Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Multipurpose moves, flexibility and chaos

Some cc-players play rather quick. For cc-games, that is. So I have a few results from my experiment already. The active placement of my pieces in a Rubinstein-Zukertort set up is neutralized by 90% of the opponents. I was surprised by all the different approaches to the problem.

It made me think of what I once found out about how you can win a piece in tactics.
If you chase a piece, it will move away everytime you make an attacking move. Ad infinitum. You can only win a single piece when it hasn't enough space to flee.
So method one is the trap. Mate being a special instance of a trap.
Method two is to attack two targets at the same time. Be it a double attack, fork, pin, skewer etc..
Only one of the two targets can be saved at the same time.

If you position one piece well, it can be neutralized by one contra-move. Comparable with the fleeing piece. Only when your opponent hasn't enough space, it can happen that he cannot play a contra-move.
Method two is to make a multipurpose move, which accomplishes two things. Usually a contra-move can only neutralize one of the two purposes. As Fierabras pointed out, a technique that is closely related to the multipurpose move is the flexible move. He gave as example Be2 in certain Sicilian lines. Which keeps all options open.

Further it reminds me of the chaos theory. There are a lot different contra-moves possible for any of your actions. There seems to be a rather broad draw-margin. But if you reach the edge of the draw-margin, the roof can come down by only one move which causes a chainreaction.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Experiments with piece activity and steerability

In an attempt to place the white pieces as active as possible, I came up with a Colle-Zukertort system-like structure. So I fired up 15 cc-games with 1.d4 to test it. I have never played 1.d4 before so it will be interesting anyway. I feel to be on another planet.
The Colle-Zukertort system is frowned upon by higher rated players since is is unambitious for white. It is interesting of course to see why a theoretical active placement of the pieces is known as a passive setup. That must have something to do with the fact that I have only taken my own pieces into account.

Further I like to introduce the term relative piece activity, which indicates my piece activity in comparison to the activity of the enemy pieces. If I talk in the future about piece activity, I mean this relative piece activity.

Next to piece activity I introduced the term steerability of a game lately.
An open game leads to tactical opportunities for both sides. This makes it difficult to steer it in the direction you want. I want to find out if a closed game increases the steerability of the game. So if black chooses to answer 1.d4 with the Kings Indian Defense, I intend to answer with the Petrosian variant of the classical mainline. That often leads to a closed center.

To be clear: I don't have a preference for the systems I describe here. I just think about these things and try to verify in practice what I have found. I have no opinion beforehand, I will not be disappointed if it proves to be a dead end. If a gambit proves to be the best way to increase the relative activity of my pieces then it is fine with me too.

What I try to accomplish is to escape from the dictatorship of the variants. Which means that I want to steer the viarants in stead of that the variants are steering me. As is the case usually now.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Looking into the future

My list of questions for analyzing a position consists of only one topic:
What is the future of this piece?

My experiences in the Corus tournament show that this question works. Even in the battlezone it helps you to get answers. The background of this question is piece activity. How can I get my pieces more active and my opponents less? The upcoming posts will probably focus on this question. I will be thinking out loud, so I ask you beforehand to bear with me.

What is the difference between piece mobility and piece activity?

Piece mobility
can be calculated by counting the squares where a piece can go (quantity). It is a static feature of a position and you look only one ply deep with it.

Piece activity
takes the quality of the squares into account.
What is the value of the area of activity? For instance covering the squares around the opposite king or covering the center has more value than to cover your own territory. There are other elements like flexibility and coordination (the piece harmony of Fierabras?)
It is a dynamic feature of a position and you have to look into the future to value it.

Into the future.
Let's try if we can find more things about piece activity.

Take a look at diagram 1.

If I look at the bishop at f1 and I ask myself "at what diagonal lies the best future of bishop?" a few things come to mind.
Bb5 is a rather feeble home for the bishop. So it probably will to have to move again.
Bc4 is at a diagonal on which it is probably difficult to be active because of moves like d5, e6 and Nf6.
Bd3 looks like a natural home for the bishop. Only g6 will block it.
Be2 is good but rather passive, since the covered territory hasn't much value. A removal to a better place in the future is likely to be necessary.
Bg2 looks good.
Bh3 might weaken the kingside too much, especially after the bishop is traded off.

The move 1.d4 decides a lot about the future of the bishop. I never realized that before.

Take a look at diagram 2.

