Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Example of a transferproblem

Black has just given a check.
I played black. After a wild game with a mutual kingside attack I couldn't find the winning combination and traded off towards this ending. We both had about 5 minutes left on the clock.

I was blissfully unaware of the danger of the passer on the h-file. I was still biased by the previous moves and felt I was slightly better. But if you aren't aware of the danger you can easily lose. Which I did.

Why wasn't I aware of the danger of the h-pawn? My teamleader saw it long before, he declared later. Wasn't such a position in my database? It sure was. There just wasn't a cue that retrieved the pattern from memory. What missed in my system was an evaluation of how dangerous such passer can be.

That is what I meant by "So what we need is a database with evaluations, my friend." in my previous post.


  1. Its still pattern recognition. Rooks behind the pawn and on the open file aside. long stepping bishop is stronger then the knight in endgames if you have/want to play on both sides, the black king cant come to stop the h pawn, the best stopper, the knight cant stop that pawn that easy ....
    That is the reason why i think blitzgames are good for the training. You see a lot more of patterns. You just have to analyse these games to!!. Blundercheck, Opening, ..
    Did you stop all tactictraining?
    There is a new Chess Exam by Khmelnitsky: Might be interesting to see the development we did.
    I am waiting for my copy. Did you work on your calculation problems?

    Good players can remember their games even after days. They can remembee even games they saw or read very good. I did read a comment of a chesstrainer from india who suggestet to learn (some-50?) GM_Games by heart. he said that the students who did would have developed much better.
    It cant be bad to remember what you learned. Chess memory is not that often named as a factor in chessimprovement.

  2. I don't understand why there is a need to evaluate or transfer when it can be calculated that the h-pawn can promote in three moves h6, h7, h8Q.

    Rb8-b1+ seems a pointless move to me. There are no calculations supporting its usefulness. I would consider dxc3 (hmm no, Ke2 and Bg5 stop the passer easily), Rc8xc3 (an attempt to win which needs more calulations), Kf7 (a defensive move to give the rooks access to the h8 square).

  3. I agree that a database with patterns is a most valuable tool. But in chess small details can be so crucial, that I do not believe that one should try to find or create a database of evaluations.

    But maybe my definition of evaluation is different from yours.

  4. @Uwe, yes I stopped all tactical and calculationtraining

    before you can calculate, you have to look at that side of the board. If you look at that side and no alarm goes off, you are toast. So was I.

    It was actually not 1.... Rb1+ but Rxb1+. I tried to upload the game to but that made a mess of my PGN.

  5. I realize I haven't been precise in my choice of words lately. In the previous post I identified 3 problemareas:

    * transfer
    * evaluation
    * skill

    I mixed transfer, evaluation and a database of cues for memory retrieval.

    A transferproblem is when you fail to notice something you know well. That was the case here. I didn't look at the passer at all. While my teamleader was hissing in fright when he was walking by I was totally biased by my own play and chances. The cue that should have triggered my alarmbells drowned in the noise of other, more familiar patterns.

    There is a threshold of the noise above which a cue will cause a change of focus of attention.

    Margriet uses to put her king in a pin. While she knows all too well what a pin is. It is even the strongest tactical weapon of her. When I walk by and see her putting a king in a pin I almost get a physical reaction. Just as my teamleader who started hissing when he walked by this position.

    So cues are fighting for attention. A sort of survival of the fittest. Somehowe there must be a realation between evaluation and the fittest cue.

  6. @Uwe The trainer you refer to is Rashid Ziyatdinov in his book GM ram. This idea isn't new and there are several places on the net advocating the same thing (Lifemaster AJ etc). I have taken this path as part of the chess work I do and found that after memorising 24 games I can hold position and games in my mind for longer than a week. The key positions where I felt I had gone wrong tend to stick much longer.

    @Tempo Have you seen Westechnik's Mastering Chess tactics? The final chapter is called Status examination which entails looking at every piece on the board (though not every move) and considering its potential etc. I have found that I miss less if I conduct this during my opponents clock time.

  7. Maybe the thought process can be improved to consider the possibilities of all areas of the board.

    @Will: Understanding Chess Tactics by Weteschnik is a book which made me play much better. It needs more exercises though, but this can be found in other books.

