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Showing posts from January, 2008

### 3 layers of invisibility

After doing lots of visualisation exercises I came to the following reasoning: If you can't solve a problem while looking at the board and moving the pieces around with your hand, you certainly aren't going to solve it with with your eyes closed before your mind's eye only. So the best you can hope for as result of visualisation exercises is that it is as if you are looking at the board with your eyes open. But it doesn't shift your boundaries as problemsolver. There is more to it though. Yesterday I introcuded the 3 layers of chess vision: 1. The squares covered by my present pieces (part of the present cage) 2. The squares covered by a piece of me in the future (part of the future cage) 3. The squares covered by the enemy (limits the places where I can put my pieces hence my ability to create the future cage) Here I have a diagram that perfectly demonstrates these features. White to move This is a problem of masterlevel. You can't say that it is a very difficult p

### Narratives and chess vision II

Now I have formulated the narrative of the cage, there are a whole lot of chessproblems that fall into this description. Every mate, to be precise. I'm well aware that what I try to tell now probably will sound very vague, but since it is important I hope you are willing to put some effort in it to understand what I'm trying to say. Feel free to ask. There is a close relation between narratives and chess vision. A narrative is the first stage of learning something new, chess vision the second. Take for instance the narrative of the king in the cage. The narrative tells that there are 3 types of fabric of which the cage is made: The edge of the board (physically visible) The pieces of the opponent (physically visible) The squares covered by your own pieces (chess vision needed) The narrative supplies the idea of the king in the cage. The idea of the cage limits what you need to see. You don't need to see the whole rim of the board, you need only to see that part of the rim t

### Narratives and chess vision

A few posts ago I mentioned an improvement of chess vision due to mumbling narratives while solving chess problems. In the previous post I mentioned chess vision as one of the elements of calculation. What on earth is the relation between narritives and chess vision?! Chess vision is defined as the ability to look at the covered squares in stead of the pieces. Narratives play a role in defining which squares play a crucial role in the position. An example will clarify matters. White to move This is halfway a combination, so the position looks pretty nonsensical. Blacks only hope can be that white's cellphone goes off, or white gets an heart attack, or, less likely, he can give eternal check at some moment. But that is irrelevant. The point is to find the fastest way to checkmate black and what is of help for white to find it. I think the main reason why we are so bad at chess is because we fall for the temptation of looking at candidate moves without defining the criteria first

The idea of narratives is so flexible that you can use it for almost anything. Even the first problem of my new problemset unveils an abundance of new information when pried open with narratives. Some information on important elements of calculation is revealed. What is it what you do exactly when you calculate? If you know that than you can devise a method how to learn it. So be patient, the position itself is not specific important or interesting, the implications are, though. White to move. White is an exchange and a pawn down. Black's kingposition is unsafe though. If you have been on a diet of 6 queensacrifices before breakfeast during the past years, like me, then you will see a red flashing "Bxh7" appear in neon-letters above the board. I'm sure there are a lot of chessplayers who will just play the move by intuition and "look what happens". If you are less lazy, you look if there is a forced mate somewhere. Since you are a full rook down after the bi

### Powersolving

Phaedrus, the dutch chessplayer who act as a sounding board for me lately, has suggested to me that the problems of Chess Tempo aren't difficult enough for my goal. Today I thought about this and I did some measurements and I think he might be right. The average solving time is 1m 42 s per problem. 16% of my answers are wrong. That means roughly that for 84% of the time I'm doing exercises that don't are a problem for me. In this stage of my development that doesn't seem a useful thing to do. It must be the other way around, 84% of the problems must go wrong. Otherwise I simply spill too much time. I didn't found a practical way to get more difficult problems with Chess Tempo. CTS is even worse. Due to the fast mouse handling of my fellow solvers the presented problems are very leightweighted. If you forget the clock your rating will drop and the problems will become even leighter. As if you are powerlifting with 2kg a dumbell. I decided to settle for Intensive Cour

