Friday, December 15, 2017

For daily use


  1. ehhh... a little off topics

    The relationship between cognitive ability and chess skill:
    A comprehensive meta-analysis

  2. FEN: 1r1q1rk1/p2bppbp/3p1np1/4n3/3NP1P1/2N1BP2/PPPQ3P/1K1R1B1R b - - 0 1

    Zhuravliov-Koskin, USSR 1963 (Unable to find the game score in a database)

    I am continuing to work on the scheme outlined above, in the context of solving problems from the excellent book Fundamental Checkmates, Antonio Gude. See page 94 for this position.

    When I looked at the position, something struck me as an insight based on the outlined procedure given above. When we look at PoPs and LoAs, often times we "see" B.A.D. pieces. However, we often don't extend that knowledge to include other pieces that may be masked (sometimes obscured beyond reasonable pattern recognition).

    In the given position, I immediately noticed that the Black Rook at b8 "attacks" the White Pawn at b2, which in turn is "defended" by the White King at b1. So, the b2 square is B.A.D. However, when I "looked" again, I "saw" that the Black Bishop on g7 is also "attacking" b2 - albeit through the two Black Knights (on f6 and e5) and one of the White Knights (on c3). Given the potential "superiority" on b2, it then triggered a look to "see" if the Black Bishop and Black Rook can "combine" in the "attack on b2. Using Capablanca's idea of just shifting the appropriate pieces as needed without the usual calculation of moves, it became "obvious" (on some level) that the two Black Knights and the White Knight COULD be "moved" via threats.

    The first threat is a capture on f3 with 1. ... Nxf3! This threatens White's Queen on d2, so it seems "obvious" to recapture: 2. Nxf3. Black follows up with 2. ... Nxe4. White responds with 3. Nxe4 and miraculously, the line of the Black Bishop on g7 is now cleared.

    Another background consideration is the idea that Black can sacrifice the Black Rook on b8 and immediately "reload" the same effect with the Black Queen. So, 3. ... Rxb2! Taking the Rook with 4. Kxb2 allows the Black Queen to come into play with tempo (check), so White tries to sidestep into at least temporary safety with 4. Kc1. But Black can force the King back into the line of fire with 4. ... Rb1+! 5. Kxb1. Black then brings the Queen into play with check 5. ... Qb8+ and White is mated after .

    My point is NOT about solving this particular problem but gives an example of how efficacious the idea is of extending the "line of attack" from each line-moving piece across the board, REGARDLESS OF OBSTACLES IN THE LINE OF ATTACK in the current position.

    I'm making progress with this "visualization" idea, because it popped into "sight" as soon as I looked at the position.

  3. I often get an "itch" when I take the "obvious" road when analyzing. In the analysis above, that occurred after this statement:

    "The first threat is a capture on f3 with 1. ... Nxf3! This threatens White's Queen on d2, so it seems "obvious" to recapture: 2. Nxf3." Is there an alternative to helping Black force mate? Where there is life, there is always hope!

    So, I loaded up GM Stockfish and left him to analyze over night. He did not make the "obvious" move 2. Nxf3. What a surprise - NOT.

    New game
    1r1q1rk1/p2bppbp/3p1np1/4n3/3NP1P1/2N1BP2/PPPQ3P/1K1R1B1R b - - 0 1

    Analysis by Stockfish DD 64 SSE4.2:

    1. -+ (-2.22): 1...Nxf3 2.Qf2 Bxg4 3.Nb3 Ne5 4.Rd4 Rc8 5.h3 Bf3 6.Bg2 Bxg2 7.Qxg2 Nc4 8.Rd3 Nxe3 9.Rxe3 Nd7 10.Qg3 Qc7 11.Rf1 e6 12.h4 Ne5 13.Ka1 Qb7 14.Qf4 f5 15.Ree1 fxe4
    2. = (0.00): 1...Rxb2+ 2.Kxb2 Nxf3 3.Qd3 Ne5 4.Qd2 Nf3
    3. +/= (0.56): 1...h5 2.g5 Nxf3 3.Qf2 Qa5 4.Nb3 Rxb3 5.axb3 Nxg5 6.Qe1 Nf3 7.Qe2 Ne5 8.h3 Rb8 9.Rd4 Bc6 10.Bg2 Rb6 11.Na4 Rb7 12.Bd2 Qc7 13.Nc3 Bd7 14.Rd1 Qc5 15.Be3 Qc7 16.R1d2 Kf8 17.Nd5
    4. +/- (0.80): 1...Qc7 2.Be2 Rfc8 3.Nb3 Be6 4.h4 h5 5.g5 Nfd7 6.Bd4 a5 7.f4 Nc4 8.Bxc4 Bxd4 9.Qxd4 Bxc4 10.Rh2 Rb4 11.a3 Rb7 12.f5 Ne5 13.Nd2 Bd3 14.cxd3 Qxc3 15.Qxc3 Rxc3 16.fxg6
    5. +/- (0.82): 1...Qb6 2.b3 Qb7 3.Be2 Rfc8 4.h4 Qb4 5.Nd5 Nxd5 6.exd5 Qb7 7.h5 Qxd5 8.hxg6 hxg6 9.Ba6 Nc4 10.Bxc4 Qxc4 11.Qh2 e5 12.Qh7+ Kf8 13.Bh6 Bxh6 14.Qxh6+ Ke8 15.Qg5 Be6 16.Rh8+ Kd7 17.Rxc8 Qxc8 18.Nxe6 Kxe6 19.Qd2
    6. +/- (0.94): 1...d5 2.b3 dxe4 3.g5 Nh5 4.Nxe4 a5 5.Qe1 Qc7 6.Qc3 Rfc8 7.Qxc7 Rxc7 8.Ba6 a4 9.Rhe1 Nc4 10.Bc1 axb3 11.axb3 Ne5 12.Be3 Ra8 13.Be2 Nc6
    7. +/- (1.03): 1...Qc8 2.Be2 Qb7 3.b3 Rfc8 4.h4 Qb4 5.Nd5 Nxd5 6.exd5 Qb7 7.h5 Qxd5 8.hxg6 hxg6 9.Ba6 Nc4 10.Bxc4 Qxc4 11.Qh2 e5 12.Qh7+ Kf8 13.Bh6 Bxh6 14.Qxh6+ Ke8 15.Qg5 Be6 16.Rh8+ Kd7 17.Rxc8 Qxc8 18.Nxe6 Kxe6 19.Qd2
    8. +/- (1.11): 1...a5 2.Be2 a4 3.h4 Qc8 4.h5 Nc4 5.Bxc4 Qxc4 6.a3 Rfc8 7.Ka1 d5 8.hxg6 hxg6 9.g5
    9. +/- (1.17): 1...Be6 2.Be2 Qc8 3.h4 Bc4 4.Ka1 Qb7 5.Nb3 Qa6 6.Bxc4 Nxc4 7.Qe2 Nd7 8.Bd4 Bxd4 9.Rxd4 Rfc8 10.Nd5 Kf8 11.Ne3 Rb4 12.Nxc4 Ra4 13.h5 g5 14.a3 Ne5 15.Nbd2 Nxc4 16.Nxc4
    10. +/- (1.37): 1...Rb4 2.Be2 Qb8 3.Nb3 Be6 4.Nd5 Bxd5 5.exd5 Rc8 6.h4 h5 7.g5 Ne8 8.c3 Nc4 9.Bxc4 Rbxc4 10.Bd4 Bxd4 11.Nxd4 Rxc3 12.Nc6 R8xc6 13.dxc6 Rxc6 14.Rhe1 e6 15.Rc1 Rxc1+ 16.Rxc1
    11. +- (1.49): 1...Re8 2.Be2 Qc7 3.Nb3 Qb7 4.g5 Nh5 5.Bd4 a5 6.Nd5 Nc6 7.Bxg7 Nxg7 8.a4 Ne6 9.Bb5 Nc7 10.c4 Qa7 11.Nd4 Nxd4 12.Qxd4 Qxd4 13.Rxd4 Ne6 14.Bxd7 Nxd4 15.Bxe8 Rxe8 16.f4 Kg7 17.Rd1 Nf3

    (Coble, Asheboro, NC 10.02.2018)

    Black still has a significant (winning?) advantage, but White is still playing, which is an important factor when playing against flesh and blood. This illustrates an important principle: make it as hard for your opponent as possible; don't just throw in the towel and make moves that allow the opponent to get what he wants. Or, in the immortal words of GM Tartakower:

    "The mistakes are there, waiting to be made. No one ever won a game by resigning."

