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spiral 124 ( +1 | -1 )
Thinking Technique In his book "How to Reassess your Chess" Jeremy Silman recommends this technique for thinking in chess.

1) Figure out the positive and negative imbalances for both sides of the board

2) Figure out the side of the board that you wish to play on. Note: you can only play where a favorable imbalance or the posibility of creating a favorable imbalance exists.

3) Don't calculate! Instead, dream up various fantasy positions, i.e., the positions you would most like to achieve.

4) Once you find a fantasy position that makes you happy, you must figure out if you can reach it. If you find that your choice is not possible to implement, you must create another dream position that is easier to achieve.

5) Only now do you look at the moves that you wish to calculate (called candidate moves). The candidate moves are all the moves that lead to our dream position. This will be discussed fully in Part Three of this book.

My question is this, after weighing out the imbalances of the position would it be better to calculate out a set of moves using the different imbalances on the board or to create a fantasy position based on the imbalances on the board?

I guess what I am trying to really ask is it better for practice to create a fantasy position or to calculate?
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brunetti 30 ( +1 | -1 )
You should create a fantasy position, because it's easier to calculate knowing what you want to do.

If you calculate variations only, without a position in mind, without a specific goal, you will play plainless, and spend much more time, as the same Silman points out in the book.

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brobishkin 33 ( +1 | -1 )
My opinion... It is best to figure out the imbalances and play the strongest move that magnifies your advantage in the imbalances favoring your position... Dreaming up fantacy positions didn't really catch my fancy after reading this book... I ran into to many problems trying to make the fantacy come true...

atrifix 98 ( +1 | -1 )
I've always had excellent results with creating fantasy positions, especially in correspondence, but rarely in blitz, for example. However, you should be wary of using other people's 'thinking techniques' since they aren't your own... for example, "2) Figure out which side of the board you want to play on" is practically obsolete, as experience has shown that you can often play on the side of the board where your opponent is stronger, and successfully. Just a quick example: after 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 0-0 6. Be3 (Saemsich King's Indian), and although it is White who has a space advantage on the queenside and Black on the kingside, the main line as given by ECO is 6... c6, which often leads to a queenside attack by black with ...a6 and ...b5 while white pursues possibilities on the kingside with g4 and h4.

More important to do what works for you, however, you should certainly at least try to create fantasy positions before you discard it. As brunetti points out, picking out candidate moves before you know what you want to do is pointless.
swindel 118 ( +1 | -1 )
fantasy positions... I don't get Silman's point about choosing which side n stuff. Makes it seem his "theory" (very big quotes) is only capable of "attacking" (smaller quotes). In my (and many other's) opinion, brobishkin is right. A plan should be deduced from the elements of the position. (see e.g. "The Middle game in chess" by Znosko-Borovsky). The thing about fantasy positions Silman is talking about, is in my opinion a very inacurate way to describe hidden elements and dynamics in a position. Lipnitski's theories on the subject are far more elaborate and accurate, although i haven't found the lipnitski book anywhere, and only read summaries. In any case, i think it's impossible to dream of your fantasy positions when you don't understand the elements of the position. One of the players from my club, for example, always wants to attack the king, and always puts his pieces ready to sacrifice. But of course most of the time that type of play fails. Anyway, it's friday afternoon and i have nothing better to do than nag a bit about things i'm pretty much stealing from shereshevski; but hey, at least it sounds as if i know what i'm talking about... pfff, hope i can go make a move...
taoistlunatic 152 ( +1 | -1 )
I started using this thinking technique awhile back, but I found it had one HUGE error. It skipped step #1-first, check the position for tactical possibilities or combinations. Only then can you do a positional analysis based on imbalances.

For example, it means very little that 'white has the bishop-pair and a queenside space advantage while black has the better pawn structure and development aiming at white's weak doubled pawns' when in the current position, there exists a three-move combination which wins a full piece!

Silman's technique is good, and he is one of the best positional chess teachers, but for most amateurs, they need to focus on their tactical weaknesses and calculation skills before worrying about fine positional points of the game.

It is a known fact that a large majority of the games up to about the 2000 rating mark, are decided by some fairly simple tactics, usually the losing side merely over-looked a tactical combo, which proved decisive, etc. I studied positional play before tactics and this proved to be an error. I am now studying tactics and focusing on my calculation ability becasue I lose most games based on tactical oversight and NOT on lack of positional strategy. (see my thread- OVERSIGHTS) I believe the best practice for most players is simply calculations and tactical motifs, only when you can comfortably handle tactics, and deep analysis trees, should you bother to put your effort onto positional details.

