Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Down memory lane into the future

This is my 1000th post. Time to look back and to look forward.

It all began way back in 1998, when I started to play chess again after a hiatus of a few decades. After a few months I witnessed how our club champion got is ass handed by a 14 your old boy. The boy didn't use much time, and he even seemed to have trouble to concentrate on the board. At that moment it dawned upon me that his performance was simply based on some kind of super trick.

I decided that I wanted to know how this trick works, and I wanted to learn the trick myself. And so I started my investigation. Soon I discovered the ideas of prof. Adriaan de Groot, and the experiments of papa Polgar. It soon dawned on me that the trick had something to do with pattern recognition and the subconscious. The question became, can I replicate the results of papa Polgar as an adult, with myself in the role of guinea pig?

I bought Polgars first brick and started to solve mate problems. After the brick I continued with the steps method, followed by the discs of George Renko. I started to become better, and slowly my OTB rating improved from 1532 to 1856 (FIDE).

In 2005 I joined the Knights Errant, who followed the ideas of Michael de la Maza. I was dubbed the knight of international pancakes. Here I heard for the first time about repetition. I decided to make a grand experiment of it, and to log my experiences and mistakes along the journey. I was already busy for 7 years, so it was clear it wouldn't become a simple walk in the park. I decided to exaggerate every experiment, so that others don't need to make the same errors as I did, and to prevent them from entering a dead end. And so I wandered enthusiastically into any pitfall I could find. The power of reaching adult chess improvement would be that there would be for the first time a conscious description of how the results were attained. Thus far only the descriptions of which methods don't work have materialized, and so the story is in dire need of a happy end.

I intend to describe when certain ideas were discussed for the first time.

February 2005 I was introduced to the idea of repetition, and I did all sorts of the seven circles of hell in a grand way.
In 2006 the duplo attack and the trap were discovered as paramount ways to gain wood. The idea for the need to memorize 50,000 to 100,000 patterns was falsified, by discovering the real nature of pattern recognition.
In November 2006 we see the first sitting duck in the arena.
In December 2006 the first vulture makes his appearance. In the same month I discovered the paramount role of piece activity as the nec plus ultra. This was my first attempt to build a thought process, based on understanding.
In may 2007 the Chess Module was invented. In the same month, the importance of feedback was formulated.
In june 2007 backwards thinking was discovered. The first visualization experiments started.
In August 2007 I started to experiment with narratives. In the same month seeing versus understanding makes its debut.
In September 2007 the first picture of a coatrack was published.
In October 2007 the idea “when a piece or pawn is protected multiple times, it probably stands in the way” came about.
November 2007 was hacked by the Russians.
In December 2007 we talked about that it might suffice to only look at the played move. What does the piece do on his new square, and what doesn't the piece do on his old square anymore?
In January 2008 the framework made its entrance. Serious doubts on the MDLM system was casted.
In May 2008 we talked about confirmation bias.
In September 2008 we investigated the stalling mind.
In January 2009 we all left for the first time our comfort zone. Chess was described in terms of the three battles:
  • the battle of the pieces
  • the battle of the pawns
  • the battle of time
February 2009, more about backwards thinking and narratives. And visualization.
March 2009 the miracles of the subconscious.
October 2009 about the importance of outnumbering.
December 2009 the idea of transferring skills or knowledge from one position to another was formulated. And the transfer to OTB play.
December 2010 The two types of times were formulated. One time as the amount of tempo's to reach an ideal situation, after when it is reached, there are no more tempos needed. The difference between falling asleep over your work and after your work. And another time defined as the struggle for the initiative. In the same month we adopted mentalization as a better word for visualization.

Here I discovered that my blog was spiraling in circles over the same subjects over and over again, reaching at a deeper level of understanding with each spiral:
  • Visualization
  • Piece activity
  • Dynamism vs static positional ideas
  • Backwards thinking
  • A coach is best
  • A book is the next best (I ordered Reassess 4th edition)
  • Pawn structure
  • Database with patterns
  • Learning on automatic pilot doesn't work
  • Preconditions for attack of Vukovic
  • coathangers and their racks
  • Transfer
  • Skill
  • Tempos and geometry
  • Dual purpose moves
  • Outnumbering
  • Analysis of games
  • Chaos theory. Identifying the move where the game goes haywire
  • Narratives
  • Avoiding complexity to relieve the short term memory
  • Flexible moves
  • Steerability
Probably I have forgotten to mention quite a few recurring subjects. But you get the idea.

