Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Invisible patterns

In the previous post we saw that we don't have to learn to recognize patterns. It is an innate ability, our legitimate inheritance. We only have to add an animal to our memory stock, and we recognize it everywhere right away. The same with a tactical motif.

So what's the problem then? What do we have to learn?

The point is, that we talk about invisible patterns. We are so inclined to look at the visible pieces and their geometry, that we tend to overlook the seemingly empty squares. Even more difficult, when it is not empty, but we don't have to look at the piece, but at the square it is on, as if it was empty.

So it is essentially about a way of looking. We have to learn to see the invisible. If you see something that is invisible for your opponent, that is how you win a chess game.

The past 12 years I have tried every single training method  I could think of to improve my tactical ability. By far the most of them didn't work. Yet I made a considerable progress of about 350 points, in a relative short amount of time. Looking backwards, it was during a period that my vision shifted from pieces to squares.

During that period of improvement I was solving Polgar's brick, 5333+1 chess problems. Even during the mate in one's, I felt that my vision shifted from pieces to squares. The nice thing about this, is that I didn't repeat problems by then. Yet my vision of the invisible improved.

So that is the task we have at hand. We have to learn to see the invisible patterns that accompany the tactical motifs. Speed in solving time stemms from this vision. You don't have to increase speed. Better it is to say: the slowness of your problem solving is caused by not seeing the invisible. When you see the invisible, solving times become normal. Normal here means lighting fast in comparison to the ones who don't see the invisible. So forget about speed.

In order to solve this problem in the diagram you have to look at the invisible squares. d6 and e7 differ from the rest of the squares. If there is a white knight on one of those squares, there is a knightfork. f5 differs from the rest because a white knight on it would fork the attacking squares d6 and e7.
So 1.Nf5! and there is no defense against both impending forks.

In order to learn from our mistakes, we have to improve our vision after we solved a problem. Only when our vision improves, we don't make the same mistakes over and over again. Since the mistakes are the result of not seeing the invisible. The work really only starts AFTER solving the problem.


  1. Nc6 is a HE (attacked once, defended once) which pins the Rc8 to the c-line
    Kg8,Rc8,Rb7 are HE's because they are attackable by a knight in 2 moves..
    The pairs (Rc8,Rb7) and (Rc8,Kg8) are HE's because they are Knightforkable
    The Rc8 ist a HE because its not defended but there is only one chance to make use of this weakness.. to attack it with the knight.

    Just scanning for the HE's and looking for their usability gives you plenty of hints what to do.

    Now the calculation starts
    Nf5 and Kxy then Ne6 and any rook at the d file for example...
    Nf5 and R8c7 then Rd8+, Ne6+ and Nxb7 protecting the white Rd8 again..
    So many pretty little lines

    If you know there is a tactics and you see only one is possible then you can bypass the whole calculation process and simply go for it

  2. Welcome back to the chess blogosphere. Regarding your central point, it is well put and very important to have it out there in the improvement community. The realization that chess thinking can (and perhaps most often should) be more about squares than pieces, when considering both tactical and strategical possibilities, was a big revelation to me. I believe this has helped advance my understanding of the game probably more than any other single concept.


    I have a BIG request to you my friend: Would you be so kind to write down your WHOLE chess journey (tests, experiments, tested ideas, etc.) that you have tried so far? I am thinking about some kind of 10 part of the story you will summarize all your findings and failures (in short way: at least much shorter than 400-500 posts you have written).

    What do you think about such idea? I strongly believe A LOT of people would be really pleased with such a gift from you my friend!

  4. @Tomasz, I will think about that. It is a good idea that make sense. It is a lot of work, of course, since there are 852 posts (nr 853 brewing), while a lot of work has been done in the years before blogging too, which I must reconstruct from memory. In those days I hadn't heard of the Knights Errant, MDLM, and even not of repetition.

  5. Dear Tempo

    Yes, it is quite a big work (a project). However you DO NOT have to hurry! You can (may) do it step by step - even at the period of ONE year. I will show you what I mean.

    Let's suppose there are 840 various posts (the rest are not important one or relevant).

    You can divide it into 12 parts. There are (about) 70 posts in every part. You can divide them into 4 pieces. And what next?

    You can publish EACH (following) part every month.

    Jan - part 1
    Feb - part 2
    March - part 3
    Dec - part 12

    And If you divide EACH the part into 4 pieces - you can post every single post once a week. After that you can think over what should be written next.

    This way you can publish ALL the contents from your amazing journey (tests, experiments, finidings, research, etd.) in a period of a year with the frequency of "one post a week".

    Of course it is just a simple draft of the project. You can compare this idea with your approach and modify (change) it as much as you need. One thing is sure: I will be following all the posts as some time ago I tried to read all of your posts, but I failed (it is not hard to guess why).

    In addition you can experience your journey once again and think over (rethink?!) ALL of your ideas and hypothesis and compare them to the modern approach (findings, research, other bloggers ideas, etc.).

  6. @Tomasz, mmm, you make it sound like work ;)
    What I intend to do (and already started with), is make a more or less chronological story from the twelve years I have been haunting the holy grail. With links to posts that are important or interesting to preserve for posterity. Maybe I add tags to posts along the way. I will add it to my sidebar, where it can grow and develop over time.

    Yet I have some unfinished business, finding out the exact how of the vision training as described in the previous post.