## Tuesday, April 10, 2012

### Building a combination

Let's have a closer look how the basic elements add up to the total combination. That might give us more insight what the effect is of training of the basic elements only and if that is sufficient to see the whole combination.

Let's take the following 1900 rated problem.

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White to move. See the solution here.
I recognize the following targets: king and rook
Attacker: Queen
Attacking square:d5

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The attacking square d5 is defended by 3 pieces:

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Which leads to the following question: can I remove those 3 defenders with preservation of tempo?
I can threathen and take the bishop with tempo via Ne5, Nxc4.

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I can get rid of the black queen and the knight by sac'ing the exchange with Rxe7

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Which adds up to the complete combination:
1.Ne5 Qf8 2.Nxc4 bxc4 3.Rxe7 Qxe7 4.Qd5+ wins the rook.
As always perfect fitting in my grand scheme of tactics.

As you see, learning to recognize the simple patterns fast will be beneficial for these kind of combinations. In the mean time you see that this is not sufficient at all. You will have to learn how the seperate elements interact with each other. My grand scheme of tactics describes these interactions in a consistent way. This means that if you want to become better at combinations, you will not only have to learn the basic elements fast, but you will have to learn the standardized interactions too. This is something I omitted in the past, hence I stalled with doing the basics alone.

Below 2300 the main tactic is usually fairly simple. The problem is to get rid of the defenders that prevent you from executing the main tactic. The elimination of the defenders must happen in the right order and with preservation of tempo.

1. I agree, it is a big problem to find the right order. Several patterns scream in my head, but which one is the right one? And which one is the first one?

Often I saw the ideas, but failed to put them together.
So was I really missing intelligence?
It depends on what I consider "intelligence" to be.

And even more important is there a cure? How to find the right sequence? I believe the best we can do is to be able to look deeper (having more bredth in the search tree), to calculate more, to see all possible variations. This leads me back to the quest: "how to improve in speed?"

Often not the patterns are the problem (not for me, tempo, and aox), but it is the speed: assembling the patterns together, we need to put them together several times in different move order. That takes time. That I can solve most puzzles if I could do the calculation faster can be simply proven: do CT Standard mode "hard" and solve very difficult puzzles. While in CT Blitz you would lose points because you solved them to slow, you will get your "green" in Standard after 1 hour of thinking about a 2300 problem.

If now Plan A or Plan B, or if we even find a different method how to save on time, here we have all our different believes how to achieve this. But we need to save on time. Thanks to aox who gave us the research papers, I am pretty sure about this.

The term "adding intelligence" needs to be reassessed. It is not only pattern knowledge, it is to retrieve these pattern quickly, so a 2300 CT Standard problem isnt taking me an hour, but only 1 minute.
The faster I see the patterns, the better I can check different move orders to apply these patterns.

I believe it is very wrong to believe the right sequence can be found by other methods then trial and error.

In the puzzle example, if you did the move order wrong and started with 1.Qd5, this is then simply a matter of not seeing the defenders, which are mini-patterns, too (anti tactics).
The example is not very well chosen.
I try to give a better one, where you really slip even if you saw all patterns. Because in this example I doubt you fail the puzzle by playing 1.Qd5. Hardly anybody is so weak.
But I understand what tempo is trying to say here: move order is important and it happens that we saw it all but started with the wrong move first.

2. @Munich
Often not the patterns are the problem (not for me, tempo, and aox), but it is the speed: assembling the patterns together, we need to put them together several times in different move order. That takes time.

The speed of assembling the elementary patterns is not the main problem at all. The interactions between the elementary patterns form patterns in their own right. As long as you don't identify and store these patterns at storage time, you will never be able to recognize them automaticly.

You do not gain speed by doing the elementary patterns fast but by learning new patterns that govern the interactions between elementary patterns. Those patterns you don't find in very low rated problems.

3. For me this means decomposing a problem and regroup its elementary patterns until it fits the grand scheme. Store it at storage time. Learn it by SR.

4. From a conversation with mr. V:
The identification of d5 in my example starts with the grand scheme. What you do is you try to connect an attacker with a target. All attackers that can't reach a target soon are irrelevant. All the targets that can't be attacked soon are irrelevant.
You start with the highest rated targets (K,Q,R,B,N,p) and the lowest rated attackers (p,N,B,R,Q,K).
You connect the attackers with the targets. In between is the road from attacker to target.
Once the attackers and their matching targets are identified, you will have to identify the problems along the road. These problems come in two types: hostile defenders or your own pieces that are standing in the way. In both cases you have to get rid of them with preservation of tempo.

To see in the diagram the king and the undefended rook as the main targets and to see that the white queen is their potential attacker leads you to the square d5. That is where the 3 pieces connect. The identification of the defenders of d5 leads to the rest.

Before you can make a candidate list you will have to formulate the goals you want to achieve. The candidate moves must have a relation to your goals, otherwise the list is simply random.

5. There are other patterns in this position, too. These other patterns may even lead to an advantage, although they are inferior to lines beginning with 1.Ne5. For instance, Rg4 or Rf4 both involve tactical motifs. Critical to your training, it seems to me, is the means of distinguishing the most effective patterns from less effective ones. Along those lines might also be the observation that in the line you present, Black's 2...bxc4 may not be the best choice.

6. @JS,
you are right. Both moves Rf4 and Rg4 give a big plus too and can be found by the same method (identifying the attackers and the matching targets)

2. ... bxc4 was used to keep my story simple.

7. There are lots of tactical complications here. For example, 1...Qd5 2.Rd4 leaving the N on e5 hanging, which is possible because if 2...Qxe5 then 3.Rd8+. An important pattern in itself! It is helpful to follow Coakley's advice for problems like this: write down the solution and check it against the solution in the book, and if you miss anything at all, award yourself only half marks.

8. @BK,
that's exactly my point! There are too many possibilities to approach this in an unstructured way!