## Posts

Showing posts from September, 2008

### And God placed the middlegame before the endgame

Phaedrus added the following comment to my latest post: "It is completely unclear to me why an "ideal game" should end with an endgame. It might well be possible that the ideal game (played by the super computer that "solves" the game of chess, is already decided in the middlegame. As your assumption of an ideal game is the foundation of this quest, I do not know if you have struck gold here. Yet I am very interested to see where it ends. " Disclaimer: warning, abstract ranting ahead! There are 3 ways by which a game can be won. Winning a piece Mating the King Promoting a pawn All combinations that win a piece can be devided in two seperate groups. The first group I have dubbed the duplo-attacks . These work by attacking simultaneously 2 pieces with only 1 move. Notice the similarity with my previous posts where one move served two goals. If the opponent of whom 2 pieces are under attack can only make a single-purpose move, he can only save one piece by

### Combat the king

Now we know what the goals of the enemy king are, how can we prevent that he realizes his goals? King vs King. First there is the combat of king against king. These are the weapons of your king: Shouldering away Opposition Zugzwang Triangulation All these weapons have time or tempo as common ground. Shouldering away means that the hostile king needs more tempi to get around you. You lengthen the path to the goal which costs time . Opposition dito, this works only if there aren't any spare tempi (pawnmoves) around. Zugzwang again means there are no spare tempi around that don't harm you. With triangulation you lose a tempo intentionally, thus bringing your opponent in zugzwang. Thus the parameters to combat the king are: time pathlength Which are closely connected. Pawn vs King. The king has proven to be vulnerable when his parameters are manipulated. Diagram 1. It is possible for pawns to keep out the king. This is done by lengthening the pathway of the king to get to the

### The influence of the King

Any pawngame without kings can be evaluated to the end. There are mainly two parameters for a pawn: What is the distance to the promotion square Are there impediments on the road to the promotion square The weapons of the pawn are: Restraint Blockade Zugzwang Sacrifice What happens when a king enters the arena? What is the influence of the King? When there are two kings on an empty board the result is a draw. This means that the influence of the king is derived from how he effects the parameters of the pawns: Attack: can he free the road to promotion of his own pawn? Defence: can he impede the road to promotion of the enemy pawn? This gives the king clear goals to head for. The power of the king is that he can make multipurpose moves. He can head for two (or more) goals at the same time. The most famous example of all is of course Reti's position: Diagram 1. White to move and draw. When there would be no kings on the board, this would be a clear win for white. It is very important

### emagdne ehT spelled backwards

To me, a middlegame position is a bunch of positional topics which have almost no relation at all. They just happen to me in a game. My contemplations in the past about piece activity has provided some sort of cohesy. Of course there must be some hierarchy in the characteristics by which a position is evaluated, but sofar this structure remained obfuscated to me. In order to find out, I start at the very end of the game and work my way back to the middlegame, or maybe even to the opening. I will focus on how matters are interwoven. Maybe it will take me more than one post, I don't know, but I'm not going to hurry. I hope to be able to find the "ideal line" of the game. Which things should be evaluated first. Of course there are often shortcuts in a position due to accidents, like winning a piece or mating a king. But assuming that both opponents are able to avoid such accidents (or don't recognize them as they occur), what should you look for and why? And how are

### Mind stalling

When a position becomes more complex the time I need for a move grows exponentially. My short term memory is generating overload errors and I feel paralyzed. The effectiveness of my thinking comes to a grinding halt. The past 8 years I have focussed on improvement in the right area of the graph above. In terms of the graph I have shifted the point that indicates how much complexity I can handle in 3 minutes considerably to the right. My approach has been multifold. I have tried to increase my ability to handle more complex stuff (probably to no avail) and I have simplified complexity by breaking it down (probably the most fruitful direction to head for). At the moment I don't feel I make much progress in the right area of the graph anymore. The problem with the right area of the graph is that you have only time to calculate variations. There is no time to contemplate about the finesses of the position. About the pawnstructure, the strategical issues or whatsoever. When every move c

### Full throttle ahead

Today Margriet and I studied a few hours in Hansen's book, in preparation for the Corus tournament in januari. He has identified the following 15 key principles for the endgame: Pawnstructure Two weaknesses Space advantage Control of squares and files Grip and suppressing counterplay Domination Time: hurry or not? Making the right exchanges Transformation of advantages Two bisshops Bishops or knights? King activity Rook activity Initiative and attack Mate and stalemate. I realized that all these topics are familiar, but in a way unlike tactics. It is pure theoretical knowledge, without a relationship to practice. I dare to say I have past the sea of openings and tactics safely. For my level and for the moment these two topics are relatively well covered. Which feels as if I'm freed from a burden. But from the endgame I have only experienced stage one: the ridgid application of rules. After the initial excitement of new knowledge, already years ago, the ridgid application of the

### It begins with the end.

Once I drove along a quite big mushroom. It was half a meter wide. The next day Margriet and I decided to have a look at it. We were very disappointed to see that somebody had kicked it to pieces. In stead we were looking at a broad boring lawn. At least, that was what I thought at first. All of a sudden I realized that there were very tiny fungi amidst the grass. When I had a closer look I saw a wealth of wee mushrooms. Most of them had beautiful shapes and there must have been at least a hundred different kind of species. That's the art of life. Learn to not fall for the freak things with their easy satisfaction, but to sharpen your eyes so you can see and enjoy the little things where everybody else sees just a boring field of grass. Boredom that prevents a second look. It's the same in chess. The break has done me alot of good. I realized that the freak gambits and the freak tactics alone are no longer able to satisfy me. It's time to sharpen my eye and to learn to enj

### Why the best fit is better than the just fit (it's faster)

Read the following article from New Scientist: Superstitions evolved to help us survive 00:01 10 September 2008 NewScientist.com news service Ewen Callaway Darwin never warned against crossing black cats, walking under ladders or stepping on cracks in the pavement, but his theory of natural selection explains why people believe in such nonsense. The tendency to falsely link cause to effect – a superstition – is occasionally beneficial, says Kevin Foster , an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University. For instance, a prehistoric human might associate rustling grass with the approach of a predator and hide. Most of the time, the wind will have caused the sound,