Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tactics flow from a positionally superior game

In my quest to define an intelligent search algorithm for positional chess I had to swallow another disappointment.
I bought the book Chess Blueprints: Planning in the Middlegame of Nikolay Yakovlev.
I intended to make flashcards of the 188 blueprints he provided. Until I discovered that the author didn't computercheck his book. What's the use of learning the blueprint of a positionally won game when in reality you are loosing the exchange in that particular position. I didn't expect that anno 2010 (the date of publishing).

So once again I will have to think for myself. Let's see if we can find a natural hierarchy for chess moves. What do you think about this:
  • Tactics.
  • Targets.
  • Invasion points.
  • Open lines.
  • Space.
In the end, you will win a game by executing a tactic. If there is a tactical combination around, it usually has the highest priority. Fisher said: Tactics flow from a positionally superior game. How does that work? How does one prepare a position for that?

In essence the pieces of the enemy are too volatile to catch them. Under normal circumstances you will never be able to force an enemy piece into a tactical combination. Unless our opponent makes a clear mistake we never can win a piece this way. This gives the first clue for what we should try to accomplish. We must enhance the probability to get a combination flowing. In order to do so we must restrict the possibilities of the enemy pieces while at the same time we must enhance the possibilities of our own pieces. There are three fundamental different ways to restrict the enemy pieces. In order of hierarchy:
  • Tactics. Your opponent cannot place a piece on a square where it can be forked by a pawn. If a bishop in front of a king is pinned, it can't move etc..
  • Obligations in relation to targets. If you can bind an enemy piece to the defence of a weak pawn, you effectivily have restricted it's possibilities.
  • Space. When there are no tactics around and there are no weak points to attack the only way to limit the possibilities of your opponent is by gaining space. Of course you have to be careful that you don't overstretch the position by claiming more space than you can defend.
Since pieces are too volatile, the  natural targets of the chess games are the weak pawns. Piece activity is closely related to targets. No target, no piece activity. These are the stages of handling a target:
  • Induce a weak pawn.
  • Fixate the target.
  • Attack the target.
  • Conquer the target.
In the middlegame you seldom manage to actually conquer the target. But the obligations that derive from the defense of the target limit the possibilities of the defending pieces. That can become killing by itself.  The more targets there are, the more difficult it is to defend them all in time.

The road to the targets.
In order to attack a target, the road from the attacker to the target must be cleared. That road consists of the following elements:
  • Open lines and diagonals.
  • Invasion points.
Both are useless when they are not in connection to a specific target.
Both are useless without an attacker that makes use of them.

I reserve the term target for a piece or a pawn.
The term weakness I reserve for a weak pawn, an open line or diagonal or an invasion point.

When there are no targets to work with you will have to work with space. Occupying the center, for instance, is meant to improve the manoeuvring space for your own pieces, while it denies space from your opponents pieces. Pawns are the pieces that divide the space between you and your opponent. They decide between your own pieces too which piece has mobility and which piece has not. As long as pawns are mobile, there is no definite advantage for one piece above another. Only when the pawns have become blocked, the position of the pawns has become static. Only then you can value the mobility of a piece in a more definite way. I.e. say which piece is good and which is bad.

We have said enough about tactics already.
The next logical step is to look at weaknesses as defined above: weak pawn, an open line or diagonal or an invasion point. We have to master the patterns that govern these weaknesses and define a logical search algorithm. It all starts with targets and their stages, of course. Then the fight for open lines and invasion points in order to attack them.
With space we can deal later. Maybe in combination with the opening.

1 comment:

  1. I was using chess mentor at for w while, till i did start checking the puzzles with an engine..
    A few days ago IM dpress posted that they still dont check chessmentor lessions with an engine.
    I think, its still possible to learn from the examples and the explanations, but i just dont get it, why no computercheck?

    HTRYS 4.0 is computerchecked