The Lost Art of Analysis
The Lost Art of Analysis
”DUMBING DOWN is a pejorative term for a perceived trend to lower the intellectual content of literature, education, news, and other aspects of culture. According to John Algeo, former editor of American Speech, the neologism dumb down meaning “revise so as to appeal to those of little education or intelligence” was first recorded in 1933 as movie slang. Dumbing down can point to a variety of different situations, but the concept always involves a claim about the simplification of culture, education and thought; a decline in creativity and innovation; a degradation of artistic, cultural and intellectual standards, or the undermining of the very idea of a standard; and the trivialization of cultural, artistic and academic creations.”
I might be able to understand an up-and-coming player buying a product that promises to tell every secret about such and such an opening (and then back it up with endless pages of computer generated analysis) IF he might be able to win one or two games with it, BUT for the life of me I see no sense in buying this product if he thinks that this will make him a better player!
HE WOULD JUST BE DELUDING HIMSELF… in the same way as if he thought that by memorizing all the answers to a final exam would make him more qualified to graduate to the next class. It doesn’t! Memorizing why a chess move is good (or not so good) is not evidence of chess skill. It never was, and it never will be.
The great Emanuel Lasker would certainly be horrified by the average quality of today’s chess literature. Several years ago I wrote an instructive article entitled ”Reflections on the data-base generation” where I discussed some of Lasker’s thoughts on the subject of the rapid expansion of opening analysis in modern chess.
You might want to argue that Lasker was ‘old school’ and that the chess world has changed so much today–especially with the advent of computers– and in some ways you would be right. But while the chess world has certainly changed, the game itself has not changed very much! Good moves and basic principles are the backbone of any chess position and every chess player. Lasker argued for less information–but better information; not simply increasing information exponentially. For the good of the players themselves…
You might want to get a competitive edge by using computer analysis or by keeping up to date with the latest games played in Moscow or Gibraltar, but if your opponents do the same then you are just wasting your time. In the period 1950 to 2000 information in chess was not distributed democratically or equally: you could win many games simply because you had access to some printed analysis that your opponents did not have. The internet changed all that. The internet became the great equalizer in chess information: today EVERONE has access to EXACTLY the same openings data.
Today, more than ever, the need for creativity and imagination are the most reliable ways to make progress as chess players and to get a competitive edge in tournament play. And we should all work together to avoid the trivialization of the game by NOT becoming mere clones or copies of each other.
”THIS is a book in which analysis is accurate.
The games in this book show the working of the mind of the master, and the commentary has been intended to guide the thought of him who plays over these games so that he may perceive weakness and merit. Notes have been made solely for that purpose. The glossary was meant to be both necessary and sufficient. Nowhere will it be found lacking in supplying explanation needed, but it has no superfluities.
The work has been translated from German, all but the early part, by Mr. R. Teichmann, and some valuable advice has been given to me by Mr. Teichmann, for which I beg to thank him here.”
I am not sure when this model for chess books was replaced by the present dumbed-down model that we find in the chess world, but in 1953 Lasker’s model was still respected and admired. I quote from the introduction of the classic ‘Zurich 1953’ (Bronstein)
”The author has tried to avoid weighing down his book with variations. Variations can be interesting, if they show the beauty of chess: they become useless when they exceed the limits of what a man can calculate; and they are a real poison when they substitute the study and clarification of positions in which the outcome can only be decided by intuition , fantasy and talent.”