Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Chasing Targets

Looking for a viable thought process.
I will dabble around with chess logic a bit, in the hope to find a viable thought process.
When a position is quiet, there are no tactics. All tactics are about gaining wood. Promotion is just a special case of gaining wood. When you chase a piece in a quiet position, it will lead you nowhere, since every attacking move can be defended. In order to win a piece, the position must be out of balance. What imbalances are we talking about?

One target.
The only way to chase and win a single target, is when the target is out of space. The imbalance is then the lack of space. Mate is a special case of lack of space.

Two targets.
Another imbalance is when it is possible to attack two targets, with one move. That's the other imbalance. There are only four ways how that is possible:
  • Double attack
  • Pin/skewer
  • Removal of the guard
  • Discovered attack
Usually we speak about one attacker and two targets. Only a discovered attack has two attackers and two targets. One of the attacker is passive (stays put)  and one attacker is active (moves).

The characteristics of the position.
A position has characteristics. We must learn to interpret the characteristics, so we know which of the five possibilities (or combination of those five characteristics) the position is about.

Dabbling with only two imbalances


  1. You are right Tempo! ;)

    To me - this is really good article, but I am looking forward to the next episodes!

    In general it is really hard to refute all the statements you made. Anyway one of the parts is quite esoteric to me. I will be grateful if you could explain it in a more detail way:

    "When you chase a piece in a quiet position, it will lead you nowhere, since every attacking move can be defended. In order to win a piece, the position must be out of balance".

    Do you mean unlimited board or the real one? What do you mean by "every attacking move can be defended". If I attack your Queen (let's say by the Bishop) and all the Queen moves leads to the attacked squares (or you cannot move to the occupied squares because of the game rules) - how can you defend your Queen? Do you mean - by counterattack or you simply defend the Queen and after I take your Q with my B - you with recapture it with one of your piece?

    Sorry for confusion, but I really need to know what do you mean - if you do not want everybody to stay quite forever (just kidding). Love your thoughts - they are very interesting ones as much as inspiring! :)

    1. What do you mean by "every attacking move can be defended"

      We are talking here about a position which is NOT out of balance, a quiet position.
      An attacking move costs a tempo. Since a move hands over the turn to your opponent, he simply moves out of the way. That is always possible in a balanced position. The problem is that you can only make one move at the time.

      In a balanced position, there can be no tactics for that reason. Only when there is some unbalance in the position, there can be a tactic. There are only two possible unbalances.

      The first is: lack of space. If you attack with a bishop the queen of your opponent, and the queen has a lack of space, your attacking tempo cannot be followed up by a defending tempo, since the queen has run out of possibilities. Don't think too deep here, it is quite self evident. As long as there is a defensive move, the lack of space has not become critical.

      The second is: a duplo attack. If you attack with one move (tempo) two targets simultaneously, your opponent needs two tempi to save his two pieces. He needs a tempo for every target. Only when he is lucky, he can save two pieces with only one move. Otherwise, one piece will be captured the next move.

      Since there are only two possible unbalances (plus a few artificial ones), there are only five characteristics of a position you have to reckon with. There is ALWAYS at least one of these five characteristics in the position, otherwise there can be no tactic:

      Lack of space
      Double attack
      Discovered attack
      Removal of the guard

      Checking the position for these five characteristics will reveal what the position is about.

  2. The cool kids are all hanging out in the previous post..

  3. Tempo said : "When a position is quiet, there are no tactics."

    So what is a quiet position?
    No takes, No check, No direct attacks? But then you said : "When you chase a piece in a quiet position, it will lead you nowhere, since every attacking move can be defended" So in your quiet position attacking moves are still possible?????
    Whats about pawn-races or pieces with no save mobility which might be won in several moves?

    At quiet positions the chances are lower for any tactics, but not 0.

    You use the word "space", i think "save moblity" is more what you where thinking of

    Dan Heisman in his disapointing "Elements of Positional Evaluation"

    "3.3 Space
    Space is another vague pseudo-ele­ment. If you describe space as "room to maneuver the pieces," then the ques­tion is, "What use is space without
    mobility?" This summarizes the whole problem, for through this question, we
    find that space is not an end in itself , nor even a means to an end other than
    mobility/activity. Raving space alone does not necessarily imply an asset.
    Usually space does imply high mobil­ity, but this is not always the case (see the second diagram below). And it does not help to quantify space, nor does it
    aid us in learn ing what to do in order to use space or evaluate it.
    Space can be roughly defined as the area between a player s back rank and
    the pawn structure, especially if the pawn structure consists of at least sev­eral pawns. The player with the more advanced pawn structure has more "space." As pawns go off the board, the concept of space usually dimin­ishes, and with no pawns, it essentially disappears. "

    All tactics are based on tactical weaknesses, a tactic makes use of one or more of these weaknesses. Tactical weaknesses are for example "weak backrank", "exposed king", "advanced pawn", "unprotected piece" and so on. No weakness no tactics

    A tactic is a method to make use of a weakness.

    This way of looking at tactics gives the chance to use a uniform thinking method at chess : create weaknesses and/or make them worse and/or use these weaknesses of your opponents pieces and/or get rid of own weaknesses, no matter if they are positional or tactical.

  4. I'm looking for the most simple thought process that helps me to solve tactics at CT. Disposed of all impractical additions. I'm not interested in elegance, correctness, formality, uniformity, applicability for positional play, completeness etcetera. I know we continuously are messing up our semantics and definitions. Let's keep it simple. This is how I use it:
    Tactics = gaining wood by force in the broadest sense. That includes mate and promotion.
    Quiet = no forced tactics.
    Space = no forced trap possible
    No space = forced trap possible.

    The problem with all the available systems like the seeds of tactical destruction, or the 10 imbalances of Silman etcetera is that they are way too complicated. You manage to do two problems with it, and then you forget to apply it.

    When I see a pawn at the 6th, I automatically eye at promotion. No need to add that to the thought process. Promotion is about removal of the guards that block the way to promotion. And removal of the guard is on my list.

    Here it is simple. You either win by lack of space (trap) or by lack of tempi (two targets under attack).

    A thought process is about guiding my focus to the right square.
    Here is mine (under continuous construction): 5 motifs to look at, and applicable to all positions.

  5. If "Quiet=no forced tactic" then a sentence like "When a position is quiet, there are no tactics." is a tautology ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tautology )
    without any information.

    Tempo said : "When I see a pawn at the 6th, I automatically eye at promotion."
    A pawn at the 6th rank is a "seed of tactical destruction" = a tactical weakness.

    Tempo said : "Promotion is about removal of the guards that block the way to promotion."
    That is a (standard) method to use (increase) this weakness

    So you already use tactical weaknesses in your thinking

    So we know what you are DOING:

    "If i spot a tactical weakness of my opponent then
    i try to apply a standard method"; If standard method works then { move and end } else { now what ? }
    else ???

    1. I'm not building a move generator but an attention guide. Once I know which of the five motifs the position is about, I usually find the moves fast. That is not the problem. My biggest issue is to guide my attention in the most efficient way. The thought process might very well stop once the focus has reached the right square. I don't know that yet. If I need more thought process, that is going to be indicated by experience. But not wasting time in the first step (determining which of the 5 motifs play a role) will already lead to an enormous increase in speed.

  6. Well,
    now i understand, that i dont understand you

    I dont understand what your idea of a thinking process is, what the goal of the thinking process should be, what your thinking process is at present.

    I suggest to look for some extreme simple puzzles first and write down what your present thinking process IS and then how it would be better. This seems to me a logical fist step ( and is a common method of the Software engineering ;)