Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Investigating the initiative

The past month has shown me the importance of applying logic in stead of trial & error. Maintaining the initiative during a combination is probably the most important subject of chess logic. But there are other important subjects too, of course. I plan a series of posts on the initiative. Since I have not the slightest idea where my investigating will lead me, I have no idea how long that series is going to be. I will probably often make use of diagrams with arrows etcetera. Alas doesn't Lucas Chess allow positions without kings, so please don't get distracted by issues in a position not relevant to the subject, like "the remaining endgame is a draw" or something like that.

Let's start with a simple position, the removal of the guard:

Diagram 1 White to move
Pieces perform tasks. A task can be something like "attacking a piece" or "defending a piece". Every task usually consumes a tempo. In general, one attacking move can be answered by one defensive move. If we want to make progress, we will have to find multi purpose moves, which perform multi tasks. If the opponent can't find a move that provides an answer to all attacks, then we will win.

In diagram 1, two of white's pieces attack a black piece (the green arrows). Two of blacks pieces perform a defensive task (the red arrows). Every task takes a tempo. But the tempi are evenly distributed. One move is one tempo for each colour.

1.Nxd6 Nxd6 is an example of two single purpose moves. The white knight executes the attack by capturing, the black knight executes the defense by capturing back. Both pieces disappeared from the board, along with the tasks they were involved in.

1.Bxf7 is a multi purpose move.
If white plays Bxf7, the distribution of tasks has changed. Not only the black knight has disappeared from the board, but also the defensive task it was performing has ceased to exist. Now black is in trouble, since he has to perform two tasks (save the black bishop, take back the white bishop), and he has only one tempo to so. Since there is no such multi purpose move, black looses a piece.

This might indicate a general rule of thumb: "try to harass the opponents piece that performs the most tasks, both offensive and defensive."

Task counting helps in this case to find the right move order. 1.Bxf7 is better than 1.Nxd6.

The value of the pieces can change this simple approach. Have a look at diagram 2.

Diagram 2 White to move
The situation is about the same in diagram 1. An important difference is that the black bishop on d6 is attacked by a white rook, a piece with a higher value.

Now 1.Rxd6 Nxd6 is no longer equal due to the higher value of the rook.

All of this is very simple, of course. In a next post I will look if the rule of thumb we found still holds true, and whether counting the tasks still is useful in more complex positions.

1 comment:

  1. I dont get the difference between D1 and D2; except that the wrong take at D2 is losing an exchange and in D1 not. But its true , in both diagrams the black knight is the more active piece. An the most important principle in chess is: to improve the (relative) activity. Here positional chess and tactical chess are comming to the same result ( which is common ): take the knight.

    In both diagrams the black minor pieces are attacked once and defended once. Standard method is to take a defender.