Monday, July 22, 2019

More KISSing

An overloaded system II is the main reason for system I to hold back itself from learning anything. So the first thing to do is to calm down the hysterical system II a bit. Since system II isn't able to cope with complexity, we must simplify matters into absurdity. Only when system II has no longer the urge to sabotage the learning process, we can hope that system I kicks in to show off its magic. So let's simplify matters to the bone and beyond.

There are only three tactical principles that can win anything.
  • Lack of space
  • Lack of time
  • Immobility due to function
There can't be no other ways, logically. In fact all three principles boil down to the same: lack of time. Lack of space means you don't have the time to make an escape square AND to skedaddle at the same time. Immobility means you don't have the time to relieve your piece from its defensive function(s) and to bring itself and or the piece(s) it is defending into safety in one go.

Lack of space
The tactical theme that belongs to lack of space is the
  • trap

Lack of time
There are three tactical themes related to lack of time:
  • Double attack
  • Discovered attack
  • Skewer
I coined these three as the duplo attacks. You attack two targets in one go.

Immobility due to function
There is one theme associated to this:
  • Pin
You focus either on attacking the pinnee or what it is defending.

I have the following presumptions:
  • I consider mate to be a special case of a trap (lack of space)
  • I consider promotion as a special case of gaining wood
  • I don't allow quiet moves to upset my system II, so I ignore them for the time being
  • I consider castling to be a potential double attack in special cases (two moves in one go)
  • I consider a skewer and a roentgen attack to be the same
 And a whole bunch of preparatory moves
For the sake of simplicity I hypothesize that you can only win by one of the five themes I mentioned
  • trap
  • double attack
  • discovered attack
  • skewer
  • pin
 Besides these five themes there is a whole bunch of preparatory moves. They lack the two purposes in one go element. What they have in common though, is that they maintain the initiative. Which means, it are all moves which require an answer. It are moves with tempo.

I spent some time to order them. I found the following categories, all with tempo:

Activate an attacker
  • bring attacker to the attacking square
  • clearance of the line of attack
  • loading a battery

Activate the target
  • chase the target towards the target square
  • put the head piece of a pin in place
  • put the tail piece of a pin in place
  • put the target in place by a magnet move
Exploit function
  • annihilate the defender
  • chase away the defender
  • lure the defender away from its task
  • interfere the defender

Solve your own problems first
  • exchange a hanging piece
  • safe a problem piece
  • bring your king into safety
  • defensive move
 That's pretty much it, I believe. I will add the missing themes later. Remember all preparatory moves only work with tempo. I'm focusing on the five winning themes first.


  1. @ Aox:

    Thanks for the link! That's an interesting video! It reminds me of Victor Charushin's excellent The Tactician's Handbook, which is a collection of separate books, each devoted to an advanced tactical theme: Alekhine's Block, Combination Cross, Domination, Lasker's Combination, Mitrofanov's Deflection, and The Steeplechase. Each tactical theme is illustrated with many positions and games.

    @ Tempo:

    I’ve been working slowly through August Livshitz’s excellent book Test Your Chess IQ x3. It’s actually three books combined. It has timed tests of sets of problems taken from games, with suggested scoring based on how long it takes to complete each specific test set of 8 problems. The solver is given 40 to 50 minutes per problem set. There is considerable pedagogical value in the problems and games from which they are taken, because the student can see how one side set up the combination (or one side failed to take timely precautions). It is often the lead-up to the combination that is hard to "see", not the tactics involved.

    ASIDE: I’ve just finished reading Douglas Hofstadter’s and Emmanuel Sander’s 500+ page tome Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking. There is considerable “food for thought” regarding categorization and analogy-making (two sides of the same coin) with regard to training the subconscious pattern recognition mechanism. It provides an alternative [perhaps complementary] explanation for the “chunking” process. But, that’s a different discussion, for another time.

    Here are a couple of Livshitz positions that illustrate your points:

    Problem 5: 8/6pk/2b2q2/pp5p/2p1P2P/2Pr1P2/P3Q1K1/2R1B3 b - - 0 43

    Black gains a tempo [LPDO], which subsequently changes the status of e4 from [2:1] to B.A.D. [2:2]. This has a ripple effect on f3. The Black Bishop changes status from remotely “attacking” f3 to directly attacking it, as the result of the pin.

    Be alert for the possibility of pinning a Queen against the King with a Rook or Bishop.


    [Event "Amsterdam IBM"]
    [Site "Amsterdam NED"]
    [Date "1971.07.13"]
    [EventDate "?"]
    [Round "1"]
    [Result "0-1"]
    [White "Svetozar Gligoric"]
    [Black "Vasily Smyslov"]
    [ECO "D07"]
    [WhiteElo "?"]
    [BlackElo "?"]
    [PlyCount "86"]

    1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Nc3 dxc4 4. d5 Ne5 5. Bf4 Ng6 6. Bg3 e5
    7. dxe6 Bxe6 8. Nf3 Nf6 9. Nd4 Bd7 10. e3 Bb4 11. Bxc4 O-O
    12. Qc2 c6 13. h3 Qe7 14. O-O Bxc3 15. bxc3 Ne4 16. Bh2 c5
    17. Nf3 Bc6 18. Bd3 f5 19. Rad1 Rad8 20. Be2 Qf6 21. Rxd8 Rxd8
    22. Rc1 h6 23. Bd3 Kh8 24. Ne1 c4 25. Bxe4 fxe4 26. Qe2 b5
    27. Bg3 Ne7 28. Qb2 Nd5 29. Qa3 a5 30. Kh2 h5 31. h4 Qf8
    32. Qb2 Nf6 33. Kg1 Ng4 34. Qe2 Qf6 35. f3 exf3 36. gxf3 Ne5
    37. e4 Nd3 38. Rc2 Nxe1 39. Bxe1 Rd3 40. Kg2 Qg6+ 41. Bg3 Kh7
    42. Rc1 Qf6 43. Be1 Qf4 0-1

    Problem 20: r1q2rk1/p3ppbp/1p1p2p1/1n1P4/4PP2/1P4P1/PB1Q2BP/3R1RK1 w - - 1 19

    Black suffers from a lack of space, specifically for the Nb5. As a result, he has insufficient time to save it after a forcing sequence of moves. The setup is a simple capture. The “sting” comes at the end as a double attack. Golombek resigned before Botvinnik could execute the double attack.

    Be alert for capturing as a means to setup a double attack.


    [Event "Moscow ol (Men) fin-A"]
    [Site "Moscow URS"]
    [Date "1956.09.10"]
    [EventDate "?"]
    [Round "1.1"]
    [Result "1-0"]
    [White "Mikhail Botvinnik"]
    [Black "Harry Golombek"]
    [ECO "A15"]
    [WhiteElo "?"]
    [BlackElo "?"]
    [PlyCount "39"]

    1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.g3 g6 4.b3 Bg7 5.Bb2 O-O 6.Bg2 Nc6 7.O-O
    b6 8.d4 cxd4 9.Nxd4 Bb7 10.Nc3 Qc8 11.Nc2 d6 12.e4 Nd7 13.Qd2
    Nc5 14.f4 Ne6 15.Rad1 Ned4 16.Nxd4 Nxd4 17.Nd5 Bxd5 18.cxd5
    Nb5 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Rc1 1-0