Friday, April 21, 2017

Building the system

We made a quantum leap in understanding Tals adage in the previous post. His adage is based on hanging pieces, and I didn't realize how important that is. Despite I have postulated that in earlier posts, where I made a distinction between action moves and postponement moves (although I didn't call them action moves back then). Only now I start to appreciate how this distinction prunes the tree of analysis drastically. Postponement moves don't alter the outcome of the combination. They just postpone it. Postponement moves are normal moves on a tit for tat basis. A CCT-move followed by an answer in order to neutralize. The normal moves don't need calculation. We must be aware of the special moves. The moves with a duple function. Since they do change the outcome of the combination.

The tour the force I am trying to accomplish, is to merge the plf system with Tals adage. To that end I am going to investigate a few positions of which I think it should be possible to unearth their simplicity, although they now lead to failure or enormous time consumption. The goal is not to solve the position, but to bring the necessary logical reasoning in accordance with Tals adage.

Tals adage is limited to hanging pieces. Can it be extended to mate positions?

Diagram 1 black to move
2r3k1/5ppp/p7/1prRq3/4n3/P1N1P2P/1P3PP1/2RQ2K1 b - - 0 1

points of pressure c1; c3; d5
The most juicy point of pressure is c1. Is does not only contain a fat rook, it is the entry point to the line of attack  c1 - g1, where a duplo attack (pinning the queen to the king is waiting to be exploited.

lines of attack c-file

Knight defends c1 and d5
Queen defends c1 and d5
Both pieces are overloaded, since they can only perform one of their function while neglecting the other.

Counter attack chances
Black must prevent the entry of white to the line of attack 8th rank

Sofar for the initial scan of the position
The sitting duck is the white knight. It cannot move due to Rxc1.
This means that Rd5 is outnumbered. But how to take? Normally you would take the lowest rated piece, and normally that would work, but here it gives white a counter attack by entering the line of attack to the black king.

1. ... Rxd5 2.Nxd5 Rxc1 3.Qxc1 gives white access to the 8th rank

So 1. ... Qxd5 is the move. Normally you wouldn't use the highest valued piece for the capture. But since c1 is the entry point to the line of attack against the white queen and king, the black queen can be regained under all circumstances.

To link this to the adage of Tal would lead to a rather far stretched and artificial sounding explanation. Yet my gut feeling tells me that there is a connection. Just give me some time to gather my faint thoughts.


  1. An instructive position, which I had been looking at off and on this am. What I determined is what ever move is made white cannot be allowed to play Rd8+ because after that white regains the initiative with a mate or up a queen . So either a communication interference move like Nd2 (doesn't work) so outright taking of the rook is needed. I think the queen takes works because it stays in the sidelines if it doesn't get in the d file with the tempo of take and a rook times d5 opens up the c file where white can reach the 8th rank on 1 tempo playing RXR check . Interested to seeing what you will find as stacks of major pieces in opposition are challenging positions.

  2. I solved this position within 3 seconds! :D. It is hard to believe how I found the best move. You probably will not believe it! Try to make some guessing before I reveal it! I think masters can guess this way, too :D

    1. If I could guess how you did it, I probably would be able to do it myself in 3 seconds. Okay, my guess then, you already solved the same exercise before breakfast.

    2. No, I did not solve this exercise before. I simply got the necessary info and the solution came like a lightning from a blue! After I got the idea the solution was OBVIOUS (even if at first it looks "impossible" or "insane").

      The piece of info I got was this: "...What I determined is what ever move is made white cannot be allowed to play Rd8+ because after that white regains the initiative with a mate or up a queen". (look at takechess post above).

      At first I was looking at "complex" tree of variations and I was really confused. After I got the hint (from takechess) I DID NOT count any single complex tree of variations. It was like executing mate in 1 with an empty board.

    3. That is how it works, according to my observations. We already have a fully fledged unconscious system in place that only needs to be ignited. Here, the spark was ignited by Takchess. It guided your attention in the right direction.

      That is what the plf system is about. It is supposed to guide your attention in the right direction.

      Apparently, we have worked on our unconscious system, the past decade. Now we have to work on our attention.

      We are very good at finding our keys. Now we have to learn to look in the study room and not in the garage.

  3. Its a race to get to the opponent,s first rank and its important for blacks rook to remain doubled to support it
    On C1 to delay an incursion on the c8 .

  4. 1928.9 - Approximately 6 minutes to convince myself that I had "seen" the right solution and not overlooked anything. One of the things I am learning (slowly) is to trust my intuition more. I still want absolute clarity (if possible) when calculating, mainly because I have always felt that I calculate so poorly.

