Sunday, June 5, 2011

Assessing Robert James Fischer

(minor update on o1.21.16)

We spent some time studying some of Fischer's key games and also talked to a few advanced chess players.

Following is an abridged list of questions that we have focused on:
  1. What was Fischer's approach for pursuing the path of least resistance?
  2. What were Fischer's favorite and least -favorite game situations?
  3. What were Fischer's competitive habits and tendencies?
  4. Was Fischer always decisive in his implementation?
  5. How did Fischer shaped and staged his game and the competition's own game before the actual game begins?
After a week of research and analysis, we concluded this mini-project with a quick summation on Bobby Fischer's chess playing style.

Side note: Our current set of priorities prevented us from performing a very deep analysis of Fischer's process of chess playing.

Always Play to Win
When playing white, Fischer has always played aggressively by controlling the center. It presented him the one move advantage. The one move advantage enabled him to set the pace of the game. Forcing his opponent to becoming reactive.

His next strategic step was to target his attention toward the location of the challenger's king. Strategically, his grand objective was to force the challenger to play catch up throughout the game.

As black, Fischer chose aggressive defenses. By constantly matching the opposition's moves with an incremental set of counter-offensive moves, the weaker opposition would somehow err. Early control of the tempo and the space of the game board allowed him to frequently forced the opposition into playing his game.

The Opening Game: Seize the Center
Fischer have always played chess openings that enabled him to immediately target the control of the center. As white, he usually played e4 as his first move. It frequently limited the opposition to a lower number of defensive openings and options. In some instances, the competition were not prepared to play these openings or new variations within those openings.

When playing against black e5, Fischer usually chose the aggressive Ruy Lopez opening. He occasionally surprised the challenger by playing the King Gambit and some of the various non-white king pawn openings (i.e., the English Opening, the Larson-Nimzovitch Attack, some variations of the King Indian Attack, etc.)

Assessing Fischer's Game Playing by Analyzing the Patterns and the Variations
Fischer has always played chess openings that were indirectly connected by certain patterns and variations.

His opening choices sometimes utilized the financhetto type of attack (i.e., the King Indian Attack, the English Opening with the King Indian Attack variation, the King's Indian-Grunfeld complex against the White's queen pawn opening, etc.)

As black, Fischer has never competitively played the Sicilian Dragon and the French Defense.These openings contradicted his philosophy of constantly attacking the opposition and being one tempo ahead of the opposition. From personal experience, it is never fun to play from a cramped position while being one tempo behind. 

Lesson: Always be ahead in time and space.

This unique level of specialization allowed him to quickly implement his mode of attack.

Another strategic habit of Fischer was to play the various theoretical variations that were only predictable to him. It usually lead to the innumerable quantity of chess positions that he was proficient at.  It also lead to him having the strategic advantage of tempo and territory.

 The quality of the game competition also determined his choice of chess openings.

A Few Specific Tendencies
In the opening stage of any tournament games, Fischer  has never played the same chess variation twice until his 1972 championship match against Boris Spassky.

His choice of openings and tactical variation enabled him to secure the advantage of time and space. This forced his competition to play reactive defense.

The BC4 Option
We have also noticed his tendency (as white) to use some variations of the Bc4 tactic to attack the competitor who regularly castled to the king's side of the board. (The end point of this intent was to target the F7 pawn, ...) Historically, Fischer implemented variations of this tactic in some of his other games (i.e., Ruy Lopez-based openings and games against the Sicilian defense and the Caro-Kann defense, etc., . ...)   This repeated tactic has always influenced his opponent to play "catch up" defense.

Securing the Advantage in the Open  Game
In open positional games, the exploitation of his bishops was always in play. ... He was also a master of integrating the rook, the bishop and the pawns as a pressing influence in certain endgame situations.

Playing the Middle Game
In planning, never a useless move. In strategy, no step is in vain, - Chen Hao

Whenever the initiative of being one move ahead and the control of territory were established, Fisher usually executed offensive moves that displayed the perspective of "multiple threats" while creating (or exploiting) new tactical imbalance scenarios against his opponents. This type of pressure usually influenced the opposition into a passive state or a poorly made decision. He also effectively integrated the concept of technical mismatching and the concept of positional mismatching for certain strategic positions.

This level of strategic power gave Fischer a setting of concealed predictability. It also limited his opponent to a certain number of options.

Ruminations From the Compass Desk
During our research, we began to appreciate his brilliance. Bobby Fischer had the gift of focusing on the objective while quietly minding the rest of his settings. ... While others were deciding on what was the current move, he has already anticipated the opposition's next move and began to focus on the next set of moves.

Regardless of his alleged acts of paranoia and madness, Fischer was a strategic genius in his own metaphor. He seized his opportunity cycle and made the most of it. ... Like most brilliant people, Fischer never saw the conclusion of his own cycle especially when the starting cycle of a larger variable has concluded it.

Interestingly, we have seen that some of the most serious strategic chess players have occasionally ventured onto the game of Go (weiqi) and rarely leave that game.

The Compass Principle: 
Mastering a board game does not mean that one can master the game of life.

Final Thoughts
In the information economy, each and every business competitor has a set of individual tendencies. By properly assessing the strategic foundation and their utilization of their strategic power, one could neutralize the potency of their targeted competitor with a balance of finesse and force.

It is quite significant for one to understand that the defining the overall goal would always sound more simpler than the planning and the implementation of the approach. There are always more people who enjoyed the process of improvising than the process of planning and preparing for the on-coming situation.

Knowing the projected outcome of anything is for the amateurish observers. They strived on knowing the rules and the simplified comprehension of a situation while the successful strategists preferred to focus some of their time and their effort on comprehending the strategic reasoning and the process of the targeted competitor.

We will post an item on the strategic distinction between weiqi (Go) strategists and chess strategists In a future post .

Side Notes: The Compass Thoughts
Q: What is your approach to assessing your competition?

Q: What aspect of the competition's strategic foundation do you focus on?

Q: Are you able to transfer your assessment to your strategic plan?

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