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Showing posts from October, 2007

Counting as narrative

When there is a sequence of trades and there is no queen involved that is standing in front her rooks or her bishop, then there is no need for going through the actual sequence. You can predict the outcome by just counting the values of the pieces according to the following method. The usual way of counting, i.e. comparing only the #attackers with the #defenders is insufficient since it doesn't take the value of the pieces into account. That gives wrong answers when one side has two rooks while the other has one or none. The maximum gain you can get is determined by the value of the victim. You can get never more since the defender simply stops trading. There are 2 situations. The value of the victim exceeds the value of the first attacker. In that case you always win wood. The value of the victim exceeds NOT the value of the first attacker. In that case it depends on the values and # of attackers and defenders if you will get the value of the victim or not. The method: Take as man

A system for counting

One of my cheerleaders. After 5 days stumbling in the dark finally the lightswitch turned on. I worked out all possible captures with different attackers, defenders and victims. What put me on the wrong foot is that the position of the previous post is an exception. Only when there is a queen involved, the order of access can play a role. Since a queen can stand in front of her rooks or her bishop. The other pieces cannot stand in each others way and at the same time play a role in capturing. In the following treatment I leave the situation out of a queen standing in front of her rooks or her bishop. Then a fairly simple system remains. The most logical way of capture and recapture is to use the light pieces first before the heavier ones. To know if a sequence of capturing will give you wood: n = #attackers m = #defenders A= Sum value of m attackers (take the lowest) B= Sum value of n enemy pieces that are involved in the trade (take the lowest) Gmax= maximum gain = value of the victi

Mother of all Tactics: counting trades

After studying for 5 days the position below, it has become obvious how universal that position is. The position itself is not too difficult, you can imagine the sequence of trades well within a reasonable time. It is in fact a counting problem. It is obvious how to generalize this position. It's a matter of changing the amounts and the values of the attackers, the defenders and the victim (the piece on d4). Counting problems are extremely common. Because counting problems are so common, I want to find a shortcut. A method which makes it obsolete to work out the actual sequence everytime. In the same way as the rule of the square in the endgame makes it unnecessary to imagine every pawn and king move in the run to promotion. The point is that imaging a sequence of alternating moves is taxing for the short term memory. Not impossible, but taxing. Especially if you at the same time must do the bookkeeping of how much wood both black and white have gathered sofar. The fact is, that th

Digging a little deeper

Let me try to dig a little deeper in the findings of my previous post . To know what to ignore. I will start at the position where I start to see all kinds of phantoms (diagrams below). According to my thesis a grandmaster sees such position as simple. He just knows that when you add a bishop at b5 the only effect will be that the knight is pinned and that you can safely take the pawn on d4. It is very tempting to say that a grandmaster sees such position much quicker than we do. But that puts us easily on the wrong foot. It is better to say that he perceives the position differently . Simpler. He knows what to ignore. Speed is the result of this way of perceiving, not the cause . If we would see the position in the same way, we would make our moves at the same speed. The cause of the speed is the fact that there is no time needed for what is ignored. And on the other hand, if the grandmaster would haunt the same phantoms as we do, it would take him just as much time as us. Of cours

Improvising from move one

Yesterday I played against our clubchampion (rated 2142). He always plays 1.f4. Usually I answer with the Fromm gambit (1. .. e5) but yesterday I decided to follow Nimzowitsch and to play just sound logical moves. So I started with 1. ... d5. With the downside that I had to think from move one, which costed time of course. He played a premature g4, which I, again according to Nimzowitsch, immediately punished with a counterattack in the center. But the opening and the middlegame and my new approach had costed me too much time, so in the end he could proof that he was the better blitz player. Yet I was very satisfied since I actually outplayed him and had him into trouble. You can find the game here .

