10 December 2011

How Kramnik makes us feel better about chess

The ongoing London Chess Classic 2011 is, as its predecessors were, an outstanding tournament filled with interesting personalities.  However one chooses to follow it, it's what used to be called a "chessic feast".

One of the excellent features this year is the post-game internet video commentary by the participants, which usually lasts from 15-20 minutes.  Kramnik's thorough description of his win over Adams in round 5 I think is particularly valuable for us non-GMs.  His commentary is very frank and includes a great deal of talk about uncertainty regarding his evaluation of positions and plans.  I found it very accessible and instructive on a practical level, which is not always the case with GM explanations.

The takeaway from this is that if super-GMs regularly are unsure which plan is best to follow or which side stands better in a position, the rest of us should not be striving for perfection either.  All too often annotated games at high levels don't include the thought process of the players and are presented in a mechanistic way which doesn't reflect how games are really won and lost.  Kramnik's candid lessons should make us all feel better about what playing chess is really like.

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