So why do I think that training of vision can help to see simple positions as simple? Why do I insist that most problems at CT are actually simple? How will visual training look like?
The diagram below stems from CT problem 100388. Its rating is a remarkable 1784 , and it took me almost 3 minutes to solve it.
6k1/5p2/2r5/5p2/8/1r4P1/1N2RPK1/R1b5 b - - 2 7
Once you know the solution, it's hard to imagine why it took so much time to find it. And it rises the question: how can I see what is going on in this simple faster, the next time?
When we go through the obligatory step 2 first, our brain performs a few tasks. We want to know if there are any tasks that can be automated.
- Knight is attacked+ 1
- Decide which piece should take the knight, R or B
- Effect of RxNb2
- Effect of BxNb2
- Pin after BxNb2
- Unpin the bishop
Robert Coble introduced the term "function" in one of the earlier comments. That is an interesting term which might be useful. I want to see the current function of the pieces.
Knight is attacked+ 1
An evident task here is counting the attackers and defenders. Although I can imagine a specific training geared towards counting, it is hard to imagine that there will be a great gain in speed. After all, counting is something I do all the time during a game.
This knight isn't an ordinary knight. After counting, it has become a target. Its function is: target. It would be helpful here if I was able to see it as a target.
Decide which piece should take the knight, R or B.
It is too early to be able to make a decision yet. First more information has to be gathered. Usually we think of decision making as something that is a conscious process. But repeatedly gm's reported that they just knew which move was good, since it felt best. Either way, the actual decision making won't take much time when the preparation has been good.
Effect of RxNb2
It helps to see this position before your minds eye.
What is important, is the function of the bishop. The bishop is the protector of the rook. Annihilation of the defender for white is the first move that comes to mind, and it wins the piece back.
Effect of BxNb2.
Again, it helps to see this position before your minds eye.
Pin after BxNb2.
What is important here, is that black puts his pieces in a "pinnable" position. Rb1 pins the bishop to the rook.
Unpinning the bishop.
It took me an incredible amount of time to find the right move to unpin the bishop. I dabbled around with al kinds of trial and error moves. If I had only defined the task my pieces had to fulfil, I had found the move much earlier.
I look for a move that protects both Bb2 and Rb3. So Rb6 is the natural way to go.
Which tasks lend themselves for automation?
In order to solve these kind of positions faster in the future, can we formulate what we should train now, and how we should train it? I identified these tasks:
- Imagination of a future position.
- Imagination of the function of the pieces.
- Imagination of the themes of the combination.
- Formulation of the purpose of the move.
Imagination of a future position.
And first sight, it seems logical that seeing the board and its pieces before your minds eye is a big advantage. Every gm can play blindfold chess, but you can learn yourself to play blindfold chess and still suck at chess. It turns out that the gm doesn't see the board as a whole, but he sees the essence of what is going on. We experimented a lot the imagination of a future position, and we found that a little narrative that guides the imagination is paramount. With only a little verbal help it is way easier to look into the future position.
Imagination of the function of the pieces.
This is actually an eye opener (hat-tip to Robert Coble). It is necessary to see that pieces stand out due to the function they have in the position. Common functions: target, defender, attacker, overloaded, pinned. I will try to see those pieces in relation to their function.
Imagination of the themes of the combination.
This is what I already was training. I try to see all the themes of a combination in the position.
Formulation of the purpose of the move.
Without this, I fall victim to the habit of just looking around for random moves on a trial&error basis. The formulation of the purpose of the move will be a great guide for imagination of future positions, so I catch two birds with one stone here.
Further I'm just roving about at my scrapyard looking for usable pieces.