What is the best future of the bishop on f1?
Bb5 the bishop can't be for long at that diagonal.
Bc4 is a good natural place for the bishop since e4 protects against d5. e6 is a possibility for black to diminish the activity of the white bishopat c4, but at the same time it blocks the black bishop at c8.

Bd3 looks at the own pawn at e4 and blocks d2. Only if a black pawn at e5 can be lured away (by d4 or f4), there can be a future for the bishop at d3. Once the blocking pawn at e4 moves out of the way.
Be2 is passive but flexible.
Bg2 is blocked by the pawn at e4, so the freeing move d4 or f4 is necessary to give the bishop at g2 activity.
Bh3, same as the previous diagram.

There seem to be 3 restrictive elements for piece activity:
  • Own pawns
  • Enemy pawns
  • When the piece is bound to defend a weakness.

Update after the break

If you wondered what happened to Margriet, she scored 2/8.
Previous year she had a blunder streak (10 lost pieces in 14 games, although she managed to score 8/14) so she played in a very cramped way. Although she didn't blunder this year she played unusual passive which costed her six games. I trust she will get past this psychological barrier. To be honest, I'm already afraid of her. Behind the chessboard, that is.

Ninth game 4.5/9

I played the GPA and was an exchange up. The problem was that black had a mate threat if I would try to cash in, and he would lose a piece if he tried to break out. 1/2 - 1/2

Eighth game 4/8
I tried to ape Karpov with the Queens Indian defense against 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3
I soon equalized. The balance was never broken: 1/2 - 1/2

Seventh game 3.5/7
I played with white the Alapin Diemer gambit against the french defense. I score bad with this gambit lately, so it will be the first one I will replace with a more solid opening.
Black defensed correctly without panicking. I had great pressure, but I didn't want to make the desicive knight sac since that would be a gamble and I don't like that.
I clearly felt that there are 3 extra weapons that a defender has against a gambit of questionable soundness. If he plays well. These extra weapons are:
  • The endgame, since he is a pawn up.
  • The trade of pieces. The gambiteer must avoid the trade of pieces at all cost since it diminishes his advantage. Often this cost is too high.
  • Time. This was the only game I was in time trouble because as gambiteer you MUST find the best moves otherwise the advantage slips away.
Since I drawed back my knight instead of to sacrifice it in an unsound manner as a gamble, black could take over the initiative. In timetrouble I lost a piece and the game.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Brainstorming about openings

Today we have a rest day at Corus. A nice moment to brainstorm about openings. Don't expect much cohesion.

Gambit play.
Four years ago I decided to commit the youth-sin of playing gambits. The reason for that was to gain tactical experience. Usually a grandmaster is granted a year in his chess-youth to commit this sin. Since my development is slower than a grandmaster, my chess youth lasted longer.
It took me four years to learn what can be learned from gambits only.

Get subtle.
But now it is time to move on.
I never developed a special affinity with gambits. I played gambits because it was a logical thing to do at that stage of my development. Yesterday I played 6 fast games against a 1950 player.
I won 2 of them by tactical crushing him and I lost 4 due to well positional play from his side.
It convinced me that my tactical skill is at a 2000 level already.
But tactical means are blunt by nature. When opponents keep a keen eye at their pieces, they won't lose them to you without notice.
So the battle has to be won by subtler means first before to can finish your opponent off by tactics. It is just a logical step.
To learn a more subtle approach I need openings that are coherent with that idea. So I intend to replace my openings.

Different approaches.
There are a few approaches from which I can choose.

Statistical approach.
If I play the moves that are played by most of the grandmasters, that can't be bad.
Just follow the mainstream.

Computer approach.
Rybka is a pretty good engine. At my computer it can think about 22 ply ahead within a reasonable time. This approach means that novelties from opponents score always less.
A computer procudes second and third choice alternatives which often score about the same.
If I let statistics decide between them, I probably get a good mainstream line.

Alien approach.
Openings like the 1.d4, the Caro Kan, the French etc. are very alien to me. Which probably means that I will learn a lot when I try to play them.

Think for myself approach.
Since I think that piece activity for yourself and lack of activity for your opponent should be the goal of any opening, it might be possible to find the moves according this principle myself.

What to choose?
All approaches include a decent amount of work. With traditional opening study it is very easy to get lost in the forests of variants though. The last approach (think for myself) leads to the most understanding, but it entails a certain amount of risk. I cannot know beforehand if it will give a useful endresult. It's value lies in the process and not in the result. The risk is that when it proves to be a dead end, I will have to take one of the other approaches. On the other hand I have my old repertoire as a safety net.