How a grandmaster sees tactics

In my previous post I claimed that a grandmaster would recognize the right move in the following diagram Ã  tempo. Of course I can't backup this claim. But that doesn't mean I can't speculate about it and formulate a hypothesis. The claim is based on the positions that GM Danielsen played correct Ã  tempo in his blitz games. This concrete position stems from PCT though. It took me 6 hours with the aid of Rybka to form an opinion about this position. There are many tiny little details that play a role, and there are some red herrings as Loomis called it. This brings me to the first part of my hypothesis: There is so much going on in this position, that even a grandmaster will need much time to see all the relevant details. If this part of the thesis is true AND my claim is true THEN A grandmaster must have found a way to simplify this position in his mind in a way that doesn't change the outcome. And that is the second part of my hypothesis. If you look at the comments a

Counting again

In one of the problems in unit 10 module 3 of PCT I encountered this position: White plays 1. Nxd4 and wins a pawn. That baffled me. I would have sworn that Nxd4 would lose a piece. Counting is obviously a weak spot of mine. Hence I intend to take some time off to formulate a narrative for this position. These are the kind of positions that GM Henrik Danielsen solves Ã  tempo in blitz games.

In theory are theory and practice the same. . .

But in practice they are not. Be concrete. Blue Devil showed in a nice game 3 times what the greatest problem is with positional play (sorry Blue). He created an outpost that he could not maintain, he preserved the bishoppair in a position where it is worthless and he created a passer he could not maintain. While I'm doing the third strategical module of PCT, I realized that I must choose between different theoretical advantageous positions all the time. Making the same mistakes as Blue. Time and again the little yet concrete advantage supersedes the vague theoretical advantage that maybe in the future sometimes will yield fruit. The choice between the beautiful outpost for the knight on f5 in the neighbourhood of the enemy king but without the help of other pieces and the much less beautifull outpost on c4 where the knight does something less spectacular e.g. fixating a weak pawn at a6. Or on another note, I must create an ugly backward pawn while preventing an enemy bishop to be

Test for DK

DK asked me how to embed a pgn-viewer on his blog. I'm experimenting a little for him. Press reload game in the comment section.

Next module

Just finished the second strategy module of PCT out of three. The new method works very fine.When I encounter a problem for the first time, I take my time to investigate the solution. Sometimes using Rybka. Then I formulate a narrative, which lays the connection to the middlegame framework I have formulated earlier . The framework makes it much easier to remember the essence of the solution. The fact that every solution has already a narrative formulated by Tchekov Mattenovitch is very helpful too. When the problems are repeated there is much less necessity to invent the wheel time and again since I remember the essence of the problem well. After a few repetitions this starts to feel like intuition. The next module is quite new to me, and I intend to formulate an algorithm that should put me on the right track soon when analysing a new position. I fired up 8 new CC-games to get some practice with my new idea's.

Mutual pawnstorm

Today I played the first game of the regional competition. A very sharp game which gave me little chance to ponder on strategy. Just mutual sink-throwing. You can find the game here .

Rule independence II

Samuraipawn asked the following question: I don't know if you've mentioned this before, but I often find that two positional ideas clash in the same position and you're then left to make a choice. Let me give you an example: According to Silman you're supposed to play on the side of the board where you have the most space. Let's say it's the kingside . The problem arises when you realise that it's the opponents queenside that is weak. So where do you choose to play? That is a very good question. Since there is no concrete position given, the answer will be somewhat abstract. What I tried to formulate in my previous post is the cohesion of moves. My goal is to become rule independent. When two rules collide, you have to think for yourself. In the example above it is of course madness to attack where your opponent is strong (rule 1), albeit your space advantage. On the other hand, it is madness to attack on the queenside where you haven't enough space

From concrete to abstract and back.

Since I'm not an Idiot Savant (the Savant part is missing) I can only remember concrete topics when I have build an abstract framework to retrieve them from memory. By bringing all topics in the middlegame under the very same denominator piece activity , I have reached a pretty high level of abstraction. In order to make it practical, I must define a structure which is somewhat more concrete. A thoughtprocess for positional chess so to speak. If you must decide to a move in the middlegame and there are no concrete tactics around, I use the following structure of events. I work backwards, from the target to the initial position. The targets. There are 3 possible targets after which you can go in the middlegame. The king. These are the preconditions for a king attack: The center must be secure. It may not collapse in a counterattack. Realize that when you sac a piece to open the kingside, your opponent is free to sac a piece back in the center to start a counter attack. If your cent

How strategical is that?

