## Friday, November 09, 2007

### Now, where was I ?

The whole beancounting stuff started with this position below. I wanted to know what the effect is of bishop b5. While I investigated this position I noticed that my mind was filled with visualising the move sequence while bookkeeping for both sides. The invention of the beancounting method was meant to relief the load of the short term memory. I obviously succeeded in that. The next question is of course, what is the effect of the bisshop on b5?
Can I simply say that due to the duplo-attack Nc6 is pinned so black has one defender less for d4 hence white can simply take on d4? If so, I have found a way to judge this position without visualising one single move and without any burden of the short term memory. That's the holy grail I'm after. I got a bit carried away by the beancounting stuff. But it's only a little part of the equation.

White to move.

Let's see if black can save his victim.
If white plays
1.Nxd4, black must answer
1. ... Nxd4. That is is only chance to hang on his wood.

Let's see if that is enough. White has invested 2 pawnpoints. If
2.Bxd7 takes away a defender of the knight while getting the investment back.
2. ... Rxd7 It's hard to think of another move since there is no viable duplo-attack for the black knight.

Which means that the knight is lost, which means that black must abandon his pawn on d4 at move 1.

Conclusion:
Beancounting without the bishops shows that d4 is just enough defended.
Bb5 is a duplo-move which pins a defender, hence white will win the d-pawn.

This means that this position can be judged in a glance without any necessity to see the move sequences before the minds eye and without being a burden for the short term memory.
It was my hypothesis that a grandmaster solves this kind of positions without calculating. What is proven is that it is allowed to draw conclusions about this position without any calculation (in the usual chess sense).

At the moment I need these heavy narratives. As Blue Devil pointed out, that are only the training wheels for the moment. Once this kind of thinking becomes a habit, there will come a moment that I don't need them any more. That's what I'm after.

In the next post I will have a closer look if the Nxd4 move loads up another duplo-attack (discovered attack).

1. Blue,
Counting is important (and here is an algorithm that is useful in practice), but you must consider potential tactics (duplo moves) that will interrupt the flow of captures.

That's a good summary. Without a duplo-move there can be no forced win of material on either side. If the counting shows you are equal and there are no duplo-moves around then there is no need to visualize the sequence.

2. I haven't followed the whole bean counting thing in detail, but for me, counting here is unnecessary and it took only few moments to process the position:

I see where black queen is (in relation to the opposing battery), then see the Bb5 pin, check out whether the black knight could gain a tempo after ...Nxd4 (it can't), and that's it, the capture is safe.

the black knight is the only piece I visualize moving, all other aspects I just recognize.

3. WW,
you demonstrate exactly the point that I'm trying to make. What I'm going to say might sound offensive, but it is certainly not meant that way.

To become good in chess, you need the lack of imagination of what can go wrong in such apparently simple positions. I have an extreme amount of such imagination, which makes that I need days on end before I reach a definite conclusion.

There are situations where such extreme imagination is justified. For instance if you want a safety report of a jumbojet. But to actually fly the damn thing, you need someone who can make decisions within seconds. Playing chess is more like flying a jumbojet.

In my words I would say "You demonstrate the superficiality you need to become good in chess in a short time." To take away the negative sound of the word superficiality: you have the instinct to become good in chess in a short time.

While I'm always opting for "the checked best", types like you opt for "the best fit". The latter is usually much more successful both in life and chess. But I can't change myself.

4. Imagination: the ability to see phantoms.

5. don't worry, you couldn't offend me even if you tried, I'm quite thick skinned. :)

but yeah, I definitely do cut corners wherever I can. practicality over theory every time.

there's a joke about an engineer, a physicist and a mathematician changing a light bulb. without going into too much detail, the point in the joke is, that an engineer is content if the solution just works, the physicist is content to know how the solution works, but the mathematician needs to prove the solution exists to be content.

I'm definitely the engineer. :)

6. This means that this position can be judged in a glance without any necessity to see the move sequences before the minds eye and without being a burden for the short term memory.
In your initial position move the White King to a1 and move the pawn at h2 to h3. White to move.

What happens after 1. Nxd4?

7. Glenn,
isn't that beautyful? The only thing you have to check is if there is a viable duplo-move for the black knight. That's why the text stated:

2. ... Rxd7 It's hard to think of another move since there is no viable duplo-attack for the black knight.

In the position you describe there is a viable move for the black knight: attack the white king with Nxc2+

The only point of worrying for both sides are the duplo-moves. Those are the only ways to gain or lose wood by force. No duplo-moves: matter stays equal if you count it or not.

8. It is not just about double attacks with the knight a few moves into the combination. But, even if it were, one still has to calculate to that position and then calculate if there are useful double attacks with the knight from that position. Why not 2...Nxf3+ in your original position? One has to calculate that possibility and determine if it is "useful" or not. Exactly what you are saying, I think, one does not have to do.

Another variant from your original position: place the White Queen on g4 instead of f2. White to move. What happens after 1. Nxd4?

[Possibly 1.Nxd4 Qe5 2.Bxc6 bxc6 3.Qg3 Qxg3 4.hxg3 c5]

9. Glenn,
what point are you making with the quiz-questions?

10. what point are you making with the quiz-questions?
My point is that to evaluate the tactics in a given position one must evaluate the tactics in the given position. Shortcuts must be used with extreme caution. That subtle differences in the position make a significant impact on the usefulness of counting for the position.

My last example illustrates that in the original position the (accidental) fact that the Q was at f2 instead of g4 was an important characteristic of the position to make Nxd4 playable. Start with the Q at g4 instead and the "counting" aspects of the position stay the same (same number of attackers and defenders of d4) but the evaluation of Nxd4 changes quite a bit but for subtle reasons.

I believe that your statement:
This means that this position can be judged in a glance without any necessity to see the move sequences before the minds eye ... is, at best optimistic and possibly just incorrect.

Could we have predicted or expected the move via counting? If counting should not apply in this position or for this capture how can we know? What changes in the position by moving the Queen from f2 to g4 to alert us that in one position it works and in the other it does not?

Don't get me wrong -- there is some value in counting as a technique. But in the immortal words of Lewis McClary: Things that are different are not the same.

Tempo said: It was my hypothesis that a grandmaster solves this kind of positions without calculating. I believe that is actually not possible to solve this kind of position without calculating.