Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Oops, wrong tunnel

White to move
8/p5pk/4R3/6Q1/P7/3qn1nP/6PK/8 w - - 1 1

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Hanging in the balance

Aox showed us the following position

Diagram 1. Black to move
7r/1pk1b1p1/2p1np2/p1n1pb2/2P4p/BPNNPP2/P3BKPP/3R4 b - - 1 1


White is currently saddled with:
  • no task

Black is currently saddled with:
  • no task

Balance = W - B = 0

1. ... Nxd3+   (first thing system I comes up with)

White is saddled with:
  • recapturing a piece
  • resolving the attack on the king
  • resolving the attack on bishop a3

Black is currently saddled with:
  • resolving the attack on bishop
B = 1
Balance W  - B = 3 - 1 = 2

2. Bxd3

Performs the following tasks:
  • recapturing a piece
  • resolving the attack on the king
  • resolve the attack on bishop a3

Saddles black with:
  • resolving the attack on bishop  e2
  • resolving the attack on bishop  c4
Balance W-B=1-2= -1

So this is evidently not good.

1. ... Bxd3   New branch. Black has entered the longest line of captures (d3 - e2 - d1)

Saddles white with:
  • recapturing a piece
Balance= 1-0=1

System II
This is an orgy of lists and counting. Just what system II is fond of, but at which it is not good, due to a shortage of memory slots in the Short Term Memory.

But can it be of any value for system I, which has nothing with lists or counting whatsoever? Maybe. We have already developed a method for backwards thinking that is very powerful in pruning the tree of analysis. If we can combine that with tempo awareness, which works forward, we might hit the jackpot.

If we can find a simple method for reasoning based on tempo logic, system I might jump in.

I assume that everybody starts with looking at the discovered attack 1. ... Nxd3+
Normally this would work. The reason that it doesn't work here, is that 2. Bxd3 is with additional punch. By starting with 1. ... Bxd3, the problematic bishop is traded first, thus depriving the opponent from the additional punch. It is all very logical,  but the patterns are new to me, in a sense. 

This is the question around which everything revolves:
You can't learn patterns with system I without being aware of them. During learning, you are aware of them with system II. After learning the patterns, the conscious awareness of system II is no longer needed for retrieving them from memory.
Is this true?

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Oversimplify this!

What types of moves do we have? How can we judge the effect on the initiative?

In the hope to get system I involved, I simplify matters. Maybe I'm even oversimplifying them. Worrying about oversimplification is a habit of system II, so I don't care. We must simplify matters before we can complicate them.

CCT. But since a check is just a threat, CT will suffice. For now.

Mate is just one move short of capturing the king in a forced way. I will simplify mate as a gain of wood. Just to simplify matters even more.

What type of moves do we have?
  • Cashing in
  • Quiet move
  • Postponement move
  • Counter attack before
  • Counter attack after
  • Preparing moves 
  • Preliminary move
  • Duplo attack move
  • Attacking an immobile piece
Cashing in
When we just capture a hanging piece, we cash in. There is no additional tempo involved. In fact we lose a tempo. We hand over the initiative to the opponent. We get a piece of wood in return. "The threat is often stronger than the execution" applies to this. Often we are pressed into the defense due to giving up the initiative.

At the end of the day, every tactical combination is about conquering a hanging piece. The piece may not be hanging yet, but in the end, it will.

Quiet move
A quiet move is based on the fact that the opponent is immobile. He needs one or more moves to free himself, which gives you a free move. You can accomplish what you like, without needing to maintain the initiative by an additional punch.

Postponement move
A postponement move is a move that just postpones the final outcome. It consists of one action, and is followed by a reaction of the opponent (1:1). There aren't any additional benefits for both sides. For instance: a capture and a recapture. Or a threat followed by moving out of harms way. It only serves the losing side, by gaining time.

Counter attack before
Before you can cash in a hanging piece, you sometimes have to fence off a counter attack first. Your pieces are not save yet, and while your opponent uses his tempos to chase your pieces, you use those tempi by defending your pieces or to activate your attackers.