Black to move and save the knight. Black has just played 1. ... h4 and white answered 2. O-O-O This is a problem of the strategical module of PCT. They just asked for the move 1. ... h4. When you have found that move, Tchekov Mattenovitsch comments "In order to help saving the h1-knight" and goes on with the next problem. The repetitive system helps you to memorize the answer and that's it. But now I have restarted with the strategic module of PCT, I want to do it in the new way we have discovered the past months, using narratives, generalisations, focussing on the solution in stead of the problem and visualisation of the solution. White has two main ways to pick up the knight at h1: with g3 and Bg2 or with O-O-O and removing Bf1. I am here investigating the latter situation. What is especially interesting in this position is the chain of protectors: Knight f3 is pinned against rook d1 and is thus fixated. g2 protects the knight on f3 and is thus fixated. Bf1 protects th

The neglected area.

On http://www.videochess.net/ you will find how a grandmaster thinks during 100+ blitzgames of 3 minutes (hattip to Wormwood). I have watched over 50 video's now. In opposition to what you might expect maybe, most games are not decided by tactics, nor do tactics play a very big role during the game. It is indeed true that if there are tactics around, the grandmaster spots them often very fast. But usually not so fast that it differs all that much from how fast I see them. The real power of a grandmaster lies in how fast he spots a favourable positional move. I already suspected that, that's why I wanted to have a closer look at grandmaster blitz games in the first place. As said, there is a considerable difference in tactical speed too, but that seems not to be an unbridgeable gap. Positional play is a largely neglected area under chess improvement bloggers. That is not so strange, since most bloggers have a rating below 1700, where tactics play the biggest role by far inde

Nuclear powered Tunnelvision

Sciurus drew my attention to BAD, blog action day, so I decided to write about the environment. History seems to show that the level of carbon dioxide follows the temperature of the athmosphere with an average delay of 750 years. This means that the current rise of carbon dioxide originates in the global rise of temperature of 1250 AD. Because when the sea heats up, it releases more carbon dioxide. According to some papers 95% of the greenhouses gases consist of water vapor. That raises the question "how important can human influence be, relatively?". However it may be unlikely that the current warming is caused by humans, I don't like the idea of releasing smoke in any form in the athmosphere anyway. From that point of view, I'm happy with the current hype. Whether it is caused by humans or not, I have two problems with the current hype of global warming: I don't trust nuclear power plants. If you calculate the need for power and you compare that with the "g

The middle skill

I have selected all the blitz games of Karpov from my database and I'm busy to analyze them. In a blitz game there is no time to think much. Yet the grandmaster outplays the amateur in blitz games. Since there is no time to think, that must be done by skill. I'm trying to find out what skills we are talking about. The restriction of blitz games rules out other qualities of the grandmaster that might influence the game. My first impression is that there are 3 types of skill needed: The first 10-15 moves are usually right from the book. Simple positional moves follow. Then tactical skirmishes are fought out The moves in the end often contain blunders, like mutual not seeing a mate in one for 10 moves. The middle skill, seeing simple positional moves Ã  tempo has drawn little attention. Yet such moves form the meat of blitz games. Everyone who has ever played in a simul probably agrees, you are outplayed by simple logical moves, not by genial strategical concepts or tactical brill

Level of Strategical play

From different sides I was asked about the level of Strategical Play from Dvoretsky. Right now I have played only through 3 games. It is perfectly suited for my level and above (1750). I'm sure it will make me much stronger. I understand allmost everything. There is an abundance of explanation between the moves with great clarity. If you are 1500 rated, you probably will understand the book too, but I doubt seriously if you can incorporate it in your games. Simply because positional moves have more subtlety, and it is of no use as long as tactics throw you easely off balance. A russian proverb says "the advantage of the bishoppair is that you can trade it off". That shows something about the subtlety of positional play. The bishoppair is an asset, but not one you have to maintain at al costs. The greatest challenge is to learn when to exchange advantages. What the values of the distinctive positional assets are. In tactics you can simply count wood, that is here not poss

