Thursday, June 30, 2005

X-rake jogging

Let's have a look on an attacking piece, for instance the Bishop
A Bishop can reach every square on the board within two moves.
The question is, what potential targets are there within this reach?
Every hostile piece on the same color can be a possible target.
The next question is, what are the impediments between the Bishop and its target? And can those impediments be removed?

To see that quick you can imagine some sort of rake that comes out of the Bishop.
In fact this is an extended version of the X-ray scan from Mousetrapper.
Every Bishop has two outgoing rakes with a right angle in between (see both diagrams)

White to move and win.

I am experimenting with "X-rake jogging".
That goes as follows.
I adjust the thinkinglevel of Arena to 40 seconds per ply and let the computer play against itself.
If white is to move:
I imagine rake 1 for the white-squared Bishop of white and have a look at the targets within its reach.
I imagine rake 2 for the same Bishop.
Then I do the same for the black-squared Bishop of white.
When black is to move, I do the same for blacks Bishops.

At the moment I stil have to follow all the single paths from Bishop to target, which takes a lot of time.
Of course the final goal is that a whole rake pops out immediate when looking at a bishop.

At the same way you can look at the rooks, which is simpler. See a previous post of mine for an explanation of this phenomenon.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Muddling through

Before using my new scansystem:
Computer level: 6 ply deep.

Win = 0
Draw = 0
Loss = 35

Since using my new system:

Win = 1
Draw = 8
Loss = 6

I gave the Chess Tactics Server a try.
Very nice done and a good program.
But it interferes with the training I'm doing right now.
The program rewards speed at the cost of accuracy.
Since I'm trying to learn not to blunder and to play accurate now I have to delay such training for speed.
Immediate after I did excersises at the Chess Tactics Server I lost to the computer the next game because I played too fast.

I'm trying to play faster then G/60 but that doesn't work yet.
My performance drops immediately.
I'm experimenting with the order: First looking for targets and then for attackers or the reverse.

Does chess effect the sanity of the mind in a negative way?
No, it keeps mad people sane.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Before using my new scansystem:
Computer level: 6 ply deep.

Win = 0
Draw = 0
Loss = 35

Since using my new system:

Win = 1
Draw = 6
Loss = 3

My first win. It is of course not difficult to win from a computer which is allowed to think only 6 plies deep. Make a trap on ply 7 and you win. But there is this not about.
I commit myself to scan only to avoid mistakes. I don't play chess as I would normally do in an OTB game. I train the scanningprocess.
The only plans I make are based on DLM's ideas: increase mobility, keep Queen on the board, trade pawns off, prevent castling of the opponent.
So no deep planning here.

An average game costs me about 1 hour. I hope I can bring this dramatically down. But I'm not sure yet that that is possible for me. We will see. The scanning process is a lot of work and it is easy to become diverted. But at least the scores look more sunny.

Board vision.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Mein System. . .

A warm welcome to a whole bunch of new Knights:

Zeon - The Paradoxical Knight
Silver Dragon - The Pyrotechnic Knight
Dread Pirate Josh - The One-Eyed Knight
May Caissa be well-disposed towards them.

I played some more games against the computer, for learning to transfer my tactical pattern recognition to OTB play.
Before using my new scansystem:
Computer level: 6 ply deep.

Win = 0
Draw = 0
Loss = 35

Since using my new system:

Win = 0
Draw = 4
Loss = 2

So I make some progress.
It costs me alot of effort to stay focussed and disciplined.
One simple slip and the computer knocks me out.
On the other hand it is an amazing improvement and a great way to train.

Ok, more information on Mein System. . .
Since my computer doesn't make tactical mistakes within the 6 plies it is allowed to think, it makes no sense to check its side for tactical blunders.
So I scan only my own side. Against a real opponent it can be profitable to scan his side too of course, but then I have to be much faster.
My first target is to learn the system so that it becomes easy and automatic.

It is based on two key elements.
First you have to identify a potential target.
A potential target is vulnerable because:
  • it has a high value or
  • it is undefended or
  • it is already under attack or
  • it is defended by a defender under attack or
  • it is defended by a pinned piece.
Second you have to identify a way to win a vulnerable target.
There are two ways for the opponent to win a vulnerable piece:
  • Single attack. This can only work if the attacked piece is trapped. A special instance of this is mate.
  • Duo attack. I use this term to distinguish it from the common used double attack. I understand by a duo attack every method to attack two targets, as a double attack, a pin, a skewer, a discovered attack etc..
There is no other way you can loose material in a forced way.
(ok, by a trio attack. . .)
Since we all have the patterns of common tactical motifs stored in our brains there is no use to ask yourself: can he fork here, can he skewer here etc., because that's far too complicated.
You have to trust that when you focus, the right combination will come up straight away.
So how do you focus?
You only have to imagine how an attacking piece can reach your vulnerable piece.
An hostile Bishop can reach any square of the same color in two moves. On an empty board that is. So I use Mousetrappers X-ray vision to look from the attacker to the victim. If there are impediments in the way I ask myself, "can these be removed?". Your tactical skill does the rest.
To summarize:
I scan my pieces for vulnerability.
I scan my opponents pieces for a way to reach my vulnerable piece.

