Thursday, December 24, 2015

Adding Logic

Too many possibilities.
In daily life, I don't like to tie my self up to any opinion any time soon. I have changed my vote several times, all over the political spectrum. I like to keep all options open, until that is not longer possible. The upside to that is, that I always can find new angles of view. It took me 12 year to formulate the final conclusion of my efforts to improve as an adult in chess: adults can only improve marginally in chess. But even then, after a two year break, I see new possibilities and reopen this cold case. The downside to this of course is that I suck at chess. I see too many possibilities. Time trouble is a recurring phenomenon.

Analysing problematic positions the way I do lately, makes me see that, with hindsight, there were way less possibilities then I thought there would be beforehand. I try to figure out why I see too much possibilities.

The three methods of attack: time, space and matter.
I identified duplo attacks as one of the three ways to gain wood. Traps and promotion being the other two. There are 6 different duplo attacks (double attack, discovered attack, pin, skewer, X-ray attack, simultaneous attack). If you search my blog for "duplo" you can find a lot more about this.

A duplo (or multi) attack is based on the aspect of time. With one move (tempo) you pose two threats, which your opponent must meet with one tempo. If there is no such move, one of the threats is executed.

A trap is based on (the lack of) space. With mate being the ultimate trap.

Promotion is a sudden increase in matter.

The four methods of defence. 
Against any given threat, there are just four methods of defence:
  • protection by an extra piece
  • blocking the line of attack
  • annihilation of the attacker
  • escape
"My System" of three methods of attack and four methods of defence is meant to get grip at step 1 and 2. In that sense it serves the same purpose as Kotov's, Silman's, Tissdall's, Chuzhakin's methods and the like.

With just three methods of attack and just four methods of defence, life should be easy. I cite myself from a few posts earlier:
"My brain is lead by the variations, in stead of being in control of it. In daily life, there usual is some logic in the things that happen, and my actions are in accordance with it as a result. This common sense seems to be gone when it comes to chess. If I make a double attack, I don't continue with the question "heh, is there a possible way he can address both threats? What if......?". In stead I continue by trial and error to find the continuation."
Somehow I get distracted from applying simple logic in chess. My brain is easy to confuse, and once confused, it is overloaded. When my brain is overloaded, solving times get through the roof.
What is the cause of this confusion?

The method of analysis I use for the problematic positions I encounter at CT convinced me that by far most of those positions are simple in nature. If a position is simple, why can't I see it as simple right away?

Counter attacks.
Besides the four methods of defence, there is another possibility to meet the threats that you throw at your opponent: the counter attack. I don't consider it as a defence, strictly. It turns out that counter attacks complicate matters dramatically. It means that none of the rules or methods you use can be used any longer. In the extreme case of a desperado, even the patterns you learned no longer apply. Highly protected pawns that need no thoughts under normal circumstances because they form such strong bastion, are no longer exempted from attention. The amount of possible moves increases. I find that thinking about counter attacks every move is clogging my brains. It is the main cause that I'm not able to apply logic to the position.

The remedy.
When I strictly separate the thinking about threats I pose to my opponent and the possible defences to those threats, from thinking about possible counter attacks, matters become much more simple.
When I think about my threats, there usually are only a few moves that possibly meet those threats. When I prune the tree of analysis by removing the counter attacks, the tree becomes much more manageable. Of  course this pruning is a temporary measure. Once the simple tree is calculated, it is time to look at the counter attacks.


  1. while you solve a tactic puzzle you have to
    controll your thinking ( attention ) so you step somehow forward
    memorize pieces at positions ( and forget pieces if removed from a square )
    visual positions and judge them
    memorize calculated moves sequences and make observations
    use the observations to find new more interesting ideas and calculate new movesequences...

    This is a lot to do for our STM
    In the post mortem you can skip 80% of that work.. the puzzle is simple now

  2. @Aox, making the puzzle simple is only the starting point of our yet to develop training. That training should transfer tasks from STM to that mysterious place in the brain where information organizes itself in a way that isn't discovered yet by cognitive science. When driving, your hand and your legs know what to do while shifting gears, without you consciously knowing it, without laying claims on STM or your attention. That is what we should try to accomplish. Doing chess tasks without us consciously knowing it. That's how Susan Polgar does it, when playing a simul.

