Saturday, August 28, 2010

"Show Me.... Wax On, Wax Off"

In the original Karate Kid movie, teen Daniel was hoping to learn Karate from Mr Miyagi but ended up doing all sorts of chores from waxing his car, to sanding his floor and painting his house.

In the movie's iconic moment, when Daniel finally gets fed up with the chores and threatens to leave, Mr Miyagi finally reveals what he was hoping to teach Daniel. Daniel was in fact, learning a very important fundamental skill in Karate - the art of self-defense. You cannot be good at Karate if you only learn about attacking. You must learn how to defend properly.

The same is true in chess.

By learning how to defend, you not only become more aware of your opponent's attacking possibilities, tricks and plans but you acquire the necessary knowledge of how to launch a successful attack. This skill is vitally important if you want to know if a particular attack is good especially when it involves a piece sacrifice.

As an example, in the position below:

Can White play the sacrificial attack 1. Qxf6+?

Another part of the game where defensive technique is vitally important is your endgame skill.

For example, do you know how to defend as Black in a K+R v K+R+P endgame as the one below? Is the position even savable?

Can Black save this position?

Or how to defend with the utmost precision in a K+R v K+Q endgame?

Do you know to win this position as White?
If you're Black, do you know how to give the most problem to White?

It is only by incorporating these techniques into our knowledge which forms a basis from where we can then build bigger memory blocks and know if a particular attack or a particular position can be defended.

That will ultimately, make you a better player.

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