Counter attack after
When you cash in a hanging piece, you usually hand over the initiative to your opponent. That might give your opponent the opportunity to start a counter attack, which you have to fence off.

Preparing move
Sometimes there are postponement moves on steroids. Moves that involve a 1:1 action - reaction -move, which give you the opportunity to fulfill an extra task with tempo. For instance you capture a piece and your opponent has to take it back with an attacker, which then no longer attacks a piece of you.

Preliminary move
Preliminary moves are well known in the realm of tactics. There are moves that forces targets in place with tempo, and there are moves that put attackers in place with tempo. These moves have a lot in common with the preparing move.

Duplo attack
Pin, skewer, fork, double attack, röntgen attack, discovered attack.

Attacking an immobile piece
Attacks without the possibility to withdraw from the attack.

A tactical combination is about gaining wood. When we see a position for the first time, there is a certain balance in how much tasks you have saddled your opponent with, and how much tasks you yourself are saddled with. That balance isn't necessary in the middle, it might tip over to one side or the other.

The moves you play are designed to tip the balance in the right direction. To that end, you must look at the offensive and defensive tasks a move adds to the balance. Once your opponent cannot follow and must leave some threats unanswered, the balance will finally tip over in the direction you want.

Developing the awareness of what tasks a move performs both offensive and defensive is paramount.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Prestidigitatic display

Originally posted on April 15, 2017

Diagram 1 black to move

r1r5/4qppk/p1R1pn1p/1p6/2N1PB2/bN3Q1P/P4PP1/2R3K1 b - - 0 1


  • King target?
  • No
  • Queen target?
  • No
  • Rook c6?
  • Hanging

That makes the rook a target. A hanging piece is kind of immobile.

  • Do I have a follow up punch when I take it?
  • No
  • Does the opponent have?
  • Yes. He can take a hanging bishop and save his knight at the same time.

So rook c6 is not the target to start with.

  • Is rook c1 a target?
  • yes
  • Can I capture it with follow up punch?
  • Yes, rook c6 remains hanging and so does the knight.

1. Bxc1 saddles white with three tasks:
  • Recapture the bishop
  • Save the rook on c6
  • Save the knight
White has no multiple function move that does accomplish three tasks in one go. White can only try a postponement move, but he can't change the outcome.

What I intend to develop, is to get a (system I) feel for this kind of reasoning. There are quite a few combinations of multiple tempo moves. Both offensive and defensive. The tempo awareness seems paramount. Along with target awareness.

Friday, September 21, 2018

War on lists

This position was first published on April 21, 2017

Diagram 1 black to move
2r3k1/5ppp/p7/1prRq3/4n3/P1N1P2P/1P3PP1/2RQ2K1 b - - 0 1


I have declared the war on lists. List of targets, list of points of pressure, list of lines of attack, list of attackers, list of candidate moves, list of defenders, that kind of stuff.

System II is very fond of making lists. But once they are made, it lacks the skills and the Short Term Memory slots to use them. Putting the mind on halt.

I start at the end of the line with the king:
Is it a target?
Is it a target because it is immobile?
Is it part of a potential duplo attack
Which is the other target of the duplo attack?
What is the point of pressure?
Is c1 B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended)?
Is c1 part of a duplo attack?
What is the other target?
Is the knight immobile?
It is defending the other rook too
So it is overloaded?
Is the other rook B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended) too?

The first stage of the process is starting with the target at the end of the line, and then working back to the beginning of the line, to the attacker. You see that there is a very limited set of questions needed.
  • Is it a target?
  • Is it immobile?
  • Is it part of a potential duplo attack?
  • What is the point of pressure?
  • Is it B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended)?
  • Is it overloaded?
That's about it. Once you know where to start (d5), you can work your way back from the front forwards to the end ;) Since every step along the line is either immobile or part of a duplo attack, you can probably gather enough tempo's to make the line forcing. Since the king is at the end of the line, you don't need to worry about saccing your queen.

