"It's like a chess game...."

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by ollinger, Sep 6, 2009.

  1. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    McEnroe the Elder just wheeled out the "chess game" simile, a tennis broadcasting tradition. No, actually, it isn't like a chess game. This demeans chess players. Tennis is a game of execution, chess is a game of strategy and thought. The amount of strategy any player brings to a tennis match can generally be stated in, at most, two brief sentences. No, Johnny Mac, it isn't even like a checkers game.
     
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  2. David_Is_Right

    David_Is_Right Semi-Pro

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    Yes, this is a partcularly trite cliche. What won't people say is analogous to chess?
     
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  3. canadave

    canadave Professional

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    You cannot be serious!!!!!
     
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  4. Chadwixx

    Chadwixx Banned

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    Some people just dont understand point construction i guess.

    The difference between the wta and the atp, bashers who drool when they see an open court vs players who makes the court open for their next shot.
     
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  5. David_Is_Right

    David_Is_Right Semi-Pro

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    I don't understand your logic. Surely in order to be able to "drool at an open court", you must have been a "player who makes the court open for the next shot".
     
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  6. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Just my opinion, but I think the comparison of tennis strategy to chess is a poor one. When I started tennis I had the impression that there was some deep strategy, and this confused me about the game. I don't think I'm the only one, and I think many people's progress is slower when they maintain this misunderstanding.

    It's true, there is "some" strategy to tennis, but let's be careful not to exaggerate it. A superior tennis player can control the ball. He can not only hit it with power, but he can also: hit drops shots, lobs, and a variety of spins. So it's not so much what your shot selection is, as your ability to successfully execute the shots you choose.
     
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  7. canadave

    canadave Professional

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    With all due respect to most of the posters here, I seriously can't believe anyone thinks tennis is not a deeply strategic game, particularly at the higher levels of the sport. At the club level that us mere mortals play at, perhaps there's not a whole lot of strategy; but the pro game is a highly strategic game. Volumes have been written on tennis strategy.

    As to McEnroe's comment--if we closely analyzed any broadcaster's commentary over the course of several days, I'm sure we could find plenty of trite phrases. It's not a capital offence. He's paid to talk and give the benefit of his experience, not dazzle us with original turns of phrase.

    Besides which, I would think McEnroe, when he says tennis is like a chess game, knows something of what he speaks...seeing as how he is a Hall of Famer and all.
     
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  8. DarthFed

    DarthFed Hall of Fame

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    Tennis has "some" strategy?

    Murray,Andy

    Anyway i agree with the above poster...i believe if a 7 time slam champion says tennis is like chess..i would think it hold way more credibility than anyone here.
     
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  9. Fedfan1234

    Fedfan1234 Rookie

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    Like a chess game is a bit overstated, but you do need to make a lot of strategic decisions. Do I serve to the opponents forehand? backhand? or though the middle? Do I use slice? top spin? or hit it flat? What does the opponent expect? What type of shot will give him the most difficulty? The opponent must try to read where the serve is heading. He has served a lot to my forehand on big points, is he going to do it again?
    You also have to look ahead, I am going to serve out wide, he proberly is going down the line which allows me to hit it crosscourt and win the point. You can also lure the player into the net if he has a weak volley or approach. In my opinion the players certainly need to think a lot if you are playing at that level.
    Maybe you should not focus on the word chess and try to understand the point Mac is making. You need to make a lot of decisions and if you make the wrong decisions you are going to lose no matter how good your footwork, backhand, forehand, serve or volleys are. You need to think about your best strategy on court if you want to win anything.
     
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  10. Shaolin

    Shaolin Hall of Fame

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    I disagree. Its a game of strategy as well as athleticism.
     
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  11. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    Borg had it right -- in tennis, the guy who does the most thinking usually loses.
     
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  12. shadows

    shadows Legend

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    I wonder how good that 7 time slam champion is at chess, perhaps someone like Kasparov might disagree with his comparison =p

    Anyway, you have to remember that commentary on slams has to be targetted towards the casual viewer; the diehards will know what they're watching regardless and are quite capable of drawing their own conclusions, it's informing the guy who tunes in once or twice a year that is key to keeping viewers who might happen to check out a match or two. I believe that Macs point is simply that there are quite a number of variables that a top player will/must consider during a match, more than your casual viewer will see on the surface.
     
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  13. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Give that some more thought, why should a champion in tennis know much about chess?

    I've found many great athletes exponding upon the physicis involved, and had it all messed up. Then people like you say, "The why aren't you a pro?" The answer is that knowing the correct physics or math contributes very little to performance. I recall the author of "The Physicis of Baseball" saying that learning physics as a way to become a MLB is probably the least efficient way.

