Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Examples of errors

Overlooking preliminary moves.

Diagram 1 White to move
Here I overlooked the effect of Ne6, chasing the king into the knight fork (which I missed too).

Overlooking simple mate patterns.

Diagram 2 White to move
Every now and then I miss a simple mate.

Missing an overworked piece.

Diagram 3 White to move
Here I totally missed that after 1.Bxe3 the rook at b8 can't take on b4 without giving up the defense of Rc8.

Underestimating my invasion.

Diagram 4 Black to move
Here I underestimated that the invasion 1. ... Be5 2. Nxe5 Qe1+ leads to mate. I dismissed the move Qe1+ because I had the feeling that white has all sorts of escapes, so I didn't check the move.

Wrong choice between two knight moves.

Diagram 5 Black to move
Here I had to make a choice between 1. ... Ng4 and 1. ... Nf3
Both moves threaten mate with 2. ... Qh2
I chose 1. ... Ng4 because of  the extra knight fork 2. Re2 Nf2+

Hidden behind this, is that I missed the following mate patterns: 1. ... Ng4 2. ... Nf2#
and 1. ... Nf3 2. ... Qh3#

The problem is not of course that the mate patterns are unfamiliar, but that I decide not to look for them. More precise: there is nothing that triggers the decision to look for the mate patterns.

Of course one can argue that I should look better. Of course I would find the patterns then, sooner or later. I can find almost any solution, given enough time. But this is a quest for speed too. Making the right decisions in short enough time. It is about optimizing the search process for the right move. Omitting unnecessary considerations is just as important as considering the right moves, when it comes to speed.

When I encounter the other error categories, I will add them to this post. In general I'm approaching a problem more logically now, in stead of by trial & error. But since logical reasoning takes more time, the improvement in method doesn't show up in the figures just yet. Well, an increasement of 90 points is not too shabby, but that's a new ATH, which is of course a statistical incident. At average, I increased about 50 points.

It is a matter of investigating what is going on in my mind during these mistakes and excessive time usage. I need a good diagnosis before I can think about a remedy. I'm going to count the errors first, so I know which categories occur the most frequent.


  1. Very good examples of mistakes! Thanks a lot for that category! Now I can answer that and comment. Maybe some of the comments will be useful (helpful?) to you to get rid of these nasty bugs :)

    Here we go:

    Diagram 1 White to move. It is NOT a standard position and chess motif. I could miss it without any doubts.

    After 1.Ne6+ black has FOUR replies - 3 with the King and one with the Rook (capturing the N and losing the R).

    1... Kd7 2.Nc5+ and forks - it is EASY to spot.
    2... Kc8 2.Rf8+ and after 2... Kd7 3.Nc5+ and forks as in the previous position.
    3... Ke8 2.Rf8+ and after 2... Kd7 3.Nc5+ and forks as in the previous position.

    Both of the last variations are NOT familiar to me. You have to know if beforehand to recognize this pattern. At least I would NOT solve it withing 1-2 minutes (I could move the N to the safe place).

    CONCLUSION: this motif of doing fork is not easy due to the "preliminary move" and the additional support of the Rook (Rf8+!). And if you cannot notice that Ne6 covers f8 square - your problem with this position may be just a standard type.

    Diagram 2 White to move. This kind of position is NOT difficult to me. Actually I noticed the #2 in about 5-6 seconds. What may be hard to you is: "crowded pieces around the Black King" and "sacrficing the Q at such 'safe' position does not make any sense". The distance of White Rook (b7) may trigger more problems to understand the core of this position.

    CONCLUSION: The optical illusion - the Black King is too well protected and it is not possible to attack it. You have to work at this type of problem and refres the Queen sacrifice positions.

    Diagram 3 White to move. Oh! It was the position I have to work about 2 minutes! It was quite hard to me! I noticed different type of ideas. After Bxe3 I will play fxg5 and I lose a R and gain 2N. Actually I did not notice that the Rc8 will be hanging (after RxR).

    I am not sure but at my mind - the FEAR of LOSING the game was very fast activated. My King is opened and two Knights are close to it (not to mention the Q). Hard to say how to overcome this problem, but at first it may be a good idea to "list all the LEGAL moves that stops the Black's attack (the threat NxQ). And afterwards - we should check out if we really LOSE more than we gain. I do not see any other way at the moment.

    CONCLUSION: DO NOT be afraid to lose material - check out if you can regain it after your opponents "captures (takes) back after you start capturing".

