post for this year!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Checkmate with 4 queens - from Alekhine to Kasparov

Reading Kasparov’s books is quite entertaining, and some parallels between various historic chess battles can be observed.
Kasparov – Karpov, 1986 match, game 22
image After 43.Rb4!
Black’s king is vulnerable against the attack on the c1-h6 diagonal, and although I was familiar with this idea/position before, only now I noticed that the main line of the combination contained a pretty mate:
43. Rb4 Rxb4 (Karpov actually played 43… Rc4) 44. axb4 d4 45. b5 d3 46. b6 d2 47. b7 d1=Q 48. b8=Q

image Both sides have a new queen, but White’s threats are more dangerous, Qf4 is a threat.
48… Qc1 49. Nxg6 Qxg6 50. Qh8+ Qh7 51. Qgxg7#

image Checkmate! Does that look familiar?

Well, now all sorts of bells start ringing, and indeed, I found a similar mate in another book by Kasparov:
Capablanca – Alekhine, 1927, Game 11
image Checkmate after 67. Qh1#

Sometimes it’s worth digging a bit deeper into trees of variations in Kasparov’s books as now I understand why every time he mentions game 22 of the 1986 match, he calls it a “study like win”. It is also not surprising that Kasparov thinks that Alekhine is the World Champion with chess style most similar to his own.

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