Thursday, March 31, 2016

A few examples. Example 1.

Let me try to work out a few examples of my thought process.

White to move and win
r1r4k/2qbbppp/pp2p3/4p3/Pn1N1P2/2B3Q1/1PP1B1PP/R4R1K w - - 0 1

Step 0 Count the pieces. 
This is an artificial step which is specifically designed for chess problems. An imbalance here might mean that the usual thought process is not applicable. For instance when you are a piece ahead, the only goal is to get not mated, so you can use your advantage. Or when you are a piece behind, you can rule out a series of captures since they will not yield you enough wood. In a real game you already know the material balance, so you don't need to count for it.

Step 1 Lack of space.
The king has a lack of space. Since there are 3 white pieces converging at g7, the lack op space is important.

Step 2 Double attack.
  • Nxe6
  • Bxe5
Both double attacks are aiming at the same targets.

Step 3 Discovered attack.
  • Qg3 f4 no relevant targets
  • Rf1 f4 only one relevant target
  • Bc3 Nd4 two relevant targets

Step 4 Pin/skewer.
e5 is pinned to g7.

Step 5 Removal of the guard.
e5 blocks Bc3.

Once you have inventoried the position according the motifs above, the actual moves are easy to find. The problem is to speed up the investigation of the position.


  1. here almost exactly what i thought :

    1)After counting material
    2)decide is the puzzle about : mate, material, promotion?
    2a)The King h8 has not a lack of space imo. But it is under attack by 2.5 pieces and defended 0 times, so hypothesis: the puzzle is about mate
    2ai) Try to find a mate for a few seconds, There is no mate idea in the near future! i start thinking how to get more attackers closer to the black king maybe 1/2 sec about rooklifts Ra3,Rf3,Bd3 / but that will take to long. so is there a pawn close to promotion? no! so new hypothesis its about gaining wood with eventually using the weakness of the king, but that is not necesary.
    3) Searching for weaknesses ( possible targets )
    ( these are theoretical: White a4,b4,d4 and so e2 and c2 ,f4 and so g3; black b4,c7,e5,e7,f7,g7,h8 but i did not look at each of them because my attention was cought by Nd4 very quick )
    Now i realise realy : The Nd4 is hanging and has no good escape-square, i realise that i have to solve the "problem of the Nd4" anyway no matter what the puzzle is about,
    I start thinking about a desperado move with Nd4,
    I see the solution ( in the fraction of a second ) ,

    I cant believe that you where thinking of Ne6 and Bxe5 at step 2

    1. Counting is easy.
      Answering the question if there is a potential trap or mate is easy.
      Answering if there is a double attack is difficult. There are no geometrical characteristics that help you. You must have a notion of the attackers, targets and attacking squares.
      Finding a discovered attack is easy, there is a battery and a target on one line.
      Finding a pin or skewer is easy, since there are two targets and an attacker or attacking square on the same line.
      Removal of the guard is difficult. There are no geometrical characteristics that help you. You must have a notion of the attackers, targets and attacking squares. Much akin a double attack.

      It is probably best to investigate the difficult motifs (double attack and removal of the guard) last, since the easier motifs provide information that can be used for the difficult motifs.

    2. I cant believe that you were thinking of Ne6 and Bxe5 at step 2

      Yet I was. Thinking this way is not in my comfort zone, definitely. But when I manage to set myself to it, it works that way.

  2. So if i understand correct at Step 1 you check all pieces for save mobility?
    Then the Bd7 is immobile too?

    Step 2: would be the search for all potential double attacks?
    Then Why Ne6 and not Nf5?

    Step 3:

    Qg3 f4
    f5 and then f6 is a potential dangerous fork,

    Rf1 f4
    after fxe5 there is the threat Rxf7 with attack at g7

    But your method gets closer to Chuzhakin’s System of HE's ;)

    1. I don't go for completeness. That would be counter productive (= takes more time than it saves). Usually I look for the targets with a higher value (K, Q, R) or the ones that are unprotected. That is not a conscious effort, but already automatic, to some degree. Further I look for the invasion squares (attacking squares where more of my pieces converge).