### Becoming a mumbling chessplayer

In my previous post I concluded (if you read between the lines) that the only training that actually worked made use of the verbal capacities of the brain. In order to check my findings I started to solve problems at Chess Tempo while describing the characteristics of the position and the moves by speaking out loud. "Ok, here I see that the king can be driven away towards my own pieces. I must prevent that he escapes via d6. I can prevent that by Nc4+. I can safely play that since his knight on b6 is pinned" etc., etc.. I take ample time to describe everything that is going on in the position before I play through the solution. After all what I want to learn is to recognize the elements of a combination in every position. Of course the experiment isn't conclusive yet. But I noticed 3 intrigueing things. In the period I had my greatest ratinggrowth I felt sharp . During the circles I have hardly felt that. But during these new exercises I felt sharp again for the first tim

### Not for persons with an easy to shake faith

I was somewhat reluctant to post this article. But what the heck, truth is more important than dogmas! I'm rethinking everything that has happened during the last 3 years of blogging. The greatest improvement in rating I made in the 3 years before I started with the circles. I gained about 170 points in that period. I studied TCT and Polgars brick without repetition . The last 3 years, while I did the circles, I gained only 65 points. There are people who think this is due to the law of diminishing returns. I have ingrained all important tactical patterns, it boosted my rating with 235 points and that's it. I have to live with that. Any efforts in that direction aren't going to bring me much further. I have to learn to live with the limits of my brain. I simply can't belief that. Since a simple test at Chess Tempo shows that I'm not so good at tactical pattern recognition at all! I'm sure I operate way below my potential. If I'm right that means that the met

### Soon coming in a theatre near you

Let's use the following metaphor for conscious and unconscious work in the brain. There is a stage on which a piece is played. There is a beam of light, which resembles the focus of attention. The public resembles the unconscious brainprocesses which take place in the dark. From time to time different messengers from the public act as a prompter to influence the piece on the stage. 5% of the processes play in the light, while 95% take place in the dark. With a child prodigy, it doesn't matter what piece is played. As long as it is vaguely chess related his supple brain has unconscious processes that create skill from almost everything. When you are a non-prodigy-adult, life is more difficult. You have to take great care with what you bring on the stage. If the quality of the piece isn't high enough, the resulting skillbuilding will be close to useless. It is almost impossible to find pieces of sufficient quality, since all pieces are written by former child prodigies, who k

### My first rated Polar Bear ever

Update: At move 14 I played Qa4 after thinking long. That was a typical position I had no idea what to do. I was not too happy with the move. But I couldn't find a suitable plan for the position. Yesterday I played for the first time the Polar Bear with white in a rated game against serious competition. It took me a month or two before I felt confident enough to dare this, but now the bear is loose. You can find the game here . It's obvious this style of play suits me well. I'm sold.

### Sudden enhancement

All of a sudden my strategical framework is enhanced by 45%. From 22 to 32 topics to take into consideration. When you are consciously building your framework, you have a reference to compare new information with. The book of Horowitz presented 10 quite new topics which I had never heard of before. All new topics concern pawn play. This is the missing link to turn the Polar Bear into a powerful weapon! There is no way I could have devised this on my own. The book Pawn Count Chess is fairly underrated. The reason for this is, I think, that it is written by someone who wasn't of masterlevel, allthough the book obviously was approved by Horowitz, who signed it as co-author. Horowitz was an international master. Allthough his play was of grandmaster level to nowadays standards he was never granted the title of grandmaster. For us mere amateurs the fact that the book is written by a non-master act as a recommendation! The main author, Mott-Smith, is capable to bridge the pedagocial gap

### What I don't consider

When building a frame it is good to work together. From the 32 points of Point Count Chess I am used to take 22 into consideration during a game. That means that there are 10 points I don't take into account. I'm not even acquinted with the ideas. Which is a pretty shocking discovery, btw. All 10 are related to pawns (well, the weak square complex only indirect). For convenience I only write about these 10 points. Since it is my take that if I reach a position in which I don't know what to do, the 22 points I do take into account are probably fairly balanced. So the difference must be made by the other 10. Plus points Mobile pawn wing Qualitative Pawn majority Offside pawn majority Pawn on 4th vs 3rd Advanced pawn Advanced chain Advanced salient Minus points Hanging phalanx Crippled majority wing Weak square complex The book works out these points and I'm studying it. At first sight it looks like a far more practical approach to pawns then I have se

