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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Basketball Strategy and Tactics: More Like Chess Than Poker

"Chess is an immensely rich game and you can always keep finding new ideas that will make you happy." - Garry Kasparov, MasterClass 

Why is chess like basketball? Chess has less randomness between opponents than other sports. Outcomes in baseball turn more often on the starting pitcher than basketball results. Chess has a high degree of predictability with little contribution from luck. 

Reading Annie Duke's Thinking in Bets, learn that poker and life are similar because of incomplete information. Playing a hand that has a 24 percent chance of winning, still means a 1 in 4 chance of victory. The collapse of Men's March Madness 1 seed - 16 invincibility reminds us that outliers exist, but just barely. 

Different sports fall variously along the continuum of luck and skill. Michael Mauboussin discusses this in depth in The Success Equation

"When skill dominates, outcomes are more predictable." Outcomes depend on the number of players, possessions, and factors involved. 

In his MasterClass, Grandmaster Garry Kasparov informs us about keys that reduce randomness in chess. We can apply many. 

"Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do; strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do." 

"Tactics disturb the balance of the position" (create direct advantage)

"Strategy is actually seeing the outcome of slow maneuvers." 

"There is no general strategy for the game of chess." 

"No matter what you do, it should fit your personality." 

"At the end of the day, it is about making decisions."

" have to make your opponent uncomfortable." 

"You know exactly who you are...unleash your creative potential."

"Strong players...see opportunities...because of these patterns." (As in chess, players "chunk" positions with many possible variations...diagram above.)

"More patterns that you can recognize...more tools that you have at your disposal." The strength of the individual pieces also determine the strength of moves. 

"You should offer (your opponent) a chance to make a mistake." 

"You have to feel the climax of the game." 

"In a normal game, in the middle of the game, the choices that you make should be based exclusively on making your opponent less comfortable." 

(At lower levels of competition) "It's all about you." As a middle school program, our world reflects more randomness between teams, players, and execution. 

The game on the court is not the same as the game on the (computer) screen. Kasparov illustrates that what seems obvious on the board (court), is less obvious schematically on a computer screen. 

How this played out in practice was different than I envisioned on the screen. 

Lagniappe: via Chris Oliver. What makes an effective closeout? 

We teach defenders that better defense arrives at the receiver (ball) as close as possible to the time the ball arrives. 

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