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)


  1. Tempo, I am following your new checklist approach with great interest. I have abandoned it some time ago because it did not help me (too complicated, too time-consuming). But it may help you.

    Instead, I picked up Dan Heisman's idea of chess axioms. My hope is that they should make you build a useful rule in any given situation.

    Oh, I forgot to mention: I still use the Checks, Captures, Threats approach of sorting candidate moves, which IS a USEFUL checklist.

  2. Mouse,
    I think that the resulting checklist is less important than the process of the making of such list. Take for instance the pawn push. When I wanted to push a pawn the past 8 years, I always had to calculate what the result would be. I saw every pawn push as new. (just like brainscans of amateurs show) In the study process I find regularities in pawn pushes. There is a system in it which files and which diagonals are opened by a pawn push. Once I see how it works, I can used it in my games. In a way it replaces my calculation by just recognizing the system, the pattern, so to say.

    In stead of inventing the same wheel over and over again, I learn to make use of a prefabricated wheel. Prefabricated in the study room. Outside the study room I believe that the lifespan of any list is very limited.

  3. Tempo, I think the same is true with my axiom approach. I don't think that I'll ever use axioms in a game, but I hope that a rule which I once have reconstructed from the axioms will jump faster into my mind in a useful situation than will a rule that I only have heard of.

    Did you post about your pawn push thing? Did I miss it? Otherwise, a post would be very welcome!

  4. Mouse,
    I'm still working on pawn pushes. It is pretty complex. When I'm ready I will post about it.