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Showing posts from August, 2007

Continuation of the previous post.

I have two big weaknesses in my play: endgame and complex tactical positions. With the aid of Hansens book I expect to make great progress with my endgame. A far bigger problem though is calculating complex tactical positions. For improvement in this area I need to improve my visualisation skills and my reasoning . Visualisation is in the backseat. Right now I focus on reasoning . For reasoning I used depend on the trial and error method. According to this method I generate random nice looking candidate moves. The downside of this method is I generate way too much candidate moves. Formulating narratives reduces the amount of lines to investigate drastically. This is an example of my previous post: I have found: g7 is the most vulnerable invasion square. the queen is (can become) overworked since she has to defend g7 and e6 So the task to accomplish is to clear the long diagonal. In order to reach that we have to step up the pressure against e6, to remove the blockader of e5. There are

A reaction to a comment from Loomis

In a previous post I contended that it is not good to start to think at the begin of a line, since that means trial and error. It is impossible to start at the end of the line, since that is not yet physical visible. Hence I consider it to be best to begin at the second motif and work your way back to the beginning. The second motife is often already partly visible. In yesterday's post I showed you how that works. I'm very happy with the discovery of invasion and overloading, since that is a common second motife in complex positions. Often being responsible for the complexity in the first place. Loomis showed how difficult it can be to work backwords to the beginning. This is my first attempt to formulate a narrative to assist in this part of the job. The art is to formulate it in such way that it starts to look simple. White to move and win. Yesterday we found: g7 is the most vulnerable invasion square. the queen is (can become) overworked since she has to defend g7 and e6 S

Takchess asked the following question: To speak to the invasion subject of last post. The invasion square is often at a crossroads where it interacts with multiple pieces. I wonder if there is value to mapping some of these fields of force. Ct-Art does this as part of their hint section. Do you think there would be any value in doing this? Yes, I'm inclined to think that that would be very valuable. Let's investigate an example. White to move and win. It is miraculous how every problem in Polgars Middlegame book seems to revolve around invasion and overloading. I just took the next problem. The first question I ask myself is where do my pieces converge? Q+B: g7 Q+R+R: f8 R+R+pawn: f7 You see that I neglect at the moment that the long diagonal isn't cleared yet . The next question is what are the defenders of these potential invasion squares? g7: Q+K f8: N+R+K f7: B+R+Q+K Especially important is the value of the defenders. The higher the value the worse the defense. Thus g

Levels of abstraction.

Warning: theoretical ranting ahead! Before our house, along the water there used to stand about 20 pollard willows. Once every year the branches are truncated. The guys who do this have no idea what they are doing, so they cut all the life away. Even a strong tree like a willow cannot withstand such bad treatment forever. After 7 years 17 trees died. When I confronted the workmen with their incompetence, they were very surprised that there could be a relation between their treatment of the trees and the deceasing of the trees. They had never even thought of it. They thought it was an act of nature or something. Just as stupid is my way of looking at a chessposition. I tend to see the position in my games as given facts, bearing no relation with my previous moves. Opportunities seem to materialize out of the blue. When I tried to comment on Blue Devils comment on my latest post , a lot of new thoughts arose which I like to share. For your convenience I repeat his comment here: Each t

Narrative of a higher cognitive level

I hate the term higher cognitive level since it invites to be vague. But right now I don't know a better term so I hope you will bear with it. Blue Devil has been struggling with this position, lately : White to move and draw. I have investigated a similar position about 1.5 year ago here , here and here . Although I have studied the position for days, I made the same mistake initially as Blue Devil by thinking the position above is an easy win for white. This is a very important point. How can it be that someone studies a simple position with only 4 pieces for about a week and still he doesn't recognize a similar position after 1.5 years? Alright, the position is slightly different, but that doesn't explain this phenomenon. Because if you don't know how to work around this, all your study efforts will be in vain. The fact is, I never formulated a definite conclusion about the position. I have just investigated it. I never formulated a narrative on a higher level, I g

A question of Takchess with more answers than he might want:)

