Tuesday, January 24, 2017

As times goes by

One of the most time consuming activities while trying to solve a problem, is to continue thinking about solutions that don't work. The following diagram shows a position that took me 9:12 minutes to find the first move, and then another 3:06 minutes to find the second move. There were a few red herrings, but how can I recognize that my attempts must remain fruitless while trying to catch them? Something is wrong with my priorities.

Black to move
2b2r1k/2q2ppp/p3R3/1p5Q/5B2/2r5/PPP3PP/5R1K b - - 0 1

There are 3 PoPs: e6,  f4 and f1

But I couldn't focus on them, and started to dabble around with moves like 1.Qc4, 1.Qc5, 1.Rc5, 1.Qxf4, 1.Bxe6, 1.g6, 1.Bb7. Even fxe6 was considered a few times, but I could not make it work.

Yet, if my mind was only disciplined enough, and would follow the system I described, I would soon have found the answer. I must unlearn the habit of trial and error.


  1. Curious:

    You "saw" the PoPs at f1 and f4. That means you "saw" the LoA from f8 to f1 (thus, you were "looking" through everything to the edge of the board). You also "saw" that f4 is a B.A.D. square (BQc7 vs. WRf1). The connection (in THIS problem) is between all three PoPs, not just one in isolation.

    I try to think of a potential Pawn capture as a "line opening" motif. That is the crucial idea that enables the BRf8 to engage as a second attacker against PoP (B.A.D.) f4 and indirectly to pin WBf4 against the WRf1. The Pawn capture 1. ... fxe6 provides the duplo: (a) White is "forced" to recapture 2. bxc3 to maintain material balance AND (b) Black has added an attacker to the B.A.D. f4 square, giving a 2:1 advantage there. White cannot meet both "attacks." There is a subsidiary attack motif against f1 because of the pin against f4. There is also a deferred motif of a back rank mate, should White decide to capture the "free" BQ on c7.

    White does have a potential back rank motif on e8, if Black stupidly goes for material gain on f4 without thinking through the move sequence required. That brings into play the idea to use the newly born Pawn on e6 as the shiv into the side of the WBf4, retaining the BRf8 to prevent that possibility.

    I doubt that you missed any of that.

    So, it is the lack of mental discipline to consistently follow the thought process that leads you astray.

    You have my sympathy: I have the same problem.

  2. To be honest I was not able to solve this puzzle. And I could not solve it over the board - even If I had 10-15 minutes to use.

    However when I looked at the solution I understood what I missed and how difficult this problem was. In my opinion such problems should be divided into more simple parts... and analysed very thoroughly. This way we can understand the ideas much better. That's my approach.

  3. Regards,

    In my opinion it's esential to identify the type of fail.
    You spot the candidate move fxe6 and you calculate the variation. If the mistake is calculate 1...fxe6 2.bxc3 and stop calculation is a quiescence fail. But if the mistake is calculate 1...fxe6 2. bxc3 and don,t see 2...e5 is a visualization fail (because if you view in front of you the position after the rook exchanges you find easy 2...e5).
    This is important because identify the mistake is necesary to work in the solution. In my opinion is not a disciple fail or a method of calculation fail is a visualization fail.

  4. In my opinion is not a didcipline mistake or method of calculation mistake. Is a visualization fail. If you see in front of you the position after 1...fxe6 2.bxc3 you see easy 2...e5 if you calculate this line and no see 2...e5 the mistake is in visualization not in the method. Identify well the mistakes is necesary for working in solutions.

  5. May I respectfully suggest another position to try, with a different way of "LOOKING" at it?

    FEN: 1r1qr1k1/2nb1pbp/p2p1np1/1ppP4/P1P5/1PNBBPN1/3Q2PP/1R3RK1 b - - 16 31

    The position occurs after White plays 16. Ng3 in the following game:

    Brad Lundstrom (2014) - Brian Wall (2260)
    Round 1 of April 2014 Wild Boar Rapid

    1. d4 Na6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be3 Nf6 6. f3 O-O 7. Qd2 c5 8. d5 e6 9. Bd3 Re8 10. Nge2 Nc7 11. O-O a6 12. a4 Rb8 13. Rab1 exd5 14. exd5 b5 15. b3 Bd7 16. Ng3 Rxe3 17. Qxe3 Nfxd5 18. Nxd5 Bd4 19. Qxd4 cxd4 20. Nxc7 Qxc7 21. cxb5 axb5 22. Rbc1 Qb6 23. Ne4 Kg7 24. a5 Qxa5 25. Rfe1 Be6 26. Nxd6 Qb4 27. Ne4 Bxb3 28. Rb1 Qa3 29. Ra1 Qe7 30. Nd2 Qb4 31. Ne4 Bc4 32. Reb1 Qf8 33. Nf2 Ra8 34. Be4 Rxa1 35. Rxa1 Qb4 36. Ng4 Qc3 0-1