  4. GM Stockfish is now Super Super Super GM Stockfish 9 with new improved Elo..

  5. @ Aox:

    Thanks for the update notice. I downloaded Stockfish 9 x64 (1 CPU) version and installed it into my Fritz 11 program. Might as well have a 3391 Elo engine analyzing instead of Fritz 11 at 2853 Elo. In reality, it doesn't make any difference whatsoever WRT to MY playing skill: a 2853 GM can bust me just as easily as a 3391 GM.

  6. its not only about strength.. its about speed. engines gain ~~~40 elos by doubling the time for the calculation.
    So if you analyse your game with fritz and give the engine say 100 sec per move it would be better to give stockfish 1 sec for each move to get informations of better quality.
    I analyse every game i play with an engine and modify my opening repertoir according to this. Additionaly i use my errors for my spaced repetition trainingsset. With a strong engine its ok to give it 1 sec per move.. i dont have to wait to play my next game.

  7. doing some Ct-art level 20-30 problems and thinking specifically about pins.So I am looking at this search . Thinking out loud there are pins where you pileup on, pinned pieces where mate occur on the pinned piece , pins where the pin piece can perform a function such as protect a piece or cant move to block a check, or pinned piece negatively blockades the power (LOA,movement protection ) of a piece behind it. There are also a pin tactics where a piece is decoyed to a position so a pin can be created. So with pins you pile up on, you dance on the head of them , or you create them.

  8. A pin is generally considered to be a tactical element. Yet Nimzovich considered a pin to be one of the elements of his "system" of strategy.

    My System, 7. The Pin: "After the difficult sixth chapter [6. The Elements of End Game Strategy], difficult at any rate in the positional sense, the present one may appear very easy. And the question may perhaps be asked, whether the pinned piece can really be spoken of as an element in our sense, since a game may be laid out on the basis of an open file or a passed Pawn, but surely never of a pin! This point of view we cannot share. True, pins as a rule occur in purely tactical moments as, for instance, in the pursuit of the fleeing enemy; on the other hand, however, a pin foreseen in the planning of a game may quite logically influence its whole course.

    In another context [2. On Open Files], Nimzovich discusses the "evolutionary" and the "revolutionary" attacks. The "evolutionary" attack concerns the concentration of force against one point, in order eventually to get superior forces to bear on it or through thinning the pin defenders' ranks by exchange. The "revolutionary" attack dispenses with a slow buildup of pressure against a point, relying instead on sacrifices and tactics to gain an objective.

    Nimzovich prescribes the approach to be taken: "In what chronological order are these two methods of attack to be employed? The answer is this:—First try the converging attack, i.e., attack the obstructing Pawn with several pieces; by doing so opportunity may be fond to force the defending pieces into uncomfortable positions where they will get into one another's way: for the defense will often be cramped for space. Afterwards, see whether among other things there is a possibility of a break through by force, in other words of a revolutionary attack.

    A pin that persists over several moves with increasing pressure on the pinned piece (with possible thinning of the defenders' ranks) exemplifies the evolutionary attack (strategy), whereas the tactical utilization of a pin exemplifies the revolutionary attack (tactics). At least, that's my understanding of the difference.

    I really like your summary: "So with pins you pile up on, you dance on the head of them, or you create them." It's succinct and thus easy to remember, like Temposchlucker's PoPLoAFun formulation.

  9. chess-ability = chess learning speed?

    based on this paper: i am now studying strategy 3.0 , my learning speed is way slower than the lerning speed of these 2200 rated players.. ( i am a elo 1900 )
    We know : better player can solve chesspuzzle quicker than than worse player; a player rated 100-200 elopoints higher, is twice as fast at solving tactical puzzles.
    Solving a puzzle is a form of learning ( to understand ) the puzzle. As soon you have learned the dependencies complete and correctly.. you have found the solution. ( Here: learned = beeing aware of )
    The cognitive psychology is stressing the fact that better player have more and bigger chunks and i think these chunks help to learn chessreleted things quicker and these chunks had been created by learning chess.
    Looking at the chessability this way, makes the idea of learning to play blindfolded more should speed up any chesslearning a little. And even the method of the russian chess education : to learn endgames first makes some sense.

  10. Dear Tempo:

    You posted the article "Wrapping my head around the tree" (December 05, 2017). Can you tell us what are your discoveries since then and if you made some progress? I mean - can you (we) prove or check out how good your "system" is? Or maybe there are too many paths and the tactics cannot be categorized the way you (we) wish?

    BTW. Can you estimate when you are going to publish more articles? Just asking - no need to hurry or feel the pressure.

    1. I haven't made progress since I haven't studied chess lately. Life is picking up speed. It is hard to say when there is time again for chess study. But I will be back.

  11. Off topic:

    Has anyone been able to get on to Chess Tactics Server ( lately? I've been trying to connect for at least two weeks, and I always get an error message: "This site can’t be reached - took too long to respond ERR_CONNECTION_TIMED_OUT". I haven't found any explanation in comments elsewhere on the Web regarding the site's status.

    1. Bummer. The site was related to a German chess club, if I remember well. But I don't know which one.

    2. Site seem to be down..
      It was every now and then down for 1 or 2 days.. and we have a flu epidemic..

  12. I saw a post by old friend when I googled this. 8)

  13. Some interesting observations and comments

  14. Another interesting position:

    FEN: 4r1k1/1p3p2/p1q2p1p/2b2PrR/6P1/1P1P3Q/1P1B2RP/7K b - - 0 1

    (1000 Checkmate Combinations, Victor Henkan, No. 211, Amrein - Lummar, 1955)

    PoPLoAFun at its finest! Tracing out the LoA all the way to the edge of the board is a key concept.

    I got "stuck" trying to "trap" the White Queen. It seemed that if White availed himself of the Zwischenschach 2. Rxg5+, this would open up an escape route for the White Queen. Alas, after doing so, when there are three attacking pieces aimed at the King (the "three piece rule"), and the potential defenders are all somewhere else, it does not take long to figure out how to crash through the defenses.

  15. Hi Robert ,
    Couldnt get the pgn to work .but found the position here.,+1955&source=bl&ots=BEQv-0DEKZ&sig=UN_ANeetggTdZPBvG2V4krh_2gE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjc3L_jpdjZAhWh5YMKHZ1LCoUQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=Amrein%20-%20Lummar%2C%201955&f=false

    Ct-ART Checkmate Combinations
    which I havent seen uses Henkins book as a source so I suspect it is a nice piece of software.

  16. Hi Jim,

    I just copied the FEN from my post back into Fritz, with no problem. I did a search of the databases that I have access to, but couldn't find the game score. I suspect this was a correspondence game.

    I have the book, not the CT-ART Checkmate Combinations software.

  17. I worked on this with my librarys copy of the book. I saw the idea as to how the tactic must work but didnt solve it. My solution had the bishop on the third rank. So close...An excellent puzzle.

