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Showing posts from February, 2013

### What the heck?!

After thinking for 20 minutes I failed this problem which, given it's simple solution, should be rated about 1300 or so. Black to move. How is it possible to overlook such simple manoeuver for 20 minutes and still not see it? What kind of training is needed to see these things? You can find the solution here .

Every tactic can be represented by a geometrical pattern. It contains the targets, the attackers and the road from the attackers to the targets. I call these geometrical patterns the static features of the position. If these patterns actual play a crucial role is decided by typical manoeuvers. The realm of the manoeuvers is governed by the initiative. I summarize this as the dynamics of the game. To give you an idea, it is perfectly possible that a certain position is won when you are to move, while you are lost when it's your opponent to move. This means that looking at the geometrics of the position alone can be very deceptive. We need to know more about the initiative. The initiative. Very little is known about the initiative. That's why I take a baffling position that has confused me for long, in order to see if I can find some governing rules. Black to move. You can find the problem here . First I tried to apply some ideas like CCT in relation to the value of the

### A closer look at a combination

The KNpKN endgame showed me the way how to learn from a chess position in a definite way. That's why I have another look at a tactic from my database. A tactic I failed, lately. I realize now that I haven't dug deep enough in this position. I will try again, in order to see if I can get the same clarity as in the KNpKN endgame. This is the position: Black to move. You can find the solution here . Let's inventorize the basic elements first. Element 1: Discovered attack The move 1. ... c3+ is a discovered attack with as target the king and the bishop. The bishop on f1 is outnumbered. Element 2: Discovered counter attack After the move 2.Rxc3 the following counterattack reveals itself: White can take the black bishop with check. It's a pity it's black to move. Yet black has to reackon with it. Element 3: Counter attack hanging piece. After the move 2.Rxc3 the following counterattack reveals itself:  White can take the haning black rook at c7. It

### Bustification of trial and error

After 3 days exercising the KNpKN endgame, my score went up to 80% succesrate. Enough to play this endgame with confidence in practice. Given the complications, I suspected that I would need at least 2-3 weeks to master this endgame, just as I needed for KRpKR. Why did I learn this endgame so much faster? I made a diagram of each position I didn't grasp straight away. By taking my time to define the goals and the relevant squares I was able to really grasp what is going on in a position. The diagrams were put in Anki and repeated. The hundreds of possibilities that arise in a trial and error approach were thus limited to only a few common themes. These themes or fighting methods or manoeuvers proved to be transferable from one position to another. What can we learn from this? Trial and error is totally busted as method. We already had hypothesized that, but now it is proven. Every investigation of an unknown endgame has the following steps: Defining the maingoal of the

### Looking at the squares

I'm trying to get the hang of the KNpKN endgame. It's not an endgame you see very frequently, but it might help me to improve my knight vision. In the beginning I thought there were hundreds of fighting methods or manoeuvers. But after more investigation only about six manoeuvers remain. When you look at such endgame, you become goal oriented. The main goal of the KNpKN endgame is ofcourse to guard your pawn safely towards promotion. That leads to two goals for the opponent: sac the knight for the pawn or blockade the pawn permanently. That again leads to goals for the attacker: decoying the enemy knight away by a knight sacrifice, avoid a knight fork King and pawn. Avoid the enemy king to reach the promotion square. White to move. In fact the methods are very common: fork, decoy, sac, blockade. But for some reason these are difficult to spot in this situation. The reason for that is that you need to be aware of the squares. Whether they are empty or not. Say you

### Taming those pesky beasts

When you reach an endgame, usually there is not an awfull lot of time left on the clock. It's not uncommon to need another 30 - 40 moves to mate for an already winning endgame. I noticed that especially checking out the knights in the endgame is very time consuming. You have to be aware of forks, mate and sacrifices. Especially when there are four of those beasts around. This is time which is better spent elsewhere. I have done more than my fair share of knight vision exercises. Microdrills, Maurice Ashley, Jonathan Levitt, Troyis etc.. When I was checking out yet another knight vision exercise today, I realized that all these exercises were aiming at mastering the dynamics of the knight. But my handling of the dynamics is already very good, especially thanks to Troyis. I soon realized that I needed a few rules that concerned the statics of the knight. The best way to speed up calculation is to avoid it. After some thinking I came up with the following four simplified rules. W