  3. @Temposchlucker:

    This is an interesting statement: "There are NO geometrical characteristics that help you." [Emphasis added.]

    No offense, but then you continue with these two observations in the analysis of your thought process:

    "Finding a discovered attack is easy, there is a battery and a target on one line."

    "Finding a pin or skewer is easy, since there are two targets and an attacker or attacking square on the same line."

    I'm not trying to quibble. I suggest that you WERE (subconsciously?) aware of certain fundamental geometrical relationships, even though those relationships were not explicitly brought to the conscious level during your analysis.

    This (to ME) is a prime example of the importance of understanding motifs, rather than "seeing" tactical devices without motifs. Please note that I am intentionally differentiating between the two concepts, although it is common parlance to use the terms interchangeably. The geometrical motif directs the attention along the lines of force emanating from the pieces (especially the long range line-moving pieces Queen, Rook and Bishop), starting at the piece and extending all the way to the edge of the board. If you look for an intersection of the White Queen at g3 and the White Bishop at c3, you will see the "target" g7. The short-range White Knight can immediately make a "forcing" move to e6, threatening checkmate at the "target" g7; considerations of material balance do not matter when a checkmate may be possible. That first move also clears one of the two obstructions of the line of the White Bishop at c3. The followup is a double attack along the Bishop's line at e5, against the Black Queen and the initial "target" (on the line) g7. At this point, it becomes "obvious" that Black must lose material in order to avoid checkmate at g7.

    Please note: I did not "think" in terms of tactical devices, but instead, just visualized the lines of force (auras, if you will) of a couple of pieces. I didn't think in terms of double attack by either the White Knight or the White Bishop. The fact that the Black King is already in the "box," has no defenders anywhere close, and is already being "attacked" by the White Queen cause a focusing of attention in that direction. The "three piece" rule comes into play when attacking the King. Given the geometrical "hints," the White Knight and White Bishop can be brought into the King attack using forcing moves. The rest (the actual moves and the sequence of moves) becomes fairly obvious after that initial focusing occurs.

    Obviously, I may have internalized various tactical devices/concepts (I certainly have tried to do that!), and it is possible that it is subconscious to me, whereas it is not to you. I think that may be something that makes it hard to generalize to a thinking process that works universally for all players.

    I am reminded of an anecdote recounted by GM A. Kotov in Think Like A Grandmaster.

    "Emanuel Lasker once said of a promising player: 'For all his undoubted strategic and tacical abilities he lacks the special sort of imagination needed to foresee the contours of the complicated operations that are germinating in the position.' From this it follows that a good player has some special quality which enables him to get a bird's-eye view of what is building up in a position."

    It is my opinion that PART of the “special sort of imagination” is the quick recognition of motifs. I think that it can be trained, even in adults. The imagination “merely” has to be focused on the proper things FIRST when getting the "feel" of a position. (HA! HA! HA! Like THAT has never been tried!?!)

    1. The geometrical motif of mister Lasker and you as its herald have been in my mind since I started to think about a new thought process, and certainly during writing this post I was constantly thinking about it (seriously). What I write here, or meant to write, is that the discovered attack and pin are easy to find because the have a geometrical characteristic which can be recognized (on the same line), while the double attack and the removal of the guard are much harder to find, since they lack that clear geometrical characteristic.

    2. To me any fork (double attack) has a strong geometrical characteristic.

      (Relatively) "geometry-free" motifs are removal of the guard and distraction. These
      have the characteristic of a network. You could draw a little diagram of attacking and defending pieces without the structure of the board, connecting them with arrows to show the relationships. Looking at this may single out the pieces that are overloaded or should be targeted. In the end you have to go back to the board structure though since a piece may manage to defend two targets at once.

      ...not that I think this way, but that says nothing good or bad.