Transportation of shocks

Thanks to Nimzowitsch, my eyes are opened for new structures in the game. Take for instance the following position. Black to move. There are two focal points in the position: White occupies the square d5 , while blacks pieces converge at h3 . Notice how the white squared bishops are in contact with both focal points. Focal points are the result of openingsplay. It is often not so easy to change focal points fast during the game. White for instance is working for a new focal point at b7, but that will take quite some time and it is the question if it is going to manifest at all. In order to know what is going on in a position a look at the focal points and the pieces that are in contact with them tells a lot. Black would like to play Bh3 in order to trade an important attacker and defender. But he can't since the threat is 1. ... Bh3 2.Bxh3 Qxh3 3.Nxc7. Right now he can't play Nxd5 to prepare for the manoeuvre because Nc6 is in contact with the focal point too. 1.. ...Nxd5 2.cx

Encircling My System

I decided to torment myself no longer with the teeth breaking attack of My System. The games contain too little comments for me, so the essence remains a mystery. In stead I decided to start with part 3 of School for chess excelence of Dvoretsky (Strategical Play). Dvoretsky is very enthousiast about My System and the knowledge of Nimzowitsch is incorporated in his book almost without notice. "Strategical play" is much more accessible than My System, which has considerable pedagogical flaws. In doing so I hope to encircle My System and attack it from behind. After studying the first game I'm very enthousiast over Dvoretsky's book!

How to develop positional feeling

I'm having a hard time trying to get more grip on the idea's of Nimzowitsch about centralization. His explanations are not very abundant and the games he uses as example don't trigger much recognition in me. Which I like to interpret to be a good sign because if it is difficult for me, it will be difficult for my future opponents too. Take for instance this position: White to move. Black just started an attack with a6 b5. He reackons that white is going to play g4 and that the course of the game is going to be a mutual pawnstorm and that he who works fast will have the most chances. But Nimzowitsch is thinking along other lines. His comments are rather meagre, yet this is a very importantant position for understanding positional play. Why isn't the plan of black working? Let me see what I can find. At first sight the position looks pretty equal. And possibly it is. Rybka agrees with that assesment. What isn't equal is the aggressive plan of black. That plan isn'

Rule independence

In reply to a comment of Blue Devil. Rules are generalisations by their very nature. This means that concrete analysis of a position will always precede over rules. In the first 3 of the 5 stages from novice to expert the student is rule dependent. (1. novice, 2. advanced beginner, 3.competent player, 4. proficient player, 5. expert) Then you arrive at the most difficult transition, from 3-4. Gradually you have to replace your dogma's by concrete experience, which is far more detailed and subtle than a rule can ever be. I think that is impossible to skip the use of general rules and to head for concrete skill by experience right away. My problem with Watsons book is that it might give you the impression that such approach is possible. The second problem I have with it is that it gives the impression that the rules of Nimzowitsch are no longer valid. His proofs often goes along the following line: "So you say that all Americans are patriots? I will invite all non-patriot Amer

Plan alpha

Study this weekend was very fruitfull. Almost all seperate different positional knowledge pieces have fallen together to one whole. The letters formed a word for the the first time. In short: If you manage to establish an overprotected outpost you have an important strategical asset. It proofs that the enemy can only get rid of it by compromising his position. By hunting down the new weaknesses the opponent creates in doing so, he will be in big trouble. When he is rid of the outpost, the overprotecting pieces come to live automatically. I have studied a few related mastergames where the words were used to build a sentence. That sounds pretty vague, I know, I know, but to me it isn't vague at all anymore. I studied these games because I want an answer to the question "how can I establish an overprotected outpost?" Since Nimzowitch related outposts to open files, I decided to play through the associated games. Learning much, but not getting an answer. So the answer isn'

Who is crawling out my wall?

