Tuesday, 4 December 2012

"Little" tactics

While discussing the current state of chess with my son on the way home from the club, he remarked on the absence of grand kingside attacks at the very top. He said he saw lots of queenside attacks, but not so many kingside ones.
In answer, I thought one of the main reasons is that the modern style is a return the the Steinitz idea of the "accumulation of advantages". Of course being a modern implementation of an older idea, how it is done now is far different from Steinitz's methods. In fact it probably owes more the the Capablanca approach of 'little combinations', married with the practicality of Lasker's play. In essence, the modern game involves moving your position from 0.05 to 0.20 (according to the computer in your head), often via an accurately calculated tactical sequence. Once you get to 0.20, you then aim for 0.50, constantly improving as you go.
The concept of a chess game as a series of tactical sorties struck me while playing through the Gawain Jones v Hikaru Nakamura game from the London Chess Classic. Especially around the move 20 mark, where Jones gave up the exchange, only for Nakamura to return it a few moves later. Once the tension in the position was resolved, what was left was BvN ending, which was eventually drawn after a significant amount of play. Ultimately, while the tactics were necessary, the end result was a position where technique counted for more than creativity.

Jones,Gawain C (2644) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2760) [D97]
4th London Chess Classic London ENG (3.3), 03.12.2012

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