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Showing posts from March, 2016

### A few examples. Example 1.

Let me try to work out a few examples of my thought process. White to move and win r1r4k/2qbbppp/pp2p3/4p3/Pn1N1P2/2B3Q1/1PP1B1PP/R4R1K w - - 0 1 Solution Step 0 Count the pieces.  This is an artificial step which is specifically designed for chess problems. An imbalance here might mean that the usual thought process is not applicable. For instance when you are a piece ahead, the only goal is to get not mated, so you can use your advantage. Or when you are a piece behind, you can rule out a series of captures since they will not yield you enough wood. In a real game you already know the material balance, so you don't need to count for it. Step 1 Lack of space. The king has a lack of space. Since there are 3 white pieces converging at g7, the lack op space is important. Step 2 Double attack. Nxe6 Bxe5 Both double attacks are aiming at the same targets. Step 3 Discovered attack. Batteries: Qg3 f4 no relevant targets Rf1 f4 only one relevant target Bc3 Nd4 t

### Chasing Targets

Looking for a viable thought process. I will dabble around with chess logic a bit, in the hope to find a viable thought process. When a position is quiet, there are no tactics. All tactics are about gaining wood. Promotion is just a special case of gaining wood. When you chase a piece in a quiet position, it will lead you nowhere, since every attacking move can be defended. In order to win a piece, the position must be out of balance. What imbalances are we talking about? One target. The only way to chase and win a single target, is when the target is out of space. The imbalance is then the lack of space. Mate is a special case of lack of space. Two targets. Another imbalance is when it is possible to attack two targets, with one move. That's the other imbalance. There are only four ways how that is possible: Double attack Pin/skewer Removal of the guard Discovered attack Usually we speak about one attacker and two targets. Only a discovered attack has two attackers

### Two methods of learning

The past few months have been very clarifying. I was in doubt between two different methods of improvement, with each their own logical arguments. Which one to choose? The first method is based on slow conscious learning, while the second has become known as "the salt mines". Which is based on massive repetitions at high speed, a form of unconscious learning. Conscious learning is intelligent, while unconscious learning aims at speed and precision. The lesson learned, is that the two methods aren't mutually exclusive. I don't have to choose. Both methods of learning have their own application and complement each other. In order to understand how the two methods interact, we should extend the "learn how to drive analogy" (hat tip to Aox). The learn how to drive analogy. Conscious learning will learn a person how to drive a car, and to become an experienced average driver. Your performance will be limited by the natural speed and precision of your uncon

### Prelimanary conclusions

I have been salt mining for two months in a row for a few hours per day now. Today I asked myself: if I am going to do this another six months, will I be better at tactics? The answer is: I don't think so. The past two months I lost 50 rating points at CT, and I have not the feeling that I'm making any progress at tactics at all. This means that there probably is a fault in Aox' reasoning. As you know I didn't like it from the beginning, but I couldn't refute it, so I felt obliged to give it a chance. Somehow the analogy between "learning to read" and "learning board vision" must by faulty. I learned to read music notation in a few months, while feeling every day that I made progress, but during salt mining I don't have that feeling at all. On the other hand, looking into the thought process with a fresh look and new energy, seems much more promising. The thought process helps to make less errors to begin with, and there is a lot of room

### Integrate this!

In the past days I have solved a series of problems at CT with the aid of my newly defined thought process. Usually it helps me to find the solution, but more often then not it takes ages. Now I'm analysing what takes me so long, and what I should add to my thought process in order to do it faster the next time I encounter such position. Here the suggestions you guys made must be implemented. I managed to give CCT its rightful place in my TP, but even that was not enough in the position below to speed things up. Take for instance the following diagram which took me 9m51 to solve: White to move and win 3rbk2/2q1b1pp/2p2n2/4N1B1/1P1pn3/1B4NP/4QPP1/3R2K1 w - - 1 1 solution It took me an awful lot of time to see the mate threat. I hoped that exercising a lot of mate in one would make the trigger more sensitive, but obviously, the salt mines had no effect on that. Hence my thought process must lead attention to h7. But how?

