Sunday, February 05, 2017


When I wanted to show you a position to demonstrate the PLF (PoPLoAFun) system, I skimmed through my failures, looking for suitable positions. I noticed that I rejected about half of the positions. Today I wanted to know why.

I found that 40% of my failures could be fixed by applying the PLF system well.
47% were positions with the assault motif (I assume).
In 13% of the cases I mishandled the promotion motif.

Improvement in the PLF department should come with experience overtime. But it is frustrating to fail because of ignorance about the assault motif. I am somewhat  inclined to think that the assault motif is just a special occasion of the plf system, but investigation will decide on that. I already will give you a position on which you can already comment, if you like. Later today I will update the post when I start thinking about it.

White to move
3r4/5p1R/4kp2/4pN2/p5P1/3nPPKP/r7/3R4 w - - 0 1

Now I look at it, it seems way more simple and straightforward than I thought it would be. I assume that an assault will always be about the king. I often have difficulty to find a mate in the middle of the board. The PoPs (Points of Pressure) d3 and d8 are easy to spot. For a king assault, I must connect an attacker with the enemy king. Rd1 connects via the PoP d6 with the black king. In fact, Rd6 would be made, if I ignore the black knight and rook. Again, this helps to see into the future.

I must treat the PoP d6 "as usual". That is to say, I must look for defenders that must stay in contact with d6. There are two:Nd3 and Rd8. By 1. Rh8, the black defending Rd8 is deflected from the PoPs d3 and d6. With my PoPeyes, I never would have given 1.Rh8 a thought. Now it is a completely logical move. I only needed to identify the PoP d6 to guide my attention to the right place.



  1. 1910.8 - less than 20 seconds, without reading your comments first.

    The assault motif (as I understand it) is the required forcing nature of the attack (usually on the King). The opponent must NOT be given any respite during an attack. I think you are correct that it is merely a special case of PoPLoAFun. The "special" part is the immobility of the King, combined with an attacker controlling potential mating squares.

    When I "looked" at the position initially, the first thing I "saw" was the immobile Black King, with the White Knight controlling some of the box. "Always check; it might be mate." (There are two different meanings of that phrase.) Hmm, how can I get a White Rook on to d6 or e7? The e7 square doesn't "look" feasible, so the target must be d6. The LoA to PoP d6 is from d1. To get there, the BRd8 must be "moved" away; ergo 1. Rh8 Rxh8 2. Rxd3 keeps the Black King in the "Box" and prevents a defense of d6.

    I confess I did NOT anticipate 1. Rh8 Rg2+ 2. Kxg2. Any check by Black leaves White up at least the Knight, if not the Rook. I guess the purpose is a "Hail Mary" trying to get White to "escape" to h4, with a Black mate to follow. Hey, if you're going down in flames, you might as well try a desperation move. CLub players overlook this stuff all the time.

    Although Black has a good passed Pawn on a4, it just doesn't seem to be that important in light of the possibility of swinging the Rh8 over to a8 to stop it from behind. The Black Rook is on the wrong side of the a4 Pawn for it to be much of a threat.

  2. Initially, I looked in trial & error mode at 1.Rh8. But I abandoned it immediately since it looses a rook. I failed the problem. Even when I wrote this post, I had no clue yet. Only when writing the update, my attention rested for a few seconds at d6, and immediately the moves needed popped up.

    We have way too long trained the physical vision of geometrical patterns. But the visible patterns don't guide you attention towards d6. It are the wrong triggers/cues. Only the mentally visible patterns of function are able to guide the attention and to retrieve the right tactical shots from memory. It looks miraculous.

  3. "It looks miraculous." AGREED!

    On a different motif: I think the promotion motif is another special case of the more general PoPLoAFun. Just as there is a special "cue" for the attack motif [an immobile King with potential additional attacker(s) available], there is one for the promotion motif. It is the "obvious" (I WISH!) near-term possibility of promoting a Pawn. Going backward to the "MeatLoAf LoAving LoAfer" post, diagram 2, it seems fairly obvious that the Black Pawn at b3 MAY (probably WILL) be a crucial component of the solution. Why? Because it has the potential to disrupt the Function of the White Queen to "defend" the WRa7 (which is B.A.D. 1:1). It also has the potential to divert the White Bishop, opening the diagonal b8-h2 to a double attack against the White King and the same B.A.D. WRa7. Having "seen" these possibilities, the solution becomes trivially obvious: advance the Black Pawn toward the promotion square. If White tries to avoid losing touch with a7, then continue the march to promotion and force White to take the new Black Queen, thereby leaving the WRa7 insufficiently defended. Any other response fails.

    Just as you observed that a B.A.D. (or totally loose) piece almost always accompanies a significant PoP, the same observation can be made about promotions. It is NOT accidental that an appropriate (favorable) sequence is available in such positions. It is "baked into the cake" so to speak.

    I suspect that there will always be a specific "cue" available for each and every other motif which may be discovered. For instance, the desperado motif is predicated on there being a piece which is attacked and which cannot be saved. AS soon as that cue is recognized, the search should begin for a place to "sell its life as dearly as possible."

  4. "Just as there is a special "cue" for the attack motif [an immobile King with potential additional attacker(s) available],"

    Matters might not be that simple, which I probably will show in my next post I am preparing. The kind of assault which troubles me the most is the king chase.

    "there is one for the promotion motif. It is the "obvious" (I WISH!) near-term possibility of promoting a Pawn."

    Matters might not be that simple, which I probably will show in a post in the future, which I'm not preparing yet. I found a position which seems to defy the idea of PLF (PoPLoAFun). Probably it doesn't defy it, but do I have to find a new formulation of it. But first we must dive deeper into the assault.

  5. My apology for seeming to try to make everything "simple." As Bryan noted earlier, there is considerably more to chess than that which meets the vulture's eye. NOTHING will make chess "easy" to play well. However, with that caveat, there ARE approaches that will make things "easier" and more directed than simple T & E. PoPLoAFun is the beginning of one such approach.

    As previously noted, there is a distinct hierarchy between the motifs based on frequency of occurrence. The reason that PoPLoAFun "works" (generally) is that these considerations are (usually) an integral part of the analysis of every position. Attacking the opponent's king and promotion opportunities are a distinct subset which occur less frequently and which are constrained more by the specific requirements of the position.

    I also have problems with the king chase. I often forget that one of the "requirements" is not just to continually check the King (which CAN be very useful lots of times) but to (eventually) create a "box" within which to confine the rambling King. No box, no checkmate. That is considerably more difficult to construct than "simply" slamming into the King's current position.

    I look forward to your insights on the attack motif and the promotion motif!