Thursday, January 14, 2016

Example of a covered square vision exercise

I'm well aware that my babble about vision might not be very clear immediately to everybody.
The following diagram gives a simple example of what I try to accomplish.

Black to move

I tried to solve this first in my usual trial and error mode, but with that I didn't came very far.
But when I focussed on the covered squares, the invisible cage the king is in becomes slowly visible. And then the moves are easy to find. I take my time to develop a better square vision.

Renko's ICT 2 provides exactly the right kind of exercises that can be used to develop square vision.


  1. With a hint clearly stated I could solve it within 15-30 seconds. Anyway I did it, but the time has extended up to close to 2 minutes! In my opinion such puzzles may be very deceptive! Especially when we "glue" our mind's eye to the advanced pawn!

    I would love to solve such positions if Aox could create another of his famous mate in X-puzzles :)

    1. The latest post of Aox seems to indicate he is going on sabbatical. I'm not sure.

  2. I started with 1. ... Nb4+, looking to drive the White King into a mating net, but then realized immediately that there was no forcing followup; the White King slips away toward the kingside. Then I started looking at various ways to grab the b2 Pawn without losing material. But that just seemed NOT to be "in the spirit of the position." After all, there is a "naked" White King out in the open, there are 3 Black pieces available, and there are some "narrow passages" set up by the combination of the Black and White Pawns, so there MIGHT be a checkmate in there somewhere! (Like the old joke, when you find a pile of pony manure, optimistically think there might be a pony nearby!) So I started looking for something else that was FORCING, AND that also helped maintain the "box" around the White King as he moved. VOILA! 1. ... Nf4+ has the same effect (driving the White King) AND there is a forcing followup: 2. Ke4 (or 2. Ke3; it is a good sign that either White King move still allows the same continuation of forcing moves). We now place the "box" around the White King on e4 (or e3). The Black Knight now provides the protection for the next forcing move: 2. ... Re2+. The White King is now forced to take the Knight on f4: 3. Kxf4. Move the "box" to f4. OH NO! The White King can now squeeze through the only remaining hole in the "box" to g3. Here is an insight that helps ME. If you are familiar with the "Dovetail mate" theme (see Wikipedia, if you need to refresh your memory), then you "see" that the White Pawns at f3 and g4 can form the 'shoulders' (block the diagonal corners of the "box", similar to the "epaulette mate.") It is usual in examples of this type of mate to see the Queen as the attacker, but a Bishop works the same way - diagonally! Now the final move becomes "obvious": 3. ... Be5#.

    The entire "solution" POPPED as soon as I started looking in the right place to start forcing the White King moves.

    Those "invisible" (empty) squares are hard to visualize, but I think the "box" idea helps!

  3. A serious question:

    How can we help (presuming that we can actually do something constructive to help) in your investigation?

    I realized after posting the "solution" above that what little there is of my approach to solving that problem is probably of little or no value to you. As the old saying goes, "Better to be silent and thought to be a fool, than to open ones mouth and remove all doubt." I thought about just deleting it and waiting for another blog post, keeping my mouth firmly closed.

    Please advise as to how we can help, even if it is to merely provide moral support.

    On a different note: I ordered another Valeri Beim book, How to Play Dynamic Chess. I also ordered Tim Brennan's Tactics Time!: Chess Tactics from the Games of Everyday Chess Players. The books are for my birthday.

    Wishing you every success in your current quest!

  4. @Robert, good question! Posing the question itself is already very supportive.

    In the past I often wondered why people reacted on the variations of the position in my posts and not on the example the position was supposed to illustrate. Then I realized that it probably is not easy to react on my thoughts, since I use my blog as a way to think out loud. Those rantings are usually still far off from a well formulated opinion. It is just my way of chewing on information.

    Feel free to discuss anything. No worries.

    What is helpful, are honest observations about what is going on in your head when solving a position. It is not so easy to be honest and not showing off, since one might look dumb. But I have learned long ago to love that feeling, since you can't learn anything if you are afraid to look dumb. From a grandmaster point of view, we are all dumb, chess wise. Once you told me that you have become aware of the necessity to look at the squares in stead of the the pieces. The comment above shows that your knowledge hasn't been transferred to your practical play just yet. Which is reassuring, otherwise the hypothesis that that kind of vision would improve your rating would be out of the window already.

    What is helpful? Moral support, criticism (really!), bearing with my arrogance and self opinionatedness, correction on language errors and grammar, showing contradictions in my writings, patience to repeat your standpoint if I not seem to hear it.

    Yesterday I listened to a video of Dan Heisman about vision. Although his examples were clear, it is evident that little is known about this vision stuff. So what is really helpful, is experimenting with vision yourself and tell your observations.