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Showing posts from August, 2012

### Where did that come from?

Usually a chess game happens to me. Combinations most of the time come out of the blue. Now I start to learn how to combine, wouldn't it be nice to be able to concoct a combination from the beginning? To that end I started to analyze a game behind a CT problem. Is there a sudden outburst of tactical elements, or do they gradually build up during the game? White to move. You can find the solution here . Allthough the combination is pretty clean and crisp, it is not so easy to find. Yet it is all very logical. I identified the following tactical elements that played a role in the combination (in random order): Knight fork Ne8 Overworked rook Rf8 Weak backrank Battery Bb3, Qc4 Weak diagonal Occupation of open d-file Invasion with Nd6 Qc7 and Ra8 at a knights jump distance The clumsy Ne7 which prevent Bf6 from defending d8 Play through the game and look at the comments. . . . .  . . . You see that the combination starts to build up from as early as move

### Organization of knowledge

When knowledge is organized, it is easier to retrieve it from memory. The better it is organized, the more cues are formed, the easier the retrieval and the faster the retrieval. Verbalization is one way to organize the knowledge of a chess position. But we already know, that a verbal description is not the most logical way to transfer knowledge from one problem to the next . Besides that, language itself is inherent limited in describing a chess position. It can be used to describe the core ideas, but the details become problematic. That is why I want to use a second method to describe the position: graphical representation. The use of two methods for the organization of chess knowledge has an extra advantage: it provides more cues, hence faster and better retrieval. When you work out all variations of a given position rated 2000+ the amount of variations usually exceeds hundred moves by far. Of which every move has its own consequences and repercussions on the position. It is pos

### Understanding meaning

Meaning of life We have found out that it is meaning that we want to transfer from the study room to the tournament hall. Let's investigate this a bit further. Today I talked to Phaedrus and I said about the position in my previous post : "When I use trial & error I don't use logic and when I use logic reasoning I don't see the variations." Trial & error is an highly automated activity which is semi intelligent. It turns out that this semi intelligence is from a much lower quality than my normal reasoning. Verbalization seems to be the only method to build understanding and meaning in the study room. At the same time we know that this verbalization is not going to make it to the tournament hall. And even it is not going to make it to the next problem most of the time. We must find a method to assist the encoding of verbalization into something more automatic. I tried to imagine the logic findings from the position as geometrical patterns wi

### Transfer between problems

. . . . Black to move. You can find the solution here . I had written down all relevant tactical elements perfect. I checked this afterwards. Yet I couldn't find the first move. 1. ... Rd5 Since I underestimated the trouble white is in after this move. The reason for this post is that this raises a question. To make an exercise fruitfull, I must take something from it with me to the next problems. Otherwise this is a waste of time. But in this specific case, what is it that I must encode in memory? Is it a pattern, a chunk or a template? But I have written them down in little time and complete already. That I can do in the next exercises too. And it was not enough to solve this. Is it knowledge? But what knowledge? And how is it going to be reusable? Is it a skill? But what skill? And how do I train it? Or something else? Without knowing what to learn from this exercise and what to ingrain into your brains in a way that is reusable with the n

### Tiles of wisdom

In the enthousiastic violence of our debates the essence of the matter is all too often obfuscated by interesting sidesteps. In order to to keep them for posterity I have put them on tiles.

### Seeing vs calculating

. . . . White to move. You can find the solution here . I always say that we should seek speed in doing something different and not by trying to do what we already do at a higher speed. You can move faster by changing from walking to using a bike. You can never speed up walking to the same extend as riding a bike. Especially in a position like the above, I feel that it should be possible to actually see the solution right away in stead of calculating it. Allthough the problem has a rating of 2282, and people found 19 moves that go astray, the problem is rather clean and straightforward. The tactical elements are easy to spot: Discovered attack Qd1, Nd4 Discovered attack Re1, Ne4 Pin Bg5 => Nf6 Knight fork Nxf6 => Kg8, Re8 One of the discoveries while doing high rated tactics is that I always neglect the defenders. But the defenders often give a clue where to start the combination. In order to see the combination, it is necessary to see