    In chess, probablity theory is diminished, (but still present), because the other players position is exposed. In contests like football, (what play will they call?), or poker, (what cards does he have?) where there's uncertainty you need to base your strategy on probabilty. Furthermore, each players decision is influenced by what his opponent is doing, this provides the basis for 'game theory' where they search for the appropriate ratios. Ratios of bluffing vs. folding (poker), running and passing (football), and cross-court vs. down-the-line (tennis). While these can give a player a slight edge in tennis, they're not significant.

    Take a player like Nadal. I'm nowhere near him in tennis skill, but I don't have to be a world class player to see that his consitency is a great weapon. Maybe Nadal employs more strategy than meets the eye, but still, it's pretty clear that he could easily beat 99% of the people who play tennis by simply making "everything back" his strategy. So a player with great strokes and simple strategy could still be very good, but a player with deep knowledge of tactics but no strokes can't even beat a 3.0.

    If you quit working on your strokes and start reading complicated books about strategies, have fun. Just don't expect to see much improvement.
     
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  14. bjk

    bjk Hall of Fame

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    Gimmelstob was trying to explain to Jimbo about the new grips and rackets and so on, but he wouldn't hear any of it . . . I'd be surprised if he'd ever heard of some these players before he started working for TC.
     
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  15. rosenstar

    rosenstar Professional

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    It depends... It can be a chess game, but IMHO moat players below the top college level don't have the skill or control necessary to think 3, 4 or 5 shots ahead.

    On another note, If you do enjoy watching a "chess match" like tennis match, go to university of Delaware and watch Austin Longacre, their number one player. It will be some of the most exciting tennis you will see
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
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  16. Chadwixx

    Chadwixx Banned

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    Someone who had to sell their trophy's to buy coke probably isnt the best thinker.
     
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  17. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    Dude, I hang around world-class chess players all the time and they're constantly using the expression, "whew, it was like a tennis match!"

    Kidding. OF course you are 100% correct, but...lighten up. It's just an expression. I do not think they expect similes and metaphors like that to be taken literally.

    For the record, boxing broadcasters use that expression, too.

    ^Sound post.^
     
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  18. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Chess would be like tennis if chess players had one second to consider their next move.
     
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  19. wyutani

    wyutani Hall of Fame

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    tennis is 90 percent mental.
     
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  20. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    and the other half is physical
     
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  21. morten

    morten Hall of Fame

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    it used to be like chess, not anymore.. Just baseline bashing using only a few stroke varieties. Before you had to play the whole tennis arsenal...
     
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  22. David_Is_Right

    David_Is_Right Semi-Pro

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    That's just your inference. I doubt either thing is mentioned on his contract. He's actually just paid to commentate.
     
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  23. nhat8121

    nhat8121 Semi-Pro

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    well, chess pros don't even need that whole second...they can see well in advance what you're gonna do and probably can do 3 moves b4 that 1s is over.
     
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  24. $$$$mony$$$$

    $$$$mony$$$$ Banned

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    think about what goes in to each and every shot you hit in a rally.

    pace
    depth
    spin
    where you opponent is on the court
    hight over the net
    angle
    and after you make contact where your opponent is going to hit his next shot (anticipation)

    a lot of thought goes into tennis. if a rally was broken down in a complete and specific description it would span more than two sentences.

    yes general tennis strategy can be broken down into a sentence or two but a points specific strategy is much more than that. the thing is experienced players know the game well enough to calculate these aspects of the game almost subconsciously
     
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  25. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    I don't think he had to, he chose to. I've never heard that "coke" claim before, but even if it's true, doesn't change much. I can see why he might not want to hang on to the trophies forever. Surely he knows he won alot of Wimbledons. Does he need those trophies to prove it to other people?

    If tennis is all about making the right moves like in a chess game, what are we to make of the ace? In chess, that would be like someone making one move and saying "checkmate". The difference has to be that it's hard to hit aces, even for a pro, because the game is about execution more than it's a battle of wits.
     
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  26. Mikael

    Mikael Professional

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    I agree with the OP... sure there is some element of tactics/strategy in tennis but even with "thinking players" like Murray or Santoro comparing it to chess is a little ridiculous. Within the mental game of tennis I think even the emotional part easily trumps the tactics/strategy part.
     
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  27. Fedexeon

    Fedexeon Hall of Fame

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    Maybe he was referring to the "game theory" part of Chess, meaning your reward depends on what your opponent does and your response to it.

    That element of chess is same with tennis. Or perhaps he means that in pro tennis, most pros already have a certain level of strokes. Things that seperate between the goods and the bads will be the strategies they use and also how strong mentally they are.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2009
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  28. RoddickAce

    RoddickAce Hall of Fame

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    Ok lets look at those considerations you have to think about in a tennis match. Nadal is standing to your right on his side of the court, inside the baseline, and he sends you a a high deep kicking or short angle ball to your left (backhand) side. What do you do? You split step, get to the ball and play the percentages and slice it or hit a defensive shot, or you drill it down the line or crosscourt. Not particularly though-provoking, but the hardest part is execution.

