I have some serious holes in my chess game.
This is true for almost everybody below master strength. Whether it’s tactics, strategy, openings, endgames, time management, memorization, bad nerves, or a generally confused move-selection algorithm, we all have problems that need fixing.
Something really unfortunate happens along the road of chess development: You figure out what your weaknesses are, and perhaps you try to fix them, and you take some more beatings, and then … you start trying to cover them up. To avoid dry positions, you take up gambits. To avoid endgames, you go for cheap swindles. To avoid tactics and memorization you open all your games with 1.d4 2.Nf3 3.Bf4 4.h3 etc.
Tim Newman says the same thing happens in golf (if I can paraphrase a bit) – you have trouble with the wedge so you start making funky adjustments with some other club. And you learn the funky shot and you stabilize your handicap at 20 and there you sit for the rest of your life, rationalizing that “at least I’m not making myself look like an idiot with that wedge.”
I really am convinced that the only way forward is to end the cover-up and intentionally play the types of position where you stink. To burn the weaknesses and impurities out of your game in the fires of struggle, defeat and relentless analysis, preferably with the help of a coach and/or some friends.
So this is where I’m headed. Classical chess, balanced positions, symmetrical pawns. Bring it on. Positional binds, patient maneuvering, slight endgame advantages. The type of chess I’ve always hated and found boring and derided as “+0.001 chess”.
Of course if I can learn to win that way, my attitude will change immediately. And I’m delighted to already have the help of friends like Tim, Mark La Rocca, Petr Jirovsky.
Crucible, here I come.