### Point count chess

The framework of chess probably looks more like a tree than a bicycle. At the higher cognitive levels I suspect it to be fairly limited. Say there are 10-15 tactical ideas, 10-15 positional ideas and 10-15 endgame ideas. About 30-45 ideas in total. The point is to recognize these ideas in your games and to value these ideas against each other in case there are more themes in one position. How difficult can that be? It's my take that it is very important to think for yourself. With ideas of your own, you will learn more from books. Since most books will provide information conflicting with your own ideas you are forced to think about it. Without ideas of your own it is easy to read books on the autopilot. Thus missing a lot. I have investigated a lot middlegame positions. The main positional point I learned from that was the importance of piece activity. I found all positional ideas to boil down in the end to piece activity. Further research learned me that piece activity means noth

### The importance of being blunt

In case you wondered why I blog so much while chess is on the backburner due to the calling of life, I use blogging as a break from the things I have to do (ok, I mean to postpone them). Don't underestimate the amount of free time that is released by no study and no play. Besides that, I blog about topics that fill my mind. This way I get them out of the way (ok, that's just an excuse for postponing). Polly created a nice metaphor which is worth repeating here: An interesting picture to use with this article, but without the necessary components and wheels that will simply be a bike frame, and not a bicycle to travel on. We're like the frame, but without the different components of the game we will not be able to move forward in our quest to become better chess players. The coach or mentor is like the guy in the bike shop who helps us decide what we're going to put on that frame to make it go from expensive piece of titanium to a functioning bike. If we're doing

### No frame no gain

After solving a problem there is a gap. To bridge that gap it is necessary to have a framework on which you can hang your just found new knowledge. Without a framework the new knowledge is maybe or maybe not stored into your memory, but you will have difficulty to retrieve it anyway. Usually you don't work consciously on your framework. People differ. If you put much effort in the solution, less energy is left to bridge the gap. If you often fail to bridge the gap, you don't learn from your experiences anymore. When that's the case, when you plateau, it's time to start to work consciously on the framework. It's very unlikely that you can build a referential framework from scratch without aid. Life is too short for that. You must base your framework on the work of our predecessors. The easiest way is to copy the framework of a coach. Without a coach you have to gather little pieces from grandmasters where ever you can find them. Before you start to work consciously o

### Sticking to one master

When I started out with the Kings gambit, I bought a book of GM Joe Gallagher. Since I liked his approach to the KG very much, I bought almost all his books with opening repertoires. That has definitely a big advantage. I adapted a lot of his style in my games. Now I have thrown out the window my complete opening repertoire, I realized it is a good idea to stick for a certain time to one master. Since I have the adopted the Polar Bear, it is logical to look at the games of GM Henrik Danielsen. Since he has more than 100 blitz games with comment available on video for free, that is easy to do. I'm now going through them for the third time. Besides that, I have found 700 games of him in my database. An e-book about the PB seems to be underway. I have played quite some Polar Bears lately, but I never sacced the f-pawn by pushing it intensionally. Danielsen does that pretty often though. This means that I don't use a certain power whuch is immanent to the Polar Bear. By sticking to

### Who the heck is. . .

I got a vote advice for the US president based on my dis-/agreement with 25 statements. The graph shows how much I have in common with the candidates. Since I don't know anything about the candidates (well, I heard the names of Hilary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani before) can somebody tell me where I stand in the US politic spectrum?

### A happy 2008 to everybody!!

I play more blitz (10/0) games at FICS lately, but I encounter a few annoyances. The interface of Babaschess is as clear as coffee grounds so I have difficulty to work around those annoyances. The first one, being offended by opponents who chat, is already solved (by setting all chat notifications off and ignoring them). Now I want to put a few people on the noplay list. But how do I do that? Further I don't want adjourned games. That is just silly for blitz games. Some oppenents who are about to be mated adjourn their game. If I have only 5 seconds left to execute a mate in two, that is irritating. So now I'm obliged to resign the adjourned games and put the guys on the noplay list (but I don't now houw to do that). I have noescape=1, but that doesn't effect adjournments. Can anybody help?