Friday, February 17, 2017

Promotion motif

This position has troubled me for quite a few days. I'm looking for the essential elements that make me fail. What don't I know that I should know? What knowledge transforms this position from complex to simple? How is that knowledge reusable for other positions?

Black to move

8/4kp2/4p1p1/1pqb2P1/1p2nQ2/P6B/1PP5/1K1R4 b - - 1 1

On the white side
  • The white king has little mobility due to lack of space.
  • Black can set up a battery with Qc4, which is a duplo attack. A duplo attack is based on lack of time, as you know.
  • b2 is immobile due to its double function, protecting both c3 and a3
On the black side
  • The black queen must keep an eye on the invasion square c7
  • The black knight protects the invasion square f6

What I missed
The reason that I experienced difficulty with this position is twofold.
I missed the counter attack motif Rf1 Qxf7+.
I did notice the promotion motif, but I have not made an in-dept study of it just yet. So I mist an important aspect.

Often I don't look at counterattacks too much. As long as you don't waste any time, that usually isn't a problem. But since I didn't spot a continuation after the fast and obvious moves 1. ... Qc4 2.Kc1, I started to look at the promotion of the g-pawn and ended up with the slow move gxh6. Since it is too slow, white can start a counter attack with 2.Rf1 against the PoP (Point of Pressure) f7.

The point is that I hadn't identified another function of the white king: it has to stay in contact with the path to promotion. It must stay in contact with a2 and a1. Guarding the path to promotion, is a function specific to the promotion motif. this means that the move 2.Kc1 immediately should draw the attention to the path to promotion. Once I saw this clearly, the position started to look less complex and more simple. It's a miracle! I have found with no doubt the element I was looking for. And as expected, the knowledge is portable to other positions with the counter assault and the promotion motif.


  1. 2011.8 - You have raised the bar quite high!

    Assault motif - Do not give the opponent any time to defend. Or as political consultant James Carville said, "When your opponent is drowning, throw the son of a bitch an anvil."

    Geometrical motif - Applies to knights as well as to the line-moving pieces. There's a nice fork available on c3 with check. Too bad there's no readily available "target" for (perhaps) a discovered check (tactical theme/device) since the b2 Pawn can capture it.

    "Loose Pieces Drop Off" - Undefended White Queen, White Rook, White Bishop - "surely" there must be a way to take advantage of at least one of them?!?

    promotion motif - Maybe, but does not seem to be very forcing. Save that for later investigation, if needed.

    So what IS forcing? An immediate "threat" is 1. ... Qc4 with a mate-in-two threat: 2. Rf1 Qa2+ 3. Kc1 Qa1# because the Black Knight keeps the White King in the "box." And there is another "threat": 2. ...Nc3+ (our previously noted "fork" WITH CHECK), now that there is a "target" (the White Queen).

    Now just work out the variations to "SEE" if this amounts to a winning line. It does, so that's the line to play. (Ignoring, of course, mister Lasker's dictum "If you "see" a GOOD move, look for a BETTER move!")

    The examination process works for focusing the "sight" on the important stuff.

  2. What I'm unearthing is in fact trivial chess logic. "to prevent promotion, you must keep a piece in contact with the path to promotion". "look for the least mobile piece since mobile pieces are too fast to catch".

    T&E (Trial and Error) has not made this trivial chess logic more familiar over the years. Familiar chess logic turns out to be the nec plus ultra for guiding your attention.

    I have been training over and over the things I'm already good at. But when my attention doesn't fall on a certain part of the board, the things that I'm good at are simply not triggered. You can't see the car keys on your desk if you look for them in the garage. No matter how good your eyes are.

  3. Brother in Arms. Nice to see you are still at it. Jim Takchess

    1. Hi Jim, long time no see!

      I'm at the end of the line. As Sherlock Holmes put it:

      when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth

      I have put all other methods of chess improvement for adults to the test, and all failed. This is the last method standing. So this must be the right one :D

    2. Paraphrasing wit Billy Connolly: "Where do you find anything? In the last place you look for it!"

      Too often we follow "blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch." The problem is that most of us want to look in the same places and in the same way that the "gurus" recommend (MdlM, anyone?) using processes with which we are already familiar, rather than taking the time and making the effort to "see" for ourselves what works and what doesn't work. BTW, I love that quote of Sherlock Holmes!

      As Temoschlucker previously noted, we still have to do the work ourselves in order to make progress toward gaining skill. TANSTAAFL.

  4. Would you make this queen sac?

    1. No. It's a positional queen sac. I'm not nearly good enough to think about these things. Beautiful sac, though.

  5. I wouldn't enter that line unless forced to do so (I'm just a lowly "club level" player), and I suspect even master-level players (generally 2200-2400 USCF) wouldn't do it either without massive preparation. That kind of preparation IS just one of the reasons why Caruana and Nakamura are called SUPER GRANDMASTERS!