  18. FEN: 2r2rk1/1b2qppp/pp1ppb2/2n5/P2NPP2/2NPB1RQ/1P4PP/3R3K w - - 0 1

    Michalchishin v. Kozlov (1974)
    (1000 Checkmate Combinations, Victor Henkin, pg 168)

    Analysis by Stockfish 9 64 (I only copied the Stockfish 9 suggested moves that were at least = for White):

    1. +/= (0.49): 1.Nf3 g6 2.e5 Bg7 3.d4 Bxf3 4.Rxf3 Nb7 5.Ne4 Rc2 6.g4 f5 7.exf6 Bxf6 8.Nxf6+ Rxf6 9.d5 exd5 10.f5 Qe4 11.Kg1 Rc4 12.Rf4 Qc2 13.Qf3 Rxf4 14.Qxd5+ Rf7 15.Bxf4 Qc5+ 16.Kf1 Qxd5 17.Rxd5 Nc5 18.Bxd6 Nxa4 19.Be5 gxf5 20.Rd8+ Rf8 21.Rxf8+ Kxf8 22.gxf5 Kf7 23.Kf2

    2. = (0.21): 1.f5 Be5 2.Rf3 Rfe8 3.Qg4 Nd7 4.fxe6 fxe6 5.Rh3 Qf7 6.Nf3 Bf6 7.Kg1 d5 8.exd5 exd5 9.Ng5 Bxg5 10.Qxg5 Qg6 11.Qxg6 hxg6 12.Bf2 Nc5 13.Rg3 Re6 14.Rg5 Nb3 15.d4 Kf7 16.Bg3 Kf6 17.h4 Kf7 18.Bh2 Rh8 19.Be5 Rxh4 20.g3

    3. = (0.00): 1.Qg4 g6 2.f5 Rce8 3.Qh3 d5 4.exd5 exd5 5.Bg1 Qd6 6.Rf1 Bc8 7.Qh6 Bg7 8.Qh4 Bf6 9.Qh6

    4. = (0.00): 1.Qh6 Rc7 2.Qh3 Bh4 3.Rg4 Bf6 4.Rg3

    5. = (0.00): 1.Kg1 Bh4 2.Rf3 Bf6 3.Rg3

    6. = (0.00): 1.b4 Nd7 2.Nce2 Rfe8 3.Qh5 g6 4.f5 Bh4 5.Rg4 Bf6 6.Rg3

    7. = (0.00): 1.Bg1 Bh4 2.Rg4 Bf6 3.Rg3

    8. = (0.00): 1.Rg4 Rce8 2.b4 Nb3 3.Nde2 Bxc3 4.Nxc3 d5 5.Nxd5 Bxd5 6.exd5 f5 7.Rg3 exd5 8.Rb1 d4 9.Bg1 Nd2 10.Rd1 Nb3 11.Rb1

    9. = (0.00): 1.Rf3 g6 2.f5 exf5 3.Rg3 Kh8 4.exf5 Be5 5.Rg4 Bf6 6.Rg3

    10. = (0.00): 1.a5 bxa5 2.Nf3 Nd7 3.f5 exf5 4.Nd4 Bxd4 5.Bxd4 Ne5 6.Qxf5 Qe6 7.Qg5 g6 8.Rf1 f6 9.Qh4 Rf7 10.h3 Rcf8 11.Kh2 f5 12.Rf4 Qf6 13.Qh6 Qg7 14.Qh4 Qf6

    (Coble, Asheboro, NC 14.03.2018)

    This is the kind of problem that drives me crazy! I didn’t get anywhere near the proposed “solution” – and (surprisingly) neither did Stockfish 9! Once I “got” the first White and Black move, setting up the combination, I could then figure out the potential mating sequence.

    Here’s the “solution”:

    A typical sacrifice, the aim of which is the deflection of the e6 pawn and occupation of the f5 square. Now Black should play 1 … Bxd5, rejecting the dubious gift, but White’s combination is masked and Kozlov doesn’t unravel it. 1 … exd5? 2 Nf5 Qd8 3. Bxc5!. It is necessary to eliminate this knight so that it cannot travel via the e6 square to defend the king’s flank. 3 … Kh8. Only here did Black see that capturing on c5 with the rook or either pawn leads to a forced mate. For example: 3 … dxc5 4 Qh6 g6 5 Rh3 Re8 6 Wxh7+ Kf8 7 Qh8+! Bxh8 8 Rxh8#, and we have the familiar finish. Bxd6 dxe4 5 Qh5! Black resigned.

    I don’t see myself finding the move 1 Nd5! in a game.

  19. While searching for the game Michalchishin - Kozlov, I found the following PDF book:

    Link: The Method in Chess

    The Method in Chess by the famous trainer Iossif DORFMAN

    An interesting approach to a "method" for identifying and evaluating (correctly) critical positions. Lots of positions and games given with critical positions identified. It appears to be very advanced (relative to my level of understanding).

  20. Curioser and curioser: I let GM Stockfish 9 analyze overnight after 1 Nd5!. It seems that the recommended “bailout” (1 … Bxd5) is WORSE than the actually played 1 … exd5. Given the tactical prowess of GM Stockfish, it’s interesting to see the analysis. Even GM analysis may not answer all questions.

    What was Black's "critical error"?

    FEN: 2r2rk1/1b2qppp/pp1ppb2/2nN4/P2NPP2/3PB1RQ/1P4PP/3R3K b - - 0 1

    Analysis by Stockfish 9 64:

    1. =/+ (-0.55): 1...Bxd5 2.exd5 Bxd4 3.Bxd4 e5 4.fxe5 dxe5 5.Bg1 Rcd8 6.a5 Rxd5 7.axb6 Ne6 8.Qf5 Rb5 9.Rf1 Qd6 10.Qf6 Qd7 11.Qf5 f6 12.Rh3 g6 13.Qg4 f5 14.Qc4 Rxb2 15.Ra1 Rc8 16.Qxa6

    2. = (0.00): 1...exd5 2.Nf5 Qd7 3.Qh6 Kh8 4.Nxg7 Bxb2 5.Rb1 Bc3 6.Nf5 Qe6 7.Bd2 Bd4 8.Be3 Bc3

    3. +- (1.56): 1...Qd8 2.Nxf6+ Qxf6 3.Nf3 Bxe4 4.Bd4 Nxd3 5.Bxf6 Nf2+ 6.Kg1 Nxh3+ 7.gxh3 Bg6 8.Bc3 Rfd8 9.Nh4 Rc4 10.Rd4 d5 11.Rxc4 dxc4 12.Nxg6 hxg6 13.h4 Rd5 14.Kf2 b5 15.a5 Kf8 16.Ke2 Rd8 17.h5 gxh5

    (Coble, Asheboro, NC 15.03.2018)

  21. Robert , I will check this out in the book. thanks,
    Also an interesting game in the Candidates. A zillion checks by black.

  22. Thanks, Jim, for the reference to the Candidates game! I really liked the Black g5 move, opening up the White King to checking sequences. I would have never thought of that idea. That WAS a wild Queen ending!

