### The battle for the initiative

The previous posts showed us that the battle for the initiative is the nec plus ultra method for pruning the tree of analysis. We must feed our vulture with simplified knowledge about the initiative. System I must assimilate the chunks that are related to the battle of the initiative. We must develop a sense for moves that give up the initiative.

The following diagram is a copy from a post of Apr 28, 2017. We discussed it there. Can you describe what is going on in this diagram in terms of the initiative?

 Diagram 1. Black to move

r3k3/p4p1p/4p1r1/2p1n3/4nN1Q/P1PqP2P/3B2P1/2R2R1K b q - 1 1

[solution]

UPDATE move 1
Bishop d2 is hanging.
What is the problem if black takes it immediately?
• Rg6 is hanging too
• Ne4 is abandoned by the black queen
What is the problem if black doesn't take Bd2?
• Qd3 is hanging
• Rg6 is hanging too
Can the capture of d2 be postponed?
Postponement moves have the following characteristics:
• They solve the problems
• They leave the initial threat intact
• The contain enough "punch", so they can't be ignored
The "enough punch" constraint is a great pair of pruning shears for the tree of analysis. Since the black queen is under pressure, enough punch means a check.

There are three possible checks. All other moves are out of the question.

It is not difficult to calculate which check is the best. But the question is, how far can we stretch the idea of the initiative. Can we find the best check in terms of the initiative. Can we prune two of the checks in stead of calculating them?

### Comments

1. So this a problem where I remember that I got it right and you said you had trouble with it. I remembered that the answer is 1.Ng3, but can't remember one iota of why that is.

I just went with 1...QxRf1+ this time, missing that after 2.RxR Ng3+, 3.Kg1 Nf3, 4.RxNf3 (a visual miss on this, but figured this out once I had gotten it wrong).

1...Ng3 looks winning enough, since 3.Kg1 QxBe7, 4.NxRb3 Qxe3+, 5.Qf2 (forced, else 5.Kh2 NxR+) QxQ+, 6.RxQ, NxNb3 or ...axNb3 wins two pieces and a pawn for a rook, and straightens out Black's pawns. OTB, I would not miss this if I went for it. I would definitely not sac queen for rook and make that blunder. That's the thing with Chesstempo, no one really gives a care the same way they would OTB, they are trying to stuff in one more pattern, or test their speed, or whatever other agenda they have. Getting a problem right, if it means taking forever, ahead of time, means nothing to most since it is not for anything such as OTB rating points or prize-money.

2. One analysis might go this way:

Material =
Situation : TitforTat, if i take the hanging bishop then they take my rook and if i take back they take my Ne4. Standard Method : remove target of counterattac with tempo: Ng3+ ...
There is a lot to be aware of at this puzzle, what i was not aware of was that the rook at c1 becomes week after Qxd2 and a potential fork Ne2+

3. PART I:

It appears that White has a "winning" advantage (the Nf4 fork of Qd3 and Rg6). However, the CRITICAL factor is that it is BLACK to move. Other contributing factors are the relatively more active (aggressive) positions of the Black pieces which are bearing down on the White Kingside vice the White pieces which are not really threatening much of anything (other than the Nf4 fork).

The key is to find some move(s) which threaten the White King while ignoring White's fork temporarily, using the concept of EGT (Equal or Greater Threat). CCT (Checks, Captures, Threats) must come into consideration for finding the EGT to temporarily negate the impact of the Nf4 fork.

AS LONG AS BLACK CAN FIND APPROPRIATE FORCING MOVES, HE WILL RETAIN THE INITIATIVE!

1. ... Ng3+ is the only viable CCT. 1. ... Qxf1+ does not get two Rooks for the Queen: 2. Rxf1 Ng3+ 3. Kg1 (White can bail out here with 3. Qxg3 if he doesn't mind being the exchange down) Nxf1 4. Nxg6! (INTERMEZZO! Threatening checkmate on e7) Nxg6 (removing the checkmate threat and in turn threatening the Queen) 5. Qe1 Nxd2 [5. ... Rd8? {hoping to exchange the Nf1 for the Bd2} would be a big mistake: 6. Bc1 and the Nf1 will perish for only the Pe3] 6. Qxd2 and a quiescent position is reached. Given the Pawn weaknesses on the queenside, White should have the advantage with Queen versus Rook + Knight. It does not help Black that his Rook and Knight are on opposite sides of the board, thus hard to coordinate together!

Given that Black's Queen is already under attack, it seems "logical" that White can place his own Queen in jeopardy by simply capturing that foolhardy Ng3 with 2. Qxg3, ending any further threats to his King. Alas! Since the Black Queen is now desperado, 2. ... Qxf1+ 3. Rxf1 Rxg3 gets rid of both prongs of White's original fork and the position is now quiescent, with Black ahead by an exchange. Black is left with a promising position because the Bd2 looks like a "tall" Pawn, and the Ne5 in conjunction with the two Rooks has potential targets on e3 and d2. If nothing else threatens, Black will castle queenside attacking the Bd2, to be followed up (maybe) with Nc4 and things start looking critical for White. Black DEFINITELY holds the initiative!