    The "key" (for me) was to "see" the LoA of the two Black Rooks on the White Rook at c1. That triggered the realization that the White Knight at c3 is relatively pinned. That in turn changed the power relationship on d5 from (2:2) in the given position to (1:2). The rest of my time (after that realization finally sank in) was spent deciding whether Black should capture with the Rook or the Queen on d5. Since I had already "seen" the potential impact on c1, I opted for 1. ... Qxd5. White is now forced to recapture on d5. 2. NxQd5 opens up some apparent possibilities on e7; 2. ... Rxc1 snuffs out the counterplay because the White Queen is absolutely pinned. After 3. Ne7+ Kf1, White is stuck between 4. QxRc1 RxQc1+ and 4. NxRc8 RxQd1+. After the alternative 2. QxQd5 RxQd5 (forced) 3. NxRd5 (forced) RxRc1+ White is down a Rook. So, it looks like 1. ... QxRd5 2. QxQd5 RxQd5 3. NxRd5 RxRc1+ may be the main line solution (and it was, when I checked it).

    I spilled too much time initially looking at the consequences of 1. ... NxNc3 before rejecting it, after realizing the potential LoA on c1. At this point, I must still consciously remind myself to work with the PLF system FIRST, but I am improving at it. I expect (eventually) that the PLF stuff will just "pop" into "sight" without having to think about it. The Tal idea is going to take more time and lots more examples to grind into System 1.

    (Hopefully, I haven't screwed up any of the analysis while writing it down.)

  5. @ Temposchlucker:

    Tals adage is limited to hanging pieces. Can it be extended to mate positions?

    Please clarify/elaborate on what you are looking for here. Thanks!

    1. The hanging pieces are decisive. The pieces that are only under attack but well defended are not. Tals adage guides our attention to the pieces that matter.

      Just like a hanging piece does matter, a back rank where you can be mated does matter.

      What does matter in this position? c1, d5 and the 8th rank. The characteristics of these 3 elements decide the game. The other pieces are just bystanders. They don't alter the outcome of the game. In a worst case scenario, they can delay the outcome, but they cannot prevent it.

      But to make this hypothesis work, we have to change the definition of Tals hanging pieces a bit. Sometimes it is not clear right away whether a piece is hanging or not. We call them B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended) pieces. Why is this useful to know? You describe that you devoted a lot of attention to the capture of Nxc3. If you had known that d5 and c1 were B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended), and that you had to prevent the entrance to your back rank, you would have saved time.

    2. Excellent point again! :). I really like it Tempo! :)

      "What does matter in this position? c1, d5 and the 8th rank. The characteristics of these 3 elements decide the game..."

      I do not like to make it more complex, but I want to share what I noticed. Of course the specific squares matters, but there is ALWAYS an idea (or ideas) behind the moves/squares!

      Why the squares matters? Ideas Explanations by Tomasz ;)

      1) C1 matters as it is attacked twice and defended once, but what's more important it is the OPEN line! (there is no pawn at the c-file!). Try to imagine what would it be if we add white c2-pawn. Did you notice the difference?

      2) D5 matters as it is the place where you have "a piece attacked twice and defended twice". However please have a look at the centralized Rook's defenders! They are the Queen that has TWO functions (defending Rc1 and Rd5) and the Knight that has ONE important function (to cover the X-ray attack against Rc1).

      3) 8th rank really matters as there are HEAVY pieces on the board (otherwise the idea disapppears!) and they are in the OPEN d-line. Have a look at White heavy pieces and the open d-line (Qd1+Rd5). They created the battery that Black must be aware of (otherwise he is mated or loses material).

      And what does the solution to the functions and ideas hidden inside the position?

      1) QxRd5! - it destroys the battery, - ask which pieces is going to leave it's duty (function!)

      a) if it is the Knight (1...NxQ) then RxR pinning the undefended Queen and there is no defence against the winning line. It is because the Queen and the King stands on the SAME horizontal line - otherwise white could have make some counterplay.

      b) if it is the Queen (1...QxQ) then RxQ shows excellent job of both Black rooks standing in an OPEN file! Why is that? It is because after this move: - the Rc1 is not defended, - the other Rook (c8) attacks the undefended Rook (c1) with the X-ray. And this way if NxR then we have RxR+ and white is winning again.

      I am absolutely convinced that with a VERY well coordinated pieces that fullfil their functions in a perfect way - we have a big chance to win material. Actually it is ALWAYS the weakness at the opponent's side. This time it was overloading motif, but it could not have been exploited if the elements I have described about were not present (most often they are open lines).

      I am not sure, but I probably started understanding your LOA concept (this time 'open line') with my own searching for "chess truth" ;) :). Let me know what do you think about this findings and commentary.

  6. Aagaard makes an analogy to a power play in hockey. the more active pieces in the attack vs your opponent in the fighting area scores the win.

  7. 1...RxR caught my eye right way, and was convinced it was winning within two minutes, but then spent up to another two minutes just making sure there wasn't anything better, since the easiness of it almost felt like a trick.

