At the moment I have not the slightest idea how I am going to attack this subject. But the past weeks show that blogging is a very fruitful way to order my thoughts. A lot is clarified already, which helps to add precision in the method of chess improvement. Especially the discovery of the right and the wrong moment to add intelligence is very important.
Let's see where this will lead to.
An important question that is not really adressed sofar is how to maximize transfer. With "transfer" I mean the the following (in the context of tactics training):
If I exercise problem x in the right way then that will have a positive effect on solving problem y, which I have never seen before, but has something in common with problem x.
Let's define the extreme boundaries first.
The transfer is 100% if I only have to do 27 problems, one problem per tactical motif, and I will be able to solve every problem at CT without further exercising. I will be able to solve any similar tactical problem in my games as well.
The transfer is 0% if I have to learn all 40,966 problems at CT by heart. It would be useless since it will not transfer to my games either.
In reality the transfer will lie somewhere in between 0% and 100%. It will be clear that maximizing the transfer ratio will cut down efforts and time, and the effect on my games will be maximal too.
What governs transfer.
- Geometrical pattern recognition.
A main element in transfer is pattern recognition. A pattern that we have learned in problem x is recognized in problem y. A pattern is a rather vague term that can be used for almost anything. I think it might be a good idea to add the sort of pattern we are talking about. In chess most of the time we are talking about geometrical patterns. I referred to the storage of geometrical patterns in memory as "plan A". I don't think it is very useful to use the terms plan A or B any longer. It has served its goal. The basic patterns are the 27 tactical motifs and their combinations.
The patterns are formed by constellations of pieces.
Right now I can't think of an analogy specific to tactics, but analogies are a potential means to transfer knowledge from one problem to another.
A rule like "a pinned piece is a bad defender" or "attack the pinned piece"works for certain types of positions.
With my division of tactical motifs in traps and duplo attacks I tried to catch the essence of the tactical motifs. From there I derived a few questions which can be used when adding intelligence. The questions I'm talking about is about the importance and types of squares. Attacking squares, target squares and focal points. Until now I had focussed on adding intelligence during finding the solution. I will have another look at it when focussing at adding intelligence during the storage phase.
In this specific case of conceptualization we talk about the geometrical pattern recognition of squares, not pieces. The main idea of generalization is to make something applicable between different position which have something (the idea) in common.
My gut feeling tells me that only a few hundred positions (say 400-800) learned in the right way should be enough to master the vast majority of tactics. That's why I focus on higher rated problems and am not worried about the cost of time per problem. But I have no proof for this. Further investigation of transfer is needed.