I hope you could stay awake and that I made myself clear.

How to join the Knights Errant

For all those wannabe Knights lurking out there.
We are always interested in your experiences.
The criteria for joining the Knights are:
  • You have to work your way through a Michael de la Maza inspired study program. The judgement of this is yours.
  • You have to indicate you want to join the Knights.
  • You have to maintain a blog about your program where you post on a regular base (=more than once per month)
  • You have to add all the other Knights to your sidebar and keep it up to date.
  • You have to keep me informed about your ratingprogress, so I can maintain a list.
Come on in, the water is fine!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Pruning the tree.

The 207 checks for playing blunder free and making use of the blunders of your opponent can be divided in 3 series of 69:
First series check your own side.
Second series check your opponents side.
Third series check your own side again after making the desired move in your mind.
This scan costed about half an hour per move.

I have simplified the scan, removed the doubles etc.
A total scan cost me now about 5 minutes per move.
I hope I can prune things further.
The scan is going really slow because I have to think everytime.
If I can find a way to train it so it will become automatic, I guess it can be done a lot faster.

First results:
Before I used this method: 35 losses in a row against the computer(6ply, G/15).
Since I use it: 2 draws (6ply,G/60)
I have to take more time to scan.
OTB: win against 1713

The game OTB showed me another way of saving time: you can scan your own position when to move and scan your opponents when he has to move.
Further I followed DLM's advice to drasticly cut down on making plans.
That costed me much disciplin, but saved me an enormous amount of time.
Time I used to scan around. . .

It's all very premature (so my big mouth has to wait patiently).
I have to work out things further and test it, so the growing pains will disappear.

Board vision.
(The lines are all straight).

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Intermediate results

I have played a lot of games against my computer at 6 ply deep G/15.
Nearly all the games I loose because of common tactical shots.
With patterns I learned long ago.
So the assimilated patterns have to be transferred to OTB play.
I am trying to find a scanmethod to help me to do that.

To that end I wrote down all the combinations which made me loose against the computer.
From those combinations I distilled a checklist.
To prevent all common combinations which can appear in the first 6 ply, it is necessary to check 207 points.
To check all 207 points at a pace of 7 seconds per check, I needed 25 minutes per move.
Combinations that loose a pawn are not even taken into account!

These figures make a lot of things clear that were incomprehensible first.
It's actually a miracle I blunder only 3 times per game!
To play blunder free you can do 4 moves in 2 hours. . .
The simple X-ray scan as invented by mousetrapper covers only a tiny part of these 207 points to check.

The Holy Grail I'm after now is to simplify this checklist so that the main part of it can be done in about 5 minutes. Untrained that is.
I hope this is doable and workable.
Let's see how far I can come.

**** KNIGHT ALERT *****
Things start to become alarming: Scitcat is kidnapped too!
Is this jealousy? Are we becoming too dangerous?
So other Knights, keep doors and windows closed and be careful!!
Maybe you are next.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

So what are the revelations?

After being euphoric in my previous post, I have to temper my enthousiasm somewhat.
Blogging is a kind of thinking out loud.
Which means that you have to have a little patience with me, since my opinions are permanent "under construction".

So what stays upright after a few days experimenting?
There are two important impediments when you are trying to become able at chess. Or trying to become able at anything, for that matter.

The first problem lies in "talking semantics" (I hope I use the expression in a correct way).
Take for instance the word "tactics". One grandmaster says "when you cannot gain wood and you cannot deliver mate, there are no tactics". Another grandmaster says "chess is 99% tactics".
If you take only into account what they say, you have to establish that they disagree.
But there is a big chance they actually don't. They only use a different definition of what tactics are. If they first agree on definitions then they probably are able to find a formulation for what they want to express, where they both agree upon.

The second problem lies in the fact that you have to experience everything yourself, before it has really a meaning to you. Emotions have to be involved so to say.
If you are told that it's better to don't touch a hot oven, you can make a mental picture of how it would be if you touched it. You can warn everybody to don't touch that oven.
After study you can even become an expert at fire blisters. You can entertain a public with interesting anecdotes about guys who had not listen to good advice.
But unless you burnt your fingers yourself, you don't know what you are talking about.
Without experience, it is impossible to say where the accents lie. What is important and what not. You can only tell about assumptions, from "hear say".

This is the sphere where I have had my revelations.
Someone who burns his fingers at a hot oven, will have a "revelation". Because all off a sudden he understands what he has been talking about for so long.
Of course his words will sound trivial for them who didn't have the same experience.

