Thursday, October 08, 2020

How to feed system 1

 System 1 (subconscious thinking) is where your attention is. It cannot function without the light of attention. It works its miracles in the dark, though.

System 2 (conscious thinking) cannot communicate directly with system 1. It seems to have some power over the direction your attention is going, though. After all, you can't be conscious without the light of attention.

In the past few months, I accidently stumbled over a method how to give conscious input to system 1. How to give some direction to the course that system 1 is following. It appears that system 1 is susceptible for images with geometrical patterns.

I will describe step by step how I arranged the process. It is not iron clad, since there is still a lot to discover. It is a begin though. The steps are probably not going to be coherent, but you can see the steps as tags to make it more easy to talk about it. I will make the steps where you actually educate your system 1 red. That's where you build skill. I will make the steps that might be omitted green.

Step 1. 

Gather a set with tactical problems. The jury is still out on that one, but Mr. Glicko suggests I should take a set with problems that I failed or for which I needed an excessive amount of time.

Step 2.

Solve the problem. Let GM Stockfish help you.

Step 3.

Learn the solution by heart

Step 4.

Predigest the food with system 2. Probably whole step 4 is red.

I will elaborate on this. Take the following problem:

Diagram 1. White to move

6k1/R1qn1pp1/1n2p2p/8/pP2P3/P1r1NPP1/3QBK1P/8 b - - 0 0


Now I'm going to add some colored squares and arrows. First the green squares. This stands for the targets, B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended) pieces, sometimes an attacking square. I use it not rigidly. The main thing is to keep it simple and crisp. The geometrical pattern must represent only the essence of the solution.

Diagram 2. Green squares are targets

Both the knight and the rook are B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended).

Diagram 3. The red square is for a piece with a function

The queen is overloaded.

Diagram 4. The yellow square is an attacking square

Diagram 5. The yellow arrows are the lines of attack

Arrows often converge to where two or more pieces work together.
The relation with PoPLoAFun is not rigid.
Points of pressure are represented by colored squares. They are differentiated in three colors.
A red square is usual a clue for trouble. There is a potential tempo problem to exploit.
Arrows tend to make a mess of your drawing.

Step 5
Repeat the drawing of geometrical patterns over and over again. Until you know it by heart. Here knowledge is converted into skill. This step is absolutely essential.

How do I know that skill is formed in step 5
There are a few telltale signs:
  • It feels the same as when I made my greatest progress of 250 rating points Dutch national rating.
  • When you learn the position by heart with the aid of system 2 (conscious thinking), you memorize the moves. When you memorize the patterns, the moves disappear, and the thinking disappears. You just know where the pieces are and what they do without actually seeing them. You just know. You see them with your minds eye. You know before you can think.
  • I notice unexpected changes. Time is shrinking while thinking. I think I have thought for a minute. But the clock says 15 seconds,
  • There is definitely transfer. But in different places than I expect.


  1. Excellent summary! Thank you!

    I've been following a similar (but not exactly the same) process for quite some time. As you noted, after training for some time, the connections just seem to appear out of thin air all at once across the entire board - and quickly, in most cases. I've found that my intuition for the correct first move is triggered almost immediately following the drawing of the critical PoPs (especially B.A.D. squares and LPDO squares) and the geometrical LoAs. Getting that first move triggered goes a long way toward priming System 1 to regurgitate the followup moves (based on the context and attention), very quickly giving lots of clues to the correct solution, whether to a problem or in a game. Sometimes even the Functions simultaneously pop up into awareness as well.

    Calculation of variations is still required, but it's a whole lot easier given the contours of the solution in terms of PoPLoAFun. As you stated, only the essentials have to be marked; there is no "religious" requirement to mark every possibility in order to gain the required SKILL.

    I have one small suggestion that also seems to help drive the "problem" context into System 1.

    As part of Step 4 (Predigest the food with system 2.), look up the source game and play through the entire game - preferably more than once. Look especially carefully at the moves immediately preceding the "potential" combination to SEE how the winner set up the combination (or if it occurred accidentally), and the moves immediately following to see how the winner handled the resulting advantage (if not a checkmate). This gives opening training, middlegame technique training, and ending training essentially for free, while reinforcing the tactical SKILL.

  2. PART I:

    FEN: 2brr1k1/1p3Rp1/p1p1p2q/2P1P3/3P2pp/8/PPQ4P/1B3R1K w - - 0 1

    Here’s an interesting problem on which to try Temposchlucker’s process, beginning with Step 2. (I’ll leave out the suggested leitmotif.) It is taken from August Livshitz’s Test Your Chess IQ: Master Challenge, Test 17, Position 132, David-Zeitan, Rumania 1956. (I could not find the game score.) Hint: Try to find at least 4 promising variations for White (see GM Stockfish’s analysis below).

    My “gut feeling” on first sight was that White has a strong attack on the Black King and Queen. My System 1 (RCCM) tossed up 1. R1f6 as a good try as the first move. There is significant difference in the scope of the two Bishops. On the other hand, I would NOT have considered most of the moves recommended by GM Stockfish, especially the three highest rated – somehow, I’m not surprised.