    .... to be continued

  2. Diagram 4 Black to move. Oh no! This move is ridiculous! At first it does not make ANY SENSE! Your BSB protects your K and you want it to trade?? And that's what we can call (after Hertan Grooten) 'computer moves'. It could not spot it in 5-10 minutes. I could think ANY OTHER moves except this one! After close analysis the sense (reason) of this move is really easy to spot. After NxB the WSB's power is visible and that's why White King is going to be mated!

    CONCLUSION: Fear, laziness and lack of courage to exploit the pin! After Be5 the pinned N is attacked twice and simultaneously the Q is attacked too. You can call it "duplo attack" ;). Anyway it is logical move, but hard to spot! At least I could not find it withing 3-4 minutes without a hint.

    Diagram 5 Black to move. Now the position is easy to miss, but quite easy to FIX it (not to miss such an opportunity in the future). Try to notice the difference between playing
    A) Nf3
    B) Ng4

    I can help with this one as I had to fix my thinking with the same type of position some time ago ;). Maybe it will be some help to you, too.

    A) --> Nf3 is better! Why? There are TWO mate in 1 threats, not just one! (you even missed it at the comments). The first is 2...Qh3#, but the second one is 2...Qh2#! I do not know if you remember the "Arabian mate" with N+R against cornered King. Try to refresh it and every time you will see the N at the diagonal two squares away from the corner - you have to remind the move Qh2# or Rh2#!

    B) --> Ng4 is a good move, except the comments above. After this move there are two mate threats: Nf2# (and fork to the Q!) as well as Qh2# (did you miss it one more time at your comments?).

    What is the DIFFERENCE between the power of Nf3 against Ng4? The difference is crucial (a key one). Look closely.

    After Ng4 your opponent plays (or Rxf8+ first) Re2! It defends against both threats: you cannot make a mating move as the square h2 is controlled by the R! You can with the exchange playing Nf2+ RxN QxR, but no more then that!

    After Nf3! your opponent plays Re2 again. What is the difference now? After Qh3+ he is FORCED to block the check with the R. And you simply play QxR mate! :)

    Now I hope you can see the difference by your own. It is not that obvious, but in a practical situations such considerations are VERY important ones. In general - the move is better if your opponent has less options to avoid (heavy) material (or positional) loses. If you threaten to checkmate with 10-ways playing move A and have the choice to play move B which threatens to checkmate with 2-ways - in 95% of cases the first choice is a killer and the second type move is "just a simple threat".

    Let me know if you need more such comments or should I be quiet and just read in a quiet mode ;) :). If such comments and conclusions are helpful (useful) to you - I can do these more (after you provide the positions you are solving incorrect).

    BTW. I am not sure if you agree, but with the plan of providing more positions - maybe FEN string could be helpful (below the diagram).

    1. (Your) comments are always helpful, no need to be quiet.

      The preliminary moves are difficult, since the duplo attack isn't manifest yet. Common practice is to trial & error, until you stumble upon it. That makes that the amount of time you need is heavily dependant on luck. Since there must be ALWAYS a duplo attack and/or a trap involved, the mindset must be to be always on the lookout for these.

      It might seem obvious that if you miss a queen sac, to start exercising queen sacs. Yet I have reason to believe that this doesn't work. There were times that I used to do six queen sacs before breakfast, so hesitation to consider them has long gone.

      What all these categories have in common, is that your attention has to be drawn to the right region of the board. Once you consider a certain aspect, you usually find the answer at lightning speed. But the mind is heavily protected against distractions. Which in itself is quite good, since when your attention would be drawn to every irrelevant aspect, it would take hours to solve a position.

      So the mind must be guided, and the weapon of choice is logical reasoning. In trial & error mode, there is little logical reasoning, so you are guided by luck. When you look at a solved position, you will find that WITH HINDSIGHT the position is 99% of the time QUITE LOGICAL. This logic we must learn. There is way more obvious in a position then we use to think. It is the bad habit of T&E in stead of logical reasoning that makes us blind for the obvious.

      A master can't handle complex positions better than we do. But he can make them simpler by applying obvious logic.

  3. I think we can optimize the thinking and searching method by asking some questions. There are not obligatory, but probably may be much helpful when we apply these to most of the positions. Here they are (with no order or priority):

    1. Is mate in 1 possible?
    2. Is forced mate in 2 (or 3) possible?
    3. What are the weaknesses at my opponents camp?
    4. Which pieces are under attack?
    5. Which pieces are not defended?
    6. Is the King safe?
    7. Do we have some (passed) pawn at 6-th (or 7th) rank?
    8. Are the Queen(s) off or on the board?
    9. Is it possible to make a fork with a Knight or pawn?
    10. How to activate ALL the potential of the "hidden" pieces?

