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Showing posts from May, 2024

### Change of plans

I'm always right. The reason for this is, that when I'm not right, I change my opinion. I don't cling to any opinion. I don't build my ego on any opinion. Which doesn't mean it isn't sometimes painful to let a beloved opinion go when I invested a lot of work in it. This opportunistic vision comes at a price. First I must be prepared to endure the pain to let go a beloved opinion. I must not cling to the amount of work I have invested in it. Furthermore I must be prepared to invest even more work to synchronize my approach to the newly acquired opinion. Take for instance when I came to the conclusion that I needed more positional openings, it took me about five years to find five new openings that fitted my new ideas of openings and to adopt them to some degree. And it is a bit scary. Now I have entered the realm of endgame strategy, it might well lead to different conclusions about the middlegame and the openings phase. So I'm mentally prepared to change my

### Logic at last

I have read quite some endgame books. I learned a few techniques along the way, yet I always felt dissatisfied.  The main cause seems to be that most books start with calculus where I need 2x3. They start with technique while I need to know what we are actually trying to achieve. They tell a story but start in the middle. Leaving you guessing about the beginning. But now we know how skill is acquired. It starts with logic! The logic of system 2 is where system 1 gets its education from. So where does logic begin? Logic starts at the end! Because at the end you can find the purpose on which you can build your logic. Where does the endgame start? It starts at the end. And the end is queening a pawn. That is the purpose of all that endgame stuff. That is where the logic starts. How do you queen a pawn? You must create a passer first. Now everything starts to fall in the right place. Between the passer and the promotion squares we have a special set of squares. And I will give these squar

### The second duck

My two sitting ducks were the result of a mainly complete theoretical exercise. Plans can be based only on slow moving pieces. Since fast moving pieces are too agile. They defy every attempt to corner them by just moving away. You can only trap them by accident, when they act rather stupid. This means that only the king (first duck) and the pawns (second duck) are slow enough to be chased. Hence positional plans can only be based on the king and the pawns in the first place. The protection of the king and the pawns create obligations for the other pieces. Those obligations (functions) tend to slow down those defenders. So tactics can be based on the king, the pawns or the slowed down defenders. Maybe we should call defenders the third duck. The tactical exercises we see on sites like ChessTempo are mates (first duck), gain of wood (third duck), or stupid accidents (traps and blunders). What is lacking are tactics that are related to pawns (second duck). The main reason for inventing th

### How far does a GM look ahead?

The following position is from Arkell, K. vs. Holland, J. White to move 4r1k1/p1r2pp1/2p5/Q7/3p2Pb/P2NqP1p/1PR1P2P/4RK2 w - - 0 28  GM Arkell saw a tactical way to trade all pieces. He deemed that the resulting pawn ending was winning. From the book Arkells endings: 28.Qxc7 ... And here was my idea. Holland automatically assumed that this capture wasn't possible as his reply appears to win on the spot.  28...Qxd3 Threatening 29...Qxc2, 29...Qe3 and 29...Qxf3+, so it appears I must resign.  29.Qd8 For my trap to work, the Queen must pin Black's Rook, preventing ...Qxf3+; attack the Rook with check to avoid ...Qxc2 followed by ...Bxe1; and threaten the Bishop to eliminate ...Qe3.  29...Rxd8 The best he can do is head for an inferior ending. If 29...Qxc2 30.Qxe8+ Kh7 31.Ra1 Qxb2 32.Rd1 and I'm well on top.  30.exd3 Bxe1 31.Kxe1 Re8+ 32.Re2 Rxe2+ 33.Kxe2 f5 For the exchange Arkell needed to think 11 ply ahead, with all variations. Furthermore, he had to judge the ensuing po

### Pawns

The previous post showed a holistic view of the chess game. I knew for long that I needed one, but was always too easy overwhelmed or distracted to concoct one. But since my tactical prowess is on the rise, I feel more confident to trust on my own conclusions. The reason for a holistic logical framework is that it is a way to get feedback from my games. It is no problem how primitive or ridiculous or simplistic such framework currently is, since it is adjusted on the fly after every game. It is not supposed to be rigid, is is flexible by design.  There are three directions you can follow in a game. Go for the King (Vukovic) Go for the pawns (Nimzowitsch) Go for the endgame (Arkell) Go for the King The PoPLoAFun system offers a good guide in this area. The nec plus ultra for the assault on the king is piece activity . The pawns form a LoA landscape. The squares around the king are the focal points (PoPs). The battle is for the domination of the lines of attack. Chessable courses:  The

### Reducks

The pieces of the puzzle seem to add up finally. It took me 23 years to find the essence of the transformation from knowledge into skill and to devise a usable method. Since a year, my tactical training has taken off in accordance with my newly devised method. Immediately, during tournament play, I was confronted with the other holes in my bucket, like poor openings knowledge, poor positional play, poor endgame technique and in general having no clue what I'm doing. Result = what times how . I figured out the how in 23 years ,  but did not know much about the what . Since I didn't need to use time anymore for figuring out a study method, I have the time to plug the other holes in my bucket. In the past, I talked about the two natural targets of the chess game: the two slow moving pieces. I used to call them the sitting ducks: the king and the pawns . Vukovic put me on the track of the King with the Art of Attack in Chess. He talks about the preconditions that need to be met b

