Sunday, December 10, 2006

What was I thinking?

Yesterday at Nezha's blog I claimed that thinking happens in the study room and not during a game.

Blue Devil asked me a question about it.
Tempo, you always say you don't think, but you end up in time trouble...hmmm. What are you doing in your tournaments, flirting with your wife?

I will try to explain. First you have to know that I'm not very impressed by my own capabilities to think. Or the capabilities to think of mankind, for that matter. 20 years of self observation in a Gurdieff based school deprived me from most illusions in that area.

I have looked for two hours for a clue in the position of yesterday. Without reaching a conclusion I finally made a move because, well, I had to. What have I done in these two hours?
Basically my thoughts went around in circles. in a desperate attempt to find a begin. A clue. The fact that I lean heavily on my short term memory during this process makes that I repeat myself often without notice. As GM Donner put it in "The King":
During their game, chess players are 'incommunicado'; they are imprisoned. What is going on in their heads is narcissistic self-gratification with a minimum of objective reality, a worldess sniffing and grabbing in a bottomless pit.

Today I finally found a clue. As usual it is amazingly simple.
There is a problem on the board: the pawn at c5 is in trouble.
Basically there are 3 kinds of moves to react to this:
A. Exchange the problem (by cxb6)
B. Protect the pawn (by Be3 or b4)
C. Ignore the problem for now and perform a counter attack (with g4 or Bf4)
I still have to analyse the remaing positions after these 5 candidate moves, but at least I have a start.

The suggestion to flirt with your own wife sounds somewhat kinky to me, but I take it as an example to do something pointless besides chess. The answer is, no, I need nothing besides chess to be occupied in a pointless way to spill my time during a game.

I cannot even uphold the claim that thinking happens in the study room. Rather it should be: if thinking is bound to happen, it will probably be in the study room.

What will be the next step?
I will develop a systematic thoughtprocess to guide me in the positions where I'm clueless. I always frowned upon a thoughtprocess, but I clearly need one to come any further now.


  1. 5 candidate moves seems a bit much. My thoughts in the position:

    "develop bishop to f4...oh wait...pawn under attack...defend with b4?, because then a5 is strong for black, so cxb6 is main candidate...ok, but no better moves? maybe Bf4, but this must be calculated...and how about g4 with the idea Ne5, how can I make this work?"

    This is a quick 3 minute evaluation. After this I have 3 candidate moves. I would probably look at Bf4 for some time and reject the move after some calculation. Then, spend some time at the plan g4 with Ne5, to be played at a later stage. So I would play cxb6 rather quickly.

  2. Fierabras,
    I dismissed cxb6 at first beacuse I counted the resulting pawn islands 3 for white vs 2 for black. My agressive style of play the last 5 years makes that I have difficulty to assess such positions. Now is the time to repair such omissions in my chess knowledge.