In his article MDLM talks about "the two class C players which saw five major tactical blunders in the first 30 moves." I always thought that he greatly exaggerated. The last two years I made about three blunders. Ok, I am a class B player now, but I can't remember that I blundered so much when I was a class C player.
Here we have a matter of semantics. I call it a blunder when I actively give a piece away.
But analysis of my last 10 games showed me that it happens 1 - 4 times per game that my opponent made a good tactical move or sacrifice that I haven't considered or I haven't even looked at that part of the board. Most of the time I manage to control the damage, but that is more a matter of pure luck. Such moves that I overlook can be called blunders without exaggeration, however the damage may be minimal.
When I play against the computer which is allowed to think only 6 plies deep, I get pounded everytime by simple tactical shots.

First revelation: I didn't now that I make so much tactical blunders.

Second revelation: I didn't now I make blunders in every game. Even the ones I manage to win.

Third revelation: I get pounded by the computer by tactical shots that are very simple and which patterns I have assimilated long time ago.

Fourth revelation: My assimilated simple patterns are insufficient tranferred to OTB play.

Fifth revelation: Making plans or "playing positional" is useless as long as I blunder so much.

Didn't I warn you it would sound trivial?
I'm lucky that my opponents seem to suffer from the same problems.
You have to be REAL bad to loose from me.

My goal now is simple, I have to find a way to transfer my tactical pattern recognition to my OTB play. Just adding more insufficient used patterns to my brainlobes will not be of much help.
Simple X-ray vision seemed to help me, but I still can be beaten 10 times in a row by my computer at only 6 ply deep.
When I don't make tactical mistakes I at least draw, but usually win.
Next month I play two tourneys in a row (18 games G/180)
So I have a month to work on this.
I use my computer as a sparring partner, and continue to experiment.
The last time I was so badly beaten during a long series of games, I played against a former French blitzchampion with a rating of 2350. Which means that there is a big prize to be won if I manage to beat my computer at 6 ply deep everytime.
In some way DLM has managed to do it. So it should be possible.
But we are still missing something important!

Of course I continue with studying pawn endings too, but untill the next tournaments at a low pace.

A warm applause for Nezha who just with enormous will-power entered the Hall of Fame.
He already has his next program ready (= an 8th circle).
Question: What do you think, does the the program lead to masochistic habits?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The pieces of the puzzle fall together?

The pieces.

Piece 1.
As you can see here the ratings of most Knights are steadily improving.
If we compare this with the pace of rating improvement of DLM, our results look a little measly.
We still seem to do something wrong.

Piece 2.
Last tourney I had paltry results.
Analysis of the games revealed the following facts:
  • I fell victim to a lot of oversights. Especially when the board was crowded.
  • These oversights consisted always of VERY SIMPLE tactics.
  • These oversights ruined my plans everytime, so I had to start to make new plans. Which lead to time trouble.
  • Often I managed to control the damage by creativity and pure luck. Reason why I never saw these oversights as blunders. Which they actually were.
To solve my problems I looked in two directions.
First I tried to experiment with what I called "extended microdrills". This lead to nothing.
Second I thought I needed a database with special problems, like the ones I came across OTB.
But this is totally useless.
Because I fell prone to VERY SIMPLE tactics, often 1 - 3 ply deep, these patterns are already in my system.
I have to find a way to use them!!

Piece 3.
During the study of pawn endings I realized the importance of the INVISIBLE patterns.
You have to learn to look at the patterns of the squares and not at the pieces.
This is equally important in the middlegame as in the endgame.

Piece 4.
Quite a few Knights were busy to design their own "thoughtprocess".
I was inclined to think that this was useless, mainly because of the associations that the word "thoughtprocess" triggered.
The instruction of DLM to wiggle with my toes put me on the wrong foot.
Untill I realized that the importance of DLM's thoughtprocess lay in his initial words:
"I soon discovered that transferring my tactical ability to OTB was quite difficult."
That was the light in which his thinking rules had to be seen.

Piece 5.
To design a working thoughtproces, I played against the computer (G/15).
When the computer is set to 5 ply deep I score even.
When it is set to 6 ply deep, I got pounded everytime, because I fall prone to VERY SIMPLE tactics. So you can actually say I blunder all the time.
Here again, the patterns of these VERY SIMPLE tactics are already in my system.
But I don't use them when I actually play!!

The pieces of the puzzle fall together.
The first 15 games at 6 ply deep I lost to the computer.
I tried different thoughtprocesses, but nothing helped.
Untill I started to implement Mousetrappers board vision.
From the next 5 games all of a sudden I won 4 games!
I used it at my club and I felt terribly strong!
Alas my 200 -/- opponent blunderd a piece away, so the test couldn't be completed, but still.
Do we have a panacee here? An egg of Columbus?