### Move first, think later

. . . . I just finished the book " Move first, think later " from IM Willy Hendriks (hattip to Phaedrus!). Willy Hendriks is a dutch IM who writes very funny and in an easy to read style. The title already suggests that he is not afraid to challenge the mainstream consensus with regard to chess improvement. He criticizes chess authors and trainers who bury their readers/pupils in paternalistic advice which can't withstand a serious scrutiny by common sense. He compares the current methods with the latest scientific insights and his own observations as chess trainer. An important observation is that the role of trial & error is paramount. Since that is simply how the mind works. He actually reverses the order how to approach a position. The first step is to investigate the position by trial and error. That is is done by letting the mind generate moves. The second step is to base a plan on the findings of the first step. The third step is to judge th

### Deliberate practice

Mr. Z. provided the following text: ".... At one point, not long after I started training, my memory stopped improving. No matter how much I practiced, I couldn’t memorize playing cards any faster than 1 every 10 seconds. I was stuck in a rut, and I couldn’t figure out why. “My card times have hit a plateau,” I lamented. “I would recommend you check out the literature on speed typing,” he replied. When people first learn to use a keyboard, they improve very quickly from sloppy single-finger pecking to careful two-handed typing, until eventually the fingers move effortlessly and the whole process becomes unconscious. At this point, most people’s typing skills stop progressing. They reach a plateau. If you think about it, it’s strange. We’ve always been told that practice makes perfect, and yet many people sit behind a keyboard for hours a day. So why don’t they just keeping getting better and better? In the 1960s, the psychologists Paul Fitts and Michael Posner trie

### Between positional and tactical

The past week I analyzed the tactical elements of about 150 problems at CT with a rating of 2000+. I found the following tactical elements: Double attack Discovered attack Pin Skewer Invasion Hanging piece Promotion At average a problem contained 6-10 tactical  elements for the attacking side and 1-3 elements for the defending side. This opens up a whole area of preliminary moves between positional moves and the actual execution of a tactical element. The goal of a positional move is to diminish the posibilities of the opponent relatively to your own possibilities. The goal is to limit the possibilities of your opponent to such extend that he can no longer meet your threats. When that moment arises, you can execute a tactical element. There are the typical positional moves like gaining space, get an outpost, occupy an open line etc. to work on the relative possibilities of the two sides. But between a positional move and the final execution of a tactical element, a who

### Mutual influence between tactical elements

For every 2000+ rated problem at CT I make a list with all tactical elements that I recognize in the position. In the beginning it took me about 40 minutes per problem to find all elements. Often overlooking one or two important ones. After about 50 problems, I'm now able to write them down in about 10 minutes. And I overlook important elements less often. But guess what, it hardly has any influence on my succesrate! Of course, if you don't recognize all relevant tactical elements, you will not find the solution. But finding all elements does not guarantee that you will find the solution. Moreover, it has virtually no effect. This means that there are other, more important factors at play. . . . . Black to move. You can find the solution here . Below you will find a table with all tactical elements for both  sides. Such table is a good starting point. Type Attackers Path Targets D

### E-mail from a real chess player

I got an e-mail from a “real chessplayer” from the Ukraine. His name is Alex. I don't know his rating. To me a real chess player has at least a rating of 2200. I hope Alex will enlighten me one day. I “translated” his e-mail, so the bad english is mine. Furthermore I “clarified” the text with my own assumptions, which might be wrong. I hope Alex will correct me when this is the case. Sometimes I feel inclined to comment on his writings, since shutting up is not an automatic habit of mine. Translation and clarification are in blue, comments in black. Recently in the last years because of computers the methods have dramatically changed. Specially on GGMM-level. I don't know what GGMM is, but it sounds even more impressive than GM. It's based in the theory of managing advantages, it said basically that the main difference between players is the amount of advantage they could handle succesfully, securely and safely to the next step of advantage. A no

### Tactical technique and geometrical patterns

Yesterday I dug up an e-mail out of my spamfolder from a "real chessplayer" from the Ukraine. His name is Alex. He has some very interesting things to say about chess improvement. I intend to make a post of the e-mail, but in order to do so I will have to translate it from Ukrainian english to dutch english. His english and my chess have a lot in common ;) Please give me some time. When you have to make a move in a complex tactical problem, the endposition is usually not directly clear. Often you go forward one move at the time untill you recognize a geometrical pattern. The natural place of a geometrical pattern is at the end of the branches. When this killing pattern isn't in sight yet, you must base your next move on other considerations. Of course there are geometrical patterns around all the time. But only when a branch reaches its end, the patterns all of a sudden become dominant. It contains a roadmap to the future, laid out in front of you as a geometrical pa