Saturday, October 20, 2012


Due to the acquisition of a database with 178 diagrams from high rated problems in memory my OTB tactical vision has become pretty sharp again. Time to take the next step. We talked a lot about relevance of chess positions and improving the speed of finding the moves. A position is relevant when the chances that you encounter it in your own games are high. From this perspective it is logical to keep score of the time you need per move in an OTB game. The moves which costs an unreasonable amount of time indicate the positions where you can gain the most improvement in speed. This is an old idea of mine which I have never put into practice since my tactical ability had to be sharpened first. I almost forgot about this until a conversation with mr. Z about my losses the past year and a half. Yesterday at the club I had the chance to put it into practice.

This position took me 21 minutes to decide upon a move:

Black to move.
What on earth have I been doing those 21 minutes? I'm always so focussed that I don't notice that time passes by. Which is a problem in itself.

White has delayed castling and I will try to break open the game in order to make use of that fact.
In this position there is the obvious exf2+. But in that case white has no problems whatsoever after Nxf2.
The point is that my pieces are not quite ready for the attack. They are standing in each others way. The queen can go to a5, h5. The rook belongs on e8, but at this moment the knights are hindering my bishops. If I sacrifice e3, that gives me a tempo to organize my pieces. The immediate Ng4 is not good due to f3 and e3 will fall later.
After 21 minutes I decided to Re8. Which happens to be the second choice of Houdini (after exf2+).

Since there are no winning tactics, the decision must be made purely on positional considerations. Why has that to take so much time?


  1. You can test your tactical vision by doing some CT-Blitz. If you realy improved in tactical vision then you should be a few points better know.

    I dont get the idea of Re8:

    It sacs ( that is a positionel tatic) a pawn for only 1 tempo which is by traditionell calculation a lost of 2/3 pawns. ( 1 tempo = 1/3 pawn ).

    So Re8 is complicated and takes time to see if it "might be ok".

    Why a time-consuming complicated sac if there is a easy quick logical move?

  2. @Aox,
    You can test your tactical vision by doing some CT-Blitz. If you realy improved in tactical vision then you should be a few points better know.

    I didn't train blitz, so why would I be better at blitz? I improved otb, which for me is the only thing that counts.

    The idea of the sac is to keep the white king in the middle and open up lines towards the white king. Which happened in the game.

    Time here is consumed not by considering a complicated sac but by wasting it. Figuring that out is an accomplishment in itself.

    I was investigating irrelevant move sequences since that is a bad habit of mine. To think when there is nothing to think about.

  3. you made a training on Ct-puzzles.
    If you had "any" improvement through your training with CT-puzzles, it should show exactly here: at ct-puzzles. The blitz mode is just measuring more precise the quantity of your improvement. Of couse a sudden improvement at OTB-rating would be a nice indication too, but as you can read at empirical rabbits blog: you need a lot of games to be statistically "significant". Its easyer to do 1000(0) blitz puzzles ( instead hundreds of games) and check for improvement on exactly that what you did: CT-puzzles.

    if you are not able to show any improvement at CT-puzzles (improvement in elo estimate in Standard would do too, just a little less precise) then i would say your training did had no (positiv) effect.

    I did think your blitz training was meant to build a measuring-base-line.

    About your sac:
    Ahh. Many player are thinking for every move ~ 3 min. Maybe you should considder a rule like this at every move:
    1) decide if tactical
    2) use max 2 min if not tactical and min 3 min if tactical

    My private rule: have more time at your watch than your opponent ( except there is a killer move, or ....)

  4. @Aox,
    we agreed some time ago to wait to talk about this old school stuff untill I had something to show for my efforts, like an 2000 otb rating. Since that is not the case, I'm not goin to react to that.

    The problem is that time goes by unnoticed. I'm not aware of it's flowing, during a game. I have no inner clock that tells me if I have used 2 minutes or 20 minutes for a move. It feels the same.

  5. For just 7 moves (spread over the game) I used 61 minutes of time. Which is 40 minutes too much. So this little investigation paid of the the sense that I now know that I have a problem here.

  6. Maybe a "terminating" thought process helps. This thought process ( maybe including the look to the watch ) could be rehearsed on random positions of your own games ( via Chess hero ) or positional puzzle.

    something like this:

    1) Goal of opponents move, consequences of opponents move 30 sec
    2) positional?
    3) creating list of candidate moves 1 min
    4) select best 30 sec.
    5) blundercheck 30 sec

    You could do a training on that with your chesswatch and f.e. HTRYC
    I think might be good time-training to.

    I did stop this "dreaming around" by consequently doing CT-blitz instead of CT-standard. Standard made me dreaming around more and more.

  7. The position you were looking at is indeed difficult, and I believe it is correct to use a lot of time here.
    However: 21 minutes is probably indeed needed, but what do we do if we simply dont have 21 minutes? (usually we dont have it, unless we saved a lot of time before).

    I try to make it my rule to use approx. 1-2 minutes per move. Every now and again (like in this position of yours) I invest more.
    I cant have an alarm clock next to me, though. But as soon as I get aware that I already used 10 minutes I tell myself:
    "o.k., I cant find out exactly the best moves. These 2-3 moves seem to make the most sense to me.
    Which is a stable save move of them? Yes, maybe I miss now good and forcing, but which move is not ruining my game?
    If there are still more than 1 move left, I take the move which seems simplest. Why? Because now that I used already more time that I wanted to, I really dont want more of the complicated stuff and want to play faster in the next couple of moves.

    In your position I would have had in mind Ng4, Qa5, exf2, Re8, d5.
    According to my "now I still dont know"-rule, I would now take the simplest: exf2+.
    It obviously does not ruin my game, it is not losing a pawn, I probably though about it long enough (so it is blunder safe), and after Nxf2 I would have the same problem like before, but without the option exf2. I have Re8, d5 and Qa5.
    When I move exf2, I would do it with the determination to decide the next move (Re8, d5, Qa5) within 3 minutes. And I would comfort myself, that my time was not wasted too much, because I have now a better understanding of the position. Usually my next move is then indeed played within 2-3 minutes, and my third move is sometimes even at 1 minute. This is good, because we need to overcame the tendency that we move slower and slower.

    But there is one exception: When I am faced with a strong move I have overlooked and I realize that I am going to lose - then 21 minutes is o.k., because we have to waste some minutes for the shock and regain our inner piece.
    Then we check all possibilities and chose the very best option, which makes it maximum difficult for the opponent to win. And for this we can take 20 minutes. (assuming we have more than 30 minutes left for the rest of the game). Because if we dont think now, we will not have the chance to think again because we are check mated soon.

    I made some progess with my time management.
    It is an important part of OTB rating, too.
    Because if we double our thinking time, we gain 200 point in elo.
    So it is a bit like asking yourself: do I now need the strength of a 2200 player, or is a 1400-move good enough? You can save time for later. Good time management can make you stronger when you need it the most.
    Be aware of the 200-elo gain, and you know when you want to invest time, and when you dont.