Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bookkeeping of trades

What exactly makes a position too complex to handle?
What causes the memory to blockade?
These questions must be answered first before an attempt can be made to cure the problem.

The diagram of yesterday contained 4 lines.
The first line was 9 ply deep and lead to mate. Since it was forced, it was easy to see. Especially if you are familiar with the standard trick. So there is no problem to look deep in the position when everything is forced.
The second line was 3 ply deep and forked the king and queen. Easy to spot.
The third line was a mate in two. Easy to see.

But the fourth line is the one which causes the problems. Below you see the situation after 3 ply:

Black to win. White to move.
Blacks last move was Ne1 (after 1. ... Nf3+ 2. Kh1 Ne1)

Here white has 6 plausible replies (3.Bg5 3.Qd1 3.Qd2 3.Nxc8 3.Nxe8 3.Qe4)
All lines lose material for white.

I have the greatest problems to keep track of all the possible trades in these lines. To know if I'm ahead or even behind in material. All those trivial trades causes my head to spin.

This indicates that doing more tactical exercises is not going to be of help in this kind of positions. I first have to learn how to manage a lot of trivial trades. That is the quest for now.


  1. I also have identified material counting in trades as a weakness. I use CTS for training: If trades are involved, I calculate how much the move gains before I move. This also helps in finding the fastest way to the solution, for example by neglecting equal amounts on both sides, so you get the difference faster.

    A technical question: Blogger urges me to move to the new version, where my Google account should be used. How did you manage this problem? I mean, how can I be sure to appear still as Mousetrapper and not by my real name?

  2. Mouse, you can make the switch while keeping your nickname. You are given the choice what to use by Google/Blogger.

  3. I honestly try to understand your expectations, Tempo, but every post seems to lead to new questions for me.

    If you take this position, I would stop calculating this line (4th line, 3 ply deep) further in a real live game, feeling that I 'must be winning'. For all the possible replies for white, my attitude is: "that's his problem, the idea of Qe4+ somewhere will give me mate somehow, for now he has to solve the attack on his queen".

    I acknowledge this practical approach does not work all the time, sometimes you just have to calculate a lot of lines precisely to get to a reasonable evaluation. Sometimes it is just plain wrong and your opponent finds a hidden resource and you lose.

    Do you expect that it is possible to actually calculate all the variations from the starting position, but you just can't do it yet? And do you think you have to master this to become a great player?

  4. Fier,
    feeling that I 'must be winning'

    that's the point. You have that feeling, I don't. For me are all possibilities open. Even that it might be losing. About my expectations, I hope that one of the following is true:

    I discover a method to solve this OTB or,

    I discover that this will be impossible to solve for anyone OTB so I have to accept that I have to gamble by just threatening his queen and let him do the solving.

  5. It's white's move. So what is black's main threat. Qe6? with invasion on g2. So knight + Q is deadly.

    Also second invasion point from Q, e2,f1 or f2.

    So white Q is tied down to the defence of the knight on f3. Guard against black's bishop.

    1.Qd2 Bxc3! 2.Qxc3 Qxe2 3. threat f2, f1.
    2. Qd1 Bxc3! 2. black's up material with Qd2 threat as possibility or Qe6/Qf3/Qg2.

    So Qd1 Bxc3! 2. Nxf8? Qe6 nice and clean

    3.Bg5 Qe6 same story same verdict.

    4. Nxc8 Qe6 same story same verdict.

    5. 1Qe4 QxQ 2.NdxQ (rook tagged, knight tagged) RxN 3. NxR BxR. Piece up

    1Qe4 QxQ 2.NcxQ (rook free to grab, knight tagged) RxN 3. NxR BxR. Piece up

    6. Nxe8 Qe6 nice clean cut.

  6. So thing is don't be afraid too loose material as what rules above material: mate threats against enemy king.

  7. I bitched about the dire need for a suite of 1000+ counting problems. While they seem simple, when there are lots of possible trades the combinatorics can get quite complicated.

  8. Blue,
    yeah, I remember giving you an arrogant answer at the time. Thanks for reminding me:)