Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The law of conservation of threats

Disclaimer: this post is going to be extremely vague. So don't expect a result with what you can do something. It are just whirling thoughts that hopefully will lead to something useful in the future. Yeah, I know, I did better not to post it. But to write it down helps me thinking.

I have looked close at the position of the previous post.
What I found the most astonishing in the position was that in every single line of white black wins a piece. I think I know how that works approximately.

There are different kind of moves.

Common moves.
The one-threat move. If you move a piece, you can use it to threaten something.
The un-one-threat move. If a piece is threatened, you can escape the threat with this move. Most of the times it delays the threat.
The non move. This move doesn't threaten anything nor does it relief a threat. Usually it hands over the initiative to the opponent or it allows him to cash in the threat.

Rare moves.
The duplo-threat move. With this move, you threaten two targets with one move. For instance a double attack, a fork, a discovered attack, a skewer etc..
The un-duplo-threat move. With this move you can relief two threats at once.

A game can flow as follows: the side with the initiative starts. Threat-unthreat-threat-unthreat-threat-unthreat- threat-unthreat-duplothreat.
Once there are two threats, a piece is going to be lost, since usually only one threat can be parried at the same time. You can start a counterattack, but that only delays the cashing in of the duplo threat. Once two targets are attacked, you are going to lose a piece, no matter how much delaying moves you play. This is the law of conservation of threats. Only if you play an un-duplo-threat move you can save the piece. Or if you play a duplo-threat move yourself!

So if Fierabras feels that he must win this as black he is right unless white can play one of the rare moves!

As said, this is all probably very vague to you. But believe it or not, this is what I actually see in the position after a few hours studying it. And since it can be seen, there is no need to calculate every line. But it is all still rather shaky.


  1. Ineresting thoughts. Only a warning against labelling double threats as «rare moves», this could undermine security awareness. Also I humbly disagree with calling moves without a threat «non-moves». A positional improvement is not necessarily a threat, but it is a very «yeah-move».

  2. BTW thanks for encouragement lately. This comment is my first post from new blogger. Seems to work fine.

  3. BTW2 I have the impression that you speak of attacks rather than threats. Or am I wrong?

  4. I mean threats against a piece. Is attack better?

  5. Just a matter of wording. You may call an attack a threat to take a piece next move. I for myself prefer to distinguish an attack (that takes place now) from a threat, which is an attack that can be made with next move. For instance, I call a knight fork a double attack rather than a double threat. A move that prepares a knight fork is a threat. A move that prepares a knight fork and the same time threatens checkmate, I would call this a double threat. In other words, for me, the difference is that an attack is immediately visible whereas a threat must be seen before the real attack takes place.

  6. I use the word threat because Dan Heisman speaks about checks, captures and threats. To me an attack is a series of moves, like in an attack against the enemy king, the Kings Indian attack etc..

  7. And how do you call a move of a knight so that it can capture an opponent knight with its next move? It is a threat only if this knight is hanging. But what if this knight is protected by a pawn? You may call it a trade offer, but basically it is a simple attack, isn't it?