Sunday, March 05, 2017

Augmented immobility

You might have noticed the past weeks, that I augmented the term immobility. I discriminate between:
  • Limited mobility due to lack of space
  • Limited mobility due to function 
  • Limited mobility due to lack of time
Usually the term limited  mobility is associated with immobility due to lack of space solely. The
trapped piece and the mated king are examples of lack of space.

Lasker added function as a cause of immobility. If you loose a piece when you move a defender, you cannot really move that defender, albeit it is allowed by the rules. The defender has limited mobility due to its function.

I extended the term immobility with limited mobility due to lack of time. This means that all duplo attacks fall under this description. If you must save two pieces but you have only time to save one, the other piece remains on the board as if it is frozen.

Augmented immobility
This augmented immobility as I defined it, comprises almost every possible technique you can throw at your opponent. All 30 or so tactical themes, and all 30 or so types of mate. I hypothesize that you can't find a combination that is not based on this augmented immobility. Or maybe you can, but at least the bulk of the problems at CT has this augmented immobility at its very core.

There is of course a reason for that. In a balanced chess game, there are always several answers possible to any move. To any attacking move. A combination is by definition not balanced. A combination works, due to the fact that the options of your opponent are limited, one way or another. These limitations are always based on augmented immobility.

Sitting ducks
This means, that for a combination, you must identify the sitting ducks. Flying ducks have to much options to circumvent an attack. I have analyzed dozens of positions of CT lately, and sofar I haven't been able to falsify this hypothesis.

Augmented immobility


  1. Tempo and all, Are there any places which has 5 x 5 tactics are available online ? - similar to the CT-Art 5x5 helping screens? I have some from one of Blokhs books that I made into flashcards but would like to add some more to my training.
    Thanks, Jim Takchess

  2. Blokh is the only source of these 5x5 tactics as far as i know. There are already several hundreds of them, that should be enough. You may try to find the right 5x5 tactic for any given chesstempo-puzzle and if you cant find any you just simplify the ct-puzzle and make your own set of new 5x5 tactics.
    Might be interesting to write a computerprogram for that simplication.

    1. AOX, When doing the 7 circles I found his 600 positions book and made flash cards of 5 x 5s. I am purposely making mistakes in a Ct-art to see if I there are some in the program that arent in the book. I agree a distiller program to 5 x 5 would be cool

  3. Sorry, other things going on at my place; my special needs granddaughter has been here for three days and she gets highest priority over anything and everything while she is here.

    Lasker: "The most usual of all motifs is the weakness of a piece of little or no mobility. . . . To name this motif, let us emphasize the two ideas underlying it: the idea of superior force at a given point and that of immobility. What is immobile must suffer violence. . . . Let us name it the motif of encircling, since in this term the two ideas of violence and of immobility are blended."

    I think we often are "blinkered" (similar to the blinders placed on horses to keep them from seeing anything other than what is directly in front of them) by our hasty generalizations of the unwritten "rules". We see an example of "immobility" (usually in terms of a piece that cannot move legally because of lack of space) and we assume that we understand the concept in all of its ramifications. As you point out, there are other causes for immobility - WHICH WE OFTEN NEVER RECOGNIZE, MUCH LESS INTERNALIZE. We often cannot "see" these other causes because they do not originate in the formal rules of the game and they are conceptual, not visual. The geometrical motif, for example, IS visual: one follows the LoAs from a piece to the edge of the board, and observes the potential target(s)/interactions available. The extensions of the geometrical motif, such as the intersection motif and the obstruction motif, are conceptual and logically based on and derived from the geometrical motif, thereby being "invisible". The same is true of the Function motif and the immobility of at least one of the targets due to a duplo attack. (Perhaps it seems "obvious" in hindsight, but it is NOT "obvious" until someone realizes it and points it out. Weteschnik's "reloader" is an example.)

    I think this may be where most of our difficulties lie in gaining skill as adults. We "see" the obvious, grab a bite to eat, and then move on to the next spot of "road kill" without tearing every bit of meat off of that specific carcass, picking the bones clean so that there is nothing else that can be learned regarding that specific concept. We consume chess knowledge as if at a smorgasbord: a taste of this, a smidgen of that, and we think we are capable of playing with the GMs. What is somewhat surprising is that we often don't stop to think about how superficial our grasp of concepts really is!

    As we penetrate deeper and deeper into the chess "secrets" (always moving from the concrete visible ideas toward the abstract invisible ideas), we gain in skill. For example, consider Nimzovich's concept of blockade. It is drop-dead obvious to stick something (anything!) in front of a Pawn to make it immobile. However, the ramifications of that lead ever deeper into the concept of restraint, which is anything but "obvious."

    I note one of your previous posts was about simply observing the existence of the various PLF components, without trying to work out a specific solution to a problem as quickly as possible. IMHO, this type of work has the potential to provide the greatest gain in long-term skill. It certainly has paid off quite nicely for me as I slowly incorporate and utilize these concepts you have articulated so well.


  4. The three types of immobility are at the same time the three types of nebula's which obscure the current position. Our superficial view shows us the pieces, and our internalized knowledge of the chess rules tells us where they can go. But the pieces can be less mobile than we think they are.

    Immobility due to lack of space is obscured by our difficulty to see the aura's of the pieces. We think our knight can go there, and according to the rules it can, but since we loose it because the square is covered by the enemy, it cannot.

    Immobility due to function is obscured by our difficulty to see the obligations of a piece. We think our knight can go there, and according to the rules it can, but since we loose the piece the knight was protecting, it cannot.