4. PART II:

The alternatives involve moving the White King to either h2 or g1. This again requires Black to find some CCT move(s) that maintain his initiative.

1. ... Ng3+ 2. Kh2 Nxf1+ 3. Kg1 (3. Rxf1 Qxf1 4. Nxg6 Nxg6 5. Qxh7 (hoping to snare the Ra8 [LPDO]) but the Ng6 controls h8 and can interpose on f8 if checked by Qg8. White is down a Rook and will probably lose the Bd2 as well. This is considerably worse for White than the first line given!

1. ... Ng3+ 2. Kg1 Qxd2 Black has "rescued" his Queen and now threatens his own Knight fork on e2, picking up the Rook on c1. 3. Nxg6 (hoping to regain the exchange and then pick up the "loose" Ng3) 3. ... Qxe3+! (INTERMEZZO!) and White is in trouble, as pointed out by LinuxGuy above. My evaluation is that [two pieces + Pawn versus Rook] is a greater material advantage than the exchange (in the first line given), so this is worse for White than the first line given.

The initiative is maintained because the position contains more favorable prospects for Black than for White because of two factors: Black is to move and his pieces are more actively placed to attack the White kingside. White "assumed" that all he needed to "win" was to fork the Qd3 and Rg6 with 1. Ne2-f4, threatening to win material (by a static evaluation) without adequately considering the dynamic activity of the Black pieces.

Out of curiosity (and following Aox's idea of shuffling the pieces around to "see" what alternatives are available), I reset the original position (before White moved 1. Ne2-f4) to see what GM Stockfish "thought" would be the best line for White. The "best move" for White IS 1. Nf4 (-2.42)!

Other moves considered were:
1. Rcd1 (-3.61)
1. Rce1 (-3.86)
1. Rb1 (-4.24)

and it gets progressively worse for White with other moves.

So, I guess 1. Nf4 was a good try to complicate the situation and hope that Black would not "see" the proper continuation. It would be even more instructive if the entire game was given, so that we could "see" how things progressed to this position. Unfortunately (for me), that requires a Gold membership on Chess tempo, which I don't have. On the other hand, this may be one of those games where "mistakes were made" preceding the given position, rendering it less useful for improving.

5. It is important not to rush this work. One move at the time is more than fast enough. Update of the post in blue.

6. Both f2 and f1 aren't suitable points of pressure since neither is B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended. Ng3+ has the follow up punch Nxf1. It is a duplo attack, hence the initiative is maintained.

So two of the three lines can be pruned without further calculation.

7. 1 ... Ng3+ can be found by pruning
White has 3 possible answers. Of course you can calculate those easy. But do the 3 answers telephone their inadequacy beforehand in terms of the initiative?

Remember what I'm after: find methods for pruning the tree of analysis in order to avoid calculation. Thus preventing system II from running out of memory slots in Short Term Memory.

It is not about that calculation is faster or more efficient in some cases. It is about developing a sense for the initiative.

8. 2. Qxg3 alters the target. Initial Bd2 is the target. But now the white queen becomes the target. That makes the black queen effectively a desperado.

2. Kh2 gives black the opportunity to take Rf1 with check. Thus solving blacks problems with tempo, the postponement moves will end with tempo, and black can cash in the bishop.

2. Kg1 is more difficult. The king puts himself on the line of attack g1, which gives white the possibility to take on f1 with tempo, thus neutralizing the future loss of the exchange on g6.

9. To have the initiative is - no doubt about it - a pleasant thing.

However, there is much more behind it, and I see many average club players fail.

Remember the sentence (?): "The threat is stronger than its execution"
Well, the execution is often a forcing move. For instance a discovery.
And you can rest in comfort with giving check - check - check - capture - capture - capture.

But then?

Often nothing happens. The average club player depleeted his opportunities, his good moves which his position had. And then it is the opponents turn. The initiative goes over to him, and he didnt even have to do anything but to react.

Wild positions, such as shown here at this post - well, the one whose turn it is, might have a win. So after a series of checks and captures, there is a check mate or a huge material advantage waiting at the end.

However, what about those positions where there is no winning tactic at the end of the day? The diagram - it has a win in it. But that is absolutely not teaching you the truth.
The truth is: dont use your opportunities (your "threats") but try to activate your position further. If your good moves (your threats) dont win at the end, the sentence holds true: "the threat is stronger than its execution".

I re-phrased this guidance rule in more exactly "Dont use up your opportunities - until they yield something".

Into the same direction goes GM Smirnovs: "To take is a mistake".
Why is that so? When you capture, he has to react. He has to recapture (most of the time). But in doing so, you got rid of your threat (your forcing move), while now there the old opponent piece got replaced by its defender (and thus there is still an opponent piece on the square of action).

Capturing moves are forcing moves, and thus you shall (by tendency) only use them if you gain something.

Anyway, my point is, that all the talk about initiative is entirely besides the point: if you use your bullets in your chamber of your gun, make sure you hit something with it. Otherwise, you simply used them up. While you use them - sure, you have (grab) the initiative everyone seeks cover and dodge the bullets. But when your chamber is over, its the opponents turn.