I've been thinking a lot about essentials lately and how many tasks and systems are made unnecessarily complicated by our attempts to guild the lily. My hypothesis is that strength and quality in any field or product come from doing the basics very well.

Numerous examples come to mind, for example the sophistication of many cars and computers (both hardware and software) may increase the odds of something's going wrong. Not to mention overloading the human they're expecting the machine to interface with.

Of course this is going to be sales driven; human buyers are actually attracted to fancy gadgets and capabilities. But by going this route they may be decreasing their efficiency.

This tendency to over complicate may be even more destructive in fields such as board games and speculation. The human mind is only capable of so much, so to fill it with distractions destroys its effectiveness. Many of my chess students have reported a deterioration of their results if they had other concerns or stressful trips prior to the games. And the 'chess act' itself can be rendered much more difficult by over complicating.

Lasker wrote about this saying that what was important was the 'method', stating that memory was too important too be stocked with trifles. Accordingly I've been trying to simplify my approach, reducing the need for information intensive studies or ideas that are too intricate.

GM Davies is the author of Play 1 e4 e5: A Complete Repertoire for Black, Everyman, 2005


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