Thursday, May 19, 2016

Chess logic

The position below is of a special pedigree. It was easy to spot all construction blocks of the combination. The only thing I had to do is to put them in the right order. For that, a little logical reasoning is necessary. In tests, I usually score extremely well when it comes to logical reasoning. But here I could not get the building blocks in the right order within 4 minutes. And when I saw the correct answer, I slapped my proverbial forehead.

Black to move
6k1/1p4p1/3PN2p/p7/1n1R3P/1q4P1/5PB1/6K1 b - - 1 1

This kind of logical reasoning is both time consuming and error prone. It need to be worked on separately. It is quite different from the position in the previous post, where the problem was that a certain tactical building block was overlooked.

I'm a bit surprised to see that I'm so bad in logical reasoning when it comes to chess, while it usually is my forte. If I could only overcome these two flaws: poor chess logic and missing tactical building blocks, I would make a quantum leap forward in tactics.


  1. Problem Blitz Rating:1871.6
    Blitz Av Seconds:01:53
    Blitz Attempts:523
    Blitz Success Rate:67.69%

    Problem Standard Rating:1661.8
    Standard Av Seconds:07:20
    Standard Attempts:2505
    Standard Success Rate:57.56%

    It's a tricky problem, as shown by these stats. -mfardal

    1. That's a weird way of reasoning. The problem is tricky because the stats say so.

      The problem is simple once you see it. What is strange, is that I don't see the simplicity right away.

      We chess players are always mesmerized by the position. That makes it always tricky to use a diagram in a post. The addiction to variations draws the attention away from what I am trying to tell you guys.

      Replace this position with one of your own which you think is not tricky, and try to understand the message behind it.

    2. The stats don't lie. For players of your strength, this is a tricky problem, especially in blitz mode. As you said there are a number of general tactical elements and each has several slight variations. Combining them all gives a great number of possible move sequences. It takes time to investigate them all and it's easy to miss the right one. Of course, once you see the right sequence it makes sense.

      When you manage to implant a computer into your head, you'll be able to run all the sequences fast and accurately.

      The first link Tomasz gives argues you should measure aspects of your performance. Does CT tell you which areas you're weak or strong in? Does it show signs of poor logical reasoning, relative to other aspects of your play? -mfardal

    3. The rating of a problem is based on averages. If the river has an average depth of 1 meter, that doesn't mean there can't be places where the water is 6 meters deep. There are 1400 rated problems that take me 10 minutes, and there are 2000 rated problems that I solve a tempo. An average says nothing about individual cases.

      I don't need the excuse of a problem that is tricky. I want to learn to see a simple problem as simple.

      I don't find the measurements at CT very useful at this stage, because they are based on averages. I measure my performance myself. That why I find out what is going on in my head. Averages don't say anything about individual cases.

  2. I could NOT solve this position even after 3-4 minutes. I was unable to see the one concept (BxN Qxf2+ and QxR and pawn lost its protection).

    I agree that fixing these two components could give us a SIGNIFICANT change (an improvement we have been dreaming all our chess life).

  3. I think these two additional articles may be helpful for all of us:

    1) Saturday, May 14, 2016: Measure and Improve Your Chess

    2) How Do You Become a Life Master? by Dana McKenzie - May 14, 2016

    Enjoy and let's comment these two articles! :)

  4. 1) The problem is unexpected deep, there is still Bxc6 Qxf2 Bg2 Qxd4 d8Q QxQd8 do see
    2) Nc6 is a silent move. Its only a good move because of the seemingly useless Qe1+ before!

    I am shure that many tacticians did play these moves only because they did see nothing else

    1. I saw all the elements you mention within 30 seconds. The main decision to make was the choice between 1. ... Qxe6 2.d7 Qe1+ and 1. ... Qxe6 2.d7 Nc6
      In case one, the king ends up on h2, where it doesn't defend f2, and in case two, the king goes to g2, where it defends f2.

      I see no reason why I shouldn't find this within 3:30 min by means of logical reasoning. The fact that other people fail here too, is not of any comfort to me.

    2. So you did not see that Dxf2 is a fork AND protects against Promotion at d8?

      I suspect the reason of our bad performance in tactics is the lack of such type of awarenesses and not the disability to make the right conclusions.
      And i suspect the right tatctictraining should concentrate at such elements like : "A Qf2 solves the promotion problem because Qxd4 brings the queen at the d file and so on". These are fractions of lines ( like molecules ) which need to be connected to the right line.
      Jussopov says it would be more important to calculate many flat lines instead few deep lines

    3. So you did not see that Dxf2 is a fork AND protects against Promotion at d8?

      I did see that in the first 30 seconds. What I did not see, is that when I FIRST play Nc6, the white bishop clears the g2 square for the king where it defends f2. By giving the check Qe1+ FIRST the king is forced to h2, where it DOESN'T protect f2, which makes the combination possible.

      What for me is incomprehensible is that I saw all elements of this combination FAST, except for this little detail above, and that I could not find this little detail in 3:30 min thinking.

  5. Do you have a place to record if there is a commonality between the types of positions that give you trouble? For example, after a few weeks I noticed that I had trouble seeing positions where I needed to deflect the queen with a pawn move to capture an otherwise hanging piece - e.g. there were 3 different Chess Tempo problems that I either got wrong or took a long time to do. After I realized that it was an issue (because I kept track of it, I now subconsciously always look for those type of moves). So when I recently got a "difficult" problem right away because I saw the theme (the pawn push to deflect the queen from guarding another piece), it was very encouraging. I wouldn't have noticed the error otherwise (or it would have taken me longer).