The test is very limited, hence the questionmark in the title of this post.
But I feel pretty confident I'm on the right track now.
I am going to experiment further of course with this Board Vision.
It requires a great disciplin during a game. Often I simply forget it.
But that is a matter of time, I hope.
I look forward to the results of Mousetrapper.
And maybe one of the Knights is inclined to give it a try.
I truly belief it is worth it.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Wanna be a tactical monster?

Do you want to be a tactical beast without having to spend tons of study hours?
It is possible with the Brace-O-Maza!!
Unmarkedly to wear at every tournament.

The Brace-O-Maza contains the latest software for crushing your opponent.
New engines can be downloaded via an USB-port.
Fisheye lens to scan the board automatically for moves.
Now enhanced with the latest X-ray technology for devastating skewers!
No more time trouble!

Since you don't need to think anymore by yourself, you have plenty of time now during a game.
To prevent boredom a special copy of CT-art 3.0 can be downloaded from our website so you can solve tactical puzzles during a game!

Ships with comprehensive manual with even an extended paragraph with hundreds of credible reasons to explain why you have an arm bracing every tourney.
To give a few examples:
  • "My new bokken just arrived and I don't know how to handle it yet."
  • "I did 7 circles with CT-art and now I have RSI (repetetive strain injury)."
  • "I twisted my arm while landing a mega-trout."
  • "I just slayed 1001 warriors with a donkey-jawbone."
  • "My spouse wanted to use the computer to look up some receipts."
  • "I stumbled over a retrenchment during a brisk walk to loose some weight."
There is a Brace-O-Maza for everyone. Wouldn't that give a nice picture next tournament?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I've been thinking lately

about a thoughtprocess. . .
Quite a few knights are busy with that now, which inspired me to have a look myself.

Some time ago I came across a system which worked with rectangles to scan the board in a sytematic way for tactics. It's a pity I don't know where I found it.
I believe it was from an American grandmaster, but I forgot the name.

I had a look at Dan Heismans list.
And at the list of de la Maza.
And at the lists of the other Knights.

So I decided to make a list of my own. Did I already mention I am self-opinionated?
I have two constraints:

1. It has to be simple. This means that everything that is self-evident is pruned.
If I am in check, I have to relief it. If I forget that, my opponent will help me to remember. So there's no necessity to record that in a list.
Time trouble is already bothering me, so long checklists are not going to be of help.

2. It has to help me to strengthen the spots where I am really weak.
From the analysis of my last 8 games emerged a certain picture of the problems I have.
The list has to be of help in this specific area.

To get some ideas I did an experiment.
I played blitz against the computer.
I used Arena with the SOS-engine, which is quite good.
I got pounded everytime, so I decided to lower the amount of plies the computer was thinking. To my big surprise I had to lower it to only 1 ply deep before I started to win the most of my games. I played a tempo, just the move that came up. without checking.
So that seems to be my level of chessvision when I play on automatic pilot:)

The idea I had was two write down the mistakes I make and to distill a checklist out of that.
If the use of the checklist is effective, I have to increase the searchdepth of the program.
Right now I have the searchdepth at 5 ply deep, and I score even.
I have a checklist of 7 points where I fail from time to time.
I will not publish it yet, because I am still experimenting.
In a typical game I use about 15 - 20 minutes now.
At Fics my rating is about 1750-1820, mostly gained at G15 - games.
So a Fics-rating of 1800 is equivalent with thinking 5 ply deep at average.
I have my program configured at 6 ply depth now.
I am working on my thoughtproces now, until it helps me to beat the program at 6 ply (max G15). If I manage to do that with a checklist, I know it's a good list, exactly aggravated to me.

SOPE circle 1: 66 down, 352 to go
Chapter 3 done.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Invisible patterns II

Here you have a nice and clear example of corresponding squares from SOPE

Black to move and draw. e1 = 5 (because I don't want it to look messy)

The first invisible pattern you have to see is the line between the 2nd and 3rd rank.
Black isn't allowed to pass this line because he has to keep an eye on d3 (rule of the square).

The second invisible pattern contains the key squares (in blue)
If white manages to conquer one of the key squares then black is lost.
So black has to defend these squares.

The third invisible pattern you have to see is that of the corresponding squares.
If the white king appears on a square with a certain number, then black has to put his king on a corresponding square with the same number. Otherwise black is lost.
As you see there is a shortest path between both area's with key squares, which for both white and black are of equal distance.
If white decides to attack the key squares a3 and b3 he heads for square 1 (=a2)
At the same time the black king has to run for the corresponding square with number 1 (=b4)

Knowing all this, the defence of black is simple:
1. ... Kf3! ;corresponding square 5 (e1=5=f3)
2. Kd1 ;if white goes to f1 then black can counter attack against pawn c2 by 2. ... Ke3! That's why f1 has no number.
2. ... Ke3
3. Kc1 Kd4
4. Kb1 Kc5
5. Ka2 Kb4 =

The same problem I already had encountered in Euwes book, but without the clear explanation.
It costed me two hours to figure everything out correctly. I invented even the system of corresponding squares myself, using numbered beercaps. But I had made one mistake, because on Ka1 I had planned Ka4. Maybe because I needed so many beercaps I was not quite sober?
In that case black comes to late when white heads to e2.