    Looking at a position, I think #1 is the material assessment, #2 is loose pieces, and future loose pieces, #3 is how are both sides controlling the center (?)

  8. I'm sorry, I meant to say 1...QxRd5. I was never confused by the relative value of the pieces as to which line was winning, could basically tell well within half a minute.

  9. off topic but should be of interest to some.

  10. PART I:

    As I’ve thought about your insight regarding Tal’s dictum [“They can only take them one at a time!"], something kept “tickling” the back of my mind in an intuitive sort of way. For some reason, I could not bring it up into consciousness until now.

    You paraphrased Tal’s quote as:

    "Both you and your opponent can take only one hanging piece at the time."

    Your differentiation of moves into two categories [normal or postponement moves versus special or action moves] captures the essence of it. Normal CCT moves resolve on a tit-for-tat (one-for-one) basis. Only special moves involving duple (multi-function) moves cannot be resolved one-for-one.

    The important thing is to “see” the difference, similarly to “seeing” the Function(s) of the individual pieces.
    The “tickle” at the back of my mind was something I read in GM Rowson’s Chess for Zebras: Thinking DIFFERENTLY about Black and White:

    pg 71:

    Eliminate the move BUT don’t eliminate the idea. The move and the idea are not the same thing. If the move doesn’t work immediately, set it aside, but retain the idea that suggested the move.

    pp 89-90:


    I made a passing reference to the importance of NOT confusing moves and ideas. This is a common error in chess, and one of the things that makes the game so difficult. You think about something conceptually and decide it is not in your favor in general, but then things change slightly and suddenly, and in the slightly changed circumstances, it becomes good. We often fail to adjust because in the process of rejecting a move, we WRONGLY throw out a whole idea.

    Pg 91-92:

    Confusing moves and ideas is commonplace at almost every level of chess, but at lower levels I have noticed a related error that can be quite shocking at times. [THIS IS MY “TICKLE”!] This is when a player thinks NOT of individual moves, White/Black, White/Black, etc., but rather in chunks of moves White//White/White Black/Black/Black, with the two not really integrating. One way to describe this is to compare it to the difference between atoms (individual entities), and molecules (made up of a few different atoms).

  11. PART II:

    He gives an example from a game by one of his students, Daniel Vanheirzeele.

    FEN: 2rn1rk1/pp1bqppp/3p4/2pPp3/3PP3/6P1/PP1QNPBP/2R2RK1 w - - 0 15

    Black’s last move was 14. … c7-c5, giving White the option of two different captures on the c-file. Daniel Vanheirzeele, playing White, now made a big mistake, squandering the bulk of his advantage, but he did so for highly instructive reasons.

    15. dxc6?

    I asked Daniel if he considered changing the structure by 15. dxc5! dxc5, but he said that he barely considered it. He “SAW” that Black could play …b6, …Nb7 and …Nd6, when he will have a nice position. Daniel is rated around 2250, but I consider him stronger than that. In any case, he plays at a level where this sort of mistaken reasoning should not occur.
    He is right that IF Black gets those THREE(!) moves in, then he will have a good position. BUT it is WHITE’s move! When I first saw 14. … c5 my emotional reaction was that it was a mistake, because it allowed a structure that would normally be in White’s favor. I also felt that Black was temporarily disorganized and White should have a way to strike before Black can sort himself out. This is indeed the case after 16. Qa5! a6 17 Qb6!, when White retains the initiative and Black has no clear path to equality. The active approach doesn’t seem to help: 17. … Bb5 18. Rfe1 f5 19. exf5 Rf6 20. Qa5 b6 21 Qd2 and White keeps control.

    I think there is a connection there between Tal’s dictum and the fact that I sometimes can easily “see” the sequences of several “moves” for one or both players, but isolated from the normal sequence of alternating moves. The problem I have is “splicing” the moves together into the proper White/Black, White/Black, etc. sequence. This might provide a "clue" as to how to integrate the ideas together in a broader context.

  12. @Robert, I feel less lonely now you have seen the light too ;)

    The core idea of the combination is always based on one of the three types of immobilization, space, time or function. It must be. Only then you can be sure that the sitting duck will still be sitting there when all postponement moves are dealt with. As Margriet and I use to say when a postponement move is played, "the problem remains".

  13. This means that it possible to predict whether a combination might be present. No sitting duck, no combination.

  14. Nice comments. Keeping multiple thoughts alive is a challenge in Otb play. It would be a different game if one could take notes during tournament play. I think there is a role for mnemonics here and have toyed around with some ideas. I do like the image of a sitting duck and as i like to call it Poppa Loa fun .... it reminds me of an old song papa o mow mow . Thinking there is a place for pragmatic actions that keep one from one final thought before moves. Kids sitting on their hands, putting a cap on your pen, turning over your score sheet. Rules of thumb : think twice before putting queen in line with your king. Etc.

  15. ......