    Please TRY to follow the approach that Temposchlucker has outlined in the recent posts. Instead of jumping right in to calculating variations, first try to "see" the PoPs, LoAs, and Funs and the implications of those things. That is the STARTING point but NOT the entire process! Look at the geometrical relationship(s) between the various pieces that MIGHT be in contact already or come into contact in the immediate future (1-3 moves). As you look at these considerations, consider how they might work together (using tactical themes/devices) to give a strong hint as to how to proceed. Only switch to selecting a concrete (minimal) set of candidate moves and calculating concrete variations AFTER you have done the best that you can with this preliminary process. I think that you might be pleasantly surpried at how effective this "survey" or "examination" process can be in pointing toward the critical line(s) of play - IF YOU ACTUALLY DO IT.

    After all, the point of this blog is to explore and experiment with the preliminary findings of effective ways to "see" more effectively/efficiently into the requirements of the position. IMHO, you cannot gain the expected benefits without following the process. If you have conscientiously followed the process, then you have a basis for rejecting it IF (a very BIG "if" IMHO) it does not work for YOU. But to not even try it seems like a considerable waste of our host's efforts and his long effortful struggle to find a workable process giving significant long-term adult chess improvement.


    Okay, I'll step down from the soapbox and stop cheering now.

    Happy solving, everyone!

  6. When I write a post, there is something I want to tell you. I derive no masochistic pleasure from letting the world know how dumb I am, albeit it may often seem like it. Diagrams and variations are lousy vehicles to bring my thoughts across. Since chess players are addicted to chess positions and variations, they are easy distracted by them, and loose sight of what I'm trying to tell.

    What happened during the first move?
    I had no clue, and was just trying out random moves, in the hope to get an idea. I was distracted by promising variations that lead to nowhere. After nine minutes I got tired, or maybe impatient, or maybe I felt uninspired, but somehow one move stood out, a solution would probably start with 1.fxe6. But I had no clue how to continue. The move was in essence a gamble, and the higher rated the problem is, the greater the chance I gamble wrong. If you want to put it more mildly, you could say I used the method of exclusion. Which is a lousy method since it eats time.

    What happened during the second move?
    I continued to try randomly promising looking moves that lead nowhere. After three minutes I looked at 2.e5 for the first time. The moment my attention arrived at e5, it was immediately clear that it was the right move. It is a tunnel vision problem. An attention problem. You can't see your car keys laying on your desk if you don't enter the study room. You can't find your car keys if you look for them in the garage. You can't find your car keys when you are distracted by the lawn mower in the garage and the lawn that needs mowing.

    What happened during the post mortem?
    I finally was able to look at the PoPs, LoAs and funs. And the longer I looked at it, the simpler the problem became. The longer I looked, the less promising the wrong lines began to look. Until at a certain moment, it became totally incomprehensible why it took me so long, since there were so little possibilities.

    What happened afterwards?
    I wanted to tell the world the joyful message that it should be able to become ten times faster at solving problems when we find a way to guide our attention to the desk in the study room. And that the list in my previous post is able to guide that attention in the shortest possible way. If I only wouldn't forget to apply it.

    After 1.fxe6, the attention should go to the immobilized pinned bishop. The first thought should be, can I attack the immobilized piece? That shouldn't take three minutes.

  7. I have been working very hard on following the process you have outlined. For me, it takes somewhere between 500-1000 different problems to begin to "cement" the new process into my squirrel brain so that I don't have to consciously think about it every single time. That doesn't mean I don't fall back on failed approaches (msucle memory) occasionally.

    One thing I must do is keep firmly in mind that if I have used more than 1 minute of time "seeing" the contours of the particular position is that I must kick the vulture off of the road kill and back up to where he can take another look around. That is another conscious thought process, and it works very good for avoiding killing time meandering around a dead carcass.

    You are too hard on yourself! In all the posts you have made on this blog (and yes, I have read every single one of them and most of the comments too!), I have NEVER read one thing that gave me the impression that you are "dumb." Quite the contrary! There is an enormous amount of "food for thought" on this blog!

    Come, all ye vultures, to the great feast!