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tulkos 16 ( +1 | -1 )
of course, you should always take into account the tactical possibilities of a position,and only then start your 'thinking technique' and find out how to play.
brobishkin 27 ( +1 | -1 )
Tactical combinations... Tactical combinations are farely easy easy to look for... They can only happen when one or more of the three things are present on the board... Does anyone know these three things to look for?... Only then can a tactical combo be present...

taoistlunatic 65 ( +1 | -1 )
Bro.... Be careful, Silman is not the be-all end-all in a ches theory, and he doesn't take into consideration the enormously complex combinational positionas which can come up on a chess game. Silman is good for beginner's/intermediate players, but I think you take his word as absolute Truth a little too easily....

While, a underdefended piece, an opened king, or weakended king are the elements of most combinations, these are only bare elements, and this does not suffice to sum up the complex potential of the combinational game...Silman himself often plays for closed positions because he is a positional player and tactics are not his strength as anyone could tell you who has read his books.
brobishkin 43 ( +1 | -1 )
Tao... To bad none of Silmans book talk of this tactical combination fact... It comes from Mr. Alekhine's book... So read a few more chess books (I read a lot more than just Silman, in case you didn't know)... Nice guess though... Oh, Mr. Seirawan's book of Tactics mentions tactical fact too... Maybe Mr. Silman being a positional player, is the reason why he doesn't mention tactics much...

brobishkin 59 ( +1 | -1 )
Alekhine... Mr. Alekhine mentions that in searching for a tactical combinations, if the three elements are not on the board, their more than likely is no tactical combination that exists... But to create the weaknesses that create tactical combinations is an essential part of the game... And we all know that Alekhine was one of the greatest tacticians of all time...

When playing against the clock, if you look for tactical combinations every move, you can waste a lot of precious time... But in view of looking for the three elements and then pursuing a tactical combination, just think of the time you can save on your side of the clock...

acne 9 ( +1 | -1 )
i guess i just don't like closed games, so open games are my fantasy positions?
taoistlunatic 25 ( +1 | -1 )
Thanks for the clarification, Bro... sorry, I jumped the gun, Your explanation of wasting time on moves made your previous statement make total sense, it justed seemed a little too simplistic for me, but now I understand what you mean in looking for tactical ideas.....

swindel 110 ( +1 | -1 )
hi bro,
i'm completely puzzled! What are the three elements for tactical solutions in a position? I just studied Alikhines best games collection, might be in there, but it's been a few years... Anyway, i think there can be a few useful elements, but my feeling is that you just feel (wow, a lot of feeling!) when tactics really take over. When taking a position as an excercise diagram, it's often useful to look for some ideas, but -although i do diagrams all the time- the thinking technique in a real game tends to be different. Combinational positions kinda build up. You start finding some ideas in a position, and try to blend your positiional plans with the building up of threats, and when the positional pressure gets large enough, the opponent mostly is forced to give up solid protection of some "tactical" weak points. MMM, a bit vague maybe, but my point is that, thinking technique-wise speaking- most combinations kinda grow on you over a few moves...
Anyway, hope you guys see what i mean, but in no way do i want to underestimate the importance of good calculation and combinational vision!
tulkos 6 ( +1 | -1 )
so,what are these three tactical thingamabobs? I've heard of them before,what are they specifically?
nottop 114 ( +1 | -1 )
Znosko-Borovsky Nice to see somebody else likes his book. I think it is a tremendous under-rated classic. Probably mostly forgotten. Great stuff in there.
I leant my copy but I believe Z-B considers the three elements to be space, time and material.
(not 100% sure - can't look it up).
Fascinating development of the ideas - for instance with a space advantage it is not necessary to attempt to gain more of a space advantage. (Just preventing liberating moves is sufficient and the attack will come.)
His idea of the misplaced but irritating piece was so intense that Dvoretsky devoted a whole chapter to it in one of his books.

Another (great and forgotten) one you might consider is Pachman's "Modern Chess Strategy" if you can find it anywhere. His ideas of combatting minority attack are fine. A great book.

Silman gets a lot of attention. "Create a fantasy position" means - "make a plan." Good advice. Knew that already. Capablanca wrote it more insightfully with his concept of schematic thinking - as opposed to move analysis.

The best chess books are not necessarily the one's everybody's talking about - nor have they been written recently.

swindel 33 ( +1 | -1 )
very true, nottop.
you are right about the three elements Z-B talks about. That book has been claimed to best describe the "classic" (meaning pre-nimzovitchian) style of chess thinking, and has been praized by Alekhine himself. The book can teach anyone a lot, and is probably a necessary prerequisite to reading "My System".
triangulator 28 ( +1 | -1 )
IM Jeremy Silman was at a tourney i went to and was very interested in one of my games against a a class player and later helped us go over the game and he wasnt able to see a mate-in-12 wich both me and my opp. saw during the game-(it was a draw by perpetual)so yes he isnt the best on tactics but he is a good positional player.

brobishkin 21 ( +1 | -1 )
Triangular... Were you correct in saying you saw a mate in 12?... If so, is your USCF rating really 1485?... Just want to be crystal clear on this fact...

