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Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) Books on Evaluation of Positions (Read 1111 times)
an ordinary chessplayer
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Re: Books on Evaluation of Positions
Reply #10 - 03/25/21 at 23:48:46
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ReneDescartes wrote on 03/25/21 at 17:18:23:
Capablanca describes the highest level of chess skill as the ability to look at a position (unclear to most players) and say for example that it is won and that it is won for this reason and in such-and-such a way.

We have all see the fortresses where despite the material advantage of rook, queen, or more, there is no way in and therefore no way to win. So Capablanca's observation is on one level merely a truism: the only advantage that actually exists is the one that you can exploit. Or shall we say a static evaluation is at best a first pass, and a dynamic evaluation, incorporating the way, is required to get at the truth of a position. (But I will return to this idea at the end.)

ReneDescartes wrote on 03/25/21 at 17:18:23:
He attributes this highest level of professional skill to only three players alive in 1938--himself, Lasker, and Botvinnik (probably we can add Alekhine ourselves).

I don't think there was any limit to Capablanca's self-regard: Whatever it is that constitutes Capablanca's skill is by definition the highest kind; pity the fool who wishes to emulate Alekhine instead.
  • Lasker I won't analyze because for generations he has baffled greater minds than mine.
  • Capablanca claimed that his thinking was intuitive. Despite my suspicions that he actually did study, I don't have direct evidence of it, so I will tentatively allow the claim.
  • Alekhine clearly had a different thinking process. But, just as you suggest, his dynamic (sic) style definitely included a strong dose of the such-and-such a way which Capablanca valued. I think the difference was that Alekhine applied greater control over the ends of his planning.
  • Botvinnik also applied Capablanca's method, but arguably arrived at the discrete ways not through a Capablanca-like intuition but by careful home study of middlegames that might arise from his openings.

Let's not forget that every world champion has the opportunity to learn from their great predecessors, with a particular emphasis on the one they need to defeat in a match. Capablanca recognized this in Botvinnik, but to my mind Alekhine's achievement in the period 1924-1927 in adapting his own style to defeating Capablanca was also impressive. Only Capablanca's enormous ego prevented him from acknowledging it. My conclusion is that this skill identified by Capablanca is not a binary asset in the sense that a master has it or doesn't have it. It's available to all strong players and they use it more or less. Possibly as Capablanca suggests masters can be graded primarily on how well they have or use this skill. Or possibly Capablanca was all wet and there are other valuable skills -- in which case masters should be graded on how well they choose which skill to apply, according to the requirements of the position in front of them.

ReneDescartes wrote on 03/25/21 at 17:18:23:
The point is that even though evaluation can be separated somewhat from calculation (by considering what happens at end nodes of the latter), evaluation cannot be separated from strategy.

I wouldn't separate evaluation from either one.

ReneDescartes wrote on 03/25/21 at 17:18:23:
Of course, there are rough heuristics like comparing king exposure, the activity of each piece, development tempi, and so on, but fundamentally you have to know what you can do in a position to evaluate it effectively.

Computers in theory think quite differently and one might say they arrive at the what you can do part from the opposite end of the tree. In practice certain types of positions are more amenable to this computer-like analytic leaf-to-root evaluation than the Capablanca-like intuitive root-to-leaf evaluation. And then there are positions, like the fortresses mentioned above, which cannot be solved at all using the computer's approach.

Analysing like a computer is what the Russians would call playing "move-by-move" and it's a vital skill for masters. I think Alekhine was ahead of his time in bringing about these types of positions, when his opponents would not only not know why he wanted to do that, but also did not know that it required them to change their thinking. But he was hampered somewhat by an over-reliance on classical openings. It's easy to criticise this approach (Huebner labeled it "lack of objectivity"), but if it was deliberate then I don't see why it would be more objectionable than, say, Lasker's overtly psychological play (assuming Reti's analysis of Lasker was correct).
  
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ReneDescartes
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Re: Books on Evaluation of Positions
Reply #9 - 03/25/21 at 17:18:23
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JonathanB wrote on 03/24/21 at 19:15:09:
dfan wrote on 03/14/21 at 19:00:22:
I highly recommend Hellsten's Mastering Chess Strategy for a comprehensive survey of middlegame strategic techniques and plans. Do all the exercises, that's the main feature of the book. It should be within your grasp at 1700.


