Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Three observations

My experiments have yielded the first three observations. I have solved 8 problems from Polgar's second brick. Typically it takes me two hours per problem before I have the feeling that I "get it". Now I review all 8 problems to look for what they have in common.

First observation: 50% of the problems are flawed by Rybka.
Take for instance the following diagram:

White to move.
In one of the variants of the solution black has just played Qg5+ (you can find the original problem in the next diagram).
Black has sacced a knight at g2 earlier. If white plays Kh1, then black is winning indeed (after Rd8). But Rybka gives the counter-intuitive move Kh3 and black has no more than perpetual check.

Because I have investigated only 8 cases, it is too early to say if this tendency extends itself over a greater amount of problems. But it seems to indicate that the defender has more resources than usually is assumed. As if there is a tendency to store the working combinations and to forget the non-working ones.

Second observation: Collaboration of pieces.
If I try to solve a problem I look only at moves. Even after spending two hours on a problem that is the case. Now while I'm reviewing the problems I realize that I don't look at the collaboration of pieces. I look at what the piece I move accomplishes, but I'm not aware of it's effect on the other pieces.

Take for instance the following diagram:

Black to move.
This is the original problem which lead to the first diagram. If I look at Nf4, I only look at what squares I can reach with my knight and how white can react to the thread of Nxg2. So basically I look at the piece I'm playing with. But if you look at the position "from a distance" you can see that the three pieces N, B and Q converge at g2. Nf4 opens the long diagonal for the bishop and at the same time it opens the d-file, which makes that the black rook can come into play.

So there is a different way of looking at the position. Of course I already knew that. But what I didn't know is that my 100k+ exercises have done nothing to correct my way of looking. I still look at the pieces and not at how they collaborate!

Third observation: inner talk.
It seems to be necessary that I'm able to express what is going on in the position in clear language. Only then the hallstand is provided where I can hang my memories on. So it isn't enough to just "expose your brain to the patterns". Pathways that help with memory retrieval have to be paved too.
If I'm not mistaken.

Provisional conclusion.
When during problemsolving the recognition of relevant motifs has grinded to a halt, the phase of trial and error that follows is a waste of time indeed. This trial and error is based on subsequent moves. You must have an overview of the collaboration of pieces in stead.
You can't start to calculate before all important motifs are charted.


  1. I suggest that you take a look at the book understanding chess tactics which classifies and studies the various types of tactics. It was a book created from notes of the authors years of tactic problem solving.

  2. Tak,
    looks interesting. I will try if I can get it.

  3. Ummm, since when is 2 hours per problem the lazy way :O

    This deep study may really pay off: imagine you are playing someone rated 2200 who has worked through the book, and just accepted the lines as true. You, though, have analyzed them more deeply, even with Rybka. He thinks he has you for a win, but no, you get a perpetual check, saying "Papa don't live here no mo'".

    Understanding tactics is pretty good, but you might look at it in the bookstore before buying it to see if it is too basic for you.

  4. Blue,
    Ummm, since when is 2 hours per problem the lazy way :O

    don't you realize how much problems I have NOT solved in those two hours, in comparison with former times?

  5. totally agree. but perhaps what is see or feel in what you say is different than some other readers.

    while i approach you in rank, i am behind you and so to compare might be of benefit to some. also, i am walking behind in very similar footprints, and, i dare say, am probably more like you than most here in many ways--i notice or feel.

    i have gotten to the point where i solve tactics every single day. of all kinds. it has become a permanent feature of my chess. i am back hard at CT-Art 3.0 and am now ready to do problems 801-1209, or the final 368 problems. instead of exhaustion, i am eager to sit each night after work and quietly but with deep focus on each problem. if i only do two, i dont quit for weeks, but day after day now again. then i go to CTS, and just fly through the problems after. then the 1001 Reinfeld book AFTER.

    it is not critical to me how hard each problem is (for the 1001 book), since even easy problems are a test, not of solvibility, but of how fast i solve them, still a skill.

    what used to take me many minutes now can be seconds, and i am enboldened by this striking new found capacity.

    also, at CT-Art 3.0 while some are very hard, at times i can see right away what the issue is, and solve it or see it rapidly...

    what i like and see similarly with you, is reflected this same thing i am doing, daily tactics in size, and day after day this persistence cannot but add up in time to new muscles. hard to explain without lenghty re-writing i dont have time for, but hopefully more or less understood.

    if i had to put it in a nutshell, it would be the idea that problems are no longer special but a matter of course, even if difficult.

  6. ps tempo, you dont need any more books or software, IMHO.