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Actual play

In chess, “actual play” refers to the phase of the game where the players execute their planned strategies and tactics on the board. It is the part of the game where the real action takes place, as opposed to the theoretical analysis or preparation that happens before the game.

Similar terms: live play, real play, over-the-board play, practical play, game execution, in-game decision-making, real-time play, active play, game implementation

Why is Actual play important?

Actual play is crucial because it is where players put their skills, knowledge, and preparation to the test.

It is the moment of truth where a player’s ability to make decisions under pressure, adapt to their opponent’s moves, and execute their plans determines the outcome of the game. Theoretical knowledge is important, but it is during actual play that a player’s true strength is revealed.

Examples of Actual play

  1. A player calculates a long tactical sequence during a game and successfully executes it on the board.
  2. A player adapts to their opponent’s unexpected move and finds a creative solution to maintain the balance in the position.
  3. A player successfully implements a new opening variation they have prepared, catching their opponent off guard.

Famous examples of Actual play

  1. In the 1972 World Chess Championship, Bobby Fischer’s actual play against Boris Spassky showcased his exceptional skill and determination, ultimately leading to his victory in the match.
  2. The 1999 World Chess Championship between Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand featured high-level actual play, with both players demonstrating their immense talent and creativity over the board.

The difference between actual play and preparation

While preparation is essential for success in chess, it is during actual play that a player’s true abilities are tested.

Preparation involves analyzing openings, studying endgames, and anticipating potential strategies. However, actual play requires the ability to make decisions in real-time, adapt to unexpected situations, and execute plans precisely.

A well-prepared player may still struggle in actual play if they cannot apply their knowledge effectively or handle the pressure of competition.

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