P.S. Which named tournament was this and was it held in Oklahoma?...

edmaster 41 ( +1 | -1 )
brunetti 3 ( +1 | -1 )
Chess is 99% tactics and 99% strategy ;)

nottop 88 ( +1 | -1 )
But... Sometimes this might be possible.
But I think most tactics flow from the strategic possiblities inherent in the position.
You can't just play poor positional chess and hope to defeat your opponent with tactical play. Tactics should ultimately resolve themselves in favor of the player with the better position.
At the end of the fireworks there is often a positional evalaluation - who is beter after all of that?

Some of the players considered tactical players were also great stratgic players - Alekhine comes to mind.

If you play positionally you can hope that you can hold your own tactically. The reverse is not true.

Many of the tactical ideas even come from the ideas lying in the position - it is almost not helpful to separate the two. Separting the two and studying tactics only might lead to a small gain in rating points - but it is a dead end.

lexherman 68 ( +1 | -1 )
Studying Silman I am studying mr Silman's books now. A lot is well known ofcourse but he has a nice method to judge a position. He stresses to develop a plan from that. f.i. go for that weak pawn. Then direct your moves towards this plan. This is ofcourse basicly a good idea but i think sticking to a certain plan should not blindfold you from the tactical threats and possibilities that may arise while working towards your plan. Chess is a rich and complicated game and it seems impossible to find an ultimate theory how to play the game. Fortunatly (-: Still i find his book very usefull in my learning proces to deepen my understanding...
poisonedpawn78 110 ( +1 | -1 )
I think ... alot of people are missing the point on chess books . they read them like some sort of dogmatic law sent down from the chess gods . ALL chess books are designed to provoke thought . they want you to think about their ideas for yourself . guide you into a certain frame of thinking , so that you can get closer to your goals for reading the book .

to say that silman's "plans" are basically good but flawed because of what can happen in the mean time tells me that your missing the point of the chess book . its designed to get chess players of certain levels thinking about analysing the positions they are in , and designating a plan to work with so they are not just amlessly moving peices around the board .

Brunetti is quite right when he says 99% tactics and 99% strategy

If you are reading chess books to "follow the rules" the book puts forward , your going to be lost in a sea of poo poo thats useful 50% of the time and wrong 50% . you need to find the thinking pattern not the thinking rules from books.
victord 22 ( +1 | -1 )
thinking rules My 1st rule both sides of the board.
Sounds simple, but learning this did not come natural to me. Someone told me when I was beginning so I offer it now to beginners. It's a good way to look at (think through) the position.
tonlesu 15 ( +1 | -1 )
Victord Excellent way to get a different perspective on the game! And what a great title for a chess book
"Both Sides of the Board" by Victord of gameknot fame!
brobishkin 4 ( +1 | -1 )
Hey... Has anyone seen Triagulator lately?...
tonlesu 14 ( +1 | -1 )
triangulator Pro tour maybe---Someone told him the other day that if he could see a mate in 12 that an International master couldn't see, he should go on the pro tour!
brobishkin 19 ( +1 | -1 )
Triangulator... You still haven't answered?... I see you in the threads still... So, my view is, anyone with a rating of 1485 and sees a mate in 12 moves that an internation master can't see is very highly unlikely...

swindel 63 ( +1 | -1 )
oh please stop hassling triangulator will you? This started out as a pretty interesting thread...
By the way i don't agree that it's impossible to see a mate in 12, and definitely not that an IM would miss it during analysis. Most probably it would be a long forced series of checks, resulting in mate after the king had to go on a walk. Obviously Silman would see that it's dangerous, but it's very much probable for him to miss some little check or whatever.
Anyway, i get emails when someone adds something on this thread, and i don't know how to stop that feature. Emails to read posts like the three above annoy me.
victord 20 ( +1 | -1 )
swindel .. Go to 'more options' <<<<<<<========= over there on the links ribbon. Click on 'change my profile/ preferences'....turn off 'email notify'...scrool down submit.
Hope this helps.
thegreatpolgar 13 ( +1 | -1 )
Swindel you should only do what Victord suggest if you dont want to be notified when your opponent makes a move!
brobishkin 16 ( +1 | -1 )
Interesting... Why such concern for Triangulator, Swindle?... Do you know him?... And I dont see exactly where I am hassling him... I just wanted to him to clarify his statement is all... Just in case I misunderstood...
ordinary_man 94 ( +1 | -1 )
Playing both sides of the board.... will get you very far, victord.

Always consider your opponent's possibilities and plans before you make your move.

Before I decide upon a candidate move, I consider my opponent's best possible counter-moves and then decide upon which line of play I like best among my candidate moves. Also this is a good way to weed out blunders from your play. are about to make a positional waiting move, when you notice that your opponent can push a pawn, driving away your knight which is defending an attacked you make the best move by playing a PROPHYLAXIS move, pushing up your own pawn to protect your knight from the pawn push....this recently happened to me in one of my games here on gameknot...

best of luck to you.