Friday, July 01, 2022


 In a post of quite some years ago, I talked about the drawbacks of the trial and error method. It often took me a long time to realize that a piece was defended, and that the logical conclusion was to eliminate that defender. In order to speed that up, I invented the tree of scenarios. With 23 standard scenarios, if I remember correctly.

But thinking about scenarios is a system 2 exercise, it is no skill. So it didn't work. But slowly we are finding out how to transfer this knowledge to system 1. It is about the concepts and the analogies we talked about.

I work with a database of 748 selected tactics. It is very important that these tactics are selected well. I found these careful selected tactics in two books at The checkmate patterns manual by CraftyRaf and 1001 chess exercises for club players by New in Chess.

Right now, I'm internalizing all 748 tactical exercises. The spaced repetition method is a great help for that. Once the moves are internalized, I focus on the technique behind the moves. The tree of scenarios. Which scenarios are at work? Once I found out, I simply memorize them. Once the scenarios are memorized, I try to conceptualize them. To generalize the ideas. What is needed for the tactic to work? I work bottom up, that is to say, I start with the position and generalize from there. That is the other way around as the top down approach with the tree of scenarios. What do we need? An undefended back rank, with a rook that can enter at will to sac itself in the corner, a bishop on the long diagonal to pin the pawn on g2, b2, g7 or b7. And a Queen that can deliver mate on those very squares after entering via the rook file. See the comments here

Besides this conceptualization, the phantom auras need of course to be imagined, and these kind of exercises are perfectly suited for that:


White to move

 8/8/3p2k1/2q5/3N4/1B1K4/5R2/8 w - - 0 1

1 comment:

  1. The usual difficulty (for me) in positions of this type is trying to figure out all the things that the queen can do to throw a monkey wrench into the process.

    The "vulture's eye view" reveals that White is ahead in material (at the moment); unfortunately, if White has to give up the Rook AND one of the minor pieces, he can only attain a draw (insufficient mating forces).

    White makes the next move, giving him the initiative (at least for that move).

    There IS a surface level cue: the Knight and Queen are sitting on the same colored squares. If the black King is not on the same color, one "idea" is to try to force that King on to the same colored square, thereby setting up the possibility of a Knight fork of King and Queen.

    This process has similarities to the idea of creating a "box" around the black King, in order to create a "kill-zone." The "kill-zone." in this case is NOT a mating net, but is a "forking" net - an abstraction (generalization) based on the idea of "corralling" the opposite King. We have (perhaps) uncovered the "essence" of the position. YIPPEE KI YAY!

    The Rook (and, redundantly) the Bishop create a "wall" to the left of the black king, leaving 5 open flight squares. Since the Rook already cuts off the f7-square, the Bishop can be used to cut off more squares. 1. Bf7+ cuts off two more squares (g6 and h5), leaving 3 flight squares. AHA! The Knight indirectly ["see" those "invisible" phantom auras!] cuts off two more squares (g5 and g7) because then the King and Queen are in position for the Knight fork. That means the black King must choose between h6 and h7. In either case, the Rook can now check with 2. Rh2+ and the black King will be FORCED to move to either g5 or g7, allowing the Knight fork of King and Queen.

    After the black King moves, 3. Ne6+ forks the King and Queen, followed by the capture of the black Queen (4. Nxc5).

    Note that the "work" proceeds toward a reachable goal (material gain plus reduction toward a simpler endgame situation) without getting caught up in a futile attempt to checkmate on the side or corner of the board. The White pieces are not sufficiently coordinated for that option.