So thats why SOPE saves me a lot of time.

Further of course a warm applause for Celtic Death, who managed to slay 1001 enemies with 1 donkey jaw-bone and entered the Hall of Fame.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Invisible patterns

To give you an idea of how SOPE works.
In the book they use a lot of diagrams where key squares, critical squares, winning/drawing/losing sectors, corresponding squares are shown.
A key square is a square that quarantees succes (in your marriage and OTB), no matter who is to move.

See for an example of key squares diagram 1.
They make use of symbols in stead of colours.

Diagram 1. White to move.

If white manages to conquer a key square, he will capture the black pawn.
At that moment he stands already on a new key square.
One which assures the promotion of the pawn.
See diagram 2.

Diagram 2. Black to move, white to win.

Without the book it costed me hours per problem to figure out where those fields are in any given position. I simply had not the knowledge. I even figured out (part of) the theory of corresponding squares myself. Which is a waste of time.

If you know exactly where your king has to head for, things become much easier.
In the endgame the importance to see the invisible patterns is very clear.
The same however is true for the middlegame.
The concentric squares and knightforks of the DLM program lead simple to "the popping out of the invisible".
I'm sure that a lot of my problems in the middlegame are caused by my habit to look at the pieces in stead of to the squares they cover.
This "chess vision" of DLM has a scientific base.
Research of the eye movements of amateurs and grandmasters has shown that the eyes of the latter are focussed more still between the pieces, while the eyes of the amateur are running around from piece to piece.

SOPE busy with chapter 3.
circle 1. 50 done, 368 to go.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Circle 1 at full throttle

The book Secrets of pawn endings from Muller & Lamprecht (from now on SOPE) clearly serves its goal. I complained earlier that I had to invent everything of my own. That's not the case anymore. SOPE has a good method to make the invisible patterns visible. This saves me a huge amount of time.
I begin to feel already more comfortable on an empty board.
Visualizing long lines is going better everyday.
What is encouraging is that a certain amount of the problems come from grandmaster games where one of the grandmasters misplayed it. Ok, maybe they where in time trouble, but they had clearly not the patterns ready.
Today I finished chapter two, I'm busy with the exercises now.
There is no reason why the diagrams in the text shouldn't count as exercises.
Then the total amount of exercises in SOPE comes at 418, which is ideal for 7 circles.
Since they are complex and a lot of the exercises have to be solved twice, for exemple "win with white, white to move, draw with black, black to move.

Circle 1: 44 done 374 to go.

I estimate that the first fruits of the study can be reaped in begin 2006.
For study reasons I want to change my openingsrepertoire before that time.
I want to increase the chance that I get an endgame on the board.
It seems a good idea to start to play the openings I always hated the most because they give too few possibilities for tactical tricks or a kingside attack.
This means maybe 1.d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 with white and the Caro-Kan with black.
Bahus gave me already good tips, where I will have a close look at.
If anybody has ideas I would be grateful.
I strongly believe that such a dramatic change in openings will enhance my possibitilies on the long term.

For example today I had a wild game against 1803.
After getting a huge attack I had to accept a draw because I was in serious time trouble and the position was extreme complicated.
That's how it often goes. In this way I can't exercise endgame technique of course.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

A bright future ogles.

In my chessclub we have three guys who are known as "endgame specialist". (ratings 2084, 1894 and 1803 resp.)
I had an interview with those guys and they all said the same:
  • They are gaining most of their points in the endgame.
  • They don't have studied endgames and know little about it.

This is remarkable.
They seem to have a natural intuition how to play the endgame.
I have not.

This reminds me of the same phenomenon in the middlegame.
Certain guys seem to play the middlegame easy. They use little time. Someway their pieces seem to land always on the best squares. Their play beams harmony.
I don't have this quality. If I do a move without thinking it's always a bad one.
Usually I don't have problems to beat those natural talents, because you have to trap them one move further than they are used to think. There always comes a moment they loose their patience and move too fast. Especially if I have made the position unharmonic on purpose.

In the endgame you have to see patterns on an empty board.
If you realize that a King on h4 has 141 ways to go in 6 moves to b4, it is not strange at all that you choose the wrong path most of the time.
So you have to familiarise yourself with these invisible patterns.

What we can say about our so called "endgame specialists" is: in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.