The ideas we are elaborating on today, are for the most part based on earlier discoveries. Brought together in a coherent framework. What will the future bring? It is difficult to say. After 6 months of salt mining, I knew for sure that another 6 months wouldn't change a thing. I'm busy with the PLF (PoPLoAFun) system for over half a year now, and we have made great theoretical progress. But will it transfer to practice? I feel confident it will. But I have felt confident before, so that is no guarantee at all. I'm very pleased that all questions that were raised in the past are addressed, and that all past conclusions have found a place in our current ideas.

So far this blog is a monument of falsified chess improvement theories. What not to do when trying to improve at chess. It might even get a mention in the Guinness book of records for the biggest rearguard struggle in the history of chess. If it will be more than that, we will find out in the next two years. One way or another, we will have found answer on a few big questions. Is adult chess improvement even possible? At least I improved my English as an adult.

1000 post wouldn't have been possible without the7349 contributions of the readers of this blog. It were your contributions, discussions, questions and rantings that kept the juices flowing. I want to thank you for that!

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Kaprekar number

I have pruned the tree of scenarios drastically, and added the initiative as branch.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Problematic initiative

The PLF (PoPLoAFun) system is very useful for certain types of position. But there are positions that remain to cause problems. Especially position where making moves that maintain the initiative are paramount. I clearly haven't grasp the full idea of the initiative.

Diagram 1. White to move
r3rbk1/1p3ppp/2pn1qn1/p2p1b2/P2P3P/2PB1NB1/1PQNRPP1/4R1K1 w - - 1 1

Feel free to comment already. That is helpful.
I will update when I have learned something from the position.
I have elaborated a lot on the initiative in the recent past. But it has become still no skill by far. I feel dumb. I can only talk about the initiative.

It took me quite a while to understand this position. After a few days it starts to dawn on me. I have been struggling with intermezzo moves and desperado's.  I have been struggling a lot in the past, and the final conclusion back then was that the length of the series of captures was paramount, in combination with who starts with the first capture.

But there is another point that is even more paramount. And that is: which capture has the most follow up pressure.

With 1.Rxe8 Bxd3 black has captured the piece with the highest follow up pressure: the black bishop  threatens the white queen. But white can do even better: Rxf8+ and threatening the black king.

I was haunted by wrong patterns of the past, which invited me to look for capturing the piece with the highest value (2.Rxa8). Now I have shaken of this purely materialistic view, and look for the most threatening capture. And I don't bother if that is a desperado, an intermezzo or just a capture. Just tit for tat with the highest follow up threat. Maintaining the initiative is paramount.

Finally the position starts to look simple. It takes an effort to identify things I have learned wrong in the past. Finally the sky cleared.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Developing the RCCM

Robert Coble said:

"The exploration of the PoPLoAFun approach has produced some surprising results!

Temposchlucker has noted that we seem to follow a “spiral” of increasing sophistication as we learn more about how to “see” the critical aspects of any given position. We start at a very simple level, eventually embed the necessary “lessons” in LTM for that level, and then move up a level of abstraction. Some of us progress rapidly up through the levels until we reach a pretty high level of skill. Others of us advance to a certain (relatively low) level, and seem to get stuck at that level.

Let’s begin at the beginning – the formal rules of chess. We have a very clear-cut goal – checkmate. We have very specific rules for the movement of the pieces. But nowhere in the formal rules do we have anything that tells us how to get from the formal rules regarding piece movement to the ultimate goal checkmate.

We “discover” that mathematicians have developed relative values for the types of pieces, predicated (primarily) on the potential mobility of the individual piece located on various pieces of an unencumbered board with no other pieces on it. The so-called “Reinfeld” value system is Pawn = 1, Knight = 3, Bishop = 3, Rook = 5, Queen = 9, and the King = infinity, because when the King is “lost” the game is over. We ingest this STATIC EVALUATION system because it is a shortcut to determining when (and whether) to trade pieces through exchanges, or whether to “sacrifice” some units of material for some non-material (perhaps intangible) compensation.

Unfortunately, this very early acquisition of material “rules” becomes part of our subconscious (intuition). We then try to build on that very “shaky” foundation. We try to relate the various piece values by “assuming” that the Pawn’s value is the “basic unit,” and using the relative values as if they are absolute values.

Let’s examine one such assumption and then I’ll move on to the more cogent discussion. The two Bishops have an equivalent value in “points” to a Rook and Pawn. Yet, if the mobility of two Bishops is compared to the mobility of a Rook and Pawn, you will find that the two Bishops together on the edge and corner of the board have a minimum mobility of 13 on two adjacent long diagonals, and a maximum value on two center squares of 26. The Rook, on the other hand, has a mobility of 14 regardless of its position and a Pawn has (at most) 1 move, giving a combined value of 15 for Rook/Pawn pair. But the average value for the two Bishops is 19.5!