    And back to your answer:
    You do not have to practice ALL the queen sacrifice - just these with the horizontal or vertical mate given by the Rook (after the Queen is sacrificed). Practicing ALL the Queen sacrifice does not make any sense to me (you can call it "a waste of time"). And you should look closely to the positions when the King is CUT OFF along 7th/2nd rank or b/g file. Take notice how easy it is to spot the mate in 1 when you have such position: Ka1 against Rh2, Rg7. Do you see the idea? Then try to make it complex by addition some pawns and pieces. After some of such excercises done conciously - you can develop the feeling for the "cut off the King motif". At least it was in my case when I had to learn the sac: Bc4 (or Bb3) captures at f7, then KxB and Ng5+ with the double attack against Kf7 and Bg4 (it was doing the pinning my Queen at d1). I literally done about 300-500 of such excercises - trying to remember what is the idea behind it - and when it works or does not!

    And if we look closer - the attention does not have to be drawn just to the 'right or left' area of the board. It is much more efficient when we recognize the MOTIFS, not just the location of the pieces. Try to notice the Black King - it is cut off at h6 (and stalemated) by the Rook at g1! Can we do the mating move? Let's try - the basic try is to play Rxh7# - is it mate? No, it is not! The King defends the mating square. Can we change the King's position if it could not defend it? Yes, we can - just play Qh5+! I know it sounds easy AFTER we know the solution, but if we recognize the specific motifs - the process of finding best (or at least good enough) moves may be MUCH easier!

    These words should be written in GOLD:
    "When you look at a solved position, you will find that WITH HINDSIGHT the position is 99% of the time QUITE LOGICAL. This logic we must learn. There is way more obvious in a position then we use to think. It is the bad habit of T&E in stead of logical reasoning that makes us blind for the obvious".

    Just one small remark. We can do such T&E shots, but ONLY in the training mode to check out other options (variations) and draw some conclusions. I mean - why other moves do not work and what is the reason behind it. And we ALWAYS have to draw conclusions and built (expand) the general understanding of the positions characteristics - otherwise we can solve millions of puzzles and we would not be able to solve another one, because we will miss the detail. That's what I think. Do you agree on that?

    BTW. Some time ago I wanted to check out if I could solve ALL the puzzles recommended for 3rd category players (rated 1500-1700). And it occured there were some puzzles I could NOT solve - no matter how hard I tried! And after I saw the solutions I was really shocked. They prooved I have no idea about the UNDERSTANDING of the position - just solved thousands of position mechanically. It does not make much sense, because after the position is not excatly the same as you memorized - you may not solve it (even if you feel the position is quite easy).

    1. The problem with lists of questions is that they are quite daunting to ask every time. The positions are so different, that most questions are obsolete. This means that the list of questions must be very short, and the questions themselves must be very general. I ask myself the following questions:

      How is the material divided? (Equal, equal value but different pieces, piece up/down)
      What are the most likely targets?
      How am I going to gain wood? (trap and/or duplo attack)

      What I do is, I talk to myself during solving a position. This way the position gets an accompanying narrative. After the solution, I continue to build the story about the position until I have the impression that it is complete.

      If you do it this way, the effect on your (anyone's) rating will be a nosedive of minus 70, followed by an increase of 50 above the start rating. The problem is, that trial & error is a fast method, although limited and averaged by chance. You replace that by a slow method, logical thinking. That's why you loose 70 points at first. Then you become more apt at logical thinking, and you not only get your 70 points back, but you get an additional bonus of 50. From there you must analyze categories of errors and positions, in order to extend your logical reasoning.

      I don't belief in the specific mate exercises. I have sacced more queens for a mate in two than any grandmaster on the planet. More training doesn't increase the sensitivity of the trigger. After two month's of salt mining, and focussing the last weeks on mate in one easy, I still missed mate in ones when starting with CT blitz.

      Logical reasoning must guide the attention until the trigger fires. Not the other way around.
      Applying logic in a consequent way will make the unconscious brain work its magic. Just like shifting gears.

  4. A problem similar if not identical to 2 is found in ct-art. I had trouble with it and nicknamed it pulling the king into the well. The sacrifice on an empty square and the rook to the h file made this harder for me to solve.