I'm inclined to go for thinking by myself (gee, aren't you surprised?). If I approach the opening the same way as I approach the middlegame (piece activity!) I can't believe the efforts will be in vain. Even if there is no usable end result my middlegame play will improve too due to the efforts. In fact I already did my first attempt.

My first attempt.
I looked at the begin position of the white pieces for a few hours, asking myself what would be the best future for each piece. Especially the development of the queen is problematic. I'm used to play booklines supplemented with my own fantasy lines so I always took the endresult of the opening as a random given fact.

This was the first result I came up with:

It is a Colle/London system like structure.
After I found this, I listened to Pete Tamburro's video how to defend against the Colle/London system. I found his lines very convincing. A crucial move is for instance g6, which reduces the power of the bishop and queen instantly. (Actually that screams for h4-h5, but where will the white king be save?) As black I always hated the Colle since I played e6, which leaves a nice place for a knight at e5. But Tamburo's suggestion is to attack in the center with Nbd7, c5 and e5. If the center breaks open, the white pieces are subject to attack. So in one day I learned that to play for a position without looking after the moves of the opponent is a dead end.
Of course I already knew that, but it never made a deep impression. Now it did.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Corus update

Sixth game 3.5/6
Today I played the fourth Scandinavian of this tourney against the highest rated and top-placed player of the pack. After long manoeuvring he was slightly better but in heavy time trouble. He offered a draw( the first draw offer in these six games from both me and my opponents!) which I happily accepted. I haven't been in time trouble in a single game. What a relief!
Tomorrow we have a rest day.

Fifth game 3/5
Today I played the kings gambit with the white pieces. He decided to get me out of book with the Nimzowitch countergambit. What he didn't know is that, however it is seldom played, I have a 100% score against the Nimzo. He thought that if he was out of book in this rare variation, I would be too. Which was not the case. When I was out of book I played a nice trick which costed him a full rook. So he resigned at move 11. You can find the game here.

Fourth game 2/4
I blundered my queen away at move 12. I had a great positional overview of the game today. But when my mind is in positional mode, I don't see tactics. Like the guided pattern recognition.
Interesting phenomenon. S**t happens.

Third game 2/3
Today I played the Grand Prix attack with white (1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.f4)
Arena says sometimes it is a Closed Sicilian though.
Allthough I know only these 3 moves plus two idea's from this opening (trade kings-bishop against queens-knight and start a kingside attack with Qe1) I already play it with confidence. White has most of the times a long lasting initiative.
I noticed that my opponents brain got paralyzed in quiet positions (same problem I used to have myself in the past) so I refused to open up the position. At a certain moment I had an hour more on the clock, highly unusual for me! Amazing to see that his mind went in overdrive while I did just little moves to improve my position and to activate my pieces bit by bit. When you have no clue, you can think untill the cows come home. When he had only 2 minutes for 10 moves, I decided to open up the position to complicate matters for him. In those 2 minutes he lost the exchange, a knight and his queen for my bishop and rook. He even got sentenced by the arbiter with two time penalties because he twice made an illegal move. At move 39 he resigned. An easy win.

Second game 1/2
In my second game I had black again and played the Scandinavian.
Same trouble.
The problem is that every now and then I flick in a wild move in play that is basically positional. That's not a good idea.
But of course I have that rocket launcher in my backpack: tactics!
After his attack at the queenside grinded to a hold, I forcefully opened the position, sacced a rook and mated him in five.
Maybe I should adopt a new opening against e4. The French? Caro Kann?

First game 0/1.

In the early morning I got a call: our driver was ill and wasn't going to Corus.
Panic! Luckily we found another driver and car for the first 3 days. So I have some time to arrange transportation for the next 6 days.
Since we had a heavy storm, I had to replace 6 roofing-tiles before we could leave for Corus.
In my first game I played a Scandinavian with black. It revealed that my openings aren't very suited for positional play. So I got a very cramped position. After I freed myself, I was two pawns down. Still it costed him 30 moves to get me on my knees in the remaining rook ending.
So finally I get some endgame experience!
My usual time trouble seems to have vanished since I have no longer problems to find moves when there are no tactics. I'm very happy with that!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I like my lists short

I have studied a lot of positional problems lately. I have been able to compress my list with questions I have to ask myself in order to analyze a position to one item. I solve 90% of the problems correctly. Which is qiute opposite to what I'm used to. At PCT 30% correct wasn't uncommon in the past.
Today I got a position where I reached the end of the line though.