    As for the position above, I put the position after 1 Nd5 exd5 into GM Stockfish 9 and got a single line winning for White:

    FEN: 2r2rk1/1b2qppp/pp1p1b2/2np4/P2NPP2/3PB1RQ/1P4PP/3R3K w - - 0 1

    Analysis by Stockfish 9 64:

    1. +- (3.00): 2.Nf5 Qe6 3.Qh6 Qxf5 4.exf5 Nd7 5.d4 Rfe8 6.Qh3 Bc6 7.b3 b5 8.axb5 Bxb5 9.Bg1 Bd8 10.Rc3 Rb8 11.Rdc1 Nf6 12.Rc8 Ba5 13.Rxb8 Rxb8 14.Qf3 Ne4 15.g4 Bd8 16.Bf2 h5 17.h3 Bd3 18.Be1 Bb5 19.Kg1 hxg4 20.hxg4 Bf6 21.Qd1 Re8 22.Kg2

    2. -+ (-4.67): 2.Rf1 Bxd4 3.Bxd4 f6 4.exd5 Bxd5 5.Qg4 Nxa4 6.h4 a5 7.Rf2 Nc5 8.Re2 Qf7 9.f5 Kh8 10.Qf4 Qd7 11.Kh2 b5 12.Rge3 Rf7 13.Bc3 Nb3 14.Be1 Nc1 15.Rd2 b4 16.Bg3 Rff8 17.Rf2 Rfe8 18.d4 Nb3 19.Rxe8+ Rxe8 20.Qxd6 Qb5 21.Qc7 Nxd4

    3. -+ (-5.27): 2.e5 dxe5 3.Nf5 Qe6 4.Rxg7+ Bxg7 5.Qg4 Qxf5 6.Qxf5 d4 7.Bg1 e4 8.dxe4 Bxe4 9.Qg5 Ne6 10.Qg3 Rc2 11.Bf2 Rxb2 12.Kg1 d3 13.h4 f5 14.Rxd3 Rf6 15.Rd6 Rg6 16.Qxg6 hxg6 17.Rxe6 Kf7 18.Rd6 Rb1+ 19.Kh2 Bh6 20.Bg3 Bf8 21.Rd7+ Ke6 22.Rd2 Bc5 23.Re2 Kd5

    (Coble, Asheboro, NC 15.03.2018)

    I ran GM Stockfish 9 after 1 Nd5! exd5 2 Nf5 and got this result (I didn't let it run all that long):

    New game
    2r2rk1/1b2qppp/pp1p1b2/2np1N2/P3PP2/3PB1RQ/1P4PP/3R3K b - - 0 1

    Analysis by Stockfish 9 64:

    1. +- (2.47): 2...Qe6 3.Qh6 Qxf5 4.exf5 Nd7 5.d4 Rfe8 6.Qh5 Re4 7.Rh3 Nf8 8.Qf3 Rce8 9.Bf2 Bc8 10.g4 Bd7 11.Rc1 Bxd4 12.Bxd4 Rxd4 13.b3 Ree4 14.Rf1 h6 15.Rf2 Bc6 16.Kg2 Bd7 17.Kg1

    2. +- (4.75): 2...Qd7 3.Bxc5 Kh8 4.Qh5 Rxc5 5.Rh3 h6 6.Nxh6 Qxh3 7.Qxh3 Bc8 8.Ng4+ Kg8 9.Nxf6+ gxf6 10.f5 Re8 11.Qg3+ Kh7 12.b4 Rc6 13.exd5 Rc2 14.Qxd6 Kg7 15.Qxb6 Re5 16.d6 Rxf5 17.Qd4 Bd7 18.Qg4+ Kf8 19.Rg1 Rc6 20.Qd4 Re5 21.b5 axb5 22.axb5 Rxb5 23.Qxf6

    3. +- (6.45): 2...Rfe8 3.Qh6 Ne6 4.Nxe7+ Bxe7 5.f5 Bg5 6.Qh3 Bf6 7.fxe6 Rxe6 8.exd5 Bxd5 9.Rf1 Be5 10.Rg4 g6 11.Bxb6 Rc2 12.b4 Bg7 13.Qh4 Re8 14.Re1 Rxe1+ 15.Qxe1 Bc3 16.Qe7 Be5 17.Kg1

    (Coble, Asheboro, NC 15.03.2018)

  23. I occasionally read GM Aagaard’s chess blog (mostly looking for information on the latest Quality Chess books), and found a series of videos regarding “The Four Types of Decisions” made in chess.

    Link: Four types of Decisions – posted on 27 FEB 2018

    These four decision types are:
    (1) Automatic Decisions
    (2) Simple Decisions
    (3) Critical Moments
    (4) Strategic Decisions

    I was intrigued by the chess position accompanying this first video; it is not referenced by GM Aagaard during this video. However, I cannot pass by any position that intrigues me without at least trying to “solve” it!

    FEN: 6k1/q2n1p1p/3Q2p1/3P4/4P3/2bp1NPP/5PK1/5B2 b - -

    The video has no indication of which side is to move, but I made an assumption (“assume” usually means “makes an ASS out of U and ME” – or at least ME) that Black is to move, based on the fact that White does not have any immediate attack on the Black King or tactical shots against any Black piece, but is ahead in material by one Pawn, and threatens to “kill” that “lust filled” Black d3 Pawn, whereas Black at least has a PoP (f2) which is B.A.D. and has at least a couple of pieces aimed at or in the vicinity of the White King’s position.

    In “looking” for ideas from the vulture’s point of view, I was struck by something odd (in a good sense). There was a “pattern” which began buzzing around in my head. That “pattern” very quickly led to a tactical attacking move based on the PoP and the potential LoA of the Black Queen and Black Bishop.

    The basic “pattern” is given by the following position (extraneous pieces are removed, leaving only the two Kings and the two components of the “pattern”):

    FEN: 3n4/8/4P3/7k/8/7K/8/8 w - -

    In this simplified position, White wins by advancing the “lustful” Pawn 1 e7. Because of the “awkward” placement of the Black Knight, it cannot stop the White Pawn advance to promotion. White will end up with a Queen (after promotion) and it really doesn’t matter whether the Black Knight is still on the board or not.

    As soon as I clearly "saw" THAT "pattern", I realized that the “solution” to the original problem was to combine two ideas: (1) Attack the weak point f2 with 1 … Be1! which then sets the stage for (2) the “pattern” of advancing the Pawn towards promotion, simultaneously attacking the Knight (which will have to capture the Black Bishop with 2 Nxe1 or suffer a fatal attack against the White King).

    As defined by GM Aagaard, this kind of decision was “simple” but not necessarily “easy”! Without that “pattern” floating around in System 1, I very seriously doubt I would have “seen” the solution so quickly.

  24. Addendum: In the second video in the series, Black IS to move in the position given above. The unnamed GM playing Black played 1 ... d2 2 Be2 and LOST the position! I certainly did NOT expect THAT!

  25. Another problem (from the 2nd Aagaard video on "The Four types of Decisions"):

    FEN: 8/p1r5/5kP1/pPb4R/4B3/4PK2/8/8 w - -

    Here the PoPLoAFun approach strongly guides the selection of moves to be considered.

    The Black Bishop on c5 is B.A.D., thereby forcing the Black Rook to defend it (Function). The LoA of the White Bishop extends to h7 (to the edge of the board). If the Black King were anywhere on the 7th rank, a check by the White Rook would skewer the Black Rook on c7 (LoA). But that "lustful" g6 Pawn wants to become a Queen! Combining the "ideas," White plays 1 g7! Black cannot play either 1 ... Kxg7 because 2 Rh7+ skewers the Black Rook NOR 1 ... Rxg7 because the Black Bishop would be lost. So, 1 ... Kf7 appears to prevent the Pawn promotion, but then follows 2 Rh8! or 2 Rg5! and all is lost for Black.

    By following the PoPLoAFun approach, it is surprising how quickly ideas can be focused on the relevant issues in so many positions from the vulture's vantage point!

  26. Hi all, check out this sharp Scandinavian Portuguese Gambit that Carlsen played recently.i recall Tempo may of played this Gambit.

  27. Saturdays difficult chess puzzle. white to move

  28. Thanks, Jim!

    I have no idea how sound that Scandinavian Portuguese Gambit is supposed to be, but after move 7, I was looking at lots of Black piece development and lots of open lines. That is usually a recipe for disaster for the opponent, especially if he tries to hang on to the extra material. So much has changed since the swashbuckling days of yore, but apparently some GMs are still willing to try to "ride it out" - usually with the same results as in yesteryear.