    Master Livshitz gives the following analysis (exclamations are from Livshitz):

    1. R1f6! gxf6 (1. … Qh5 fails to 2. Rxg7+! Kxg7 3. Rg6+ Kh8 4. Qd2!!) 2. Rh7! Qg5 3. Rh8+! Kf7 ( 3. … Kxh8 4. Qh7#) Qh7+ Resigns (4. … Qg7 5. Bg6+ mate).

  3. PART II:

    On the other hand, GM Stockfish (after over 15 hours analysis and with the number of variations set to 8) gives:

    [1] D39 +6.98 1.R7f4 a5 2.Qe4 Re7 3.h3 b6 4.Rxg4 Rf8 5.Qh7+ Qxh7 6.Bxh7+ Kxh7 7.Rxf8 Ba6 8.Rxh4+ Kg6 9.cxb6 Rb7 10.Rg4+ Kh7 11.Rc8 Rxb6 12.Rc7 Kh6 13.Rcxg7 Bd3 14.Rg8 Kh7 15.R4g7+ Kh6 16.Rg3 Bf5 17.Rh8+ Bh7 18.Rg2 a4 19.Rg4 Rxb2 20.Rh4+ Kg6 21.R8xh7 Rxa2 22.Rc7 Ra1+ 23.Kg2 Ra2+ 24.Kg3 Rc2 25.Rg4+ Kh6 26.Re7 Rc1 27.Rxe6+ Kh5

    [2] D39 +6.90 1.Qe4 Rd7 2.R7f4 g5 3.Rf6 Qh5 4.Qe2 Rg7 5.h3 Rd8 6.Be4 Bd7 7.hxg4 Qe8 8.Qd3 Qe7 9.Qb3 a5 10.Bg6 Kh8 11.Bf7 Be8 12.Bxe6 Bg6 13.Qe3 Re8 14.Bc4 Kh7 15.Kh2 Bc2 16.a3 Bb1 17.Bf7 Qxf6 18.Rxf6 Re7 19.Bc4 Bc2 20.Rf2 Bb1 21.Rf1 Bc2 22.Rc1

    [3] D39 +6.71 1.h3 g3 2.R7f4 Re7 3.Qd1 Red7 4.Qf3 g6 5.Rg4 g5 6.Qe3 Rg7 7.Rf6 Qh5 8.Rg6 Rxg6 9.Bxg6 Qxg6 10.Rxg5 Kh7 11.Rxg6 Kxg6 12.Qe4+ Kg7 13.Qg4+ Kf7 14.Qh5+ Ke7 15.Qxh4+ Kd7 16.Qh7+ Ke8 17.Qg8+ Ke7 18.Qg5+ Kd7 19.h4 Rf8 20.Kg1 Rf2 21.Qg7+ Ke8 22.h5 Rf1+ 23.Kxf1 a5 24.Kg2 Bd7 25.Kxg3

    [4] D39 +5.61 1.R1f6 Qh5 2.Rxg7+ Kxg7 3.Rg6+ Kh8 4.Qd2 Rd7 5.Rh6+ Qxh6 6.Qxh6+ Kg8 7.Bh7+ Rxh7 8.Qg6+ Kf8 9.Qxh7 h3 10.Kg1 a5 11.Kf2 Rd8 12.Qc7 Ke8 13.Kg3 a4 14.Kxg4 Rxd4+ 15.Kxh3 Bd7 16.a3 Ke7 17.Kg3 Rd2 18.Qa5 Rxb2 19.Qxa4 Rxh2 20.Kxh2 Kd8 21.Qa5+ Ke7 22.Qc7 Ke8 23.Qxb7 Kd8 24.Qb6+ Ke7 25.a4 Be8 26.a5

    [5] D39 +4.71 1.Qd3 b6 2.Qe4 a5 3.Qxg4 bxc5 4.Qf3 cxd4 5.Rg1 d3 6.Bxd3 Rxd3 7.Rgxg7+ Qxg7 8.Rxg7+ Kxg7 9.Qf6+ Kg8 10.Qg6+ Kf8 11.Qxd3 c5 12.Qf3+ Ke7 13.Qc6 Rg8 14.Qc7+ Bd7 15.Qxc5+ Kf7 16.Qc7 Ke8 17.h3 Rg5 18.Kh2 Rf5 19.Qc4 Rf2+ 20.Kg1 Rf8 21.Qe4 Rf5 22.Qa8+ Kf7 23.Qxa5 Bc6 24.Qc7+ Kg6 25.Qxc6 Rxe5 26.Qd7 Rg5+ 27.Kf2 Rf5+ 28.Ke3 Kf6 29.Qh7 Rg5 30.Qh8+ Kf5 31.Qxh4 Kg6 32.Qe4+ Kf6 33.Qf3+ Ke5 34.a3

