Synergies

One aspect of chess that I haven’t seen explored in the books is that of synergies between different parts of our game. There have been a few hints about this, for example Jose Raul Capablanca and Anatoly Karpov recommending that we study chess from the endgame. But I haven’t seen this properly explained.

My take on this is that the various aspects of someone’s chess prowess work together at every level of their thinking. So in the case of endgame study it provide many benefits to someone’s entire game by providing insights into the value of space and pawn structure that are not immediately apparent in a board that is cluttered with pieces. It can also cultivate a more reflective way of looking at positions that goes beyond the crunching of variations.

Positional intuition can in turn can work synergistically with calculation in that it tells us what sort of moves to calculate, they just spring out of the position. Computers have to calculate millions of variation because they lack a sophisticated positional sense. Smyslov had to calculate very little because his feel told him exactly where to look. Once again it’s no accident that Smyslov was a great connoisseur of the endgame.

The other major synergy is between someone’s positional sense and their opening play. There’s a great misunderstanding that chess openings need to be learned move by move and this is accepted because people being sold the importance of openings don’t have enough positional feel to be fully in tune with what’s happening. If the positional ideas are explained well enough it certainly helps but it doesn’t really go far enough. A thorough education in classical chess knowledge is what’s really required which means endgames and a study of master games.

I have a few other tweaks which can help accelerate the process of developing positional feel, but those will have to wait for another day.