|White to move|
Today during a repetition session, I took another look at the position, and it took me again about a minute or two to see the solution. But now I was more alert for what was going on in my brain. Of course I saw that I could take the black bishop for free with fxe4. But my gut feeling told me that then my rook would be in trouble due to the pinned bishop on d3. The last move of black was bishop d5 to e4, and I believed that the sacrifice was not a true sacrifice, otherwise my opponent wouldn't plat that move. My focus was mainly aiming for h7. I tried to broaden my view and looked what the pieces were doing and how they could work together. ALL OF A SUDDEN it popped to my mind that 1.fxe4 connected the rook on h3 with the bishop on d3. It was easy to see that that wouldn't be of much help to free the pinned bishop though. While I was looking further into this, my attention was now more focussing around the region e2 and ALL OF A SUDDEN it popped to my mind that there is no problem at all with the pin. I could easy unpin the bishop and save the rook on d1.
What does this story tell us? The tactical theme "pin" was seen immediately. The standard method for unpinning was not. Yet I have used this method hundreds of times in the past to free a pinned bishop and save the rook behind it. So why didn't it pop up immediately?
I have identified a few reasons for that:
- I was biased that the bishop sacrifice would be correct, otherwise my opponent wouldn't do it.
- I was focussing on h7 for an assault of the king.
- I didn't formulate what my problem actually was.
Al these reasons can be eliminated by a disciplined mind. Yet matters are not to simple.
A bias is wrong once you know it is a bias. But more often a bias saves you time. You form an opinion about something without the need to go into the details every time. I have for instance the bias that the pawn on a6 is irrelevant for the solution. Since it is, I save a lot of time by not going into the details of pawn a6.
Focussing usually is good. It prevents that you come home with a new coffee machine while you went out to buy a pair of nippers. But focus comes at the price of ignoring the rest. It can lead to tunnel vision.
Usually I decide what a position is about before I start looking for answers. Is it about gaining wood, king assault, promotion or counter attack? But sometimes I forget to think about that.
All these reasons have in common that they are based on verbal reasoning. Which is time consuming no matter what. All reasons have a good side and a bad side. If you by accident choose the right implementation, you will save time, if you choose the wrong implementation it will cost you time. Another thing they have in common is that you will only know afterwards if you have chosen wisely. There is no way to know that beforehand.
The way I experienced it, the popping up of the themes had no relation with the verbal reasoning before. When the mind is occupied by verbal reasoning, there will be no popping up at all. In rare cases, the verbal reasoning can act like a cue, and trigger the popping up. But more often than not, all this verbal reasoning will cost you time. Little time if you are lucky enough that your biases prove to be right, and a lot of time when they do not. Like what happened to me with this easy problem.
The cue that triggered the pop up of the tactical theme "unpinning" was clearly visual. I don't know how it works, and I don't know how to train it. But somehow we must built in visual cues that cause "tactical theme-popping".
It's a strange problem. When we learn the looks of a kangaroo, we immediately are able to recognize it in a cloud, an ink spot, a tree bark or whatsoever. Without any additional training. But if we learn a tactical theme, we have great difficulty to recognize it in a position. Maybe because we have to recognize virtual properties, and not properties that are physical present. A tactical theme is a pretty abstract thing to recognize. What I try to accomplish, is to visualize the tactical themes. Learning to see them as if those abstract properties are really visible on the board.