Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Oops, wrong tunnel

White to move
8/p5pk/4R3/6Q1/P7/3qn1nP/6PK/8 w - - 1 1


  1. I may have entered the same tunnel, but perhaps from the other end, so WATCH OUT FOR HEADLIGHTS!

    My first thought was a mating pattern using the White Queen and Rook. I quickly realized that it was not going to be easy, because the Black King has a certain amount of mobility and the Black Queen and Black Knights interfere with some of the potential focal points. There also is a question of tempo: how to gain a tempo which allows a combined attack using Queen and Rook. I'd LOVE to be able to combine attacks on g7, but that does not appear to be possible because there is no gain of tempo to reposition so that both White pieces attack g7. I spilled some time chasing this rabbit, going deeper into the briar patch. And then remembered that I didn't have to keep chasing this mirage through the briars.

    I then started looking at the Black Knights. Pesky rascals! Plenty of opportunities for "forking" over the White King; for example, 1. QxN (pick a Knight, either Knight) allows a nasty fork WITH CHECK. The same applies to a Rook capture on e3. I'm NOT "seeing" or "feeling" it here, either.

    Then I FOCUSED intently: perhaps I CAN grab one of the Knights with the White King: 1. KxN!

    Uh oh! That "LOOKS" dangerous: Black has a discovered check, perhaps even a double check. But appearances are deceiving! It takes THREE moves for Black to be able to attack the Rook with the Knight, and FOUR moves to attack the Queen. In the meantime, the White King is still mobile, and can just move up the board. Any check by the Black Queen can be met with 2. Qg4, blocking the check AND protecting the Rook.

    So, let's just DO IT! 1. Kxg3! and watch Black squirm. And that was the end of the puzzle.

    Caught you, little Bunny Foo-Foo!

  2. As a mainly midlegame tactician we dont like to move our king, especially when ther is a dicovered check. So

    To see:
    its an endgame ( checkmates in the endgame are "rare" )
    there are max 2 attackers on our king but 1.5 defender, so the own king ist not in (big) danger
    The king may move

    To learn
    endgamepuzzles are different

    1. PART I:

      A case in point regarding endgame puzzles (with some additional thoughts), taken from Weteschnik’s Understanding Chess Tactics, pg. 149.

      FEN: 3n1b2/6p1/4k3/5N1P/5P1B/8/6K1/8 w - - 0 1

      At a glance, there is no possibility of checkmate against either King. There is no possibility of Pawn promotion in the near future. So, the puzzle “must be” about gaining material.

      Aha! LPDO! The Black Knight on d8 is hanging AND the White Bishop on h4 is attacking it. Ride that horsey off the board: 1. BxN.

      OOPS! The White Knight is hanging also. 1. BxN KxN - tit-for-tat. DRATS!

      How about some nice “Additional Punch™”? It tastes great, goes down smooth, and is very inexpensive to “drink”. Can we get rid of the weakness (WNf5) AND grab some material at the same time?

      YES! 1. Nxg7+ (“Always check – it MIGHT be mate! (or, maybe not)”) Bxg7 2. BxN - time to assess our ill-gotten gains. White is up two Pawns with same colored Bishops, so should have a winning endgame.

    2. PART II:

      Additional thoughts:

      This is a good illustration of the various ways to “look” at a position for TRAINING. It can be approached in several different ways, depending on the category and FEATURE emphasized.

      (1) LPDO - The Black Knight on d8 is hanging.

      (2) Geometrical Motif - The White Bishop on h4 is attacking the Black Knight on d8.

      (3) CCT - The g7-Pawn can be captured with check. There is a threat to capture on d8.

      (4) Gain of tempo - Capturing with check on g7 gives White a tempo because the tit-for-tat retaliation (King captures on f5) for capturing on d8 is removed with a forcing move that leaves Black no time to defend the Knight on d8.

      (5) In-between move (Zwischenscach) - Allows two objectives to be accomplished at once: removal of a weakness and gain of material.

      There are probably other aspects which could be “discovered” but I think this suffices to illustrate the point.

      Sometimes, “all roads lead to Rome.” At other times, the “roads” diverge (and I usually take “the road less traveled” into a briar patch).

