[Chess] When an opponent’s position is harder to play, let them stew in it

In this pair of clips, ChessExplained's commentary sheds light on the cross-game theme of soliciting a misstep from an opponent by preserving a position that is harder for them to navigate than for you.

In this first clip, white's e5 move is committal, as pawns cannot move backwards. By committing to e5, white limits his own options and reveals his plan to black. Before (and after) the e5 pawn push he enjoys a space advantage that gives him more room to maneuver. If white had not locked himself into an e5 pawn structure here, he could have continued to make some easy and flexible strengthening moves. Black's more cramped position limits his options, and he would still need to play around white's multiple possible pawn advances. By pushing e5, white cuts himself off of these other plans, and black does not have to play around as many ideas at once. White passed up a chance to leave black in a less-comfortable position for a few more moves, which would give black more chances to err:

Another related but distinct theme crops up in a missed opportunity for black that Chris highlights: fix an enemy weakness in place so that it cannot be easily strengthened or traded off. One parallel appears in League of Legends laning. Let's say purple team's mid laner is low on hp or mana and would like the opportunity to return to base for a refresh. The blue mid player might ward up and push, pinning the purple mid to the tower. If purple goes back, they will take tower damage and miss extra xp, but if they stay they cannot fully contest lane, and may even be slain by a tower dive. Here, black could have used his own pawn to achieve a similar effect:

[LoL] RheingoldRiver’s “How to Theorycraft Effectively”

RheingoldRiver’s How to Theorycraft Effectively provides excellent guidance for analysts and theorists, with well-put general advice supported by specific suggestions for effectively gaining insight using a spreadsheet tool. I strongly recommend reading her post in full, as she goes into the specifics of constructing an effective question and the spreadsheet targeted at answering it. At the highest level, the steps she goes into are:

  1. Choose a good question
  2. Decide what stats you need to answer the question
  3. Figure out what intermediate values you need, and calculate them
  4. Make your formulas universal enough that you can autofill EVERYTHING!
  5. Decide how you want to present the final data, and fill in that formula
  6. Make sure everything is correct
  7. Duplicate your chart with other starting values
  8. Make gameplay decisions based on your numbers