Sunday, February 18, 2007

Rent a Grand. The ranting continues.

Blue Devil asked me why I didn't hire a grandmaster to do the dirty work. The problem with that is, as often, that the process of searching attributes more to my developement than finding the answer. It took me for instance a few weeks to find out that piece activity is the main goal for positional play. Ever since I cannot open a book or read an article or that advice stares me in the face. The problem is that there is an abundance of good advice around, but without making efforts, you can't distingiush between them (it). So I'm afraid I have to ask you again to bear with me the coming time.

In the standaard testposition (below) I discovered the following issues to be important.
The initiative is paramount. Who is to move in the position wins. You can't permit to lose the initiative. Further thoughts on this revealed that you can only keep the initiative if your move is a check, a capture or a threat. That already limits the amount of candidates.
It would be best if you investigate the moves with the highest chance first.
What kind of move has the highest chance?

The lower the value of the attacker and the higher value of the attacked piece, the higher the chance.

The check is the highest threat, because the value of the king is infinite.
Hence the value of the attacker is irrelevant.

There are two kind of captures.
Trade off. The opponent has to recapture and you keep the initiative.
Cash in. If you can capture a piece and your opponent can't recapture, you win material but you hand over the initiative. Sometimes the initiative is more important.

Besides that the move must pursue the initiative, it must accomplish something.
If you threaten a queen with a bishop and the queen moves just to better square, you are actually worse. To find out, you must ask yourself if the piece you intend to threaten is performing a task. And if so, does the threat make that the attacked piece can no longer perform its task well?

Let's apply the above to the diagram.

The two threats that jump on the beholder are the threat of the enemy queen with the knight or the bishop.
What task is that queen performing? It covers e6.
So the 4 possible moves that threat the queen (Bb5, Bd5, Nb4 and Ne5) with a light piece must be investigated first.
How can black react?
To take over the initiative black must counter with a threat/check/capture himself with higher or equal value. Otherwise the queen must abandon her task. The counter threat Nc5 is the strongest, but since our queen can simply move to c2, it doesn't help black.

The strongest move for white is 1. Nb4, the answer 1. . . . Nc5, 2. Qc2.
Now the black queen has to abandon the coverage of e6 and hence e6 becomes the following target.
You have to ask yourself what task does e6 perform? It covers f5. So when e6 falls, the white queen invades via Qxf5.

The above set of questions is designed especially to find the moves which the highest chance in this position. Now it is time to look if the same set of questions can be generalized so that it becomes useful in other positions too.

I'll be back.


  1. There is a huge difference between a book and a coach giving advice. However, it is clear you enjoy the struggle more than the resolution, so have fun.

  2. In the first post with this position you said: "I looked with Margriet for an hour or so but we couldn't find a clue." and now in some undisclosed way you come to the conclusion "The strongest move for white is 1. Nb4"

    What happened in between? Computer intervention?

  3. Fier,
    I put in a total of 7 hours and checked my findings with the computer. The positon begins to get clearer but is still difficult. I hope to find more in it the coming week.

  4. Very good. You really take this serious (wow, 7 hours!). What I am really interested in is how your findings compared to the comp analysis.

    I actually think this is a good method for improvement, taking a position and just trying hard. This method is also prescribed by Rowson in Chess for Zebra's.

  5. If I want to learn to do it in 20 minutes, I first have to learn to do it anyhow. No matter how long it takes.