      This illustrates quite succinctly what I was saying about training ONE FEATURE at a time. You could use this position for training any (or all) of the various FEATURES I’ve mentioned.

      Oh, one more thing: if you take this approach to training ONE FEATURE, record each training position and the FEATURE that you trained using it (AND, if you are really anal retentive) record how long you spent “seeing” the specific FEATURE that you are training at that moment. Especially if it took longer than a few seconds to “see” your chosen FEATURE - or determine that it is NOT present in the specific position.

      I'm GUESSING that the number of training positions required for training a given FEATURE will be considerably less than 1,000. I suspect that it could be as low as 100. Sheer speculation, based on nothing more than "gut feeling". As Aox has pointed out previously, after about 2,000 positions you reach a rapidly diminishing rate of return on additional effort. How many positions it takes is unimportant, so long as you acquire the capability to "see" (at a glance) the FEATURE(s) selected.

      After you reach the point where you feel like you have “mastered” that FEATURE, pick a different FEATURE and USE YOUR COLLECTION OF POSITIONS TO “SEE” THE NEW FEATURE. Lather, rinse, repeat.

      I think it may be surprising that you will now “see” the new FEATURE in a lot of your prior training positions. Almost all positions of any interest will have multiple FEATURES. The KEY to training is to “see” ALL FEATURES simultaneously. Unfortunately, to hammer the FEATURES into System 1, we need to FOCUS on (give intense attention to) ONE FEATURE at a time. Otherwise, we run the risk of wandering into the briar patch chasing random rabbits as they jump up in front of us. OR as GM Nimzovich put it so eloquently, “Thou shalt NOT shilly-shally.

      No need to worry about “seeing” everything at once. The “magical” System I will take care of that because it is based on massively parallel associative memory. All we need to do is force the creation of new neural connections by (1) exposure, (2) repetition, and (3) FOCUSED ATTENTION. The associations and connections of multiple FEATURES occurs automagically.

    3. i did do training sessions like this for example:

      A intense training of 4000 easy checkmate puzzles, result: after that i was for a while quicker and stronger in checkmate puzzles but slower and weaker in the other puzzles. I just had a shift in attention

      Other exercise was a trainingset with 50% promotion and 50% fork exercises, no detectable effect

      For more than 1 year i did a training with complex puzzles analysing especially the the tactical weaknesses first.. nothing

      i suspect that "one side tatcics" create a tunnel view. It might be nessary to see more, to widen the view.
      ( dont mean it will not work for you.. but it did not work for me )

      At present i do now a specialised training of my blunders, mainly as aftermath:
      Understand why the correct line work
      Understand why my move was so slow or why my wrong move is bad ( what did i think wrong, what did i calculte wrong, what did i judge wrong.. what is to see, what is to learn ...)

      Now i categorize the tactical method ( tactical moive post mortem ) & soon categorize the tactical weakness ( post mortem ) too. This should help to "Loci" the puzzle into my "room" of patterns.

      I try to see quickly more relevant items in positions in wich i saw "nothing" to slow.

      It feels right, i think i should create a aftermath list like fm drahacik did suggest here : just more acording to my needs.

      But.. i doubt it will help.. no reason to give up.. i just dream the impossible dream

    4. @ Aox: Thank you for the (Excellent!) link and the information on what you have tried.

      My suggestion is to NOT categorize the problem set to be used (i.e., 4000 easy checkmate problems, 50% promotion and 50% forks, etc.) This should help alleviate the "tunnel" problem. Just pick problems at random (or let Chess Tempo pick them) and try to "see" without trying to restrict what you "see" (even though you are trying to train ONE FEATURE in particular). Let System I "talk" to you by making suggestions.

      Like you, I "dream the impossible dream" but am jaded and cynical about what will (or won't) help overall in the long run. Time will tell. . .

  3. I used more than 6 minutes before I got impatient and made a move. I haven't even looked at the king AT ALL during that time! My mind is so disciplined that it can ignore system I totally. . .