Reading the chessforums about chess endings, a deja vu comes up.
A lot of talk about the necessity of studying endings and discussion about the best way to do so, but nobody seems to work. I experienced the same earlier with studying tactics.

And that is very understandable!
Because if I now study a new opening, then the chance that I will reap the fruits of it next tournament, or at least get it on the board, is almost 100%.
But to reap the fruits of endgame study will almost certainly cost you half a year to a year.
Besides this, pawn endings are looked down upon. One thinks that just calculation should do the job. But today I did 14 endgame exercises from chapter 1. One costed me 2 hours, another 0.5 hour. Mind you, we are talking about problems with 2 kings and only 2 pawns! The one that costed me 2 hours was misplayed by a grandmaster. The other problems were easy.
So few guys will have the stamina to really dig in this subject I assume.
But it's only logic that without a thorough knowledge of pawn endings the study of rook endings, or minor piece endings can't be very deep.

And it is logic that I have to obey. That is what me has driven to the DLM-program in the first place. And since I have to learn endings anyway, now may be the best moment.
I am halfway chapter two and learning every minute.

The book arrived!

Today my new book Secrets of pawn endings arrived.
Written by Karsten Muller and Frank Lamprecht.
Published by Everyman Chess in 2000.
288 pages.

First impression.
The layout is very good and clear.
There is a lot of text and diagrams in every chapter with really clear explanations.
I like the explainatory diagrams with sectors, keysquares etc. very much because of their clarity.
Pawn endings are really a goal in itself for the writers. That is to say that, unlike Euwe for example, they didn't write the book because the had to. As a sort of obliged explanation of the basics while they actually want to tell us about rook endings. No, it is clear they really love pawn endings.
The approach of the writers is very practical. Unlike Euwe, who often felt himself obliged to write a lot of useless semi-scientific stuff, just for the sake of being complete.
What's written in this book is all very useful and practical.

What I do think though, is that you really have to be committed to pawn endings.
If you read this because you need it to understand rook endings, you will not come far.
I feel I have this commitment. And I think its not unreasonable to assume that until the end of this year I will have my hands full with it.

Every chapter has its exercises, 212 in total.
Today I worked tru chapter 1 and I'm busy with the exercises now.
A few hours per exercise is not uncommon. When my understanding grows, I think (hope) this will speed up.
I don't think I will ever need another book on the same subject.


006 Foreword by John Nunn
009 Preface
010 Introduction
011 Crash course
012 The Nunn Convention
013 Other Signs and Symbols
015 1 King and Pawn(s) vs King
023 Exercises
026 Solutions
028 2 King and Pawn vs King and Pawn
028 A) Pawns on the Same File
032 B) Pawns on Adjacent Files
034 Exercises
036 Solutions
038 3 Race of the Passed Pawns
038 A) Both Sides Queen a Pawn
040 B) Queen against Pawn(s)
043 C) Transition into a Pawn Ending
044 Exercises
046 Solutions
049 4 Small Number of Pawns
049 A) Blocked Pair of Pawns and a Passed Pawn
051 B) Protected Passed Pawn
052 C) Backward Pawn
054 D) Others
056 E) Doubled Pawns
058 Exercises
061 Solutions
065 5 Unique Features of the Rook's Pawn
065 A) Blocked Pair of Pawns and a Passed Pawn
066 A1) Bähr's Rule
069 A2) Bishop's Pawn and Rook's Pawn vs Rook's Pawn
071 B) Protected Passed Pawn
071 C) Others
074 D) Doubled Pawns
075 Exercises
077 Solutions
079 6 Fortresses, Stalemates and Underpromotion
079 A) Simple Fortresses
081 B) Direct Applications
082 C) Stalemates
085 D) Blockade
085 E) Underpromotion
088 Exercises
091 Solutions
094 7 Pawns on One Wing
094 A) Fixed Pawn-Structure
094 B) Flexible Pawn-Structure
096 C) Passive Defence
099 D) Active Defence/ Counter-attack
102 E) Extra Pawn
107 Exercises
110 Solutions
114 8 Passed Pawns
114 A) Preliminary Considerations
116 B) Battle between Different Passed Pawns
116 B1) Several Passed Pawns on Both Sides
118 B2) Protected Passed Pawn vs Two Passed Pawns
120 B3) Protected Passed Pawns vs One Passed Pawn
122 B4) Outside Passed Pawn
123 C) Passed Pawn vs Candidate
127 Exercises
130 Solutions
134 9 Breakthrough
134 A) Far-Advanced Pawns
136 B) Breakthrough of the Majority
138 C) Creation of Two Passed Pawns
138 D) Breakthrough Possibilities for The Defence
140 Exercises
142 Solutions
145 10 Pawns on Both Wings
145 A) Extra Pawn
149 B) Majority vs Central Passed Pawn
150 C) Spread Majorities
155 D) Even Distribution of Pawns
158 Exercises
160 Solutions
165 11 Fight for Tempi and Manoeuvres
165 A) Typical Manoeuvres with an Even Distribution of Pawns
169 B) "Don't Touch Me!"
171 C) King-March and Fight for Tempi
177 Exercises
180 Solutions
188 12 Corresponding Squares
188 A) Corresponding Squares in Former Examples
191 B) Bishop's Pawn and Rook's Pawn vs Rook's Pawn
193 C) Complicated Cases
196 Exercises
198 Solutions
204 13 Thinking Methods to Find the Right Move
204 A) The Method of Exclusion
205 B) The Opponent's Possibilities
207 C) Fighting Methods
211 D) Balance of Risks
212 E) Rules of Thumb
213 14 Complicated Cases
213 A) Out of Life
217 B) At the Highest Level
224 C) C.D. Analyses
230 Exercises
231 Solutions
236 15 Simplifications
236 A) Correctly Assessing Various Endgames
241 B) Good Technique
242 C) Combination
244 Exercises
248 Solutions
256 16 Exercises
256 A) Easy Exercises
258 B) Difficult Exercises
261 C) Judge the Position
263 Solutions
281 Sources
282 Index