Until today my one and only question was:
What will be the future of this piece?
Of course I know exactly what I mean with this. This question remembers me where to look at.
It is about piece activity.
And piece activity is about outposts, open lines and targets.
I have to ask it for every piece, even the opponent's.
During the process of answering this question, the right proceeding reveals itself.
The only trouble is that I have limited experience, so that I cannot know that if I do the move that logically arises from the thoughtprocess, it will get me the result I hoped for. For instance if I decide that to sac the exchange is logical, since that lousy misplaced rook will get me rid of that fierce bishop, I don't know if it will be worth it due to lack of experience.

Today there was a position in the good move guide from move 7 of a game of Botvinnik.
I could predict almost all the moves of Botvinnik from move 7 to move 32 just by asking me this one question. The few I missed, were still consistent with the question.
But then I encountered this position.

Since almost all the pieces of white have reached their full potential, I couldn't come up with a move. Interesting situation. I can't see how to improve the piece activity any further and there are still no winning tactics! In a real game this would mean time trouble for me and hence accepting a draw in magnificient position!

The right move here is 33. h3!
When I think about, it is a logical proceeding of course.
The white pieces are much more mobile than the black pieces. So to bring the attack from the queenside to the kingside cannot be followed by the defensive pieces.
Darn! I have to extend my list with a second question, I guess.
Let's see. . .

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Focus on pattern recognition

Do you recognize the pattern in the picture above?
Tip 1: it's a stereogram, so you have to focus about 40 cm behind your screen.

Tip 2: it symbols what I have been fighting the past 4 years.

The picture above is one of the best stereograms I have ever seen. But since I have looked at stereograms for about 3 hours on the web, I have difficulty to get my usual focus back:)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Looking back looking forward

About 8 years ago I started with chess after a break of nearly 20 years. I read quite a pile of books from Euwe. That was the first time I encountered information about positional play. I tried to apply the advice of Euwe in my games, which for 90% didn't work. When I obtained the bishoppair after a long struggle of 20 moves, meanwhile deteriorating my position, I had to flee for his omnipresent knights to protect my precious pair. Most of the time I could only make a move or two before I lost the pair.
If I tried to make a plan, that was simply ridiculous! If my opponent wasn't willing to cooperate, how on earth could I implement a plan? Where is the ship going, when there are two captains that steer by turns for 5 minutes?
That lead me to the conclusion that it was way too early for positional play.
So I forgot all this stuff and just started to play. Accepting any position as a given fact, only influenced by the position of the planets and the rating of my opponent.

I'm always very focussed on what I'm doing. Which means that I have a great power to ignore things that I consider irrelevant for the moment. The upside is that I can go really deep, the downside is that I miss the wide view.

I got acquinted with the idea's of prof. de Groot about pattern recognition and I read that chess = 99% tactics. And so I decided to give tactics a shot. Initially with great success.
At the moment I have reached the limit of what I can do about tactics.
So I have to apologize to the readers of this blog. This blog will in the future not be about MDLM, the circles or about tactics. That lies behind me. It was a great success, it was big fun and it brought me 250 ratingpoints.
Now the time is ripe for the next step.
I will continue to post about chess improvement though.

Allthough I read about positional play in the books of Euwe, I have never thought about it myself. That may sound very strange, but that is my way of focussing. When I read his books, I was absorbing HIS information. I tried to implement HIS advice. When I do so, I ignore my own thoughts. To prevent that they interfere and that I miss something.
But now is the time that I'm going to think for myself. I have seen 100K beautiful tactical combinations the past 3.5 years, so those don't distract me anymore in a position.
I started a few weeks ago to think for myself. About positional play that is.

Thusfar I have found already the main clue in all positional planning: piece activity.
The nice thing is that piece activity isn't contradictory to tactics. So my efforts in that area aren't down the drain. I can even continue to play gambits, if I like to do so, since gambits are about piece activity too.
What I expect though is that I will try to focus on "steerability" of the game.
In a way a gambit does that too. In the KG means 2.f4: I steer away from the Ruy and the Italian, and you are going to have a rough ride.
But a rough ride is double edged. A rough ride means your opponent doesn't steer but you don't steer either.
I don't know to if it is possible to steer a game, but it probably means that you must rule out tactics to a certain degree.
That is, you have to keep lines closed until it is favourable to open them.
The coming weeks (years?) I will be busy to study this subject.
I'll keep you informed.