Takchess asked me the following: Invasion. Is this basically your opponent can't effectively stop your attack? ie: bad defensive position. At first I thought that the ultimate goal to strive for in the middlegame was piece activity . Later I found out that the ultimate goal of piece activity is invasion . The point of invasion is that it hampers the communication of the pieces of the opponent. It divides the board in parts. Every piece with a higher value than the invading piece is hindered by the invader. These pieces cannot move freely in their own territory. Hence there is trouble to defend. How do you find the invasion square? The invasion square is where you can have the upper hand. Where your own pieces converge and where the defenders can be outnumbered, or chased/traded/decoyed away. Why is invasion so often a motif in complex positions? Because most other motifs are usually simple to see. Common tactical basic motifs like a discovered attack or a knightfork etc. are eas

Exercising out loud

Configuring CCT. A thoughtprocess like Checks-Captures-Threats (CCT) needs modification to suit your personal needs. Let me see what is usefull for me and what not. There are two goals you can go after with CCT: blunderchecking and generation of candidate moves. I think that CCT suits blunderchecking very well. But blunderchecking is not my main concern at this moment. Right now I'm interested in candidate move generation. To that end I need to dismantle CCT untill it suits my needs. It will beome something maybe that is far away from the initial CCT-idea's, but that doesn't bother. Since I'm used to blundercheck every move anyhow, I will dismiss anything in CCT that has to do solely with blunderchecking. Only threats. . . A check is a special instance of a threat. So I will use the word threat as a replacement for a check, in order to keep things simple. After all, I have to work with it. If you look at captures, there are two kind of captures. The first kind of capt

Clownhole in one

And a few pictures which I didn't use, especially for David and Eric:)

How to shuffle cards

(looks like cheating to me) Once I explained my mother how to shuffle cards. I told her that a supple wrist was absolutely essential. We hadn't a deck at hand, so I could not show her. When I came home and took a deck of cards and shuffled them, I noticed that my wrists were stiff during shuffling. In fact it was virtually impossible to shuffle the cards with lose wrists. On the internet there is no lack of good advice about chess. But even if somebody is a renowed chessplayer, that doesn't mean that his advice is good. Because what happened to me, can happen to the mere mortal side of any master. It is absolute necessary that the advisor has put his advice into practice and has used the feedback for finetuning his idea's. When you want to improve at chess you have to be very carefull with your use of time. Since there is more good advice around than you can ever follow within a lifetime. And most of it is not put to the test. Take for instance the famous tree of analysis f

How usefull is opening study?

Both Takchess and HisBestFriend raised a question about the usefullness of opening study. I'm not a grandmaster, so my verdict has not the power of law. Yet if I look at the figures, I'm inclined to think are they insane? If I see grandmasters memorizing lines 20 moves deep or more, I get the feeling they are fooling themselves and each other. Isn't it just a matter of fashion? Let's try to use some reason. Fischer suggested that openingstudy would kill chess in the end. In order to prevent that, and to become independant from the study of openings, he invented his shuffle-chess. Since Fischer chess has 960 different start positions, the amount of openingstheory becomes 960 x so vast. That raises the following question: can we create the same effect without altering the rules? At every ply in the opening there are about 20 possible moves. If 5 of them are mainstream theory and 15 "unorthodox", you need only 3 plies where you make an unorthodox move. That gi

From word to sentence

When there are thickets of variations in a position, there are parallel lines and serial lines. I always thought that parallel thinking would be the most troublesome in terms of overload of the short term memory. Since the short term memory is made for sequential work. In my last post I surprised myself by saying that it are the long serial lines that intertwine the basic tactical elements that cause the problem and not the short parallel lines. After two days of investigation of this statement I more and more become convinced that it is true. When you call a basic tactical element a word , then the line is called a sentence . You have to learn to read the sentence. The grammar dictates how the words are intertwined. What are the topics while attempting to read a sentence? Visualisation. When there are 9 basic tactical elements in a row, you must be able to see how the position will look like at the end of the line. That will take considerable exercise. Interference. The moves from on

