Friday, August 24, 2007

Exercising out loud

Configuring CCT.

A thoughtprocess like Checks-Captures-Threats (CCT) needs modification to suit your personal needs. Let me see what is usefull for me and what not.
There are two goals you can go after with CCT: blunderchecking and generation of candidate moves. I think that CCT suits blunderchecking very well.
But blunderchecking is not my main concern at this moment. Right now I'm interested in candidate move generation. To that end I need to dismantle CCT untill it suits my needs. It will beome something maybe that is far away from the initial CCT-idea's, but that doesn't bother. Since I'm used to blundercheck every move anyhow, I will dismiss anything in CCT that has to do solely with blunderchecking.

Only threats. . .
A check is a special instance of a threat. So I will use the word threat as a replacement for a check, in order to keep things simple. After all, I have to work with it. If you look at captures, there are two kind of captures. The first kind of capture is also a threat, the second kind of capture is solely a capture, without a threat.

and non-threatening captures.
So I recognize a threat, which can also be a check, or a capture, or nothing. So I'm only interested in check and captures so far it are threats.
And I recognize a capture that is not a threat.
Now I have a list of just 2 items, and I like my lists short, as you might know.

Cashing in.
If we are attacking and we make a capture that is not a threat, we are cashing in the combination. This cashing in might or might not give you enough compensation for the invested material.

Safety net.
An attack can only prolong as long as you can continue to pose threats. Usually is thought that you have to calculate an attack until quiescence. But there is another possibility: the safety net. There are different forms of a safety net. For instance eternal check. But another possibility is to cash in the combination. A safety net gives you the choice to continue the attack or to stop. Beforehand it is not necessary the calculate beyond the safety net.

Serial vs parallel.
When you look at a position where there are a lot of parallel basic tactical elements, all elements are geometrically present at the board. That makes them relatively easy to see.
But in a serial line only the the first element is physically visible. The next tactical elements are only visible in the minds eye. That is why calculating long lines is so hard.
I would like to begin at the end of the line and work my way back. But is that actually possible? The last tactical element of the combination is physically not yet present or only partly present at the board. This means that it is not possible to start at the end of the line. But if you start at the begin of the line, the process of finding a suitable candidate move is quite based on trial and error. Which is the amateur way of playing chess. Take for instance the following diagram:

White to move and win.

The first move is 1.Nb5.
But why should you even consider to give a knight away?

The first tactical element is clearly visible: a knightfork at c7.

The second basic tactical element is only visible for the trained eye: the invasion at square d7. As said, invasion and overloading are basic tactical elements that you find time and again. And they are hard to spot since often an empty square is involved. In this position there are 3 potential empty squares that might be made suitable for an invasion. You have to investigate all your possible attackers and all your opponent's possible defenders for these squares. Then you will find that the knight at f8 is overworked. It has to defend both invasion square d7 and the bishop. The exchange sacrifice at e6 will take away two defenders from d7.

This second tactical element forms the very reason for existance for the move 1.Nb5. which in itself threatens 2.Nc7, the first tactical motif. So it is possible to think backwards from the second tactical element to the first.

I can't stress enough the importance of the tactical elements invasion and overloading. They seem to play a role in at least 90% of the complex problems I have seen and they are hard to see because it is about empty squares, sometimes even with a pawn or piece on it, wat makes it not easier to see the underlying invasion.

If 1.Nb5 cxb5 2.Rxe6+ Kf7, you can cash in with Rd6 which is your safety net.

The main line continues 1.Nb5 cxb5 2.Rxe6+ Nxe6 3.Bxb5+ Kf7 4.Rd7+ and black is lost.


  1. invasion and overloading! most interesting indeed.

    in psychoanalysis, human states come in three major categories;

    overpowering, subservience, and delaying. not all that different.
    four more days, then almost 18 days of vacation. sweed odes to baby jesus!

    maybe next year, BDK and i need to come and play at your club instead or meet you in france as suggested is it, then go for a beer (or two) after since you are not want to fly here.

    warmest, dk

  2. In addition to blundercheck and move generation, CCTs are also used in analysis, future-looking. In what looks like a quiet position, you can open things up with one move that generates lots of CCT potential in the analysis tree. This is often a good idea when losing making the opponent work, and more likely to make mistakes.

  3. Invasion. Is this basically your opponent can't effectively stop your attack? ie: bad defensive position.