It took me 18 years to find the bottom steps of the ladder to chess improvement. Often I thought that I had found the beginning. But time after time, a close scrutiny of the results of my training sessions, tempered the initial enthusiasm. Usually after a month or three. Mr Glicko and Mr Elo are relentless.
I always managed to keep my mouth shut when I thought that I was successful. Until May this year. When I discovered the importance of chess logic as the base of transfer between chess problems, and as the base of analogies in chess, I felt that I finally was on to something. I felt that I was improving. Of course that is subjective proof, but since I don't was punished by disappointment after three months, that was good enough for me. It worked. So I finally found to courage to speak up a bit.
But it wasn't efficient. It started to dawn on me that still something was missing. I started to analyze my losses, and I was working on my five new openings as a madman. I noticed the weakness of my middlegame play, and I started to work on my positional play frantically. I discovered that result = what x how.
Another breakthrough came when I started to experiment with different problem depths. In May I started with problems of 5 ply deep. That was an arbitrary choice. When I tried problems of 7 ply deep, I felt I could still work on my logic, but my training sessions lost momentum. It became more difficult and daunting to make progress. That was the reason that I started to experiment with problems of only 3 ply deep.
I had done so in the past, and I had abandoned it because I thought it was too easy. But back then, I focused on pieces and positions, and nowadays I focus on logic, which has a higher level of abstraction. When I selected problems with a rating of higher than 2100 AND 3 ply deep AND mate, I thought I had found the holy grail.
But again I was in for a shock. Sofar, I only had focused on mate in 2. The golden standard is the performance of Susan Polgar during her simul. If I'm not at least heading in that direction, I am going nowhere. For the first time I had the feeling that a tenacious training might lead to a faster seeing of mate in 2. The choice to focus on mate in 2 solely, was arbitrary too. When I tried to do other tactics in the same manner, I all of a sudden felt totally lost. Since a mate in 2 ends after two moves, no matter what. But a non mate tactic doesn't necessarily end that way. You might find yourselves in the thickets of variations that are not clear at all. I called that the final conundrum that must be solved. "How to train tactics that don't end with mate?".
While writing the previous post I had a revelation. Blogging does that to me, that is why I write everything down. It became apparent to me that you cannot begin with logic when you have no idea what you want to achieve. And that you can only know what you want to achieve when you see it.
When I started with logic, I had suppressed the vulture. But without the vulture, you have no starting point for your logic. This means that you must split the training in two. The vulture must be trained, and the logic must be trained.
Let me try to clarify that.
|White to move|
Make a clear distinction between the salient cues and the ensuing logic. I said it often, I don't think it is important to find the solution ourselves. You can do so if you like, of course, but I consider it a waste of time.
In the previous post I made a difference between the executional move and the preparational move. The executional move has salient cues that must be learned by the vulture, while the preparational move must be used for training your logic reasoning.
What execution are you invited for in this position? The position invites you to play Ng5 and mate your opponent. Get a clear picture of the salient cues which gets you there if the opponent is not allowed to make moves.
Once you have a clear picture of what you want to achieve, you must ask yourself how your opponent is going to prevent it.
You will find that the knight on d5 is a very annoying beast. When it starts to move it unleashes blacks bishop, queen and rook.
You need some perseverance to get rid of the beast. When you find the move 1.Be6, you will find another salient cue. 1. ... fxe6 is impossible due to 2. f7#
The vulture might have missed that initially. Put that salient cue in your backpack.
It is a kind of Stoyko exercise, but then for tactics. In the end you will have a list of salient cues and a list of narratives. Take your time.
This is the direction in which I look for solving the final conundrum. Whether this conundrum is final or not remains to be seen. Time and again, the devil is in the details. But I feel very optimistic about it. But that never has proven to be a guarantee.