    Perfection of step 1 and 2 is like buying yourself a pair of new sneakers for the coming speed contest. You might run a bit faster. I intend to buy a car.

  3. I definitely agree with Tempo. The problem is not with "doing the same faster and faster", but DOING it with the POWERFUL tool (like a car vs running comparison).

    Even if building a car from scratch (parts you can build or buy quite fast) would take a HALF year - you will have a LIFETIME machine (system) to go whenever you wish! :)

  4. Utilizing the "buy a car" metaphor: the problem is that no one knows how to obtain a "car" that WE can drive, never mind where to find a fuel station to make it run. Fuel?!? What's THAT?!? There are numerous advertised sources for "cars" (books, DVDs, "systems") but when we take them home, certain that FINALLY we have acquired a "car" that will get us from A (our current skill and knowledge level) to B (our desired skill and knowledge level) we find that we don't know how to drive it (it has no steering wheel, no accelerator,, no brakes, and no "fuel" that WE can "see") and no instruction manual either. It is merely ASSUMED by the purveyor that it is "obvious to the most casual observer" how to use it and that "fuel" is required but must be purchased separately. Even the "cars" that come with an instruction manual often ASSUME a certain level of skill and knowledge that (sadly) we don't have.

    There is an old acronym from my computing days: TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. I think the relevant analogy is that WE have to build the "car" for ourselves, out of the available materials. We can buy the "parts" from others, but the construction process must be done by us in order for it to actually work for US. I think that is the crucial knowledge that we are searching for in this discussion.

    Have you ever purchased the latest, greatest instructional tome, eagerly opened it and promptly found that (as far as you can "see") it is almost gibberish? I know I have, because the "car" I purchased is one that I do not have the prerequisite skill and knowledge to understand how to "drive" it to take advantage of it. It's all fine to say I know how to "drive" (at least my family car or my bicycle) but put me in a NASCAR stock car and on the track at Daytona, and you don't want to be anywhere near me or the car as I try to drive it around the track at 200 miles per hour! There's nothing wrong with the "car;" the problem is with the inexperienced driver!

  5. I know what you mean Robert!

    There are A LOT of ready parts that we can use to build a car. What I want to achieve is to make some kind of prototype of the car (general idea how this vehicle should work). After that I (or others) can construct (build) the needed parts by myself (themselves) and connect it to the final CAR - they want to possess!

    I have extracted some idea while I have been solving puzzles. Now I am in the process of testing these. I try to find some kind of UNIVERSAL pattern (algorithm) that we can use no matter the (complexity of) position.

    I do not refute the idea of building the car ("everyone by himself to fulfill their needs"). I am much more interested at the components and all the necesarry requirements that work indpendent of the conditions.

    For example if you have the choice to solve #2 puzzles in TWO ways - you can choose whatever you wish, but what is the most important - both solutions are correct. Anyway the idea that #2 exists must be extracted. I know it is an extramelly simple example, but I want to extrapolate to much more complex ones.

    BTW. IF I would be able to build a car system - you could build ANY of the cars you want - regarding your needs and abilities :) ;). That's my idea!

  6. I had a very similar personal breakthrough about calculating defensive replies. I was also getting lost in the tree of variations by calculating all checks, captures, and threats every move for both players. But it is MUCH more efficient to only calculate the four defensive replies....well five...I consider counterattacks to be defense, but the counter threat they create must be equal or greater than the threat being responded to. The only other way I have found to simplify calculation further is to follow the most forcing path first. I would also suggest you expand your "annihilation of the attacker" to include pins and deflections. I like to call it "do something" to the attacker.

    I like the idea of three kinds of would you caterogize remove the defender and other counting related tactics?

    1. When you don't directly can hit the target, but you can hit it's defender, I call that "undermining"