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Showing posts from January, 2019

### Weird things can happen

From time to time I'm presented with a problem that takes me an absolute weird time to solve. Take for instance the following diagram: White to move 4r2Q/p2r1k2/1p6/3b2Pp/2q1P3/2B2PK1/8/8 w - - 1 1 [ solution ] It took me a shocking 6 (!) minutes to solve this problem. I kept repeating the wrong moves over and over again in my mind. Now I have made a new pattern of it. The queen as a hammer, and the two squares behind the king as an anvil. Belief me, I have used this pattern very often since I invented it. I just look for the squares that are suited as an anvil to crush the king against. It is much easier when you know what you are looking for.

### Just connect the dots

I started exercises dedicated to fork/double attack only, at Jan, 1rst. I use 3 sets of 70 positions (ca 210 in total), rated between 1550 and 2000. The problems are only 2 moves deep. I unearthed new patterns, not only usable for double attacks, but for other themes as well. Which is logical, because the problems are only 2 moves deep. Double attack + 1 other theme, or 1 other theme + double attack, idealiter. I take my time to ingrain the new patterns. To grow a feel for it. Even after training for 26 days in a row, the new feel is still a bit wobbly. It is still easy to be distracted by old habits. Taking one month per theme seems to be about right. But I expect I can't do without some exercises to maintain the newly learned patterns in the future. So far, it seems to work. I won al my games at the club by tactical means, and the new patterns play a role in every game. So far, the competition hasn't been very stiff, though. Black to move 5rk1/pp4p1/4q3/7R/8/2B1

### Looking for tasks to be automated

Broad:  I focus on the following themes: double attack exposed king defensive move sacrifice coercion  Which make out 37% of the total problem set at Chess Tempo. Deep: Min rating: 1500 Max rating: 2000 Given the type of problems presented, it should be doable to solve every problem below 2000 in under 30 seconds. I  have taken a peek at the higher rated problems. They are higher rated because there is more going on in the position. There are a lot of seemingly attractive lines which only distract you from the solution. It doesn't make sense to worry about problems with a higher rating than 2000, before you master everything thoroughly that is below 2000. Above 2000 it are the same themes, but there are more themes compacted within a single problem. Themed exercises Currently I do problems with a rating between 1780 and 1830. The common theme is fork/double attack. What I try to do is to recognize problems with the same characteristics. These characteristics ar

### Learning the tactical ABC

Time and again, it is proven that I am not very good at the recognition of basic tactical elements. The choice of my problem sets reveals that clearly. I do 10 low rated problems well, and then I encounter a low rated problem that takes me ages. That is a clear sign that I don't master the basics as well as I like to think. Take for instance the following position: White to move 8/5k2/5ppp/4r3/4nRP1/4N2P/5PK1/8 w - - 0 1 [ solution ] The first time it took me 1:41 to solve. Average solving time is 0:54. Rating is 1508. The combination consists of three basic elements: a tempo move (Nc4) a target exchange (Rxe4) a duplo attack (Nd6+)

### A glimmer of hope

If I would be asked to summarize the results of the Knights Errant, it would go something like this (well, nobody asks, but I tell you anyway): When you are below 1900 and a virgin to tactical exercise, you will gain about 250 rating points, no matter the method you use. I reached my peak in about 2007 or so, if I remember well. I continued exercising, and my mind started to feel tactically numb. In 2013 I had lost about 80 points from the originally gained 250. I always had the feeling that the core of my tactical improvement was reached in a short period of time of about six weeks. I have been trying to reconstruct what happened during these six weeks ever since.  Despite continuous intensive tactical training, my tactical brain started to feel more and more numb. That's why I abandoned tournament-, club- and internet chess for five years. It didn't make sense to continue without alleviating that numbness first. Most training has been in the salt mine department (auto

### BADPDO. The arise of the patterns.

The new training regimen yields new insights. New insights are accompanied by new geometrical patterns. What am I talking about? When you know that you have a double attack at hand, you look for LPDO, Loose Pieces on the verge to Drop Off. A new insight is that you should look for BADPDO too. B.A.D. Pieces Drop Off. These are (at least) two common patterns that accompany that insight: Loading a battery from behind Loading a battery from upfront You will find these type of patterns  time and again. Another insight concerns the tree of scenarios that emerges from a double attack. Attacking two targets at the same time, makes from those targets two potential desperado's. It is necessary to check if those desperado's can refute your attack. Just to give you an idea.

### Training the mini skills

The list of mini skills in the previous post gives a clear direction which way to go. I have a much clearer picture of how the training of mini skills should look like, nowadays. Observations from practice showed that we are way less familiar with the basics of tactics than we are inclined to think. The basics are known, but only partly. And what is known from the basics, is only partly automated. Both issues must be addressed by a proper training: We must supplement the lacking knowledge (system II) We must automate the knowledge (system I) The training must provide sufficient feedback The margins of error System II The margins of error are very small. When we use a problem set with problems that are too complex, then there is too little repetition of the important issues. Important issues drown in the flood of unimportant issues. It is mainly a system II exercise. But since the conclusions drown in the flood of information, we tend to draw the same conclusions over and over