Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dangerous Dogma...

One of the most difficult thing for an aspiring player to do while climbing the ladder of mental strength is to shed the old skins of youthful openings, primitive attacks and rote thinking that while establishing the foundation for their strengths at the same time keeps them on a leash.

The early occasions of shedding dogmatic beliefs occur when the knights don't seem to be doing enough on their magic squares on the 3rd ranks... everyone else seems to be moving their f-pawns... stronger players are not castling and getting away with it (i.e. in the French and Sicilian)... queens are coming out early... the bishops and knights aren't the same value anymore.

Everything comes into question once the fundamentals have been established and the students have to question for themselves everything in a position to find the right move, plan, tactic or strategy.

Before the December, Columbia Grammar Friday tournament (the next one is January 8th, 2010) several 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders warming up before playing began a theoretical opening argument ...
"You're supposed to play that move later!"
"No, you're not supposed to play that move at all"
"Wait, I'll show you the move you're supposed to play..."
Suddenly, they were interrupted by Grandmaster Joel Benjamin.
"Hold on a second there... you guys aren't 'supposed' to be playing anything. You should be thinking for yourselves!

Chess is an endless expression of mental coordination and critical thinking, not the rote spewing of openings and variations from books or classroom opinion. The rote learning can be internalized not memorized. Lessons learned are not what should be played, but rather a small part of the player's plans in the greater enjoyment of their game.