    [6] D39 +4.70 1.Qf2 a5 2.Bd3 h3 3.Kg1 Qg5 4.Rf4 Qh6 5.Qc2 Re7 6.Qe2 Ree8 7.Qxg4 Rf8 8.Qh4 Qxh4 9.Rxh4 Rxf1+ 10.Kxf1 Rd7 11.Ke2 g5 12.Rg4 Rg7 13.Rg3 Bd7 14.Rxh3 Rf7 15.Ke3 Rf4 16.Rh5 Rg4 17.Be2 Rg1 18.Kf2 Ra1 19.Rxg5+ Kf7 20.a3 Ra2 21.Bf3 Rxb2+ 22.Kg3 Be8 23.h4 Rb3

    [7] D39 +3.19 1.b4 Rxd4 2.Qf2 Rdd8 3.h3 g3 4.Qf3 Qg5 5.Rf4 g2+ 6.Qxg2 Qxg2+ 7.Kxg2 Rd2+ 8.Kg1 g5 9.Rf6 Rd7 10.Kg2 Red8 11.Be4 Rd4 12.Kf3 Rd1 13.Rg6+ Kf8 14.Rxd1 Rxd1 15.Rxg5 Rh1 16.Kg4 Re1 17.Kf4 Rf1+ 18.Ke3 Re1+ 19.Kd3 Rd1+ 20.Ke2 Ra1 21.Rh5 Bd7 22.Kf3 Rxa2 23.Rxh4 a5 24.Rh8+ Ke7 25.bxa5 Rxa5 26.h4 Be8 27.Kf4 Rxc5 28.h5 Bxh5 29.Rxh5 Kd8

    [8] D39 +3.16 1.b3 Rxd4 2.Qf2 Rdd8 3.h3 g3 4.Qf3 Qg5 5.Rf4 g2+ 6.Qxg2 Qxg2+ 7.Kxg2 Rd2+ 8.Kh1 Red8 9.Rxh4 g5 10.Rh5 Rd1 11.Rxg5+ Kh8 12.Rgg1 Rxf1 13.Rxf1 Rd2 14.h4 Kg7 15.h5 Kh6 16.Bg6 Rxa2 17.Rf8 Bd7 18.Kg1 Rb2 19.Rd8 a5 20.Rxd7 Rxb3 21.Re7 a4 22.Rxe6 Rb2 23.Be8+ Kh7 24.Bf7 a3 25.Rg6 a2 26.Bxa2 Rxa2

  4. I predigest until no calculation is left. That means that everything is been seen.

  5. With the leitmotif based problem set, I plugged a lot of holes in my bucket. But not the biggest holes nor the ones near the bottom.

  6. This kind of annotation can now be done directly in Chesstempo, if you're interested. May or may not be easier than exporting to another program.

    Richard says: "You can add arrow and square highlight annotations by right clicking on the board squares (square highlighting) or right clicking and dragging. Combinations of Ctrl and Shift keys change the colour of the highlighting, so right click without keys draws Green, Ctrl-Right-Click = Yellow, Shift-Right-Click = Red and Ctrl-Shift-Right-Click gives Blue. If you move away from the current position (or click on the board with anything but a right click), any annotations will be reset." It's only useful on the website, not mobile app. --mfardal

  7. I must be holding my mouth in the wrong position. Regardless of the Control or Shift keys, when I LEFT click on a square I get a single square highlighted in green, in both the old and new format. RIGHT click brings up a browser menu.

    A little more detailed help for the old man, please!

  8. I'm using a Mac laptop, so it's a little different for me anyway. When you left click, does it highlight the square no matter what's on it, or does it require it to be one of the pieces? I get a bright green background on that square if it's one of my own pieces (standard solving behavior, marking the piece about to move). If I right click, I get a dull green background instead. Control and shift keys modify the colors as Richard described. Shift-rightclick actually brings up a popup menu in addition to changing the square color, which is slightly annoying, but a click on the board makes that go away.

    You might try the middle mouse button, or another browser. Does it work for anyone else?

  9. That was a somehwat bizarre experience. I'm currently using a Windows 7 PC. (Yes, I know: it's out of support by Microsoft. Getting a new uptodate Windows 10 PC is in the cards, but probably not until Christmas or later.) I loaded Microsoft Edge, went to the Chess Tempo site (Tactics), and (in the main) it worked as you described it. So, I went back to Chrome (my usual browser), went to Chess Tempo and tried the same thing again - and NOW it worked!

    After playing with it a little while, I think I know what happened. Originally, I was trying to use the square highlighter and move arrows while the problem was active (waiting to be solved). It did not work while the problem was active. After the problem was solved, I reset back to the starting position using the arrows under the diagram. At that point, I could highlight and mark the squares.

    That can save a lot of time when marking squares. Thank you for that information!

  10. Oh yes, sorry I forgot to mention that. I guess it's disabled during initial solving because it's an artificial aid, like the analysis board. If you open up a specified problem with the URL containing "chess-problems" instead of "chess-tactics", the feature will be active then too. No way to save the annotations, as of now. The full forum thread about this feature is here: --mfardal