    Ok, now let's see if anyone can find the best move in this chess game? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1ejXCV7rZE&feature=channel

    The things you have to think about in tennis eventually become a habit due to muscle memory. Like what to do when your opponent sends you a certain spin, pace, or depth, etc; those things are just a matter of judgement and you don't really have to have deep thought processes about it.

    In tennis, yes, there is quite a bit of theory, but in chess, you have tons of theory and millions of variations. You have 20 different choices just to start off the first move. Then based on your next sequence of moves, each subsequent move will become a different opening or variation of an opening. Then each variation will have more variations. You have gambits, counter gambits, different strategies, different theory for opening games, middle games and end games. You have to think 5 moves ahead, and think of what your opponent will do based on each variation. There is usually a time limit for each chess game, so it's not like you can think forever. And don't forget about blitz games, in which the time limit is around 1 - 3 minutes, like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bzrap8Vtyq8.
     
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  29. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Hall of Fame

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    Tennis is relatively simple. When someone asked Borg what his strategy was, he said, "I hit cross-court and sometimes down the line."
     
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  30. DNShade

    DNShade Professional

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    “Higueras believes young American players grow up with great ballstriking ability but little sense of the chess maneuvers necessary to construct points. He believes training on clay is essential to developing players above and below the neck.”

    -Jose Higueras 5/11/09

    Just saying...

    It's just a way of talking about point construction. I seriously doubt they are really talking about the Trompowsky Attack or Sicilian Defense. Lighten up okay?
     
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  31. vive le beau jeu !

    vive le beau jeu ! G.O.A.T.

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    amazing how people are trying to take that "litteraly"... :rolleyes:
    (ok, hard to move your pieces with a racket, but still... i think there are some valid aspects in the comparison !)
    but... some ;) tennis players take more than 25 seconds between points !
     
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  32. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    Re: Bjorn Borg's trophies and cups....I agree the trophy/cup proof is unnecessary, but it was a selfish move. To have those pieces in the display case of the highest bidder cheapens the game. That's the problem I had with it.

    Now, if he had auctioned them off to a museum and had every penny go to his favorite legitimate charity, well, then I'd be with you.

    But he was trying to get out of debt. Let's be honest.

    Oh, and your line about a battle of wits, I think Bob Hope, Taylor Mali or any number of improv comics would win that component. Those are some quick-witted folks.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
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  33. rascaypica

    rascaypica Rookie

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    tennis, has a great commponent of mental work, not just to decide wich shot would be the best.

    In chess, you sometimes do not make what you think is the best movement because your opponent seems pleased with the situation, the mental fbattle is being won by him, you doubt, then, you cover your king (or keep returning crosscourt), in some ways YES it seems chess.

    Of course Chess is infinitely more mental, what the heck¡¡¡ it is 100% mental¡¡ exclusively mental¡¡¡
     
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  34. Golden Retriever

    Golden Retriever Hall of Fame

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    It is like a chess game to the effect that you should think one or two or maybe three steps ahead. Of course chess pros think way more than 3 steps ahead maybe twenty or thirty, I don't know.
     
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  35. OJ ROD

    OJ ROD Semi-Pro

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    I think of it as more of an instinctual or subcounscious(mostly) chess game.
    But hell what do I know. I still have to think about the way I hit some shots when I don't play often, and even then.
     
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  36. Aabye

    Aabye Professional

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    Football, American or International.
     
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  37. Aabye

    Aabye Professional

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    Well, if you're not playing invisible chess you still have to move the pieces.;)
     
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  38. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    strategy

    Certainly, there is strategy in tennis, but one has to physically execute it....look at how Roddick has changed his play against Federer...very different approach in that 2009 Wimbledon final, for sure.

    Lendl, in the mid-80's, totally changed his game plan against Connors and began to dominate their matches (rather than hit thru everything, he started slicing the hell out of many balls, taking pace away from Connors)

    and, the all time classic for tennis historians is the Ashe-Connors 1975 Wimbledon final; if Ashe had played his "usual" game, he would have lost...instead he played to a very specific game plan that threw Connors way off his game...

    Among the women, I always thought Hingis was a very good court strategist...she moved the ball around skillfully and with purpose. Steffi was quite good in this regard too. Martina v. Chris matches were always like a chess match.

    Overthinking is not good; but strategy is wise. Lately, most players go out there and bang the ball and hope for the best...not a lot of thought.
     
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  39. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    When is Robert (chess9) going to weigh in?
     
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  40. akv89

    akv89 Hall of Fame

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    #40

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