### Fighting methods

I investigated the previous position a bit further (see diagram) White to move. Both white and black have a few fighting methods at their disposal with which they can fight for a win or draw. This is an inventorization of the possible fighting methods. Meaning of the arrows: Blue = 1st, 4th move Green = 2nd, 5th move Yellow = 3rd, 6th move. Red = moves of the enemy. White to move. Despite the wellknown advice to put your rook behind a passer, the rook is much more active on c3 where it puts pressure on c7 and can attack the kingside pawns or assist the defense of the white pawns. Black to move. What white wants to do is to bring his king to the black kingside pawns and nibble them away. With the pawnsac c5, black opens the fourth rank so he can keep the white king at bay with Ra4 while maintaining the pressure against a3. Black to move. Blacks king cannot leave c6 because of the push of the c pawn towards promotion. Black to move. Black should always be

### And now the rooks

When studying the position , we found that the underlying pawn ending is an easy win for white. The underlying minor piece ending is a win for white too, allthough not so easy. Both endings follow the same scheme. The scheme is to attack on both wings. Black wants to defend on both wings, but he can't keep up since his pieces are bound to control white's outside passer. So effectively you can outnumber black on the kingside, nibbling away the pawns and creating a second passer there. That will proof to be to much. You have to be aware of blacks pawn sac c5, which can be played at an inconvenient moment. That will tear the a and b pawn apart, so they become more vulnerable. On the kingside you must be prepared to induce weaknesses. In some cases you will need to sac a pawn yourself for that. In the case of a minor piece ending, your key pawns will be perfectly safe from the bishop on the dark squares. The same pawnending with the rooks added in stead of the minor pieces p

### Decomposing an endgame

The position from the previous post proves to be a bit too difficult for me. That's why I try first to get some insight in a simplified version of the position. We already know that the underlying pawnending is winning. How about the light pieces only? White to move. When the computer plays this game against itself, it is winning for white time and again. Sofar I have identified the following weapons for white: Threat of promotion of the a or b pawn. Threat against the c pawn. Actually I haven't seen that this played a big role, so it seems to be more theoretical than practical. Kingwalk to the kingside during the time black needs to get rid of the outside passer. Scattering the kingside pawns with a pawn sac. Eating pawns during the time black needs to get rid of the outside passer. If white puts his pawns on the dark squares as precaution, they are immune for the bishop. So the general idea is: threathen promotion at the queenside. Gobble up pawns at the kingside

### Trying to get the hang of dynamics

In the previous post I found that when it comes to endgames, you need two kinds of analysis. The first is about the statics of the position, the second is about the dynamics of the position. I want to know more about this subject, so I will investigate another endgame position. After all, I want to get better where I'm worst.   . . . . White to move. Evaluation of the statics. First let's talk about the statics of the position. The pawns on the kingside are pretty much equal. White has the majority on the queenside, so he has a potential passer there. If you think away the pieces, this is a won pawn ending for white: Bring the king to the queenside. Trade pawns, creating an outside passer. Walk to the kingside while black looses tempi to get rid of the passer. Eat the kingside pawns Promote a pawn Mate the king If we put the light pieces back on the board, I'm not able to judge if that would win. The idea is of course to create an

### Elaborating a problematic (for me!) position

Thanks to the input of my readers, I start to make sense of this position. I played it a few times with white (hattip Aox) and with black against a somewhat restricted engine (20 sec/move, hattip mr.Z). After just 3 attemps with black I already managed to win this position against the computer. I will try it with an unrestricted engine later. I will give a summary what I found sofar. Black to move. Statics. Let's first paint a picture of the statics of the position. If you think away all the heavy and light pieces, there probably remains a won pawnending for black. If black plays e4 and f5 he has a protected passer, meaning that the white king cannot leave the square of the e4 pawn. Black must enter the square of a4 timely of course, but then he can take his time to get rid of c5 and a4. Thus creating a second passer. The win is then easy. If blacks king is not in time, white can create a passer that can't be stopped while blacks passer will be stopped by the white k

### The real problem

I'm busy to acquire the knowledge how to play the various endgames. And that is good, since I need that knowledge. But my real problem is the transition towards the endgame. Without endgame knowledge, I cannot even hope to ever fill in this gap. But having this endgame knowledge acquired is no way a guarantee that I will learn how to make the transition from the middlegame towards the endgame. And that is where the real problem lies for me. Take for instance this diagram from a game that I played yesterday: Black to move. [FEN "3r1bk1/1pq2p1p/4r1p1/2P1p3/PQ6/2R1B2P/6P1/5RK1 b - - 0 27"] I'm black. I'm a pawn ahead. I certainly outplayed my opponent sofar. As is so often the case. But I have no clear idea how to play this position. In the past I solved this problem by offering a draw. Even people with a much higher rating would accept that. But now I am no longer in time trouble in this kind of positions and now I no longer offer or accept draws, I must