Correction

I notice that I must express myself a bit more clear. I have done the 7 circles with TCT (1500 problems) and with George Renko's ICT I (1300 problems). I have heard that the difficulty of ICT I is comparable with CT-art. These circles have given me a good improvement, average to what most knights obtained from it. So no refutation of the circles here. But then I formulated the hypothesis that in order to get better at complex tactical combinations I had to learn to solve lots of simple combinations a tempo first. So I started to do the 7 circles with 10,000 problems from CTS, which are very low level. What I say now is that this experiment has refuted the hypothesis. I have not become better in complex tactical positions. Well that is not quite true. I have become better in positions where there are a lot of parallel tactical elements which are shallow. But with the problem I do now there is a long sequential series of 9 basic tactical elements, and there the benefit from CTS is

Stuff for DK and BDK while behind bars

It took some time to find two willingly ladies from '29 (I respect everybodies taste) that fit the description but here they are: David, meet Veselina Topalova: She has a sexy darkbrown Oekrainian accent, would love to go deep into Darwinian matters. She is mad about lasagna which she flushes with dark Scottish beer (and whisky) while singing out loud Kraftwerk's magnificient Autobahn. The one for Eric is somewhat younger than from '29, but still legal. She has an unbelievable body and loves pepperoni. Eric, meet Vladinia Kramnikova.

How does a grandmaster finds his way through the thickets?

To bell the cat The difference between a good player and a bad player is the ability to calculate well in complex positions. Difference in knowledge plays no serious role since you can obtain any knowledge within weeks or even days. But the difference in calculation ability can't be overcome in a short time. Yesterday I asked myself "How does a grandmaster finds his way through the thickets of variations in a complex position?" What I tend to do myself is clear: I make a list of nice looking candidate moves and by means of trial and error I try to reach a definite conclusion. Say, I see 5 reasonable moves. And my opponent has 5 reasonable answers for every move. Within 3 ply I have to investigate 125 reasonable possibilities. Even a grandmaster wouldn't be able to work this way. And thus he must approach it differently. This is my take. He recognizes the first tactical motif. That limits his own possibility to one move. There are only very few possibilities to answer

Investigation continues

Polgars book has 77 chapters with 54 problems each. Each chapter treats a specific middlgame theme. I'm busy with the chapter that is called opening up the diagonal . The problem that I studied today contains the following elements in the main line: knight sacrifice in order to lure the king in an ambush pawnfork at the same time opening up the diagonal counterattack by the opponent setting up an ambush discovered attack trade of rooks exchange sacrifice trade of bishop decoying the king double attack winning a rook Endresult: 2 pawns up from which 1 is a passer. So you sac a knight, 9 tactical motifs and 20 ply further you regain your material with interest. Every tactical motif has to be checked for all alternatives. A grandmaster can do this, otherwise he hadn't sac'd the knight in the first place. I try to imagine what is necessary for me to learn to do the same. Problem 388 Black to move and win.

A general scheme starts to unfold

Somalian warrior overload. Today I have been busy with the next problem (387) and guess what, invasion and overload of the queen are the main theme's again! Maybe that is not so strange. To improve piece activity is the main method of the middlegame. When the piece activity culminates into invasion or the thread of invasion in the near future, tactical blows start to manifest. And when there is a defender, often a queen, that is overloaded, tricks arise. Often the piece is not overloaded by protecting other pieces alone, but must it protect against invasion too. The latter is much harder to see. These higher level structures are revealed by narratives. It means you must not stop when you have a narrative that describes the line only, but you must describe how it all came about. I noticed that looking at the new discovered themes (invasion and overload) makes the position looking more simple. In stead of generating a list with random moves that look nice, and that you test with tr

So what do I have now?

My experiment to take a complex tactical position and to generalize the solution to a higher cognitive level by means of narratives so that I can use it for other similar positions is a total succes. I'm confident that I will recognize the same idea in other positions. It changed my way of seeing such positions. So what do I have now? I'm not sure. The problem was number 385 from Polgars book which contains 4158 problems. It took me 6 days to generalize the position. It was a demanding and hefty task which wore me out. To value if it is worth the efforts will depend on how often I will encounter a similar position. That is difficult to say, but since invasion is the the main goal of piece activity it must be good to recognize an invasion square by just looking at it. On the other hand, now I'm busy with problem 386 of 4158 from Polgars book. After 2 days of hefty working I have investigated all winning lines. But again, if you ask me why is 1.d5 such killer move in this

