Rethinking chess altogether, part 1

Traditionally a chess game is divided into three parts:

  • Opening, where you develop your pieces
  • Middlegame, full-scale battle, typically classified as an open/tactical game or a closed/manuevering game depending on the pawn structure
  • Endgame, with a reduced amount of material on the board

With the explosion of knowledge and theory brought on by 1. computers and 2. an overabundance of people trying to make a living off the game and therefore cranking out thousands of books and videos dissecting each phase in minute detail, the old paradigm is hopelessly outmoded.

The class player’s modern chess game can be more accurately parsed as follows:

  • Tabiya, where you reel off a prepared line from Khalifman, Perelsteyn, Kaufman, Rizzitano, Nunn, ECO, or (heaven help you) Schiller
  • Late Book Muddle, where you confuse the latter stages of your book lines and start putting your pieces on the wrong squares
  • Reactive Contortion where you avoid a sudden threat to your king (where’d THAT come from?) by further convoluting your setup, followed by the
  • Prolonged Suffering stage and then the
  • Flop Sweat/Hanging Flag (moves 32 to 40, approximately 3 minutes total elapsed time) wherein mutual errors allow you to trade some pieces and avoid immediate catastrophic material loss
  • Early Technical phase, where you try to figure out what just happened, how to save the impending ending, and what Shereshevsky and Aagard said about schematic thinking now that a few pieces have come off and you’ve made time control 
  • Late Technical phase where you mistakenly swap the rooks instead of the last remaining pair of minors, leading to
  • Futile Resistance marked by watching your opponent get his passer rolling which ends in the
  • SHHHHHHH  phase, in which you start a post-mortem together right at the board and everybody else who’s still playing goes “SHHHHHHHH” and points angrily to the skittles room.
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7 thoughts on “Rethinking chess altogether, part 1

  1. I am so honored to be your first responder – thank goodness for RSS :-)

    This blog entry is so post-modern, so affected, so accurate!

  2. My trips to Montgomery are episodic – right now sitting at home :-)

    I do have a con-call with them tomorrow though!

  3. This was brilliant, and a reminder why your blog shouldn’t be read at work (as the risk of co-workers/supervisors looking over and asking “What’s so funny?” dramatically increases)

    At the level of play I’m used to, we often jump straight from the “Reactive Contortion” to the “SHHHHHHH” phase, primarily because it’s too late by the time we realize there’s a threat to the King.

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