Today I finished my 70,000 problem at CTS. In order to get sharp tactically for Corus. Thanks for your patience.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Drastic changes.

My play is changing drastically. I'm playing faster now, which is a very good thing. I have no longer problems with quiet positions. Improving piece activity gives the clue in those positions. Since I no longer try to force matters in positions that aren't really suited for tactics, my games become longer. I was used to big squiggly lines in my games from +1.7 to -1.7, but now they tend to be from +0.17 to - 0.17.

It's evident that I have to learn a lot to decide a game with subtler means. Those do or die tactics give me just much too many draws and losses on time, so it is really time for subtler means. New tools have to be found, and the technique to use those new tools have to develop.

A new tool I tried to use yesterday was the "favourable trade". Of course I always try to weaken the opponents pawnstructure by trading pieces, as everybody does. But that's not what I mean. A gross part of the games of Capablanca are won just by a good knight against a bad bishop or by a good bishop against a bad knight and the like. I'm mapping the trade-schemes he used.

This type of play isn't "in stead of" tactics, it is just an extra means. I tried this kind of play 8 years ago, but back then I was so bad in tactics that that was utterly nonsense. But now the time is ripe.

What I don't understand is that MDLM got to 2041 by tactics alone. If I already got rid of the big squiggly lines at 1743, what will be my chance to improve by tactics alone? Must be close to zero. On the other hand I don't have the feeling that 2041 is that far away.

My play is still in a very experimental phase, so I can't expect too much results from Corus this year I'm afraid (allthough I hope for miracles, of course). What I do expect though is to learn a lot.

The 9-round event at Corus starts january 19th, 2007.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The missing link

Please all give a warm welcome to our newest Knight: Underpromoted Knight!!

If I reshuffle de things I have found so far, I get the following list:

A. Tactics
A1. Trap (one target)
  • Special case: mate
A2. Duplo attack (two targets)
  • Double attack
  • Skewer
  • Pin
  • Discovered attack
  • Break communication
  • etc.

B. Positional
B1. Piece activity (80%)
  • Outpost
  • Weak square
  • Weak color complex
  • Open file
  • Open diagonal
  • Active bishop
B2. Target creation. (5%)
  • Trade
  • Minority attack
  • Backward pawn
B3. Favourable endgame (10%)
  • Double pawn
  • Isolani
  • Pawn islands
  • Bad/good bishop
  • Bad/good knight
  • Bishops of different color
  • (outside) Passer
B4. Rest (5%)

Once you see that the main goal in the opening and the middlegame (and even the endgame!) is piece activity, it becomes evident that it is nonsense to see tactics and positional play as opposite. The are complementory. If the pieces become active enough, tactics become inevitable. Of course there are sometimes tactics when the pieces are passive, but that's always because of a blunder.

So the idea of MDLM to let play two computer personalities against each other, a tactical one and a positional one, is utterly nonsense. The more active your pieces are, the more CHANCE that there are tactics around. That's why there are no tactics at move one.

If one talks about a tactical style of play or a positional style, often a love for open or closed positions is meant. With an open position, both sides have probably active pieces, hence tactical chances. In a closed game, the pieces can't be very active because they are hindered by the pawns. The tactics are more dosed.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Positional play for dummies

Since we Knights are are all tactical monsters, we can have a problem if there are no tactics.

If there are no tactics, we have to find a positional move. If I use the 80/20% rule, I can find the right positional move in 80% of the cases by asking myself only two questions. This is true for both PCT and Bent Larsen's Good move guide.

These two questions are:

1. Is there an outpost I can conquer?
2. Is there an open line which I can conquer or can I open such line by a pawn push?

You have to know the main idea behind these questions, which is piece activity.
MDLM had a 3rd step to implement his new acquired tactical skills into his OTB play.
If I leave the things out I do anyway and the things that look nonsense, then only two topics remain. I made them bold:

1. Make a physical movement. Initially I shuffled my legs but found that they got tired in long games. Now I shift around in my chair, move my arms up and down, or wiggle my toes (5 seconds; total time: 5 seconds).

2. Look at the board with Chess Vision, the ability developed by going through the micro-level drills described above (10 seconds; total time: 15 seconds).

3. Understand what the opponent is threatening (20 seconds; total time: 35 seconds).

4. Write down the opponent's move on my score sheet (5 seconds; total time: 40 seconds).

5. If the opponent has a serious threat, then respond. If not, calculate a tactical sequence. If no tactical sequence exists, implement a plan (70 seconds; total time: 110 seconds).