    1. As a standardproblem.. there are only 7 checks and 5 ( -1 ) captures...
      I have a standardrating of 2300..easy... just calculating and calculating and calculating and calculating, did i forget calculating?.. 30 min, 60 min, 120 min..
      Dont move as long as you dont know the right move and then.. check and check and check. And this you do for every new move again...
      I had a friend rated 1600+ he had a standardrating of 2400, he was thinking sometimes for a few days at one puzzle

  4. It shows time and again, that without the conscious guidance of system II, I simply don't see parts of the board. In these type of positions, I lack a breaking mechanism. I continue to chase the king with rook and queen.

    1. a ~1900 does need ~5 minutes to solve it with a score of ~50% so a ~1760 does need ~~10 min to score ~~50%
      This is a system 2 puzzle for virtually everyone

  5. I don't think this was a good problem, too computeresque. I too saw that 1.KxNg3 looked like a valid solution, but as many others in the comments, I preferred: 1.Qh4+ Kg8
    2.Re8+ Kf7
    3. Qe7+ Kg6
    4.Qe6+ Kg5
    5. Kxg3 In fact, I only had to cut and paste this response from a commenter. I preferred to coordinate rook and knight, and make his/her king a little looser, before taking the knight. If you look at the full computer solution, it still looks like a computer position nearly ten moves later.

    I don't think I spent more than 15 minutes on this problem. Went back and forth between the immediate king capture and the longer version that I gave.

  6. @ Temposchlucker:

    So, you spilled 6 minutes without ever looking at the King capture. IMHO, you identified your problem: "I lack a breaking mechanism."

    I know this is going to sound breathtakingly simple (or, mind-numbingly stupid) to suggest, but how about trying this "breaking mechanism"?

    Before starting a problem, set a timer for 30 seconds (or any other time interval that you feel comfortable using, but NOT longer than 3 minutes). Start looking at the problem in the same way you always do, BUT, when the time has expired, CHANGE YOUR FOCUS to either (1) a different piece (one that has NOT been included in your initial analysis), or (2) choose a different sequence of moves of every piece that you have considered as important so far. In short, use your System II (since you seem totally dependent on it) to FORCE your attention on something else with FOCUS. The timer gives you an "excuse" to get out of the tunnel (or briar patch). I suspect that it will not take much of this kind of practice to "cure" you of spilling an excessive amount of time intently focused on finding the source of the light at the end of the tunnel - because you will no longer be in the tunnel.

    One of the fantastic capabilities of the mind is the ability to shift from a cognitive level to a meta-cognitive level. You switch from focusing attention on the problem (with tunnel vision, apparently) to focusing on your thinking about the problem.

    It won't hurt long. . .

    1. The traditional method to prevent such problems is to generate a list of candidate moves first. This list can be pruned by the method of exclusion...
      I think its important to wait with the concrete calulations until you have a sufficiant overview of the situation
      Counting material, looking for tactical weaknesses, generating a list of candidate moves.. these are methods to get a better overview of the position
      ( i usually dont make a list of candidate moves first, but when i get problems solving the problem i try to return to these general concepts of problemsolving ).
      Now thinking about it, it makes sense to add to my aftermath a task : create list of candiadate moves. This might make it easier to get generate the next candidate move at "solving time"

    2. I need a serious break mechanism. The brain damage post already indicated that. A timer is not good enough. If it was, I wouldn't end up in time trouble each and every otb game. The initiative should be able to provide a breaking mechanism. When a move has not enough effect or punch, I should stop thinking about it. I'm going to try to make that more explicit.

    3. Each of us has different issues to address in order to improve. As you noted previously, I do TRY to figure out your thought processes and offer helpful suggestions - but often I "miss the mark".

      If you think the initiative (or more specifically, the LOSS of the initiative) is sufficient to "break" you out of your focused attention (tunnel vision) in a particular direction, then that is what you should use.

      Dr. Anders Ericsson stated in his book that ". . . the role of mental representations held the key to how we wanted to present deliberate practice."

      FWIW, here is some anecdotal advice ("Go and do thou likewise") from Dr. Anders Ericsson's (and Robert Pool's) book Peak - Secrets from the New Science of Expertise<, Planning that might (or might NOT) be applicable. (Emphasis added.)

      Before experienced rock climbers begin a climb, they will LOOK OVER THE ENTIRE WALL [the "vulture's eye view"] and visualize the path they are going to take, seeing ["SEEING"] themselves moving from hold to hold. The ability to create a detailed mental representation of a climb before embarking on it is something that only comes from experience.