    I like the advise to learn GM games by heart. I now practise repeatedly playing over some of my games and its analysis blondfolded while walking. Learing several GM games may be better.

  8. I forgot: Yusupov in his Build Up Your Chess 3 has these examples and exercises about passed pawns which are so surprising and intensely impressive that they have a long lasting effect. They made me willing to sacrifice lots of material to get a strong passer.

  9. @Will,

    allthough I didn't read the book, I use the method a few times per game. But with little time and psochological tension only the hardest screaming cues get attention.

  10. Uwe Alex great terse evaluation of the position. That h passer is like a big yellow blinking light the way it is supported by the rook and such. Tempo likely just got absorbed in inessential details, as he knows a lot more about the game than me and that can be harmful for Rowsonesque reasons. It's like when I miss that I'm about to lose a knight to a 2-move tactic because I'm worried about increasing the activity of a bishop.

  11. BDK,
    that's right. But what to do about it? I find this battle of the cues (I'm probably molesting every scientific definition here)to be very common. Both in chess and in life.

    This morning I opened the curtains and about half of my (sloping) window was covered with snow. I didn't notice it because I was thinking about chess. I sat on a chair and only 20 minutes later I saw the snow. I walked to the window in order to have a look at the garden and to see how much snow had fallen during the night. When I sat in my chair again I realized I failed to notice the height of the snow since I was still thinking about chess.

    Only signals that ascent beyond a certain theshold are able to cause a change of focus of your attention. The guided pattern recognition we talked about.

    When Margriet entered the room she immediately yelled "Oh wow, snow!"

    The same thing happens time and again on a less notable scale behind the chessboard. Details are screaming for attention. How to guide your focus?

  12. I'm not sure that's what you need to do, guide your focus. You could let go of focus and look at the board like you would a beginner's board you were trying to help. Sometimes the solution is to forget what you know and just relax and look over the board. Obviously that won't help in all cases, but in this case my hunch is it would. That is, while Rowson's stuff on "forgetting what you know" is sometimes not useful, in some cases it is. Because of that, I find it helpful to look at the board at different tiers of intensity.

    First tier, what if my opponent were new to chess? I look for simple blunders. What if he was rated 1000? Etc. I sort of move up the scale in my mind, from least specific, most course and silly and important mistakes, to more subtle things like 'He can promote in three moves'.

    I do the same with my own moves. If a beginner asked for advice on what to do, how would I approach it? First I would see if he could do any captures or needs to avoid falling to basic tactics. Then I'd start to look for more subtle things. In this case, you said yourself in multiple posts the endgame is all about pawns. If you were helping a beginner in this position, you probably would have seen it right away.

    The problem isn't lack of focus, but as you know focus on the wrong things. To push the analogy one more time, you put your telescope to the highest setting thinking about the subtlest things before first putting it on the lowest setting and just getting a good overall caveman picture of the position.

    That's my hunch anyway. Seems like Rowson therapy might help. Not sure what that is exactly :) It's easy to say forget what you know. I try to do it by using the "magnification factor" metaphor or imagining helping (or playing against) people at different levels of skill, starting with beginners.

  13. BDK,
    I try to do it by using the "magnification factor" metaphor or imagining helping (or playing against) people at different levels of skill, starting with beginners.

    Sounds pretty much like guidance of focus to me:)

  14. How to guide your focus?
    It may be enough to be aware of where your focus is. To this end consider practising Mindfulness. It takes time and continues effort to develop, but it has life increasing qualities far beyond chess. :-)

  15. If you just sum up your opponents threats each time its his thinking time i guess you will not overlook such simple things as a h-pawn. ;-)

    ""So what we need is a database with evaluations, my friend." "

    Not correct in my eyes, what we need is just simple and plain a good evaluation during the game, each and every (half)move.

  16. hiya. been a few years since i have looked in on you. was wondering how you have been. hope you are making big progress!

    i shifted my energies first from chess to building a house and then on to running an ironman. but the wife keeps pestering me to play in a tournament again. so i think about it :-)