What conclusion can we draw for this simple example?

Basing our evaluation function on a STATIC evaluation system which is primarily AVERAGE mobility may be (and probably is) deeply flawed. And so our foundation for future skill development is grounded on very thin “air.”

But we have to have SOME basis for making judgments about moves, exchanges and sacrifices, or we will just be playing randomly.

Consider a more dynamic approach. A given piece can Attack, Block, C</>onstrain (Restrict), or Defend a specific square on the board 1 and ONLY 1 time at any given instant. It is not possible to develop an overall evaluation of the entire board position by simply “adding” up all the A/B/C/D “functions” for both sides, subtracting the combined value for one player from the combined value of the other player and declaring that we have an accurate “evaluation” of the position. In short, the maths approach using dynamics does not work.

So where does that leave us? Is there no way to use this notion of dynamics to assist us in evaluating our positions? I would emphatically state the exact opposite! And what does this do for the notion of the ubiquity of tactics?

This is where the idea of “spiral” levels of increasing expertise comes into play. Think of the A/B/C/D level as the equivalent of the machine hardware instruction set of a given computer processor. That is the foundational layer that undergirds all other (higher) levels. We do NOT want to “program” our subconscious to throw up signals to our conscious at this level; it is simply too crude to form the basis for useful (higher level) chess skill.

So how do we move “up” a level based on A/B/C/D? We combine one or more pieces in the given position which have an effect on a specific square. Here our maths approach works fairly well, provided we can “see” those combinations of A/B/C/D on that specific square. Those squares are the “points of pressure” (PoPs), which by definition are “weaknesses.” The “lines of attack” (LoAs) are the potential movements of the pieces so as to affect the specific “point of pressure” localized on that square. The “functions” (Funs) of each piece impacting on a given square must be examined to see if that same piece simultaneously has other functions (obligations) on a different square, because any multi-function that a piece has becomes a potential encumbrance which may negate its effect on the square in question. Thinking at this level corresponds to the assembler level of our hypothetical computer. We can now process the various interactions symbolically, but the level is still too low for skillful play. This is a tremendous advantage compared to machine language, but it is still too crude for high level chess skill.

We move up again to the motif level. This is an abstraction of the PoPLoAFun aspects combined with a descriptive phrase, i.e. “the encircling motif,” “the geometrical motif,” “the desperado motif,” “the promotion motif,” etc. This gives us much more power of abstraction and corresponds to the macro-assembler level of languages for programming. Macros give us the capability to encapsulate a recognition function in such a way as to reuse it in many different situations without having to work our way through each of the lower levels.

We move up to the tactical themes/devices level. We can now figure out “HOW” we should move the pieces in cooperation to accomplish high level goals. We can execute combinations! Note that one of the usual elements of a combination is a feeling of “surprise” to one of the players, not to both. The player who executes a combination is NOT surprised – he anticipated and planned it. This corresponds to the procedural language level of programming.

We move up to the strategy level. We now “plan” our next (relatively short) sequence of moves as short-term goals. We have now reached the non-procedural level of programming, where we specify “what” we want to do, but do not have to consider “how” to do it. The “how” is taken care of “behind the scenes” by the subconscious simultaneously working on all of the lower levels.

I previously noted the viewpoint of Teichmann and Petrosian regarding the ubiquity of tactics in chess. I’ll repeat those quotes for easy reference:

"Chess is 99% tactics" - Richard Teichmann
 Amended by Dr Dave at the Exeter Chess Club: ...Although it has often seemed to me that the remaining 99% must be all strategy :-)

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.” – Tigran Petrosian

An earlier post by Temposchlucker (05 NOV 2006: “Is the method of MDLM flawed?”) offered this considered opinion based on experience up to that date:

I’m going to try to lay out why I think those two assessments (especially Petrosian’s) are correct, based on the preliminary background discussion above. It may take me to places that I really don’t understand fully, but I hope you get the idea as expressed.

3rd. The idea that chess is 99% tactics (not heralded by MDLM but by Teichman!) is definitely busted.

As I looked over the latest incarnation of the Tree of Scenarios (ToS), I remembered something that Temposchlucker had earlier observed (with an apparent sense of “Surprise!”):

A target is protected by two defenders. When you trade off one defender, the other defender becomes immobile.

As expressed, Temposchlucker’s observation is at a low level of tactics, perhaps down at the level just above the A/B/C/D level. It seems surprising that we don’t “see” that immediately as a truism and try to remember and apply it. But let’s try to move that same notion up through some levels and “see” what happens as we abstract the idea to the fullest. I’ll forgo a detailed discussion of the in-between levels required to perform the abstraction.

