Thursday, January 14, 2010

Reassessing My Chess (Part Two)

PART TWO: Thinking Techniques and the List of Imbalances


Silman’s advice in the first paragraph of this section is sage: “If you want to be successful, you have to base your plans on specific criteria on the board, not on your mood at any given time.” I have to admit that at times, this is particularly failing of mine. In my last tournament I decided I was going to play aggressively before I even showed up. Not surprisingly, I did well in games where my position justified my style but suffered in the games where my position did not lend itself to this strategy.

Chapter 1 - What is A Plan:

Silman borrows Golombeck’s definition. “Planning is the process by which a player utilizes the advantages and minimizes the drawbacks of his position...always based on a diagnosis of the existing characteristics of a position...most difficult when the position is evenly matched and easiest when there is only one plan that satisfies the demands of the position.”

Chapter 2 – Imbalances and the ‘Silman Thinking Technique’

Another quote: “The real goal of a game is too create an imbalance and try to build a situation in which it is favourable for you”. In the book, seven types of imbalances are listed:

1. Superior minor piece
2. Pawn structure
3. Space
4. Material
5. Control of a key file or square (what about diagonal?)
6. Lead in development
7. Initiative

Next the Silman thinking technique is introduced.  This is a 5 Stages process.

1. Figure out the positve and negative imbalances for both sides
2. Figure out which side of the board you should play on. (only where you have favourable imbalance).
3. Don’t calculate. Instead dream up your fantasy position.
4. Figure out how to achieve your fantasy position. If it’s not possible, find another dream position.
5. Only now calculate your candidate moves that help you achieve your dream position.

The remainder of the chapter follows one of Silman’s games in which he explains his thinking process as the game progresses and at the end a problem to solve in which you must identify the favourable imbalances and come up with a plan. The solution at the end of the book continues from the problem position (another Silman game) and again explains the thinking process. I found that by going to I was able to locate the games and then follow them while reading along with the book without requiring a chessboard and pieces.

The second chapter of this Part of the book I found extremely insightful and by itself worth the price of the book - (If I had bought it and not borrowed it). I noticed that I am reading the 3rd edition from 1994 and I see that there is a 4th edition coming out soon. When I return the book maybe I will order my own 4th edition copy.

Coming next....... Part Three : Calculation and Combinations

1 comment:

Jamin said...

I'm glad to hear you've started reading Silman and you are enjoying it.

The first chapter on endgames is a bit out of place with the rest of the book, and I found the third chapter on calculation a bit useless as well as he just refers to Kotov's method. The real strength of this book comes soon enough, though. I found his chapters on the different imbalances invaluable.