Question from a lurker

I got an E-mail with a question today which I will repeat below. Dear Sir: I enjoy reading your chess posts. Though not a Knight myself, I am one of countless "lurkers." With respect to your post on " Seeing instead of understanding ," I would like to share a (somewhat speculative) thought. Let me proceed by analogy. When first trying to play an unfamiliar piece on the piano, one must consciously attend to the mechanics of playing each note; only after much practice does the performance process pass to another region of the brain, and thus appear as a nearly unconscious act. As a former teacher I believe that something similar happens when learning mathematics. It seems to me in chess it is the same way: You must first practice (and practice and practice...) *understanding*, and in time, you will *see*. Does this seem correct to you? Sincerely, RC It is always nice to hear something from the contingent of "silent voyeurs" since it

About yesterday's position Takchess commented the following: So perhaps we should ask ourselves: what is the Big Idea in each position ? Look at structure first with no or minimal calculations. The attack of f7 is the Straw that stirs the drink. There are two elements in this comment. At first that there is a big idea or big idea's in such complex tactical position with a definite outcome. Constructing narratives has proven to be a quite good method to discover these big idea's. At second the comment suggests that it is possible to look at the structure and to see the big idea. Thus ruling out the necessity for calculation for a great deal. I am convinced that that must be possible. Although I understand the solution, thanks to the narratives I have constructed, I don't see it. There is no emotional experience that is triggered by the winning lines. Or it must be the amazement that there are only 3 killer moves for white, almost no matter what black does (Bxf7, Q

An attempt to write a narrative.

White to play and win. Likesforest has done a courageous attempt to analyze this position. Since it looks very much alike how I started with my own analysis, I assume he doesn't mind I repeat his analysis here: I see the knight on a4 and bishop on b7 are hanging. I also see the queen is overworked defending the back rank and the f6 bishop. If I could play d7 immediately, Qxd7 is almost forced and then Qf4 win a bishop or knight. But, I have to play d6 first and that gives Black a tempo to protect them or trade pieces. Black protects his bishop - 1.d6 Bg7 2.Bxg7 Kxg7 3. Qd4+ (winning a knight) 1.d6 Bh8 2.Bxf7+ Kxf7 (forced) 3.Qb3 (mate follows) Black trades pieces - 1.d6 Bxf3 2.Bxf7+! (2...Kxf7? 3.Qb3 mate follows) 2...Kh8 3.Qxf3 (up a pawn and bishop pair, Black's king is cornered, his knight/bishop still hang, and his rook/queen are lined up on a diagonal--more material will be won in the next couple moves). Black protects his knight - 1.d6 Nc5 2. ... - I'm stuck. T

Thickets

In complex positions there are thickets of variants, where it is very easy to get confused and to lose your trail. I'm convinced that in this area the biggest difference between the amateur and the grandmaster is made. Take for instance the beautiful position below. White to move and win. If white moves 1.d6 there are 7 plausible moves for black that have to be investigated. None of these lines is very complicated. Yet I find it extremely difficult to get an overview of the position. That has to do with the fact that almost every line has a quite different winning mechanism. So you can hardly use the information that you obtained in one line in another line. The main principle at work is overloading though. I know the position isn't that difficult and I bet that a grandmaster sees it as not difficult. It is my own generated confusion that is the problem here. So what I am going to do is to tell myself narratives about every single line of the position until the confusion disso

Back to Polgars middlegame brick

Right now I'm doing exercises in order to get better at complex middlegame play. I stopped using Renko's CD ICT II since even the exercises at masterlevel are too easy. So I'm back by 28 exercises from Polgar's middlegame brick. I have done these before about 6 months ago, using 4-10 hours per problem. I want to check what I remember from the analysis and if I can create narratives to get deeper in such positions. Update. With narratives it is easier to divide the position in different parts. In this old post I had trouble with bookkeeping of all the possible trades in the diagram. What I used to do was something like: White to move Nxe8 Add 5 points to white Nxc2 Add 9 points to black White can do several things now, take the bishop, add 3 points or play Nc7 attacking the rook 5 points or he can play Bg5 attacking the queen 9 points. Eh, where was I? Thanks to the narratives I all of a sudden saw that I can just count everthing that black can take in a row and what w