Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Out of the Comfort Zone and Into the Fire

Nigel Davies has a new post at his Chess Improver blog, Knowing Your Style. While the post is great, the title might actually be a bit misleading; he's saying that playing for tactical shots as your main goal is not a "style" at all, but a tendency to do what you already know, to stay within your "comfort zone."

There is a good deal of wisdom in the idea that tactics exercises are the best way to a ratings gain, at least below expert level, but I wonder if having this as your main form of chess study doesn't also lead to a certain stunting of long-term growth. As Davies notes:

Growth implies change and change is scary, so there can even be a tendency for people to cover up their insecurities with a certain chess machismo. I’ve heard the Accelerated Dragon (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6) described as the ‘Gay Dragon’ by aficionados of the more violent form (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6). But doesn’t the requirement to develop new skills actually require greater courage?

Indeed. it seems to me that to get the most out of chess, the game itself and as part of your life, you will need to push yourself into new and uncharted territory, whether in the opening, venturing on speculative sacrifices, playing up a section or playing out equal endings with the intention of grinding down the opponent. Whatever you don't like, or fear, do it on purpose!

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