Learn from Mark Dvoretsky – Part One – Variational Debris

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Variational Debris

Mark Dvoretsky is widely regarded as one of the best chess teachers ever. And indeed, many young Russian talents went through his hands and a lot of them managed to gain the Grandmaster title.

Recently, I’ve started reading his masterpiece, Dvoretsky’s Analytical Manual and I have to admit, this book made me realize how far I am from chess mastery.

I was so fascinated with it, that I immediately become one of Dvoretsky’s preachers and posted one position as a part of a Quora answer.  The answer attracted some interest and I have realized that it might be useful to post Dvoretsky’s work and make his examples available to the broader public.

The following position is taken from the fourth chapter of the afore-mentioned Analytical Manual and is titled Variational Debris.

Mark Dvoretsky’s comment follows below. Make sure you read it, as Dvoretsky explain what is the task incorporated in this position and how you should approach solving it.

The term “variational debris” refers to the situation in which we must calculate a number of variations, each of which breaks down – more than once – into sub-variations, some of them fairly long. This kind of task is exceptionally difficult and there are few grandmasters, even among the elite, who can solve it consistently.
Training ourselves to calculate such positions is most useful; it allows the development of several habits vital for any chess player. I would like to enumerate some of them:
– The ability to maintain concentration and disciplined thinking for an extended period required for solving the exercise.
– Resourcefulness
– Calculating technique – first and foremost, the timely determination of every sensible candidate-move, both for oneself and for one’s opponent, at different stages, followed by systematic checking
– The ability clearly to picture, and where possible, accurately to evaluate the high volume of positions arising in the course of our analysis.
Note the last point. Quite often, having begun the study of a variation, when we run into difficulties somewhere, or spotting an interesting alternative a few moves earlier, we immediately switch over to the analysis of this new variation.
And if we have to return to the previous variation later, we must then calculate it again, from the beginning, because we drew no conclusions about it. In order to avoid such a pointless waste of time and strength, I recommend that you stop periodically to fix in your mind the outcome of the work you have just done. And should you be unable to give a precise assessment at the moment, then a conditional one will do. For example, some position might arise by force, and appear quite promising (or the reverse, dangerous). Later, if you must come back to it, you may continue the analysis from this point rather than the starting point.
For your consideration, I offer the following difficult exercise, which I am quite fond of. It is not at all because it is so complex (as if that were a goal in itself!), but above, because of the clear-cut nature of most of the variations that must be calculated before making a final decision.
Give yourself some extra time(an hour, at least), and calculate the variations one after the other, until you can make an accurate assessment of each final position. Count yourself successful if you come to the correct decision. Another important criterion of the success of your work will be the number of accurately calculated and properly evaluated variations and sub-variations, whether short or long, that you have rejected because of their inferiority, or contrariwise- used them as the basis for your choice.
I must warn you that although I believe this problem is solvable in principle, so far not one of the grandmasters to whom it was offered has been able to solve it correctly – that is, to calculate accurately most of the necessary variations.
Naturally, this gives rise to the question of whether it is right to set a task that, under tournament conditions, would probably prove impossible to solve, especially considering there would most likely not be the sufficient time in which to solve it? Arguing this question, as interesting and as important as it is, would take us too far afield. Let me just say that the well-known aphorism, “If schooling is hard, then the battle will be easy!” is true not just in combat situations. Having trained yourselves to solve the most complex problems, you will find it easier to deal with any sort of problem – both easy and relatively hard- over the board.
One thing more; the game from which this exercise is taken is the first one from the best games collection of Vladimir Pavlovich Simagin. I treasure this little book, and at one time subjected it to careful study. It was played in a second-category tournament! Despite his young age and modest chess qualifications, the grandmaster to be executed a pretty combination (it is not really important whether the execution was flawless or not), which was overlooked by many solvers years later. Again, food for thought, concerning the inflation of rankings and titles, and appearance of chess talent at ever younger ages, and of the possibility for full-fledged creativity, even in the early stages of a chess players development

The solution:

The solution is very lengthy and painstaking, but I think it is worth going through all variations, as they are the best demonstration of the richness of the position and of the inexhaustible nature of chess.

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