      More generally, mental representations can be used to plan a wide variety of areas, and the better the representation, the more effective the planning.

      Surgeons, for example, will often visualize an entire surgery before making the first incision. They use MRIs, CT scans, and other images to take a look inside the patient and IDENTIFY POTENTIAL TROUBLE SPOTS, THEN THEY DEVISE A PLAN OF ATTACK. Developing such mental representations of a surgery is one of the most challenging — and most important — things that a surgeon can do, and more experienced surgeons generally create more sophisticated and more effective representations of these procedures. The representations not only guide the surgery, but they also serve to provide a warning when something unexpected and potentially dangerous happens in the surgery. When an actual surgery diverges from the surgeon's mental representation, he or she knows to SLOW DOWN, RETHINK THE OPTIONS, AND, IF NECESSARY, FORMULATE A NEW PLAN IN RESPONSE TO THE NEW INFORMATION.

    4. The rock climber analogy is probably useful. I have seen a rock climber in action. He was always looking for the best path. We were searching for minerals, so his skill was actually not useful at the time, but he simply couldn't help it.

      I sense the following difference in his approach in comparison to mine. He was in the lead when choosing his path. When I play chess, I don't feel I'm in the lead of my logical thinking. I feel myself a victim of the position. Any position.

      I don't have a clue what I want to accomplish. I get idea's only by accident.

      Since that victim like approach is quite unusual for me in life, what is so special about chess?

      The problem is that the memory slots of my Short Term Memory clog up so easily. I have no ad-infinitum-break (AIB), so I continue to see new approaches and new angles of attack in tunnels that are actually a dead end. Replacing logical thinking with trial and error in the process.

      I go astray due to the infinite possibilities of the tree of analysis.

      The past year, I clearly am developing a set of tools to prune the tree of analysis. I'm obviously on the right track. But now I see that it is time to change my attitude towards chess too. It is time to stop acting like a victim of mere chance. It is time to take the lead of my thoughts. I must not accept my cluelessity any longer.

  7. The need for an ad-infinitum-break is not limited to chess of course, usually I'm the last man standing at a party. Otah, this blog would have gone into oblivion long ago, with such break. So every disadvantage has its advantage.

    The initiative based break is called quiescence, if I'm not mistaken.

  8. When looking for if cluelessity is actually an English word, I stumbled on an old post of mine.

    Can you smell the despair already, back then?

  9. off topics
    there are some very interesting visualistation tools, for example you get a position and some moves and you have to find the tactic

  10. I'm somewhat at a loss for positive suggestions.

    May I suggest a review of your February 3, 2017 post (and the comments) as a potential antidote (and reorientation to the "chase") for your current despair?

    Link: Looking for Fun

    There is obviously a "play on words" in your blog post title. I think both senses could be applicable for how you feel at this time: maybe it's time for some plain old "FUN" and a lot less of that heavy mental lifting!

    I went back and re-read GM Beim's and FM Neiman's (along with IM Weteschnik's) suggested approaches to an "examination" of a position. (This roughly corresponds to the "vulture's eye view".) In all three cases, they suggest that a DETAILED examination is not always required BUT that an examination (perhaps taking 20-30 seconds at most) IS required as the first stage of arriving at the "best move". This preliminary step is augmented with "short tactics" (which do not involve long variations), identifying (essentially) the tactical devices/themes which "lie on the surface in plain sight". The creation of a "list of candidate moves" and the orderly processing of that list (using concrete calculations) only occurs long after the preliminary examination has been accomplished. Oh snap! You've already declared "war on lists"!

    GM Beim speculates: "Now let us draw some conclusions from the examples we have discussed. They all confirm our preliminary conclusion: AN EXAMINATION OF THE POSITION SHOULD PRECEDE ANY OPERATION CARRIED OUT ON THE CHESSBOARD. Without this, it is only possible to take the correct decision in CHANCE CASES, much like picking red or black at roulette."

    GM Beim again: "Regular practice will soon develop the necessary abilities and will make the process automatic, after which such an approach will become a habit and prove very effective."

    [Well, uh, maybe not "real soon" for some of us. . .]