We “know” (from Temposchlucker’s description if not from our own experience) that we can remove a defender, which effectively adds an attacker, when we exchange off a defender of a particular square. We can accomplish this same relative increase in attacking power on a given square by decoying a defender away, or adding another task somewhere else to one of the defenders. This puts us at a higher level of abstraction than the level at which the observation was made.

One of the things that one notices about Nimzovich’s My System is that it is broken down into two levels: the elements and position play. He uses very simple examples to define and describe the elements of strategy. He then revisits those ideas at a much higher level of abstraction with regard to position play.

Consider Nimzovich’s idea of “overprotection.” We should (but often don’t) consider (some of) our important squares and provide an excess of protection for them. Obviously, this enables us to avoid B.A.D. squares (and pieces) but we often don’t “see” the even higher level of strategy that is involved.

By “overprotecting,” we enable ALL of the pieces involved in the interaction on a given square to become mobile. Any one of them (provided we have more “defenders” than the attacker has “attackers”) can freely move as needed elsewhere, without any concern that the attacked square will suddenly become critical (a “point of pressure”). That mobility gives us options which we would not have otherwise.

Lasker opined that the strongest attack moves along the “line of least resistance.” This is nothing more than saying that the attack aims toward the weakness(es) in the position. An overprotected square avoids this possibility of allowing the opponent an attack. Unfortunately, because each piece operates in one specific function on one specific square at a time, there is no such thing as a “weakness-free” position. There will ALWAYS be weaknesses in any given position! What we want to drive into our subconscious is the recognition of the patterns to “see” those weaknesses AND how to take advantage of them!

This is a case of observing that the lower levels provide the functional basis for the highest levels. This implies that the aphorisms of Teichman and Petrosian are actually true:

Chess IS largely tactics, IFF all levels of abstraction are considered simultaneously!"

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hanging examples on the Tree of Scenarios

My failures are used to hang as examples in the tree of scenarios like balls in a Xmas tree (see the links)
  • Tree Of Scenarios

  • target status
    • Is hanging or outnumbered
      • neutralize counter attack
      • defend after capture
    • Has lack of space
      • cover flight square
      • weakest defender
        • pry the box open
      • block flight square with his own piece
      • chase target into the box
      • squeeze the box
      • chase target into a line of attack
      • cut off from defenders
    • Is defending
    • Is target of duplo attack
    • Is B.A.D.
      • Remove defenders
        • Defender has other duties
          • deflect
      • are the defenders potential targets?
      • add attackers with tempo
      • can the opponent add defenders?
      • duplo attack it
    • Is attacking
  • point of pressure status
    • Is outnumbered
      • ready for use
    • Line of attack to PoP is blocked
      • clear with tempo
    • Is of 2nd order
  • attacker status
    • Has defensive duties
      • remove counter attacker
      • reach the loa while staying in contact with defense
      • defend with tempo
  • check for counter play
    • are there counter attacks?
    • is there a defensive move?

Friday, June 09, 2017

Reshuffling the tree of scenarios

 I reshuffled the tree of scenario's
It is more logical now. Time to put it to the test.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Weird additions

After a little break, it is always a bit difficult to get back on track again. But let's give it a shot.
I was busy to reshuffle the tree of scenario's

It is logical to start with determining your targets. A target is always (nearly) outnumbered. What does that mean? It is either:
  • Hanging (outnumbered, LPDO) or
  • B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended, nearly outnumbered) or
  • Of high value. A king is always outnumbered when you attack it
So we start looking for (nearly) outnumbered targets. But what happens if we don't find one? There must be at least one target. Otherwise there can be no combination.

Diagram 1. White to move

4r1k1/pqr1pp1p/p1Nn2p1/3P4/5QP1/8/PP1R1P1P/4R1K1 w - - 1 1

We already talked about this position before. The point is, that the black queen has lack of space. But I did not see that. Only when I realised that b8 is a convergence point of the second order of  the white rook and knight, I saw that the black queen is actually a target.

But that leads to a weird addition to the scenario which handles the lack of space (see the red ellipse in the first picture). It doesn't look elegant, but I can't do without the addition. The guide I'm developing must somehow lead my attention to b8.

Another position where I couldn't find the targets was this:

 diagram 2. White to move

2R5/3P1pkp/5bp1/1q2N3/p7/6BP/5PPK/8 w - - 1 1

The reason that I couldn't find the targets here, is because they are not on their target squares yet. A few preliminary moves are needed. I have it not worked out yet, but I smell a weird addition already.

I will update the post when I have worked it out. Feel free to comment already.