Addition by Subtraction

It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential. ~ Bruce Lee

Today I want to talk about an idea called “Addition by Subtraction”.

    The basic idea is that something can become better (addition) by doing or having less (subtraction).
   Often times chess players feel that they need more in order to improve at the game.  They need:
  • More opening knowledge
  • More endgame knowledge
  • More strategic knowledge
  • More positional knowledge
  • More chess books
  • More chess lessons
  • etc
    And often, these new things bring problems without being the solutions we desired.

   If you want to be successful, limit your diversions and concentrate on things helpful in achieving success. 

   I think that this idea of “addition by subtraction” can be applied to chess study.
   Instead of spending time to
  • learn the subtle nuances of popular openings,
  • study famous grandmaster games,
  • perfect your technique of how to checkmate with a bishop and knight against bare king, etc,

why not just pick one thing and focus on that.

   Why not try to get better at chess (addition) by studying less things (subtraction)?
   My belief is that the study of chess tactics, and just chess tactics, can be a great way of applying the “addition by subtraction” method to chess improvement.  
   With the study of chess tactics, you can see massive improvement, without cluttering your brain, and stressing yourself out.
   I think in the world we live in now this idea is more important than ever.  I have read that more information has been created in the last 3 years than in all of human history, and that it will double in the next 18 months.
   I am not sure how accurate that is, but we are all getting overwhelmed with information, and the amount of chess information out there is also growing at a tremendous rate.  
   The Fritz 13 program, for example. introduced a “cloud” feature that is currently storing computer analysis for thousands of new chess positions per day, with hundreds of computers around the world working 24 hours a day collecting this.   With just this alone, chess information is growing at a rate faster than ever before.
   So don’t try and overwhelm yourself with chess knowledge.  There is no way you can learn it all.  I think that the study of chess tactics will give you the most “bang for the buck”.

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2 thoughts on “Addition by Subtraction

  1. I’m currently trying to put together a proposal for a SC Grand Prix, and one idea I had was to only keep the top four results and you must count the S.C. Champs (if you don’t play in the S.C. Champs, you get a 0 for one of your four results)

    For Colorado, I think the top six events might be more appropriate since there are a lot more events in Colorado. Under this system, players who just want to play in two-day events can do so as there are at least four (or six) two-day events in CO. There’s still an advantage in playing every event (an exception result in a small one-day event might outweigh a poor result in a two-day), but it’s not nearly so pronounced as in the current system.

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