    One key "trigger" indicating that a detailed examination (perhaps Weteschnik's "status examination" - looking at EVERY PIECE and identifying ALL of its Functions) MUST be performed is when the position does NOT "trigger" any specific pattern recognition ideas upon cursory examination, which would narrow down the set of moves to be examined.

    GM Beim postulates that there are two basic methods for "seeing" what is required - (1) System 1 pattern recognition, and (2) System 2 logical analysis. In some cases, it may require application of BOTH methods. If (1) is not happening, then we are stuck with (2). They are NOT mutually exclusive!

    1. I suppose you sense a whiff of gloominess in my words. That gloominess isn't there at all. It has never even been there. I'm happy when I discover new things. Even when that is something awkward as a victim like attitude towards the overwhelming complexity of chess. Or should I say, especially when I discover such awkward things.

      Since only when you notice a certain weakness, you can do something about it. Of course this blog isn't about chess. It is about life. If I have such attitude in chess, you can bet I have it in life too at some point. Only when I'm aware of it, it can be addressed.

      To demonstrate my belief in that I'm able to address this weakness, I renewed my golden membership at chess tempo today, after quite a few years of absence. After talking the talk for 13 years about the method of learning, it is time to walk the walk of exercising the new found methods.

      I intend to develop a set of personal labels which can be attached to problems. Those labels will have a relation to the initiative. That's one reason for the premium membership. Another reason is that I have "borrowed" so much from chess tempo, that it is time to buy Richard a coffee. TANSTAAFL.

      That post of Feb 3th, 2017 was pretty smart, by the way.

    2. When I see the word "despair," I don't associate that with "happy thoughts." Too much "Hee Haw" for me during my early adult years, I guess - here's a thumbnail sample of Hee Haw, if you never saw the show. Watch the ending song, in particular. (The "humor" resonated strongly with this "son of the South" - many of their sketches reminded me of real people I grew up around.)

      Link: GLOOM, DESPAIR and AGONY on ME

      I concur wholeheartedly with you: "Of course this blog isn't about chess. It is about life."

      Onward, Donkey Oatey!

  11. Its not only about: seeing a weakness , its about quick refutating of a wrong idea too.
    Here one of my weaknesses:
    i was trying to long to make use of the backrankweakness of black, reason : weak checkmate-chances-judgement

    1. That is why guidance of the attention is so important. If you don't look at a particular point on the board, you don't see what is there. No matter how familiar the pattern is. The trigger won't fire without being ignited by attention. Which is in fact a highly undervalued feature of the mind. It is highly efficient and energy saving.

      We battle against the efficient habits of the mind. Only when our method is in sync with those strong and beneficial habits of the mind, which have evolved in the past 300 million years or so, we can hope to make progress.

      Think of how efficient forgetting actually is. Older memories are prevented from interference with the new memories.

      We must stop fighting those habits, we must make looking to the right position on the board as the most efficient thing for the mind to do. Which is an entirely different approach.

      System II is the force which has the power to direct the attention of the mind. A thought process is the only way to educate system II. But it must be a highly refined thought process. Without any redundancy 'just to make sure' you have everything covered. Since redundancy eats time. Having a method to push the breaks when entering a dead end, is of the utmost importance.

    2. In fact it goes further than the location of the board. It is about with which mindset do you look at the board. In this post about Larsens' brain damage, I looked pretty brain damaged myself. Looking at the position for hours with the mind set "positional problem" made me totally numb for the tactics in the position.

    3. since a few months i redo the lessons of GM Smirnov intense. They are all about thinking method ( and realy expensiv ). He says: When there are contacts between the pieces you have to calculate all the forcing lines first.
      What i like about the "system" of Chuzhakin is, that positional and tactical thinking become the same, you not only think about things like "isolated pawns", "open lines", "pawnstructure in the center"... but you think about "HE 1-20" too.
      He shows that tactical thinking is just slightly extended positional thinking. His advertisement is just a little exagerated.
      And Larsen.. i did read a while ago, hope that i remember it well, that this book was one of the first books of Carlsen which he did learn by heart.

      I found many of his puzzles in Strategy 3.0 of Chessok. They seem to be common knowledge at masterlevel, i guess they where taken from the "informator". Most books and comments of today are now computer checked. The computer did start to change the play of the masters.