Monday, December 11, 2017

the role of the initiative and immobility

I'm trying to understand the essence of the tree of scenarios. What I find is that every scenario leans on either the initiative or immobility.

Take for instance the generic scenario "add an attacker". You cannot simply add an attacker to a target which is already attacked by two of your attackers, since your opponent simply moves the target away, and your attackers will be rendered looking silly.

Somehow, the crucial tactical elements must be "fixated" for a little while. You must either add an attacker with tempo or the target must be immobile for a while. The initiative or the immobility are the necessary precondition which must be met.

The scenario is the plan what you want to do, while the precondition determines if the plan is viable.

The initiative
The initiative is maintained by a double function move. One function is based on CCT, the other function is what you actually want to do. Say, you want to clear a line of attack. Your own knight is standing in the way. When you can move the knight out of the way with a check, or a capture, or a threat, you clear the line of attack with tempo.

Sometimes it is suggested that you have to investigate every possible CCT move. If you try, you will find that that is not doable. Usually there are way too much CCT-moves that perform no second function. That approach is a waste of time.

It is better to turn it around: find the scenario you want to execute, then you look whether you can do it with a CCT-move. With tempo, that is.

When a target is immobile, be it by lack of space or because it performs a function it can't abandon, you factually have a free move. An immobility is temporary, and it takes your opponent two or more moves to free himself. It is quite comparable with the initiative.

The core problem
That is the core problem. We have to develop an eye for the initiative and for immobility.


  1. While thinking about your post above on the initiative and immobility, I remembered some examples from GM Valeri Beim and IM Jeremy Silman regarding tactics and dynamics. I think your ideas are applicable.

    The first position is from GM Beim's How to Calculate Chess Tactics, pg 10.

    8/k4ppp/8/5PPP/8/8/K7/8 w - -

    GM Beim uses this as an example of his definition of 'combination': "a system of tactical blows and their interconnections, having a forcing character, and leading to favorable consequences for the perpetrator." (What the heck does that have to do with an endgame?!?)

    He breezes over the first move, calling it a 'simple step.' He focuses on the second move, emphasizing the "surprise" aspect, "because it involves a sacrifice and it sharply changes the general pace of the previous play."

    Repeating a very important point from your post: "The initiative is maintained by a double function move."

    1. g6 is a fork, with two threats: to either capture the f7 or h7 Pawn. Black is left with two alternatives for capturing the cheeky g6 Pawn: 1. ... fxg6 or 1. ... hxg6. In either case, there is a "surprise" on White's second move in the form of a double threat, which maintains the initiative. There is an element of immobility involved as well.

    1. g6 fxg6
    2. h6! Black is now threatened with 3. hxg7, promoting the Pawn.

    2. ... gxh6
    3. f6 and White promoted the f-Pawn

    2. ... gxf5
    3. hxg7 and White promotes the g-Pawn

    1. g6 hxg6
    2. f6! gxf6
    3. h6 and White promotes the h-Pawn

    1. g6 hxg6
    2. f6! gxh5
    3. fxg7 and White promotes the g-Pawn

    Nothing like belaboring the obvious, eh? I've known this endgame "solution" for a long time. HOWEVER, I did NOT connect it with the initiative and immobility, which is a different way of "seeing" the idea.

    IM Jeremy Silman gives two similar positions in Silman’s Complete Endgame Course, Part Five – Endgames for Class “B”, in the section titled “Tactical Bombs.”

    Diagram 172, pg 168:
    6k1/8/6PK/8/ppp5/8/PPP5/8 w - -

    Silman first gives White an erroneous move, 1. Kg5??, based on his notion of the "Chicken Coop." Afterwards, he shows the correct move 1. b3!, blocking the Black Pawns and (eventually) using the "Chicken Coop" idea to win.

    Diagram 204, pg 200 (Exercise Test 3):
    7k/8/7K/8/2ppp3/5P2/2PPP3/8 b - -

    I’m sure this same idea (and similar examples) can be found in most endgame books. BUT, I have NOT found any case where the idea is analyzed in terms of the initiative and immobility.

    So what? (I can almost hear someone say that.) Well, let’s look at some more examples from GM Beim. The reference text is “How to Play Dynamic Chess”.

    Example 1, pg 7: Averbakh-Bebchuk, Moscow 1964
    8/1p4p1/5p1p/1k3P2/6PP/3KP3/8/8 w - -

    A static (structural) analysis appears to be in Black’s favor. Black has an outside passed Pawn and White has a backward e-Pawn. Should be an easy Black win – IFF Black is to move. But White is to move, and the dynamics (based on the same idea as the examples above) allow White to win.

    Example 2, pg 8: Weinstein – Rhode, Lone Pine 1977
    8/8/1p1k4/5ppp/PPK1p3/6P1/5PP1/8 b - -

    Black LOST the game with 1. … h4?? If he had “seen” the “pattern” (first example above) hidden in this position, he could have won the game by cashing in on the dynamics, maintaining the initiative.

    Example 3, pg 8: Study taken from Averbakh’s endgame manuals
    8/1pp5/1p1p4/1P1Pp1k1/P1P3P1/5K2/8/8 w - -

    Again, White can win this position using the same idea, which is hidden in the position.

    In all these cases, there IS a “pattern” but it is a functional pattern, with related geometrical properties. As a consequence, the initiative and immobility play a very important role in finding the correct solution.

  2. It is about decoupling the plan from the execution. Say, the plan is to clear a line of attack. In order to execute the plan, you need to clear it with tempo. It is about keeping your opponent busy, so you can execute your plan while he has no time to disrupt it.

    Every move of a combination, must be done while maintaining the initiative. I used to treat the initiative (and immobility) as part of the tree of scenarios. Which made the tree very complicated. Sometimes the initiative was mentioned, sometimes not, and it was treated as a separate set of scenarios as well.

    It is important to see the similarity between the initiative and immobility. Both keep your opponent busy and prevent them from interrupting the execution of your plan.