Thursday, September 12, 2013

The initiative

Writing in english again is somewhat uneasy. I feel rusty both write- and chesswise. I did read a few old posts of mine. Especially this one caught my attention. I never really put the ideas from that post into practice. But pruning branches and  excluding move orders based on reasoning about the initiative is a great idea. I will experiment with it. All other ideas failed, so there is nothing to loose.

I did a little test with solving an old high rated problemset. It turns out that most of the times I remember the moves, not the diagrams. Since the initiative is much more important than geometric patterns (see the old post I mentioned), it's logical to have a closer look at it.

Further I use a mind mapping tool lately, which is a great way to organize knowledge.

Chess comes in waves

I haven't posted for a while. But the new season has started, so I will try to pick it up again. First I will have to read some old stuff to see where I'm standing right now. See you around.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Seeing everything as new


Say, there is a big tree in my garden. It casts a lot of shadow, so it makes my house ïnside very dark. At one day, I decide to chop it down because I got so annoyed to have to put on the lights by day, even in the summer. After a good night of sleep, I have forgotten that I did chop the tree and why I did it. When I wake up, I look in the garden and I start to rave: "which idiot has chopped my tree while I was asleep? When I now sit in the garden it will be too hot for me since there is no shadow!"

This happens when you see everything always as "new". When you don't see the relation between your actions and their consequenses. This may look highly unreasonable and highly improbable, yet this is exactly what happens in a chess game. Today my opponent made an unexpected knight move. I was in a bad position, and I was looking for eternal check. I looked at the consequences how his knightmove and I concluded that I could still put my rooks where I wanted them. After a few moves I gave a check with my rook. In stead of moving his king away, he simply put his knight in between. I had totally missed that move. I had seen the unexpected knight move. I had seen some consequences, but not all. You may argue that in this case, it was not me but my opponent who made the move. It was not you, but it was your neighbour who chopped the tree. But that doesn't make a difference. Somehow, we are blind for the consequences of actions, when it comes to chess. We see the action, but don't see the consequences.

This, and only this, is the main reason why we are so bad in chess. We see the actions, but are consequence blind.We see everything "as new". As if the consequence is there without a cause. No matter if we were the cause or our opponent.

This is what a brainscan of the amateur reveals. We see always everything as a new position. Every move. No matter if it was your move or your opponents.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

ATH 1900 Fide estimated

In about 11 months my FIDE estimated rating at CT has risen from 1844 to 1900 today. Most of this has been realized the past 7 months, when I started with my new method of making diagrams and memorizing limited amounts of high rated tactical problems. As you might have noticed I made a detour for two months or so with endgames during this time.
In fact, I might be somewhat underrated even. Since I wasn't aware that the FIDE estimated which is calculated during standard tactics makes use of the time I spend on a problem. I have the habit to go to the mall or to watch the telly while the clock is ticking. I will change that habit from now on and see what it brings.

Friday, March 08, 2013

How to represent checkmate?

I'm making good progress in solving tactics in which I have to gain wood. The method of making diagrams of the essence of positions works very well, and transfers chess knowledge to new positions. At the same time I continue to act poor when it comes to king hunts. That is, mate in x moves. The reason for that is that the king hunt is about squares. Empty or not. It is difficult to make a readable diagram for these mates.

For gaining wood, the diagrams are pretty straight forward. Targets, attackers, squares, defenders are very well represented by a position with arrows and colored squares. But for checkmate, there is a continuous change of covered squares when the pieces move around. When I try to describe that with arrows and colored squares, it becomes chaotic very soon. Since the law is that you can't visualize what you can't represent in the mind, I'm on the lookout for other ways to represent these mates. So far I have no idea how to tackle this problem.

Two random diagrams to see what we are talking about:


Black to move.
5r1k/1p4pp/8/p5n1/2PR2b1/PPBPq1P1/3N3P/6QK b - - 0 1
You can find the solution here.

White to move.
r1b3Q1/p1q5/2n4R/bpk1pp2/8/2P5/P1PB1PP1/1R2K3 w - b6 0 1
You can find the solution here.

Tactics of the same rating that gain wood are much easier for me, lately.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

What the heck?!

After thinking for 20 minutes I failed this problem which, given it's simple solution, should be rated about 1300 or so.