    As for the puzzle: I could see all the lines aimed at the Black King, but several of the moves to get there were not apparent to me.

  29. An interesting video

  30. Jim, the line where White hangs on to the gambit Pawn by advancing all the kingside Pawns is simply - shocking. I like Pawn grabbing (well, sometimes), but having all those open lines with the King in the middle and no piece development for the first 11 moves looks suicidal to me. But what the heck do I know - if GM Sotckfish 9 is happy with it, I'm sure only GM AlphaZero would be capable of disagreeing AND proving GM Stockfish wrong. Thanks for the reference!

  31. It's a fun line to play and opponents at my level play nowhere near Stockfish level. if you dig at the provided link,a fellow named Manny on Goodreads wrote two reviews on the book. He and I are in agreement in the review where he speaks of the Singularity. Cheers, Jim

  32. Here's another way of looking at PoPLoAFun.

    Understanding Critical Squares

    Notice that the term "critical squares" is almost defined by B.A.D. - Barely Adequately Defended. There is explicit reference to the Function(s) that a particular piece is performing, and that becomes the basis for a "combination."

    I sometimes wonder if we really find anything "new" as we study chess. It seems that a lot of what we "discover" already exists (somewhere in the vast chess literature), but the termnology is different and the concepts remain unknown to us until we "discover" the analogies as we stumble around searching for the Holy Grail of adult chess improvement.

    Just musing out loud. . . maybe it's time to turn out the lights and go to sleep!

    1. all half year i try to put your attention to the chuzhakinssystem

      I think its now time to do it again

      B.A.D is the HE no 3

    2. @ Aox: It may appear that I did not listen, but that is not true; anytime you make a recommendation for study, I take it very seriously! However, I may not comment here indicating what I have done with it.

      I downloaded Mr. Chuzhakin's PDF, and went to the trouble of converting it into a Word document back in Dec. 2017, so that I could edit it, inserting my own thoughts as I study it. I particularly like his idea that Chuzhakin's System is "a new technique for analyzing positions at the interface of strategy and tactics". That boundary is very murky, for some of us. I am somewhat skeptical of panaceas which require considerable memory recall of "rules". I'm not implying there's anything "wrong" with that system, just that it does take considerable effort to become totally familiar with applying it consistently in all situations. I'm slowly transitioning toward a more intuitive yet concrete approach to analysis of positions, while remaining aware of the various "rules" of thumb (thinking shortcuts) that have been proposed by various authors.

      Tanks for the encouragement to reinvestigate Mr. Chuzhakin's Hazardous Elements!

    3. These methaphysical framing of Chuzhakin dont realy help to understand the value of his ideas. Skip it. Our goal is to understand tactics. You can think of tactics as a sequence of moves, to understand a tactic means then to "see" a tree of different lines with their evaluations .. usually way to complex to develp the feeling: i did understand the tactic..
      A different method is to dissect the tactics to the traditional tactical motives: attraction, fork.. these are methods which do something and there are tactical motives which are a weakness like : weak back rank.
      Chuzakin explains all the possible weaknesses necessary for a tactic : His 18 HE's ; and shows the methods how to use these weaknesses. Solving tactics is now a type of boardvision process. You dont make a CCT calculation.. you look for the weaknesses in the position and apply methods to a subset of them. The combinational process is now to combine weaknesses instead to combine moves.
      And the BAD pattern and Weak backrank and so forth are just some of his HE'S.

      Positional play is to a high extend: looking for positional weaknesses of both player (backward bawn, hole, good knight vs bad bishop, weak coulour complex...) and looking for typical methods how to make use of them. I think chuzakins weaknesses can be easily includes in this positional thinking.. the list of "weaknesses" just gets a little bigger. Tactical Play becomes positional play..
      I suggest you look at some of his examples. These are often tactical puzzles. The Hes are listed under the puzzle. After you you understand all HEs in a position the solution is easier to understand/find.
      The complete thinking process.. is not necessary to benefit tactically..

    4. "Metaphysician, heal thy self's self."

      Some excellent points, Aox! I often drift toward the more philosophical side of things, seeking to completely understand what is going on at multiple levels. That sometimes results in "chasing rabbits" down through the philosophical briar thickets instead of focusing on the practical applications.

      "You dont make a CCT calculation.. you look for the weaknesses in the position and apply methods to a subset of them. The combinational process is now to combine weaknesses instead to combine moves."

      If you look back at some of my comments here, I think you will see that I agree with you. Dr. Lasker's "motifs" concept is nothing more (or less) than identifying weaknesses, which in turn leads to identifying potential tactical themes to utilize those weaknesses. Your insight was exactly the reason why I went back to studying Dr. Lasker's book.

      Your observation regarding positional play being a search for weaknesses and applying typical methods to exploit them is (I believe) exactly what Petrosian had in mind when he wrote:

      "In general I consider that in chess everything rests on tactics. If one thinks of strategy as a block of marble, then tactics are the chisel with which a master operates, in creating works of chess art."

      The "carving process" IS the interface point.

    5. The great idea/work of Chuzakin is to list/name (all) tactical weaknesses ( he calls them HE's ). Without this list it dont work. ( i would make some minor changes at his list though ..)

  33. Oh, Temposchlucker, your chess blog is calling you!

    PART I:

    Kurajica – Zelcic, ch-CRO (team) (1999), Pula CRO, rd 1
    Indian Game: Spielmann-Indian (A46) · 1-0

    Source: Fundamental Checkmates – Antonio Gude, pg 142

    [FEN: "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

    The position occurs after 22. … Rc8. PGN is at the end of this series of posts.

    How should we analyze this position?

    Shall we follow GM Kotov’s Think Like A Grandmaster (as described in How to Calculate Chess Tactics - GM Valeri Beim, pg 64)?

    (1) In beginning our calculations, we must first of all list all the possible moves in the position — the ‘candidate moves’ — so as to ensure that we do not overlook some important possibility.

    (2) Having done this, we then calculate each variation in turn. The order in which we do this depends on the character of the player and the characteristics of the position. Each player has his own way of doing this. One prefers to start with the most difficult lines, and only then turns to the easier ones, while another player prefers the opposite. [THAT seems extremely UNHELPFUL for a supposedly objective “general approach”!]

    (3) All of the possible lines can be pictured as a ‘tree of variations’. [Ask yourself this question: do you EVER mentally and explicitly create a ‘tree’ of variations in your mind when you analyze? Or, channeling GM Anatoly Lein: “I don’t think like a tree — do you think like a tree?”]

    (4) The main rule in calculating is that the player must train himself DURING A GAME [emphasis added] to go over each branch of the tree only once and must not be tempted to return to lines he has already looked at. [Actually, it is more important to train yourself to do this kind of “green-eye-shade” accounting when you are ANALYZING away from the board.]

    I won’t bore you with GM Beim’s “refutation” of GM Kotov’s analysis checklist. He notes one problem in particular: “. . . nowhere does . . . [Kotov] say either what he means by a ‘candidate move’, or on what basis one should look for and select such moves.” GM Beim’s solution: Candidate moves are all those moves which appear logical or plausible in the given position. [THAT is also UNHELPFUL, since what is ‘logical’ or ‘plausible’ for YOU might be ridiculous for ME, vice versa!]

    We could also attempt GM Tisdall’s ‘variation processing’ (his suggested ‘improvement’ on GM Kotov’s method). He at least provides some directions as to which variations to investigate first. Go forward and work out one complete variation. If ATTACKING, investigate violent moves and the clearest and easiest lines first. [This may require minimal calculation of sample variations to get a ‘feel’ for what is going on.] If DEFENDING, investigate the most difficult line first.

    Master Charles Hertan (Forcing Chess Moves) recommends that we always start with the most violent move, using our “computer eyes” to consider every move that a strong computer program would consider. I don’t seem to have “computer eyes,” in spite of being a retired software engineer. At least I can determine what ‘forcing moves’ are available, so that might be helpful.

