Posts Tagged ‘Analysis’

If you are interested in physics and the study of the universe, you will undoubtedly come across the theories of Albert Einstein. One of the most intriguing concepts is the idea of “space-time” or the combination of two parameters that we think of as distinct entities.

As I was mulling over ideas for new blog posts while trying to fall asleep last night, I was thinking about Albert Einstein, space-time, and Chess (a rather odd combination to say the least).

It occurred to me that it would be fun to write a short piece about the importance of managing both of these elements on the chessboard during your matches. In the illustration at right, I had some fun with the idea that in chess “Victory = Space x Time (squared)”.

As a positional player, I am usually preoccupied with putting my pieces in the right places and gaining space when I can. However, in many games, there is a point where the importance of time overwhelms all other considerations on the board. When those situations arise, you have to ignore everything else and react quickly, otherwise you will be quickly overwhelmed.

A great example occurred in a tournament game played earlier this year. My opponent is one of the more aggressive players in our club. He loves to attack and put other players on the defensive whenever he can. In the diagram at left, he has just played 19. f4 with the idea of chasing my bishop. As you can see in the diagram, he has gained a ton of space over the first 18 moves and it appears that I don’t have a lot of room to work with.

A closer look at the position shows that I have some tactical threats. The black queen is standing in front of the knight, presenting the opportunity for a revealed attack from the rook. When f4 was played, I evaluated that idea and also came up with another one. The next move, Qd3! takes advantage of the overextended pawns (too much space) and sets up a new threat, Qg3, after which the king will be running around and the knight can enter the game while simultaneously threatening the black queen. Going back to our equation, black has lots of space, but with the new threat, there is no time to take the bishop.

Black chose the reply 20. … e5 to stop the queen threat, but that invited 21. d5 gaining even more time for white. The next few moves were:

21. … Qf6 22. Qb5+ Kf8 23. Ne4 Qf7 and 24. Bc5 Kg7 25. Qc6

At this point there are too many threats to count and both space and time are clearly on my side. Black continued on for a few more moves and eventually resigned.

The moral of the story is that chess is truly a multi-dimensional game. There are many ways to win and over the course of a game, a good player must incorporate their knowledge of opening theory with sound judgement and constant evaluation of each position. Knowing when to gain space, grab material, attack or play defence is the formula for victory. Hmm, maybe the formula is V = S x M x A x D.

I’ll leave that for you at home to decide.

In the meantime, feel free to add comments and share your own spacetime stories below.


Late last year, I posted an article on recommended chess books in my library.  I’m nothing if not perseverant, so I’m not too proud to admit that I’m still working my way through Dvorestky’s Endgame Manual.  It’s a great book, however the content is very complex.  So after about 14 months, I’ve only read about 50% of the material.

In case you are considering purchasing the book, I put together a short video demonstrating a unique way to solve the following endgame problem: