"The great end of life is not Knowledge but Action."
T. H. Huxley
I saw the quote above in the book The Anthropic Cosmological Principal, which has nothing directly to do with chess, but is merely the greatest book I have ever read on the history and nature of the Universe, why intelligence exists, the meaning and purpose of life, etc. Y'know, the important stuff, besides chess...
Anyway, I hope everyone who reads this will order up a copy, but right now I want to talk briefly about a different book, J. Rowson's Chess for Zebras, which arrived in my mailbox at the same time as The Anthropic Cosmological Principle and which I recently completed "reading" (I haven't played through all the games yet).
The point is, Rowson says something almost exactly like Huxley in regard to chess improvement, something that almost every reader here has heard and discussed at some point; that many players have a good deal of knowledge about chess but considerably less skill (action) during games. There is a much else in his book worth talking about, but this seems to me the kernel of true importance in actually achieving better results as an adult. There is almost certainly some pseudo-knowledge that is probably hurting your, and my, performance during play, statements in our heads such as:
"Doubled pawns are weak"
"I'm an attacking player"
"I have a big advantage and should win (so I won't even look at lines that are equal)"
ad infinitum. These are the gaps in our thinking, the blind spots and the defects or whatever name you want to give them, that prevent us from seeing certain moves and ideas , that we actually have knowledge of somewhere in our chess learning history.
I believe that it may be possible to improve your results without learning anything new at all, just by becoming more aware, more open to different possibilities, more objective about the position. How to train for this is something Rowson begins to examine, and something I'm looking into for myself.
For more, here's a review and some links by the excellent Michael Goeller of The Kenilworthian.
This will probably be my last post before the big Western States Open beginning Friday. I'll try to post some results and games during the tournament, if time permits. But since I'm meeting up with chessloser and his idea of the right thing to do between games is "Party like rock stars!" I'm not sure about the in-tournament posts...