Common sense in chess - By Emanuel Lasker - PDF ebook

Common sense in chess 

Common sense in chess

Excerpt from the author's introduction:

The following is an abstract of Twelve Lectures given before an audience of London chess players during the spring of 1 895. It may be regarded as an attempt to deal with all parts of a game of chess with the aid of general principles. The principles laid down are deduced from considerations concerning the nature of Chess as a fight between two brains, and their conception is based on simple facts. Their practical working has been illustrated by positions adapted to the purpose, and likely to occur over the board. It has been my aim to reduce the different rules in number as much as was compatible with clearness. 

They all, it will be found, have a remote likeness, and it would therefore not have been very difficult to reduce their number still more. Indeed they may ultimately be united in one single leading principle, which is the germ of the theory not only of Chess but of any kind of fight. This principle is sufficiently indicated here, but it is so general in its conception, and the difficulty of expressing the whole compass of its meaning in definite terms so enormous, that I have not ventured to formulate it. In future work, for which the present one shall pave the way, I hope to be able to illustrate the significance of that principle and its capacity for showing facts in their right relation to one another. For that work, I have also deferred the discussion of some points which require very nice differentiation, such as all questions relating to the maneuvering of the King and the exchange of men. 

The games and positions given in this book are comparatively few, but they have been selected with care. I therefore would advise the student not to attempt to read it matter only but to study it and sink some work into it. The rules deduced are, I believe, very plausible. This need not deceive the student, who will see their significance in a clearer light if he tries to be reasonably skeptical and exacting in the matter of proofs. As regards the analytical notes about games or openings, I have tried to be short and to the point. Analytical detail is therefore not abundant, but I think, reliable. 

The method of enumerating all the variations thought possible, or probable, has been laid aside, and in its place analysis has been given, which makes use of both the consideration of the leading variations and general principles. The diction and style of the work are those of a lecturer. Feeling that I have not been able to make them as perfect as I should have desired, I must ask for the lenient judgment of the reader. I take this opportunity for expressing my hearty thanks to Professor Villin Marmery for his kind assistance in looking over the proofs.

Gentlemen, — It is customary, to begin with, definitions, but I am sure that all of you are so well acquainted with the essential parts of the history, the rules, and the characteristics of Chess, that you will allow me to jump at once in media res. Chess has been represented, or shall I say misrepresented, as a game — that is, a thing which could not well serve a serious purpose, solely created for the enjoyment of an empty hour. If it were a game only, Chess would never have survived the serious trials to which it has, during a long time of its existence, been often subjected. By some ardent enthusiasts, 

Chess has been elevated into a science or an art. It is neither; but its principal characteristic seems to be — what human nature mostly delights in — a fight. Not a fight, indeed, such as would tickle the nerves of coarser natures, where blood flows and the blows delivered leave their visible traces on the bodies of the combatants, but a fight in which the scientific, the artistic, the purely intellectual element holds undivided sway. From this standpoint, a game of Chess becomes a harmonious whole, the outlines of which I will endeavor to describe to you in this course of lectures. The requisites in Chess are a board of sixty-four squares, and two bodies of men. 

We have, therefore, one great advantage over the general who is to lead an army into the field — we know where to find the enemy and the strength at his disposal. We have the gratifying^ knowledge that as far as material strength is concerned we shall be equal to our opponents. Nevertheless, our first step will be exactly analogous to that of a commander of an army. First of all, we shall mobilize our troops, make them ready for action, try to seize the important lines and points which are yet wholly unoccupied. This proceeding will take, as a rule, no more than six moves, as we shall see later on. If we should neglect to do so, our opponent would avail himself of the opportunity thus given him, would quickly assail some vital point, and ere we could rally, the battle would be finished.
Author: Emanuel  Lasker
 Publication Date: 1910

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