6. Write down my move (5 seconds; total time: 115 seconds).

7. Imagine the position after I make my intended move and use Chess Vision to check the position. If Chess Vision does not locate any problems, make the move and press the clock. If Chess Vision does locate a problem, go back to step 1. (10 seconds; total time: 125 seconds).

8. Make sure that I have pressed the clock.

Step 5's "implement a plan" is the only step that is not self-explanatory. I implement very simple plans (as opposed to Silman, Kotov, and Pachman-like plans) that improve the probability that there will be a tactical shot. These plans include:
1. Improve the mobility of the pieces.
2. Prevent the opponent from castling.
3. Trade off pawns.
4. Keep the queen on the board.

The idea behind MDLM's two bold points and my two questions is the same: increase your piece activity (and hinder the opponents piece activity).
I apply these two questions in my cc-play. I can't proof that it improves my play, because I win most of the games anyway, but it makes my play a lot easier. I have a clue in almost all queiet positions. A clue which I didn't use to have before.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Positional game

In a game I encountered the following interesting position.

Black (me) to move.

My checklist revealed within a few minutes that after white plays 18. e4 , I'm left with a bad bishop, and white has a beautiful outpost at d5. To prevent this passive position I planned to trade the bisshops or at least to activate mine. It still costed me 40 minutes to find an acceptable move. I'm astonished how quick the balance swayed in my direction after only a few moves.
You can find the complete game here.

[White "Ma"]
[Black "Temposchlucker"]
[Result "0-1"]
[BlackElo "1711"]
[ECO "A47"]
[Opening "Neo-Queen's Indian"]
[Variation "2..b6 3.e3 e6"]
[WhiteElo "1654"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.e3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 c5 6.c3 Be7 7.O-O O-O 8.Nbd2 Qc7 9.b3
d6 10.Bb2 Nbd7 11.Rc1 Rac8 12.Re1 e5 13.dxe5 Nxe5 14.Nxe5 dxe5 15.c4 Bxg2 16.Kxg2
Rcd8 17.Qe2 Nd7 18.Nf3 e4 19.Nd2 f5 20.Nb1 Qb7 21.Nc3 Ne5 22.Red1 Nd3 23.Rc2 Bf6
24.Na4 Bxb2 25.Nxb2 Rd6 26.Kg1 Rfd8 27.Rb1 Nb4 28.Rcc1 Nxa2 29.Rcd1 Nc3 {} 0-1

Friday, January 05, 2007

Positional checklist under construction.

I'm still working on a checklist which assists in analyzing positions. It is a very pragmatic list. Everything I'm used to, like looking for tactics, is not on the list. So aren't the questions which I ask from the perspective of the opponent. If I know what I want, I can hold the same reasoning for my opponent, so no reason to make a distinguished item of it.
I check the checklist against a series of positional problems.

Yesterday I was still very happy since there were only 3 items left on the list.
I like my lists simple and clean, and 3 items are perfectly managable during a game.
On the list were the following questions I had to ask myself about a position:

  • Are there good squares for my pieces? (home, outpost, keysquare). Related to this, what has my opponent as defenders and I as attackers for that square.
  • Are there weak pawns? (target). Related to this, what has my opponent as defenders and I as attackers for that pawn.
  • Which pawns can be pushed? Which (half-) open files and/or diagonals can possibly be the result of the pawn push.

The first two questions are clear to me, the third one is pretty complex. I have to work that one further out.

Today I realized that there are 3 other questions that I have to investigate:

  • At which side of the board to struck/which side to block?
  • Which pieces are good and which are bad?
  • Which pieces do I want to trade?
Six questions are really too much to ask yourself every relevant position, so I hope I can drop something after more research.
With these questions it takes me 10 to 45 minutes to analyse any given position (non tactical). The result is very promising until now, I score very well in answering the positional problems in Zen Larsens Good move's guide. While I used to be dramatically bad at it.

I have finished more than 60 cc-games the past 2.5 months, which is a perfect way to incorporate my new style in my play. Right now I still play about 25 games at the same time. Time is running fast to the upcoming Corus tournament (jan 19th, 2007)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

In imitation of J'adoube

Everybody has different area's where he is bad.
This diagram from Polgar's brick took me an hour to solve for the first time.

Mate in two -white to move.
Yesterday I found it 20 seconds.

Solution[ 1.Bb1]