Tuesday 15 July 2008

But tactics is easier

The attached (constructed) position came up during my weekly chess study group. The author of the position had shown it to a group of junior Canberra players and coaches and asked them what was the correct reply after white plays 1.h3 He was surprised that the most popular choice by far was simply to play 1. ... gxh3 He wasn't sure whether they had missed 2.Kh2 or that they simply hadn't conceived that by keeping the King and Knight trapped in the corner they were effectively a piece ahead.
Attempting to explain this kind of tactical 'group-think' I suggested that most of the kids had been coached to look at tactics first, and positional play later. The reasoning for this is that the outcome of tactics is easy to quantify (even for 6 year olds) while positional compensation is a far more abstract concept. While he agreed with the explanation he still felt that this means that Australian chessplayers may reach a certain level through tactical ability, but won't go beyond it due to a lack of a deeper chess "understanding".

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