### Two weaknesses

We are all familiar with the idea to attack two weaknesses mutually. But being familiar is not the same as absorbing the associated patterns. Black to move 1r6/2r2p2/4p3/1p1p4/1P1P1Pkp/R1P1KR2/6P1/8 b - - 0 36 Ilfeld, E. vs. Arkell, K Source Chessable, Arkell's endings. Arkell has first weakened c3 somewhere in the middlegame. Later on, he played g5 g4 to induce a second weakness (g2). Now the coÃ¶rdination between the white pieces is lost.  That is the moment where black takes over the a-file. 36. ... Rbb7 37.Kf2 Ra7 38.Rxa7 Rxa7 The game is already decided. The disparity between the Rooks' activity is overwhelming.

### Endgames

Tactics It took me 23 years to get the essence of transformation of knowledge into skill. The obvious area to apply my method is tactics. Tactics are part of going concern now. No need to talk about them at the moment. I look for other areas of the game where I can apply my newly devised method. Openings My openings repertoire is kind of ready. Meaning that all choices are made. I don't think that openings study is a very fruitful way to go. Being hammered off the board in 19 moves in a tournament, is the best feedback you can get for all those pesky variations of an opening. There is no need to invest time and energy in advance. When you are humiliated, it is much easier to learn the details. I will not use my training method for the openings right now. Middlegame The middlegame is the place to gain the most improvement in the shortest amount of time. My own PoPLoAFun system is applicable here, and furthermore the Chessable books of CM Can Kabadayi provide the exercises that I can

### I'm convinced

After a few #2 compositions, I stumbled upon this beauty. I certainly can appreciate the highly sophisticated position. It is an extreme zugzwang position, where all 28 moves by black are forbidden due to the ensuing mate. I enjoyed the process of working out everything into detail very much. But at the same time it convinced me of the fact that this kind of narratives will not help me in a real game. White to move. Mate in 2 6r1/5Q2/1n1p2pB/4k2b/3b3r/8/1NBRp2N/1K2R3 w - - 0 1 And so I must go back to the drawing board. Compositions are not the answer to the problem I formulated implicitly in the previous post: how to focus on interconnections between themes and logical narratives. It might be just a matter of discipline. Bring the amount of repetitions down and focus even more on the narrative. Don't use repetition as an escape from deeper thinking. I will have a closer look at that.

### Compositions

I haven't decided yet whether compositions of mate in two can have any use in the process of learning skills. On the one hand, the positions are not realistic, usually. It is often about some mate in the middle of the board. That means that you won't get those positions in an OTB game. Within this lifetime, that is. On the other hand, what have we got: Tactical themes like pin, trap and double attack and the like Interconnections between themes PoPLoAFun Escape squares Logical narratives that connect the dots Patterns that emerge from all these points #2 compositions seems to focus especially on interconnections between themes and logical narratives. My current training, that I probably will continue for a very long time, seems to target the other points already. So I think it is a good idea to investigate whether #2 compositions are a useful as complement. I start with a set of 10 or so, to see how it goes. White to move 7n/3NR3/1P3p2/1p1kbN1B/1p6/1K6/6b1/1Q6 w - - 0 1 Curren

### Undermining

Another 120 mates were offered to me by the spaced repetition system of Chessable. I solved them all without a mistake, and noticed that I needed to calculate about 50% of them. The rest I simply saw. In general, the non mates are more difficult to absorb than the mates. Anyway, that part of the training is apparently going well. Just lather, rinse and repeat. I asked myself the question, can I use this method for other parts of the game too? I decided to find out. So I chose an opening, the French Tarrasch, to give it a try. Apparently it was possible, but after a few days I noticed it wasn't fun. I concluded that I wasn't ready yet to study openings this way. Just playing openings and getting punished for the things I don't know during a tournament is a much more efficient way to learn openings. So I got back to the drawing board. And I decided that I am much more interested in the middlegame. I use the Chessable book of CM Can Kabadayi  The Art of awakening pieces   Wit

### How good is a grandmaster at tactics?

I concocted my new method for transfer of knowledge from system 2 to the patterns of skill in system 1 in March 2023. So far I have absorbed 520 mates and 100 tactics (non mates) in about 13 months. GM John Nunn played a series of 100 blitz games against a 2300 rated master. The resulting score was 88-12, mainly based on LPDO. Nunn was rated about 2600 back then. Which leads to the conclusion, that even between high rated players, the mastering of simple tactics still show a huge difference. So what do these high rated players see and not see? I bought the book and video of Chess for Zebras (hat tip to Robert). In the video GM Jonathan Rowson describes a game of him against GM Viktor Korchnoi. He was rated 2540 back then, while Korchnoi was about more than 100 points higher rated. Rowson's last move was 11. ... Qf6? White (Korchnoi) to move r3k2r/pppn1pbp/1nb1pqp1/8/3P4/1QN1BN2/PP2PPPP/3RKB1R w Kkq - 1 12  Korchnoi jounced up with a "this can't be good" frown on his