Black to move.
How is it possible to overlook such simple manoeuver for 20 minutes and still not see it?
What kind of training is needed to see these things?
You can find the solution here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More about manoeuvers

Every tactic can be represented by a geometrical pattern. It contains the targets, the attackers and the road from the attackers to the targets. I call these geometrical patterns the static features of the position. If these patterns actual play a crucial role is decided by typical manoeuvers. The realm of the manoeuvers is governed by the initiative. I summarize this as the dynamics of the game. To give you an idea, it is perfectly possible that a certain position is won when you are to move, while you are lost when it's your opponent to move. This means that looking at the geometrics of the position alone can be very deceptive. We need to know more about the initiative.

The initiative.
Very little is known about the initiative. That's why I take a baffling position that has confused me for long, in order to see if I can find some governing rules.

Black to move.
You can find the problem here.
First I tried to apply some ideas like CCT in relation to the value of the pieces. But that just doesn't make sense. CCT orders the moves by force. The more forceful the move, the higher in the hierarchy. That might be something than can be easely calculated by a computer, but my brain has problems with that. I soon realized that the problems were caused by the fact that to different types of moves are mixed up.

Three ways to win with a tactic.
How do we win with a tactic? There are three ways:
  • Mate the king
  • Capture a piece
  • Promote a pawn
There are moves that are directly related to these three methods and there are moves that are only indirectly related to these three goals. The latter are highly dependend of the initiative. The actual capture is delayed by postponing it. In order to get more favourable circumstances. Every postponing of the cashing in of a tactic is based on the initiative.

Direct moves first.
This means that we first must have an idea about the direct moves, before we can study the indirect ones. In the diagram above, mating the king or promoting a pawn is clearly not the theme. So the position is about captures. There is a natural hierchy of captures: the captures where a piece of low value is traded against a piece of high value first.

This means that the first capture that must be considered is Nxg6. That moves gains a value of +5 (a whole rook) since white is outnumbered on g6. After the gain, the initiative is handed over to white. The knight on f4 was shielding the black queen. Black is outnumbered on f4. Qxf5 Bxf5 Rxf5 leads to a cost of -3 (a bishop) for white. So the most logical sequence of capturing leads to an advantage of +5-3=+2 (the exchange) for black.
If you look at other captures that black can make, it soon becomes evident that he cannot improve on the given line. But maybe white can.

Then indirect moves.
The sequence of direct captures of both sides leads to a -/-2 disadvantage for white. Can he improve on that by postponing the direct captures while maintaining the initiative?
Take for instance 1. ... Nxg6 2.Qe3 threatening the black queen. If black plays the natural 2. ... Qe6 to get out of the way of the white rook and white plays 3.Bxh5 than all of a sudden black is in all sorts of problems. His knight is both pinned against the rook and outnumbered. His king is unsafe.
So black too must not play his most direct move 2. ... Qe6 but he must play 2. ...Rxe5. If black cashes in the queen  now the score becomes +5 (g6) -/-4 (f5) +3 (e5) = +4 for black (RRN vs Q).

Identifying the manoeuvres.
How do these manoeuvres work?
Manoeuver 1.
The problem with cashing in a capture is that it hands over the initiative.
With 1. ... Nxg6 2.Qe3 white abstain from the positive cashing in with 2.Qxf5 Bxf5 3.Rxf5.
In stead of that he introduces two new threats: 3.Rxf5 and Bxh5.
It's very tempting for white to rely on his +6 points (Rp) advantage and to save his queen. The price he pays though is giving up h5, his king safety, and a lot of invasion points for white to use. Alltogether that will proof too much. Especially since black has two undeveloped pieces (Ra8 and Bc8) so effectively he plays with a piece less.

Manoeuver 2.
So black has to answer with a manoeuver of himself.
1. ... Nxg6 2.Qe3 Rxe5 3.Rxf5 Rxf5.
Total cost of this manoeuver: +5 +3 -/-5 so  black gains a full piece. Since h5 is still protected the black king is still safe enough. The weak point of whites manoeuver is that he hasn't captured something during his previous move. He only threathen. But with Rxe5, only two threats remain for white: capture the queen with Rxf5 or capture the rook with dxe5. Both options are favourable for black, value-wise. Both keep the black king safe enough. Black gives some material back, but he doesn't compromises his king safety and het prevent to hand over invasion squares to white. In the end that is a better option. Since the pawnending is winning for black, white must prevent trades too.