Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Only 1% of the chess advice which mankind so unselfishly and abundantly provided to me survived the test. When you write something like that there is always somebody who asks what that 1% is. To be honest my first reaction was somewhat itchy. Man, don't be lazy and read my blog! On the other hand I realize that I just said in an implicit way that 99% of my blog is BS. Combined with my difficult way of saying things it is no wonder that somebody loses the thread. To take distance from the past I will try to formulate what that 1% is. To be exact, that 1% of good advice is actually non existent, since the advice was of no help at all and I had to think for my self.

Let me try to explain what I have found. After a break of four months lately I had the feeling that I had forgotten all the details of what I had found out about chess the past years. During the first game after the break I felt what made the difference between my opponent and me. The only thing that was left from the past was my franticly scanning of the board. Automaticly and unconsciously. All the chess knowledge and chess skills finally cristallizes in this complex motor skill, this automatic scanning of the board. Knowledge that hasn't made the transformation into scan habits is virtually useless. Simply because you forget to use it. The trigger of this revelation was described here.

There are 3 parts to it.
The how = scanning
The what = quality
The how often = frequency
Scanning is the method. But with playing Troyis you learn a skill that is of little importance in winning a chessgame. It is a scan of low quality. You seldom decide a chessgame by only manoeuvring a knight in a limited space. Imagining the beams that come out your pieces is an example of a high quality scan. Besides a high quality it is important that you need the skill often. If the frequency of what you have learned to scan for only plays a role once every twenty games, it is too seldom of help. You have to identify those skills that you need almost every move.

In search for high quality scans with high frequency of occurrence I followed the blitz games of GM Danielsen. I could follow the tactics usually quite well but his positional decisions were acabadabra to me. I figured that that meant that my tactical scanning is reasonable but that my positional- and endgame scans are virtually non existent. Hence the first thing I'm going to work on are the 15 endgame principles of Lars Bo Hansen's book Endgame Strategy. Trying to transform those principles into scan habits.

To Alastair:
I put it in the refrigerator means: I don't do it now, but later.


  1. ". . . there is always somebody who asks what that 1% is. "

    Guilty. I was that somebody. I am sorry if it irritated you: that was not my intention, but I see now that I phrased the question awkwardly - my fault. This current blog now answers it very well, I think.
    PS I read through all your archived blogs before I asked; the refrigerator reference (clear now!) is internal evidence of this.
    Best wishes,

  2. Alastair,
    no big deal. Of course nobody else can be the cause of me feeling itchy than myself.

    The good thing is that I was challenged to formulate matters again in a different way. I need those challenges. Only friction lets the lightbulb burn. Reformulating matters over and over again from different angles of view always has been very helpful to gain new insights.

    17/9/08 06:42

  3. Hello Tempo,

    I think you are right. Advice that realy delivers significant outcome is very rare. "If you're so smart why aint you rich" is always a valid question. And this is not only true when it comes to investing or trading. So when given advise one should always ask: what did it do for you. for this reason I take Tom chivers advise on simulation very serious.

    I really am very anxious to follow your experiences and results with Hansens book.

    At the moment I am working my way through step 6. It has a lot of endgame exercises, and for the first time in years it feels to me that I am realy improving my endgameskills. But I have to wait till the end of the season to see if it has any significance in otb games.


  4. "You seldom decide a chessgame by only manoeuvring a knight in a limited space"

    "Only?" Ok. True.

    Maybe this is a semantic issue or translation issue but I would say something different. Or at least most games involve moving knights along limited paths. It is more of an issue in closed games (and I play a lot of King's Indians and Pircs). In those games how the knights move is often one of the defining issues of the game...

    But you might consider this to be strategy and not tactics (I consider it tactics, just "long term tactics" :) ).

    So, it makes sense this is not part of your tactical scans but I think the moving a knight in limited paths scan is a key skill needed for success in chess...

    As always, you make me think.

  5. Glenn,
    what I try to say is that there are grades in usefullness of scans. I can imagine skills that are even more useful than the ones you learn by playing Troyis.

    Long term tactics. That was the phrase I was looking for. LOL

  6. lots of great stuff. i finally catch up here, way too busy given global market turmoil. so, that brings me back to you!

  7. Don't talk to me about knights! They've been a royal pain in the butt lately. :-)

    I disagree that 99% of what you write is BS. Even in the part that turns out to be crap there are things to be learned from the experience. I can't remember the Thomas Edison quote about failure, but something about opportunity. DK can probably help me with taht one.