    FM Emmanuel Neiman (Tune Your Chess Tactics Antenna gives us 7 “signals” as clues to know when (and where) to look for winning combinations. These are very similar in nature to Dr. Lasker’s motifs, so perhaps that is heading in the right direction.

    1. Yes I hear him calling. Albeit still a bit drowned among the other callers.

  34. PART II

    Leaving aside the many other available “methods” in the chess literature, let’s look at this position with the eyes of the vulture. First, a general look at the landscape from a considerably broad perspective, and then a drill-down to the details.

    Please note: this approach is considerably SUBJECTIVE, and probably unique to the “Robert Coble chess module” residing in my own head. I make no assumption that any other human being is blessed (or cursed) with that module.

    What strikes the vulture’s eye (PoPLoAFun)?

    Material is even. Pawn structure is somewhat balanced, but Black’s g5-Pawn is en prise. At the moment, White has two pieces in the vicinity of the Black King, so the “three piece” rule is not (yet) applicable.

    My “eye” was drawn almost immediately to a curious fact: Black’s kingside Rook is buried on h8, which provides (virtually useless) “protection” of h7, since White has no pieces aimed at h7, and it will take considerable time and effort to untangle the kingside pieces. Black has a Bishop (as well as his King) “protecting” g7, but it also prevents the Black f7-Pawn from moving for at least three ply. This prevents the Black Queen from joining in the “defense” of the Black King. The Black Bishop provides “protection” (of sorts) for the g5-Pawn, which is currently “attacked” 2 times with only 1 defense. Black has attacking superiority on the Nc6 — 2:1, so that will have to be factored in as a matter of “urgency” for White. Black’s queenside pieces are cutoff from the defense of the Black King, so White should seek some kind of tactical assault against the Black King, before reinforcements/defenders can come to the rescue.

    Taking the “lazy” way out, gaining the g5-Pawn just doesn’t seem to be in accordance with the “demands of the position.” 1. Bxg5 Bxg5 2. Qxg5+ Kf8 certainly gains a Pawn, but any attacking prospects on the Black King are over, and the Black Rh8 can finally get a move to g8, combining with the BQb7 to create threats against the White King. In the meantime, the Nc6 hangs, so that gain of material doesn’t seem promising at first glance. So, we’ll forgo any further “analysis” of 1. Bxg5 unless nothing else catches our interest.

    Is there anything the Nc6 can do to both extricate itself from capture and (perhaps) increase pressure against the Black King? Hmmm. . . there is a juicy check on e7, which would be checkmate (provided Black cannot capture the saucy fellow). That’s a major factor to keep in mind. What can Black do to stop it? Both the Black Queen and Black Bishop can capture on e7, so it’s not a real threat YET. But the Black Bishop has to protect the g5-Pawn AND protect g7, so it’s Function already may be overloaded. We need another attacker to increase pressure on the Black King.

    The White Rc1 has a LoA against the BRc8, which is protected by both the Bba6 and BQb7, but if the Black Queen has to recapture on c8, then Nc6-e7# comes back into focus! But, again, that Rook does not have the capability to directly increase the kingside attack.

    That leaves us with the WRe1. How can we get it into the attack? The g5 PoP fairly screams for another White attacker, and that Rook is the only one available, so 1. Re5!

  35. PART III

    How does Black counter the checkmate threat that has just been created? There are no additional Black pieces to bring to the defense of g5. The only available resource is to bring the Bba6 over to the kingside with 1. … Bd3 so that it can be interposed on g6 whenever the inevitable checks occur when the g5-Pawn is captured. BUT, this removes one of the defenders of c8 and makes Rc8 B.A.D.!

    Can Black just ignore the threat against his King and grab the Nc6? NO: 1. Re5! Rxc6 2. Rxg5+ Bxg5 3. Qxg5# or 1. Re5! Rxc6 2. Qxg5+ Bxg5 3. Rxg5#. So the White Nc6 cannot be captured (so far).

    Can Black grab the exchange on e5? NO: 1. Re5! Bxe5 2. Qxg5+ Bg7 3. Qxg7#.

    So, by process of elimination of the “easy” replies, Black must bring the BBa6 over to the kingside: 1. Re5! Bd3. But how can White continue the attack?

    Let’s recall that Nc6-e7+ would be checkmate, if it cannot be captured on e7. So, the approach should be to remove defenders, if possible. We cannot directly remove the BQb7, so we can try to remove the BBf6 by force. We have two possibilities after 1. Re5! Bd3: 2. Rxg5+ Bg6 and Black has a couple of tempi to try to muster a defense, since there is no checkmate threat on g7 for at least a couple moves. The more promising approach is to attack the Black King AND BBf6 simultaneously with 2. Qxg5+. Black is forced to recapture 2. … Bxg5 3. Rxg5 Bg6. Notice that there are no branches to investigate; the moves are forced.

    Now we finally have the Black Queen overloaded: it must protect against Nc6-e7+ AND protect the BRc8. So, 4. Ne7+ Qxe7 5. Rxc8+ Qf8 6. Rxf8#

    The detailed verbiage of the “reasoning” process takes considerably longer to read than the thought process it describes.

    What about “pattern recognition”? What is the “pattern” we should have recognized using System 1 (the intuitive, non-verbal part of our brain)?

    For me, at least, I did not recognize the R+B checkmate “pattern” when I started analyzing this position. It only became apparent after figuring out how to remove or overload the defenders of the e7 square. The basic R+B checkmate pattern did NOT “trigger” in the initial position. This may be a “clue” for my further improvement in “vulture eyesight.”


    [Event "ch-CRO (team)"]

    [Site "Pula CRO"]

    [Date "1999.??.??"]

    [EventDate "?"]

    [Round "1"]

    [Result "1-0"]

    [White "Bojan Kurajica"]

    [Black "Robert Zelcic"]

    [ECO "A46"]

    [WhiteElo "2541"]

    [BlackElo "2561"]

    [PlyCount "47"]

    1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 c5 3. e3 e6 4. Bd3 b6 5. O-O Bb7 6. c4 cxd4
    7. exd4 d5 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Ne5 Be7 10. Bb5+ Kf8 11. Qh5 g6
    12. Bh6+ Kg8 13. Qf3 Bf6 14. Nc3 Qe7 15. Rac1 Nxc3 16. Qxc3
    Na6 17. Bxa6 Bxa6 18. Qf3 Bb7 19. Qf4 g5 20. Qg3 Ba6 21. Nc6
    Qb7 22. Rfe1 Rc8 23. Re5 Bd3 24. Qxg5+ 1-0

  36. Putting on my curmudgeon's hat:

    The Chess Improver (Middle Game Evaluation)

    Hugh Patterson:

    By asking these questions [see the article] when evaluating a position, you’ll be able to create an accurate plan. If you see that you have a problem, create a plan to resolve that problem. If you discover that your opponent has a problem, create a plan to take advantage of that problem. Only after you’ve evaluated a position can you then create a worthwhile plan.

    After evaluating a position, you have to create a plan regarding what pawn or piece to move and where and when to move it. A plan is a series of small steps that allows you to achieve a larger goal. Positions can change drastically from one move to the next and because of this, your plan needs to be flexible. A flexible plan is one that gives you more than one option. If your plan is rigid, it has only one option and, if the position changes in such a way that your plan no longer works, the plan will fail. If your plan’s flexible and the position goes in an unexpected drection, that plan will be better suited for dealing with this sudden positional change. Plans change often during the course of the middle-game which is why they must be flexible.

    This is standard boilerplate advice regarding planning while playing chess. I have no “bone to pick” with it or with the esteemed Mr. Patterson.

    HOWEVER. . .

    Let’s ASS-U-ME (you know what THAT means!) that you have accurately and completely evaluated the current position, asking and answering the questions detailed in the article. You KNOW what the position requires you to do. Ergo, you KNOWwhat pawn or piece to move and where and when to move it.” You KNOW the “series of small steps that allows you to achieve a larger goal.” BECAUSE you have made a correct and complete evaluation of the current position, your “larger goal” must be attainable – BY FORCE.

    I “get” the idea of the opponent failing to do the same careful and complete “planning” process, thereby overlooking a crucial point and commiting a “mistake.” But let’s ASS-U-ME that both players are following this excellent advice to the letter and in the spirit of it.

    That being the case, how can it be possible for the position to “change DRASTICALLY [implying UNEXPECTEDLY] from one move to the next”??? The "plan" consisted of a SERIES OF SMALL STEPS, NOT JUST ONE SMALL STEP (a move being the smallest step possible in chess).

    There should be no UNEXPECTED drastic changes occurring in the course of A SINGLE MOVE, and therefore NO SURPRISES, if the process has been followed correctly. The “logic” of this kind of “advice” implies that NO mistakes were made in the process of evaluating the position and selecting the correct move to make and when to make it.

    Yeah, I know the “answer”: MISTAKES WERE MADE.

    How do we resolve this conundrum? By adding one more crucial piece of “good advice”:


    BWAH! HA! HA! HA! HA!

    I wonder why that advice never seems to be realizable, at least in MY chess games?!?

  37. Robert/Aox there is so much here I wiil have to spend some time reading. Am rereading Chess for Zebra. Am struck by the comment shared by Aagaard as well. Chess Improvement occurs at the edge of ones comfort level. Currently thinking about this Koan....Cheers, Jim ... Tempos hope you and your family are well.

    1. this "hard work" out of the "comfort zone" phrases..
      thats is sin..
      i'm not religious, especially not Amish ;)

    2. Aox, I appreciate the comment. Lets reframe it a little as I think getting out of your comfort zone doesnt necessarily mean hard work and pain although it may..... Let's substitute phrases " trying something new" , stretching ,experimenting . Ziplining is out of my comfort zone but may be tremendous fun (cant say for sure) . One thing that is out of my comfort zone is having patience while solving chess problems. I am looking at 100 Ct-art problems and not trying to solve them just describe them and figure out where weaknesses are . Not looking at the answer as I go is a little out of my comfort zone. Cheers, Jim

    3. Trying something new..we did try a lot..a looot. I start thinking that the only method for improvement ( for a not that young tournament player ) is simply to either get 10 years old.. or to get talent.
      Sure.. many people always "know it better" and continue to do the same wrong things over and over again not open for suggestions of experienced trainers ..but..i think we checked every available resouce of ideas and tryed them..decisive improvement seems to be impossible (after several years of serious training/play and a certain age) if with or without the feet in boiling water ;)

  38. I've never had much of an interest in studies, primarily because there seemed to be so many problems that bore scant resemblance to a "real" game position. I also never gave too much thought to the fact that studies require totally concrete calculations. Perhaps it's time for me to revisit the idea of using studies as part of tactical improvement training.

    How to Calculate Chess Tactics, GM Valeri Bein, pg 17:

    Botvinnik wrote more than once that IN STUDIES, THERE ARE NO POSITIONAL JUDGEMENTS. This assertion should be understood to mean that if one approaches the initial position of a study NOT as a puzzle, but simply analyzes it like a game position, it is impossible to predict the course of events on the basis purely of positional considerations. In studies, EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON THE ACCURATE CALCULATION OF VARIATIONS. [Emphasis added]

    With that in mind, I offer the following position:

    FEN: 5Nb1/5p2/3kP3/5PK1/8/8/8/8 w - -

    White to move - What is the outcome?

    I was contemplating Aox's statement "The combinational process is now to combine weaknesses instead to combine moves." while watching a video by GM Alejandro Ramirez on Tactical Training:

    Tactics Training Session

    GM Ramirez explains the value of using studies in his introduction. He then introduces the position given above, asking for audience input as to the line of play required. Instead of my usual approach (PoPLoAFun from the vulture's viewpoint), I decided to try Aox's idea of looking at the weakness(es) first to "see" the implications of that process. I was rather surprised: I "solved" the study in less than one minute, and then watched GM Ramirez explain why all of the "candidate moves" would NOT work, before giving the solution.

    That one isolated instance does not really mean anything - except that the idea of looking for the weakness(es) as a trigger for combinations has significant merit.

    Thanks, Aox!

    1. well endgamestudies are "made to improve calculation", calculation is a highly valuable tool. Many many Masters suggest studies for improvement its one of the most named improvment-exercises.
      To improve calculation you may use:
      - ( Endgame ) Studies
      - checkmate in 2 ( 3,4.. ) problems ( not! tactic puzzles )
      - Complex endgame puzzles
      - Complex tactic puzzles
      - Visulization exercises
      - blindfold training

      Here an example how to solve a tactical puzzle with the weakness method:

      not thaaat easy to solve it calculating..

      no traditional weakness to see

      but look for HE's no 14.2 and think how to use them..

    2. Chuzhakin's System:

      14.2 Knight-hazardous major pieces

      A hazardous element is two major pieces and the king which are in knight-hazardous position relative to each other. The hazardous element is not counted if the opponent does not have a knight and it is not possible to promote a passed pawn to a knight in one or two moves. To decrease the number of hazardous elements for calculation we take into account only that knight-hazardous position of pieces which can be attacked in two moves by an enemy knight, without taking into account the mutual arrangement of other pieces and pawns of both sides. For instance, in the original position we do not take into account knight-hazard of the rook a1 and the king e1, but when the black knight appears on c6 this hazardous element should be calculated with due regard to the following condition:

      To make it simpler in opening positions the hazardous element a1-e1 (a8-e8) and d1-h1 (d8-h8) should be calculated only in the following cases:

      a. when a knight directly attacks point c2 (c7) or f2 (f7),

      b. if points c2(c7) or f2 (f7) are insufficiently protected, i.e. they are hazardous elements according to rule 2,3 and 4.

      One of the few drawbacks (for ME) of Chuzhakin's System is the abstract ("scientfic") nomenclature. (14.2) conveys no chess-related information at all. The descriptive term (Knight-hazardous major pieces) alleviates that issue somewhat. For me, the traditional term (family fork) is much more descriptive of the pattern to be recognized.

      Referenced position - FEN: 8/1rNk1p2/7p/1P2R3/5P2/3b3P/8/6K1 w - -

      One of the amusing things about this position is that there is the "distance" of a Knight between almost all of the Pawns and pieces.

      If one has several ways of "seeing" patterns (including focusing on weaknesses), then the relationship of the Black pieces (after 1. ... Kd7) certainly should trigger a search for a tactical theme that will take advantage of this relationship. Creating the preconditions for a "family fork" certainly constitutes creation of a weakness, which should be recognized idenpendently of the means to take advantage of that weakness. Once the weakness is "seen," it becomes easy to figure out what resources are available to attack that weakness.

      BTW, I went back to Emmanuel Neiman's Tune Your Chess Tactics Antenna: Know When (and where!) to Look for Winning Combinations, pg 10 and found his definition of a "signal":

      A. What is a signal?

      A signal is a WEAKNESS in the opponent's position. [Emphasis added]

      It is this variation in descriptive verbiage (of the same phenomena) that makes it more complicated than necessary to learn tactics based on pattern recognition. Because the verbiage is different, one ASS-U-MEs that there is something different under discussion, but, in far too many cases, the change in terminology obscures the commonality of the concepts under investigation. Obviously, this viewpoint is IMHO.

      But that is a moot philosophical point.

      The practical point is to ZERO IN ON THE WEAKNESSES and only then figure out how to take advantage.

      The weakness identification (and possibly creation, either through the opponent's mistakes or by exerting pressure to force a weakness as "the lesser of two evils") must procedurally precede the search for tactical themes.

      This is why I consider the attempt to focus strictly on recognition of tactical themes (as in most tactical books) through massive practice to be insufficient for considerable increase in tactical PLAYING strength. Again, IMHO, based on my own experience and nothing else.

    3. The great idea of Chuzhakin is that almost every tactic stroke is based on these HE's and that these HE's are a static feature of the position, meaning they dont have to be seen calculted/blindfolded in the future but in the present position. No HE - no tactical stroke.
      I would call 14.2 : " Rooks, Kings,Queens and Bishops! are knight-forkable within 2 moves". You search for it by looking for the right position between these pieces and count the moves for the knights to get there. Instead of calculating CCT ( and dont find the right move this way ) you do a HE1-HE18 ( you did it during the thinking time of your opponent ) you did judge every HE how hazardous it is and look for a method to benefit from a combination of the most interesting/dominating HE's.
      If you get a fresh position the complexity is the same, with Chuzakhins system you need less visualisation ability.. therefore more of a specialized board vision. BUT: you know what to look for AND you know how to play tactical positions: creat more HE's for your opponent, make them more serious, decrase the number of your own HE'S and make them less serious.
      To spend the time your opponent think with looking for the HE's is good use ot this time..

  39. Going back to a philosophical viewpoint for a thought. . .

    Chuzhakin states that "99% of combinations could include the features specified in that list."

    We already have a rather exhaustive list of standard tactical themes/devices and typical checkmate patterns. When combined with Chuzhakin's System Hazardous Elements, can this information provide us with a definitive answer to the question of how many "patterns" are sufficient for Master-level play? I've seen numbers from as low as 2,000 to as high as 300,000 with several data points in-between (25,000, 50,000 or 100,000).

    More importantly for practical learning, can we elaborate a complete (or at least 99% applicable) list of tactical information which must be learned thoroughly to achieve Master-level SKILL?

    (This obviously ignores the remaining requirement to discover the unique "idea" hidden in a given position which takes into consideration ALL of the applicable weaknesses and available mechanisms for taking advantage of those weaknesses.)

    1. As we know: Masters have better hardware to process chess related tasks, their brain is different to ours. We run a 8 bit 1 MHZ prozessor, they run a 64 bit 4 GHZ prozessor. We may try to run more sofisticated software but..thats never enough

    2. Well, I "hope" that number 7 is true:

      "7. Playing chess at an older age can help prevent Alzheimer's disease."

      What were we discussing?

      Oh yeah. . .

      There is an enormous body of research on chess, with a lot of it contradictory and controversial. As we have discussed before, I have a differnt viewpoint.

      If we accept that the brain is a hugely sophisticated computer, then my contention is that the basic processor speed is essentially the same for those falling within three standard deviations of the mean IQ. I have never seen any research indicating that brain processing speed varies by a factor of over 4,000 between chess Masters and others. The total number of neurons and the execution speed are essentially the same across a wide spectrum of human beings. In my view, it is EXACTLY that the chess Master is using a superior program, one which has been refined and optimized for chess until it runs at maximum efficiency.

      (A caveat: I know you were making an analogy for illustration purposes, so I know there was no intent to claim an exact difference of 4,000. Still. . .)

      I'll give one (relatively trivial) example from my professional past. One of our application development groups implemented a program to search through stock items, performing specific checks. They used a brute-force algorithm that always started at the beginning of the stock list (which was NOT sorted) and then searched through another fixed list (again, NOT sorted) looking for matches, starting from the beginning for each item in the second list. The running time was close to 72 hours non-stop processing on average - way outside specification. My group was given the task of speeding it up. The solution was simple: sort both lists and then probe the two lists with a binary search, using the same programming language. The running time improved to less than two minutes total. Same hardware, different program for the same application, with maximally significant improvement. We also had access to a similar processor with a clock speed 2.5 times faster. If we had changed to the faster processor (although we could not actually field that hardware), then the result would (at best) have reduced their algorithm running time to slightly more than 24 hours - still totally unacceptable to the client. I am quite certain that the programmers in my group did not have significantly faster meat processors between their ears. They did have significantly more knowledge of efficient algorithms and skill and experience at programming them using a wide variety of different languages.

      A thought experiment: Suppose person A and person B DO have significantly different processor speeds. If so, then it should be physically measurable. To date, I have seen no such research, particularly with regard to chess players.

      Alpha-Zero proved to be significantly better at chess than Stockfish because of specialized neural network hardware combined with a totally different software approach (surprise! neural networks). AFAIK, it's not possible to run any version of Stockfish on the specialized Alpha-Zero hardware, or vice versa. Is it the hardware or the software or the combination that makes such a significant difference?

    3. When I was much younger (let's say 8-10 years ago) I tested various matting patterns. And it turns out there are no more than 400-500 examples to learn by heart. This way you can get the idea of 99% of checkmate patterns, burn these into your mind (long term memory) and simply use it as often as possible.

      My dream is to have fluency with:
      1) 2000 chess opening positions (500 positions already done)
      2) 2000 chess middlegame positions (100 positions already done)
      3) 2000 chess endgame positions (200 positions already done)
      4) 2000 chess tactical positions (500 positions already done)
      5) 500 chess mating positions (500 positions already done)
      6) 500 chess microplans positions (understanding the type of structure)

      This way I could play at the level of 2200-2300 player. The rest is to do your best, fight hard, play a lot of serious games, analyse the games and always fix the current problems.

      Chess at the high level requires dedication, perseverance and stamina. If you have a coach you can speed up the process of improvement, but your work is a must. Otherwise all of the players would be masters and none of us... patzers ;) :).

  40. And..chunks ( a GM has 50 000 chunks they say ) are not exactly the same as pattern. The chunks of an gm enables him to memorize a chessposition within 4 sec. To know the HE's will not increase your memorization speed by even a fraction of a sec. You would need to make these pattern a skill.. something running in your subconcious paralell to other chess related skills.

  41. Yuri Rusakov vs Boris Kalinkin
    Lodz (1963)
    Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation (B96) · 1-0

    Yuri Rusakov vs Boris Kalinkin

    FEN: 2rr1k2/1pqb1ppB/p1nnp3/4p1P1/7N/P1N5/1PP2QPP/4RR1K w - - 2 20

    I've been working hard on continuing to analyze possibilities AFTER spotting one specific way to win. In this position, I found both of the variations. I love the smell of Zugzwang in the morning!

    Confirmation Analysis by Stockfish 9 64:

    1. +- (#4): 20.Ng6+ Ke8 21.Qxf7+ Nxf7 22.Bg8 Nxg5 23.Rf8#
    2. +- (#4): 20.Qxf7+ Nxf7 21.Ng6+ Ke8 22.Bg8 Nxg5 23.Rf8#

  42. A correction to the previous post:

    In variation 2, I saw the first move recommended by GM Stockfish for mate in 4, and ASS-U-MEd that it was the same as the first variation I had analyzed; it is NOT the same. I should have caught it, because the "solution" (what was actually played in the game) was:

    20. Ng6+ Ke8 21. Qf7+ Nf7 22. Rf7 Kf7 23. Rf1+ Ke8 24. Rf8#

    which is a mate in 5. Obviously, the first and second White moves can be interchanged.

    The given link got corrupted somehow; it should have been:

    Yuri Rusakov vs Boris Kalinkin

    (Just in case:

    My apology for any inconvenience caused.

  43. Alas! One more correction and I quit. For some reason, Blogger (or Windows 7 or Chrome) decided to add Temposchlucker's blog address preceding the link I gave above; never had that happen before. So, go with the "Just in case" link, if you're interested.