Your Opponent Has a Plan Too

This topic came up in a discussion yesterday after the Hales Corners Challenge XXVII tournament.  We were cleaning up, and a friend of mine who hovers around 1900 said this was something that he struggles with.

We talked about the three questions for a bit and how to develop the habit of always asking those questions.

For those who don’t know, the three questions are part of Jacob Aagaard’s training method and our outlined in his book Grandmaster Preperation: Positional Play.  They are as follows:

  1. What are the weaknesses?
  2. What is your worst placed piece?
  3. What is your opponent’s idea?

Now of course you need to also extrapolate additional info from those questions.  For instance, when you are looking for the weaknesses in the position you should be looking for both your own and your opponents.  When you look at your worst placed piece you should also look to see what your opponents is as well.

We talked about how one of the better methods for ingraining the three questions is to analyze games and just openly ask yourself the three questions on every move.  Within a quite short period of time the questions will simply become second nature.  I plan on doing this myself since I know that while I have gotten better at this, it’s still not an intrinsic part of my thought process.

So this morning I decide to go through more Petrosian games and lo and behold what do I see but an example of question three right away.

Tigran is playing Black against the Argentinian GM Pilnik in this position.  It is White to move.

Here Pilnik plays 17.Bd3

At first this struck me as odd since Petrosian wants to put the knight on d6 and chase the knight from b5 in order to reduce White’s play on the queenside which will allow him to better exploit his strong center as well as having the semi open b file from which to potentially attack the white b pawn in the future.

But then after 17…Nd6 18.Qe2 I realized that 17.Bd3 was an example of question three since after 18.Qe2 the knight doesn’t have to move since there is no more threat for Black to win a pawn if White doesn’t move the knight.

The three questions in action.

If you would like to see the entire game, here you are:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

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