Please a warm welcome for a new Knight Druss

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A game in a game

I'm starting to become enthousiastic about pawn endings.
But I'm feeling a little weird.
When I talk to my chessfriends about it then I get a reaction like "o yes, rook endings, very important stuff. You have to learn that."

Rook endings? I don't understand pawn endings at all, how can I begin with rook endings?
It seems that a lot of people look down on pawn endings.
Well, maybe I am stupid, but I find it to be very complex matter. OK, I don't have feeling for it, but still I wonder how much people could solve the problems with for example Kpp against Kp well in all cases.
I worked my way for the first time through Euwes pawn ending chapter.
I have now a global understanding of opposition, triangulation, Reti manoeuvre, zugzwang, rule of the square, passed pawn etc. .
But that is something totally different than having the skills and technique to play the positions correct.
Because sometimes opposition doesn't matter.
Sometimes there are hidden resources.
Sometimes etc. . .

I get the idea I can work miracles if I master these skills.
Only I have no idea how often this can be applied.
Maybe I am over enthousiastic.
Maybe in 98% of the games end play is just straight forward and in only 2% of the games these skills are paying off.
But I can hardly believe that.

Here is a diagram from a game of I. Rogers (white) - A. Shirov (black) Groningen 1990.
Shirov has just traded everything off because he thought this position was a clear draw.

White to move and win.

After the first next move of white Shirov resigned.
If even he makes such mistakes in such seemingly simple positions, then a lot of half points could possibly be gained.

Why did I never came up with the idea to study endings?
I have for about a meter books on openings. I even worked my way thru most of them.
But I have only two books on endings.
And I haven't read them both yet. The Christopher said that most people find it boring. He is probably right.
I find it to be fascinating.
I have developed the plan to study pawn endings the rest of this year.
I think that the problem is that you have to study for about six months and that you then just have mastered only the basics.
Probably few points are going to be gained by just mastering the basics. So the pay off is going to be in the long term. When you master the different types of endings AND know how to trade pieces down towards a favourable ending.
You actually have to learn a game in a game.

Luckily I found that Jeremy Silman said:

A solid knowledge of pawn endings is essential for those wishing to understand endgames in general (Rook Endgames, Minor Piece endgames, etc.). In fact, if a player wants to seriously study the endgame, pawn endings are the place to start because many endgame positions are evaluated on the basis of the underlying pawn ending that might be reached.

So I assume I am on the right track. I'm looking forward to see how the results of my method compare to the system CD is going to follow.

Nalimov tablebases.

I just downloaded the Nalimov endgame-tablebase for 5-pieces.
7,5 Gb in 2 hours is about 1+ Mb/sec. Not bad.
It gives a weird effect to put in Arena a position of Euwes endgamebook and within a fraction of a second you see "mate in #21"

I read tru all pawnendings of Euwe today.
I estimate it will cost me about 5 months to master the pawnendings in the way I want.
A tempo that is.
At this moment I learn very much each day.
But it goes terribly slow. I ordered "Secrets of pawnendings" from Muller and Lamprecht. I hope that will speed things up a little. (Secrets? The book is available everywhere!)
But it's unbelievable interesting. Weird King moves are very common. I try to understand why a specific King move wins, while all others fail. I look if the same positon give the same results when it shifts a line to the right or left. Or a rank forwards or backwards. "Simple" positions costs me hours. Hours that has to be spend in the studyroom and not behind the board.