Seconded.

I like the mix of explanations and exercises. There's enough of both that either would make a decent book on their own even without the other half included.


I'm currently working through this book. It's a lot of work, and it it's challenging, but I've learned at lot so far and I'm only about half way through.

In terms of evaluation, it's a difficult subject I think. At least it is for me.  Hellsten's book isn't specifically about evaluation per se but the more positional themes and patterns you know, the better you'll be able to evaluate. In theory at least.


Agree about evaluation. Capablanca describes the highest level of chess skill as the ability to look at a position (unclear to most players) and say for example that it is won and that it is won for this reason and in such-and-such a way. He attributes this highest level of professional skill to only three players alive in 1938--himself, Lasker, and Botvinnik (probably we can add Alekhine ourselves). The point is that even though evaluation can be separated somewhat from calculation (by considering what happens at end nodes of the latter), evaluation cannot be separated from strategy.

Of course, there are rough heuristics like comparing king exposure, the activity of each piece, development tempi, and so on, but fundamentally you have to know what you can do in a position to evaluate it effectively.
  
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Re: Books on Evaluation of Positions
Reply #8 - 03/24/21 at 19:58:22
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By the way, in a recent video, IM (and chess coach) Andras Toth was effusive in his praise of Hellsten's book on opening strategy.
  
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Re: Books on Evaluation of Positions
Reply #7 - 03/24/21 at 19:15:09
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dfan wrote on 03/14/21 at 19:00:22:
I highly recommend Hellsten's Mastering Chess Strategy for a comprehensive survey of middlegame strategic techniques and plans. Do all the exercises, that's the main feature of the book. It should be within your grasp at 1700.


Seconded.

I like the mix of explanations and exercises. There's enough of both that either would make a decent book on their own even without the other half included.


I'm currently working through this book. It's a lot of work, and it it's challenging, but I've learned at lot so far and I'm only about half way through.

In terms of evaluation, it's a difficult subject I think. At least it is for me.  Hellsten's book isn't specifically about evaluation per se but the more positional themes and patterns you know, the better you'll be able to evaluate. In theory at least.
  

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Re: Books on Evaluation of Positions
Reply #6 - 03/15/21 at 18:03:23
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Reassess Your Chess by Silman was the one I remember being very helpful.
  
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Re: Books on Evaluation of Positions
Reply #5 - 03/15/21 at 15:49:28
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Hi.

Chess Self-Improvement by Z. Franco is relatively nice if you want to have something where you score yourself while learning. It's basically a collection of games to play through and guess the (middlegame) moves. Not sure how games were picked but lots of variety.

Have a nice day
  
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Re: Books on Evaluation of Positions
Reply #4 - 03/15/21 at 02:29:26
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Thanks will look for it. Appreciate it.
  
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Re: Books on Evaluation of Positions
Reply #3 - 03/15/21 at 00:33:28
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Test Your Positional Play by Bellin and Ponzetto is fantastic if you can find it.  It may be a bit advanced for you, though.
  
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Re: Books on Evaluation of Positions
Reply #2 - 03/14/21 at 19:20:40
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Thanks so much.  Will check it out. Appreciate the quick response!

dfan wrote on 03/14/21 at 19:00:22:
I highly recommend Hellsten's Mastering Chess Strategy for a comprehensive survey of middlegame strategic techniques and plans. Do all the exercises, that's the main feature of the book. It should be within your grasp at 1700.

  
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dfan
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Re: Books on Evaluation of Positions
Reply #1 - 03/14/21 at 19:00:22
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I highly recommend Hellsten's Mastering Chess Strategy for a comprehensive survey of middlegame strategic techniques and plans. Do all the exercises, that's the main feature of the book. It should be within your grasp at 1700.
  
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Books on Evaluation of Positions
03/14/21 at 18:47:27
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All

I’m looking for books that will help be better evaluate positions, primarily middlegame. I’m looking to develop a process I can utilize during a game to develop or modify a plan. I’m rated around 1700. Thanks so much

David
  
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