### Annihilation of the defender

I  use a simple counting system to see if I dominate an attacking square: #attackers - # defenders. That simple system "as is", is in fact useless. The moment I look at an attacking square, I must look immediately to its defenders and see if I can annihilate them. Only the numbers after annihilation of the defenders are useful. Take a look at the following diagram: Black to move and win r5k1/5p1p/3p2pQ/1ppP2rP/4P3/5Pq1/1P3R2/1BR4K b - - 1 1 Solution  Attacking squares: f4 +1 h4 +1 h5 +1 g2 0 g1 0  h3 +1 f3 0  As you can see, the numbers give no clue where to start. What you really want to know, is if you can dominate a square after you god rid of the defenders. There are three main ways to get rid of a defender: Capture Deflect (defender is overworked) Attack There are other ways to get rid of a defender, like blocking it, but since you need to preserve the initiative, the frequency of these solutions is low. And I want to use a thought process only

### The luxury of the salt mines

Since a few days I'm working on my thought process again. If I look at it, I waste most of my time due to a bad thought process. If I only could get rid of that spill, I would already be as fast as a master at tactics. From that point of view, improving my board vision is a form of luxury. The usefulness of board vision is limited to the visualization of current and future positions. When I started with the salt mines, I was very well aware of that. The reason that I nevertheless spent a few months with the salt mines, which are supposed to work on board vision, is twofold. First I just want to know how things work, and second Aox has a plausible hypothesis about the improvement of board vision which I like to be proven or invalidated. We narrowed the bandwidth within which subtasks can be improvable. Only the very chess "atoms" are possibly subject to improvement. Beyond them, subtasks become soon too complex to train salt mine style. Work on this will continue, most

### Continuing with the thought process

Bad board vision is one of the two weaknesses I discovered during analysis of my blitz tactics at CT. We started a campaign to work that out, and a set of exercises emerged. The first test revealed two things: some exercises work, while others are too complex. I hope that Lain can find the time to tweak his algorithms, so that the exercises comprise the whole area of mate in one. Thus far, he has done an excellent job. So the work is set out for us, and it will take some time to improve on all improvable exercises AKA the salt mines. It doesn't make much sense to talk about the work in stead doing the actual job. In stead I will talk about the thought process, which is the next thing that needs development, when I rest for a moment from salt mining. The jury is still out.

### Protectors of the attacking square

When I analysed  M1-h (Mate in one - hard), I found four subtasks that are the main time eaters. Lain has made four great exercises for them: Find blocking pieces Find escape square creating piece Find pinning pieces Find protecting pieces So far, I have tried only two of these seriously.  I think Find All Pinning Pieces is a great exercise already, and it seems improvable too. But then I stumbled on a lot of problems with Find All Protecting Pieces. Take for instance the next diagram: White to click on all black pieces that prevent mate  Solution: [ b5,c8,h7 ] In order to solve this position, you need to accomplish the following subtasks: Identify all squares were white can give a check Identify which checking square might be a potential mate Identify which black pieces protect the mating square If you look at it, solving the M1-h has now become a subtask of the task "Find All Protecting Pieces". And indeed, to do this exercise takes even more time than M

### How fast is fast?

When you do Troyis on a daily bases for, say, two hours per day, then you will encounter a plateau in about two weeks. It is next to impossible to break that barrier. I have played it for about a month, in the past. Troyis learns you to move a knight around in a confined space. And although I plateaued after about two weeks, my knight handling had improved so much, that I scored like a 2600 grandmaster in this test . It might well be possible to get better at Troyis, but there is no reason for it. If I take my time and analyse the game, I can come up with a few strategies to move more efficient. But that is in a sense a rather artificial way to make progress. You don't break the boundaries, but you shift them. Which in it self is perfectly fine, of course. From that point of view, it doesn't make sense to push your limits when you reach a plateau. 98% of your energy will be spilled. An educated guess would be that you reach a plateau after 20-30 hours of training in any