    Immobility due to lack of time is obscured by our difficulty to see a square as a potential attacking square. We think our knight can go there, and according to the rules it can, but since we loose the knight due to a pawn fork, it cannot.

    From these three, immobility due to function is the hardest to see. Hence it gives us the most chances when we see it while our opponent does not.

    Without at least one of the three immobilities, there can be no combination.

  5. Ok. Guilty as charged. Here is my low chess rated thoughts on the subject. It use to be fashionable to see chess elements as Larry Evans wrote :Time, Space, Material and he added later pawn structure. Those things, though maybe not pawn structure, can be interchangeable . The idea of a gambit and an exchange of material for space and time is to me a very fascinating topic. From tactics, I do tend to see when a queen is in a limited space and start to calculate her possible capture. I often miss the immobility caused by an opponents piece which captures a piece that I could sacrifice and the immobility due to function. The rook that captures the piece that captured the bishop can't move diagonally. ( obvious but not always seen). Also would you say lack of development is a type of immobility? Perhaps it is more of a cause.

    1. "Also would you say lack of development is a type of immobility?"

      As long as I'm so terrible bad at tactics, I consider it to be too early to speculate about opening or positional play. I feel that that is outright silly. But that has never stopped me, so I will give it a try.

      The only way to try to control a chess game is by changing the augmented immobility of both yours and your opponents pieces. Improve the augmented mobility of your own pieces, and decrease the augmented mobility of your opponent. Since there are three types of immobility, there must me three types of moves to accomplish that:

      Moves that deny your opponents pieces space.
      Moves that saddle your opponents pieces with duties (function).
      Moves that cover attacking squares (time).

      These are the type of moves you are looking for in the opening. This should guide your positional play. Since only augmented immobility can force matters in the direction you want. Without augmented immobility, no force can be applied. Only augmented immobility can make that your opponent runs out of options when under attack.

    2. I will need to mull over this a little. In your journey, have you come to conclusions about deflections/interceptions. When to look for .. perhaps a future post.

  6. I found confirmation by mister Lasker of my thoughts above:

    "Another example concerns the way in which conclusions are drawn from examples. You must not draw too general a conclusion from too few examples. Unfortunately, this error is made far and wide."

    Guilty as charged, sir!

  7. @ takchess:

    New Ideas in Chess, GM Larry Evans, Paperback Reprint 1969, $1.45 is my tattered and worn copy. It now retails for $14.95 on Amazon, so I've had it for many, many years. I enjoyed it just as much as GM Richard Réti's tomes: Masters of the Chessboard and Modern Ideas in Chess, which I no longer have. Interesting historical vignettes illustrating the various historical "schools" (Pre-Morphy, Morphy and the Romantics [an early rock group - JUST KIDDING!], Steinitz and the Classicists, Réti and the Hypermoderns, Technicians of the Neo-Classical School, and the Eclectics (which includes the Soviet School and the Post-Moderns - if it works, DO IT!). Pawn Structure, Force, Space and Time are each given a chapter filled with pithy sayings and illustrations with a lot of positions from Evans' games (although not exclusively).

    An earlier (much earlier) book with similar ideas (is there ANYTHING really new under the sun?!?) is E. A. Znosko-Borovky's The Middle Game in Chess, first published in 1938(!). My copy is the 1965 reprint (4th edition?). He categorizes the "material" basis of chess as the elements Space, Time and Force. I learned how to count each of these elements statically and how to gain a general impression of a position based on them. I never did learn how to effectively conduct the "inner analysis" of a position; it seemed just like calculation to me.

    A more recent examination of the same static ideas is NM Dan Heisman's Elements of Positional Evaluation: How the Pieces Get Their Power. In addition to a considerable number of typos in the 4th Edition and some lines that mister Fritz thought could be improved significantly, I found the categorization of material, space, king safety and development as "pseudo-elements" to be - interesting. I had a private email exchange with mister Heisman regarding the large number of errors and some of his notions - which did not go very well. As an example, he "evaluates" the "speed" of a knight to be the square root of 5, obtained by taking the two legs of the knight's move (1 square and then 2 squares, or vice versa), squaring them, adding this result and then taking the square root of that result as the "speed" of the knight in moving across the board. I readily acknowledge mister Heisman as my superior in both chess playing and chess pedagogy, but IMHO, this is a bizarre notion. It takes a purely Euclidean geometrical viewpoint and tries to apply it to the chessboard. I find it even more bizarre that he begins his "elucidation" of this viewpoint with the famous Réti 1922 endgame study, which conclusively demonstrates that the chessboard does NOT follow the rules of Euclidean geometry. If these idiosyncrasies are ignored, then the rest of the book is (somewhat) useful.

    The problem I have with these presentations of general concepts is that the concepts are insufficiently concrete. It's all well and good to have an advantage in material, for example, and to realize that [IN GENERAL] trading down is a good idea, but there are way too many "exceptions" to make it useful for analysis of a specific position. The same is true for a Space advantage or a Time advantage.

    I really like the direction that Temposchlucker has taken with the PLF system and other insights regarding things such as the initiative and immobility. It helps to "zero in" on the critical aspects of a specific position. It does not "solve" chess but it provides much needed guidance for how to approach finding the right idea(s) and the potential moves that take advantage of those idea(s). It also assists in "looking" much farther into the future than is usually the case. Or, as Aox pointed out, generally it is a discussion of how to recognize weaknesses. Either way, I'm quite happy with what I've learned so far.

  8. Robert, short window of time here. But need to add Masters of the Chessboard is a personal favorite having played through many of the games on a pocket chess set 15 years ago.