Monday, September 17, 2018

After 1. Ng4

Maintaining the initiative is a method for pruning when you think forwards. In the previous post I was reminded that we must think backwards first. Backwards thinking starts at the end of the line: the targets.

There are four potential targets:
  • King
  • Queen
  • d8Q
  • Bishop

In the diagram of the previous post, we couldn't discover anything that signals that we should start with 1. Ng4. This means that we can only find 1. Ng4 by trial and error in combination with luck. If you are lucky you find 1. Ng4 within a few minutes. If you are not lucky you can think for days on end.

That is of course the horror scenario that we want to prevent. That is why I start the analysis now after 1. Ng4. If we can determine fully what is going on after 1. Ng4, then we might be able to find out how that is telephoned to the position before 1. Ng4.

BLACK to move (after 1. Ng4)

Case A
No matter what black does, 2. Nxf6 wins.
Except for two scenarios:
  • 1. ... Qxd7 (A1)
  • Bishop moves to anywhere but stays in contact with the promotion square d8 (A2)
The power of 2. Nxf6 is based on the following:
  • It captures the only defender of the promotion square
  • It defends pawn d7
Ad A1
  • it removes the promotion threat
  • it attacks the rook
Ad A2
  • It saves the bishop
  • Hence the promotion square remains defended

Case B
No matter what black does, 2. Rg8+ wins.
Except for three scenarios:
  • Queen moves to a square where it is in contact with d8 (B1)
  • Queen moves to a square where it is in contact with the bishop (B2)
  • Bishop moves to anywhere but stays in contact with the promotion square d8 (B3)
The power of the rook sac is that it supports 3. Nxf6+ with tempo

Ad B1
When the Queen is defending the promotion square, we cannot sac the rook since the rook is needed to protect the promotion square.

Ad B2
When the Queen defends the bishop, we cannot sac the rook since the rook is needed to protect the promotion square after for instance 1. ... Qf5 2. Rg8+ Kxg8 3. Nxf6+ Qxf6

Ad B3
  • It saves the bishop
  • Hence the promotion square remains defended
  • Hence f6 has an additional defender 
What can we learn from all this? 

The bishop as such isn't a target in this position. Play d8, and you will win it. But you will find out de power of blacks a-pawn. You probably must sac a piece back to stop it.

That leaves us with the K, Q or d8Q as potential targets.

A target must be either immobile OR part of a duplo attack. Otherwise it will escape.
The natural target of this position seems to be the promotion square. There is nothing more immobile than a promotion square at a moves distance.

There seems no more unnatural move than 1. Ng4, since it abandons the main trump of white. So what's the power of 1.Ng4 ?

Although it abandons the pawn, it poses a threat. The bishop is the defender of d8. When it is captured, promotion becomes possible.

Black can take the d-pawn, but that "schlucks" up a tempo.

When the pawn is gone, the promotion square stops to be a target. So we are in need of a either one new immobile target OR two targets for a duplo attack.

For me this is a total new way of thinking (system II) with total new patterns (are you awake, system I?).

It is a new pruning method. You look for one immobile target OR two targets for a duplo attack. There is nothing else. There can't be. You can abandon a target only with tempo. But you must know what your new target(s) are. Everything else can safely be pruned as being not potential viable.

If black decides to NOT take on d7, only moves that relate to d8 OR the bishop are relevant. Other moves can't influence the threat. Hence they can be pruned from the tree of analysis without further worrying.

Let us grow a brain for target awareness AND tempo's!!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Determining the targets

The initiative is a mighty pair of pruning shears for the tree of analysis. But it isn't right to start with the initiative. The initiative works forward. We have proven in this blog time and again, that we need to think backwards first. Aox remembered us to that with his description of his ideal approach to a problem, in his comment on the previous post. We need to start with the targets. Otherwise we will not get anywhere. What questions should we ask to get the right targets and the right attacking square from this position?

 diagram 1. White to move

2R5/3P1pkp/5bp1/1q2N3/p7/6BP/5PPK/8 w - - 1 1