Boris The Spider (The Who) Look, who's crawling out my wall Black hands has he, very tall Now he's up above my head Hanging by a little thread Boris the spider Boris the spider Now he's dropped on to the floor Heading for the bedroom door Maybe he's as scared as me Where's he gone now, I can't see Boris the spider Boris the spider Creepy, crawly Creepy, crawly Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly There he is wrapped in a ball Doesn't seem to move at all Perhaps he's dead, I'll just make sure Pick this book up off the floor Boris the spider Boris the spider Creepy, crawly Creepy, crawly Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly He's come to a sticky end Don't think he will ever mend Never more will he crawl 'round He's embedded in the ground Boris the spider Boris the s

Following the trail

In one of the comments I said, paraphrased: tactics = accidents+mistakes. IF chess=draw AND tactics=(gain of wood OR mate) THEN it must be true. In the past months I have studied 90 winning complex middlegame positions from various sources and in 100% of the cases it proved that one or more invasionsquares played a crucial role. When you think about that from a distance, that is very logical of course. How often will you be able to mate the king from a distance, from your own territory? Even with the fools mate you invade blacks half with 2. Qh5# So you have to leave your own pawnshield to invade hostile territory. The very invasion I called plan bhÃ¨ta, the finishing off plan gamma and the preparation before the invasion is plan alpha. I can't imagine that only playing for the "leftovers" in de middlegame is going to work. It doesn't suffice if your only goal in the middlegame is to reach a good endgame. In my opinion, you must actively tease your opponent and try to

A closer look at the center

DK asked me: Are you sure you really read Nimzo? I can imagine the doubt. The point is, there is a time to inventory (?) and there is a time to digest. When I'm inventorying it is important to keep the pace up. First to prevent that the work becomes a burden and secondly to keep sight of the context. If you dive too deep too early then it's easy to get sucked into the marsh of variations like a hippopotamus. Another reason why I work fast and write so much is that it clears my head. I seal off a process with a conclusion of which I know it wil not make it to eternity. From then on I work with this conclusion, forgetting how I arrived at it. This makes room for new thoughts in my head. And based on this conclusion I work on. Usually within one or to years arriving back at that conclusion and asking myself, is it actually true? I just go where logic reasoning leads me having no preference where that might be. Logic is destructive by nature. You can only proof that something is N

Good question

As usual Blue Devil asked me a very good question which isn't so simple to answer. If it is about accidents and endgame, where does strategy come in? Is middlegame and endgame strategy different? I know activity is the God of strategy. Is this different in the middle or endgame? You have: Accidents King attack Second weakness Strongpoints Leftovers Endgame Fighting methods Accidents. You cant' force accidents. Trying to play for accidents is hope chess. Accidents concern pieces. Pieces are too volatile to haunt. You only can shoot a sitting duck. King attack. The king is a target that is always good. It is a sort weakness. A king moves slow. A king is a potential sitting duck. According to Nimzowitch you can only have a succesfull king attack when your opponent makes serious mistakes. Second weakness. A pawn moves slow. Fixate it. A fixed pawn is a sitting duck. A pawn that can't be protected by another pawn and that can be attacked is a weakness. A second weakness is alwa

Tempo a la Nimzo

Mark Dvoretsky says in his book Strategic Play that studying My System brought him from a first category player to master in just over a year. I almost finished reading the book for the first time and I can imagine why. At the same time I realize that a lot of work has to be done to internalize the matter. One of the problems is that the writings are not very accessible. I mean, what to make of this: "The point of overprotecting serves the overprotector as a source of energy, from which he may continually draw fresh strength." Without further explanation. It's obvious that such artistique formulation needs some processing before it will be helpful OTB. I decided to simply start with this reworking. To make matters easy I'm not going to pay tribute for every little piece of information that I steal from Nimzowitsch to integrate it in fabulations of my own. I do it now once and for all: ** Nimzowitsch, you are a genius!! ** Further I apologize beforehand but will not