When I surf around the internet, I seem to be the only one who looks so heavy upon pawnendings. Spending hours at a position with 2 Kings and 3 pawns seems to be uncommon. Am I that stupid or are the others very fast satisfied?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Pattern recognition in action

In awaiting of my new endgamebook I have time to surf around the web, looking for articles and opinions about pawnendings. I stumbled on this diagram in an article of Karsten Muller, who wrote it for Chesscafe. I recognized the pattern immediate so the solution was obvious.
Since I just started with endgames, I could remember that I had seen the same pattern about two weeks ago in the book of John Nunn. I have published both diagrams, to make it possible to compare the recognized pattern with the original.

Diagram 1, the recognized pattern
White to move draws, black to move wins.

This was the original position:

Diagram 2, the original.
White to move draws, black to move wins.

The interesting point though is that the patterns that triggered the recognition are actual invisible. I studied diagram 2 for a couple of hours a few weeks ago. The study revealed the importance of the f-line. Thats the line black is forbidden to pass. So that's the borderline white has to defend, using the opposition.
The 2nd rank is imporant too, since any bypass operation of black will have that rank as an axis.

So the recognized pattern exists mainly of the invisible cross, formed by the f-line and 2nd rank. Invisible on the board that is, but not invisible in the mind. So during the study I made the patterns myself by imagineing them in the mind.

Now I all of a sudden realize that it's the same with tactical problems. The invisible patterns are more important than the visible ones.
I remember well doing Polgars 5333+1 a few hundreds exercises mate in #1.
I was very enthousiast because I saw the shift from looking at the pieces to looking at the fields they cover.
Maybe we have here the reason why this study is so time consuming. It takes time to generate the important invisible patterns.

A few Knights talked about a kind off video that automatic plays tru all problems and their solution. Though the idea is very good, I can now predict that that is not gonna work.
Because it shows only the visible patterns. Maybe it could work with a computerprogram that generate those invisible patterns in a position. How is the quality of the patterns that are generated by Convekta, the so called arrows of shame and fields of ignorance?
Does that help to see what's important or are they confusing?

This reveals the whiff of magic you feel when you see a grandmaster in action. I showed these positions to a friend who didn't have these invisible patterns stored. Time after time he failed with both colours, unable to see why I reached my goal everytime, no matter what he tried.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Do I have to invent everything myself?

Today I studied for 3 hours a position of 2 Kings and 3 pawns.
And I played it against Arena.
I just simply have not the idea that I grasp everything that's in the position, though it seems simple enough.
The position comes from Euwes endgamebook, who only give the variations.
I have the unpleasant feeling of missing something important.
Totally fed up I ordered "Secrets of pawn endings" from Muller and Lamprecht today.
288 pages solely dedicated to pawnendings. That should help to do the job.

On the other front Margriet is circleing from dawn to dusk, actually longer.
Well, in a few hours she will be graduating, so keep your best wishes ready.
By then she will have done 7 circles of TCT step 3, 4 and 5 (1680 problems) in just 83 days. Now you know why she don't blog so often!


I proudly anounce that Margriet just finished her 7 circles!!!
Congratulations, weldone!!
I am very proud and very, very glad, because I have enough from the chinese junkfood we order from Jeet Kun Rook everyday since februari. . .
Way to go!!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

This might become addictive

I think I grasped the ideas of opposition, Reti manoeuvre and triangulation.
That were the 3 main ideas on pawnendings that Nunn advised to learn.
Since I restrict myself to pawnendings for now, I can lay his book aside for this moment.

Now I'm solving postitions to transform what I have comprehended to a skill.
Today I used the book of Euwe on endings.
This might become addictive! I put the positions in Arena and try to play them.

The only trouble is that chesswriters have the sadistic habit to mix extreme rare positions between common ones. So you spend lots of time on positions you will never see in practice.
But I assume in a few weeks I will have an idea of the main lines.

I have a toolbox with new tools:
  • Opposition
  • Rule of square
  • Reti manoeuvre
  • Race
  • Triangulation
  • Zugzwang
  • Stalemate

Now I have to become skilled in using the tools.
I think I will pester some FICS-players now by trading off all pieces. . .

Holy schnickeys, not easy!

I'm now studying full throttle endgame theory.
Well, I chewed for 5 hours on the diagram below.
I invented the system of corresponding squares. Which already exists, as I later found out.
(As is the old trouble with all my inventions. )

White to move and win.

The first sparks of insight in triangulation start to dawn on me.
But it's totally clear to me, this study is gonna last some time.
But at least in this position it starts to become clear that 1.Kc2 Kf4 2.Kb2! are logical moves.
To see this immediate in all situations is however a different matter!
I am curious how many persons at my club would play this correctly.
If it are very few, what I presume, then this study can be a goldmine.
The basic idea of triangulation is not so difficult, but I seem to get used to such an empty board.
It feels like acclimatisation of some kind.
Dear Caissa, please help me a little.