Chess and Aggression?

I read an interesting blog post from another chess player today who wants to pass a 1400 rating. Is was a short to the point post. The blogger questions their aggressiveness on the chess board to reach 1400.

The basis for this question is the blogger finds it easy to win games against players at or below their current level, but finds very difficult to play people at a high enough level above theirs to actually change their own rating.

This question is a good question and worth pondering, I am not sure the question is a correct one though. However, beauty of course, is in the eye of the beholder. While I think aggression is the wrong tool, it may be a case of semantics, or I may be confused about chess and aggression.

In poker, where I am more comfortable talking about aggression, aggression is a major part of winning. If a player is not aggressive, their win rate drops. In chess, because there is nothing at stake except perhaps how we see ourselves in relation to chess, I do not see aggression being a major factor in chess. The other person will usually only resign from the game when it appears they won’t win, not when the other player is playing aggressively.

If aggression where a major part of becoming a highly rated chess player, there would be no need to learn the other areas of chess. The biggest requirement would be get your pieces down the board and destroy the enemy by decimating his army. Winning chess it seems, takes a lot more than ram and jam with your army.

Many Master Level Chess Players both past and present are positional players first and attacking players second. Positional players are generally players who are more focused on the deployment of their chess army than they are on initially creating an attacking position.

I do not think aggression can be a real factor in improving ones chess rating. Most better players agree that tactics rule the chess world for the lower ratings. The more tactical problems and the higher level of difficulty of those  tactical problems one can solve and put into action, generally determines who will be the winner of a chess game.

Setting aggression aside for a moment, there are other reasons why people play chess. Not everyone plays chess to become a master chess player. If we only played chess to become master level players, there would be few active chess players in the world, and a large number of ex chess players.

Determining why you play chess is important. We can all say we want to be a 2xxx level player, but what does that really mean? For myself, I want to be a worth while opponent to whoever is on the other side of the board. I want to enjoy chess while I play. I may want to comment on my own, or my opponents play as the game progresses. I do want to win my share of games.

These are reasons why most of the chess playing world plays Chess. Fun, challenge, victory, feeling chess is a worthwhile game to play. Paintball, Poker, and most sports have varying degrees of aggression built into them if they are seriously played.

I am not so sure about chess being aggressive. We all want to win against tough players, but we also have a family, a life, and other obligations. Most of us have a limited amount of time to give to Chess. Sadly, or perhaps fortunately, most of us lack the raw talent to be truly great on the chess board.