  4. @AoxomoxoA asks questions, one of which is:

    "Step 2: would be the search for all potential double attacks? Then Why Ne6 and not Nf5?"

    I think the answer is fairly easy to "see." Nf5 "attacks" the target g7 and the undefended Black Bishop at e7. The question becomes: can the attacked Bishop save itself AND protect against the threatened checkmate? Obviously, by Bf6. This also "clogs" the line of the White Bishop at c3, creating another obstruction that must be removed from the line of the White Bishop. There are considerations of continuing the "attack" against the Black Bishop by capturing fxe5, but the White Knight "hangs" on f5, so (at best) there might be a slight gain in material. On the other hand, Nxe6 threatens both checkmate at g7 AND the Black Queen, a significantly higher valued second target. Nxe6 is therefore more "forcing" and should be examined FIRST (prior to Nf5). If Nxe6 leads to no good continuation, then (at some point) Nf5 could be considered. But, N-O-T FIRST!

    I know you could "see" those considerations fairly easily!

    1. That's correct, after considering Nxe6, I immediately considered the follow up with Bxe5. So I never had to look at Nf5. When I had though, I immediately would have seen that the bishop could defend g7 and dismissed it.

      That is exactly why I'm careful with following formal lists to the end. That leads to considering moves that should N-O-T be considered FIRST.

      The challenge is to construct a thought process that makes optimal use of what is already automated, and avoid considering things too early. That makes a TP highly personal.

  5. @Tempo After you did considerd Ne6 and Bxe5 then why did you still made step 3-5?

    1. I didn't. I wrote that down to give you guys an idea of what I'm experimenting with.

  6. Today I reached a new ATH (1743 = +5) at CT, so my new TP has no longer a deteriorating effect on my rating. If I improve to, say, 2000, I consider the TP a grand success. But that will take quite a few yet to invent optimizations, I suppose.

  7. Recently I have been playing a few chess games with long time control. I noticed the specific problem: I make mistakes of the "squares no-longer attacked" (SNA). What do I mean? I make a threat to checkmate the King with my Knight. But after I make a mating move - I realise that the square Knight had cut before... are no longer under its influence! What do you think about this problem? Any suggestion how to fix it?

    1. Lain has made an exercise "Find escape square creating piece". See my sidebar.

  8. @Tomasz: 'I make mistakes of the "squares no-longer attacked" (SNA). . . . Any suggestion how to fix it?"

    Obviously, this is a "thought process" issue.

    Ask yourself WHY you make this oversight, then consciously (at first) incorporate a "sanity check" (PRIOR to making your move) that avoids this problem.

    If you are properly considering each position, you will be aware of ALL the function(s) that a particular piece is currently fulfilling, not just the ones that are beneficial to you (attacking?), but also the ones that may be beneficial to your opponent (defending?). You also have to consider all of the function(s) in the new position (after your move). Moving a piece means potentially changing the function(s) that piece is performing. It is necessary (but not sufficient) to consider the new function(s) that the piece will be performing after the move. It is also necessary to consider the function(s) that may be lost by moving that specific piece. A harder problem (because it is a second-order problem) is to see the indirect relationship between pieces. The specific piece that you intend to move may not have any direct function(s) that are lost. However, the move may allow some other piece to either lose or gain a function. These considerations apply to all of your pieces and to all of the opponent's pieces. You have to do this "sanity check" prior to each and every move. (Who's got time for doing all THAT?!? YOU DO, in a long game.)

    In short form, this is covered by the Bobby Fischer quip, "You have to give squares, to get squares.

    Pay some attention to what you are GIVING UP as much as you pay attention to what you are GETTING.

    As C. J. S. Purdy said, "It is even more important to look around than look ahead."

  9. I look at this position in terms of that blacks pieces are away from the castle which white can storm. If given a tempo there could be a bishop or rook protecting g7. Which delays whites win. I think the attack could shift to h7. The combination cant allow black a tempo.