Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How strategical is that?

Black to move and save the knight.
Black has just played 1. ... h4 and white answered 2. O-O-O

This is a problem of the strategical module of PCT. They just asked for the move 1. ... h4. When you have found that move, Tchekov Mattenovitsch comments "In order to help saving the h1-knight" and goes on with the next problem. The repetitive system helps you to memorize the answer and that's it.

But now I have restarted with the strategic module of PCT, I want to do it in the new way we have discovered the past months, using narratives, generalisations, focussing on the solution in stead of the problem and visualisation of the solution. White has two main ways to pick up the knight at h1: with g3 and Bg2 or with O-O-O and removing Bf1. I am here investigating the latter situation.
What is especially interesting in this position is the chain of protectors:
  • Knight f3 is pinned against rook d1 and is thus fixated.
  • g2 protects the knight on f3 and is thus fixated.
  • Bf1 protects the pawn on g2 and is thus fixated.
It is extremely important to develop an eye for such chains because you will find them time and again. Be it for the protection of a piece or a weak square. With 2. ... h3 you attack the chain. In itself that is not enough. But 2. ... h3 takes the black pawn one move closer to promotion too. Only blocked by the white pawn on h2. This introduces the semi-sacrifice 3. ... Ng3! 4. hxg3 h2

But how strategical is this? I can't blame Glenn Wilson if he would say "this is pure tactical". But no matter how you call it, learning to see such chains is very important.


  1. Nice problem. "save the knight" would imply an immediate threat... but there is none... so this could also be part of the "chain" you suggest too... 4. tempo. Thus creating an offense against the defense of teh knight.

  2. BP,
    I'm afraid I don't quite understand what you mean. Can you be more specific?

  3. Great explanation. I don't think I would have thought about the chain of defence and and how Bf1, g2 and Nf3 are connected and dependent on each other. It does seem purely tactical to me as well.

  4. I can't blame Glenn Wilson if he would say "this is pure tactical". Since you're goading me on.... :-)

    The general idea of saving the knight can be called strategic but I would prefer idea or plan. As strategies go, it is pretty small scale.

    The specific plan that involves contact between pieces and specific moves and move orders is clearly(?) always(?) tactics. We go from the general idea or plan to the specific moves. Specific moves are always tactics.

    1. ... h4 is consistent with the plan of saving the knight. But it is not a plan. It is not an idea. It is not a strategy. It is a move. It is a tactic.

    A human would tend to use the idea of trying to save the knight to formulate a plan to save the knight that would lead to specific moves and move orders and analysis. Each and every move made to realize the plan is "pure tactical" but there is a higher plan or idea that the moves as a whole are part of.

    Computers would find this "plan" via brute force calculations or not at all.

    Strategy, ideas and plans are important and necessary for humans to generate good chess moves.

    What move should black play from the diagram? Yes, this is pure tactics. But even I do allow that ideas or plans can help us find the right tactics.

    But don't get me started on the oxymoron "positional moves." :-)