Wednesday, October 18, 2017

As the vulture flies

Thanks to Ophelia we have summer-like temperatures lately. Which makes it attractive to work in the garden in the weekends. Despite the global warming, the evenings have become darker every day though, while the winter solstice nears. It is not doable to work in the garden in the dark, so more and more times becomes available for other matters. For instance for thinking about chess.

Robert mentioned a point which has to be clarified, some day. Maybe it is good to give this some attention before I dive head first in the matters which we have talked about lately again.

That point is about to investigate what happens when we stay circling like a vulture while looking at a position, in stead of diving into the first tunnel that smells to road kill time and again. It will require quite some mental discipline to withstand the old habits, of course, so it is actually some kind of meditation. I will give it a try and see what happens.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Pulling a thread

I followed the DuKan diet for over two years. It is low carb and low fat. I lost 24 kg. But now I'm stalling. Since I ate a lot of meat because of the diet, I started to get bored by it. So I decided to become a flexitarian. Eating meat only once a week. To maintain that, the food must be tasty. I remember that things tasted better 40 years ago. In Holland we have a monopoly of six supermarkets. Which compete solely on price. Taste has been sacrificed long ago as being too expensive. So I want to grow my own food. And can and store it in my shed. Since my shed was a lost place, I had to empty it. Which took a few weeks. Since the landfill asked exorbitant prices to pick up the trash, I had to bring it myself. Since the pieces were to big to fit in my car, I had to shred them to pieces. Which took a few weeks. Then I had to bring it to the landfill. Which took a few weeks. My shed had a dark roof. It becomes very hot when the sun shines upon it. Which is not good for storing food. So I had to clean it and paint it white. Which took a week. I have to remove the ivy which had taken over my garden while I was blogging about chess. Which will take a few weeks. I started to look for farmers who deliver their food directly to the visiting clients. Which is an ongoing process. The coming months I will be busy to make the garden ready. So now you know why I haven't been writing about chess lately.

When the days become shorter and rainier, there probably will be moments that I cannot work in the garden. Then I will be back. So no worries.

The new diet has beans as an important component. The good news is that I'm loosing weight again. But our bed sometimes is a Dutch oven.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Promotion example

The promotion problems at Chess Tempo aren't the casual promotions that occur in your average endgame study. The promotion forms an integral part of the tactical combination at hand. The promotion usually immobilizes the enemy because his pieces are bound to stop the pawn. This series of posts is intended to investigate how the promotion helps to make a combination possible.

Have a look at the following diagram:

Black to move
1R6/P2R2kp/6p1/8/8/5p1b/r6P/7K b - - 0 1

Feel free to comment already.
I will update this post later.

Monday, August 21, 2017


While analysing my failures at Chess Tempo, I noticed three areas of improvement for me:
  • initiative
  • mate
  • promotion
I have  made some serious progress in unearthing a few important scenarios considering the initiative. It only needs practising now.

I have developed a nice picture which covers all scenarios around mate:

  • Chase the king into the box
  • Chase the king onto a line of attack
  • Plug the hole in the box so the king can't skedaddle
  • Squeeze the box
  • Pry the box about by the weakest defender
  • Add attackers
  • Cut off defenders
The scheme lacks practical testing, as of yet.

And I have avoided ideas about promotion so far.

It is difficult to choose which subject to devote my attention to, since when I train one of them, I get frustrated by being pummeled by the other two.

So I simply start with promotion, and see to which it leads. And when I want to change the subject of study, I simply change it without further ado.

Takchess gave us some random thoughts about promotion.
  • Two connected pawns always can promote.
    A pawn nearing promotion demands attention and causes immobility.
  • A pawn promoting causes an imbalance in power and sacrifices of material often occur to
    make it happen.
  • The pawn movement toward promoting is often a form of initiative when a puzzle has a pawn on sixth rank promotion may be a factor special cases.
    Pawn which promotes with check.
    Pawn which promotes with double attack.
  • Pawn which promotes with a pin of a piece to the king.
  • Pawn which promotes whose capture removes a guard.
    Pawn which under promotes to a Knight.
It is good to keep these random thoughts in mind when I try to unearth some eternal chess truths about promotion.

Now let me think for myself. When you promote, you gain wood. In that sense, it doesn't differ much from a capture. For the time being, I will treat it as such. The target is the promotion square.

The nitty-gritty of promotion is the fact that the target is permanently immobilized. And everything that is immobile is a potential vulnerability.

Hence the scenarios revolve around the path towards promotion. About methods to block or impede the path to promotion, and about the ways how to clear the path. Once the promotion is a fact, the newly acquired piece is just another piece, which from that moment should be treated as such.

Ok, this already gives enough food for though. I'm going to look for a few sample positions from Chess Tempo, to help matters to become more concrete.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Initiative redux

All scenarios that win a tempo have two targets involved.
  • T = Target
  • D = Defender
  • A = Attacker
  • C = Capturing attacker
  • PoP = Point of pressure
  • Green = enemy
  • Yellow = winning us
  • Arrow = attack or defense
  • Lightning = gained tempo

The initiative group has two families, the captures and the double attacks. There are four scenarios of defense:
  • Recapture with tempo (additional threat)
  • Save target with tempo (desperado)
  • Recapture with defending the other target
  • Save one target and defend the other target in one move

Monday, July 10, 2017

Some thoughts on generalization

While I did my daily exercises to memorize the tree of scenarios, I noticed something.

The scenarios for a hanging piece are:
  • Neutralize the counter attack before capture
  • Defend against counter attack after capture
A hanging piece has only a bare capture as scenario when it is a low rated problem. A higher rated problem always has a complication in the form of a counter attack that you have to neutralize. Be it for the capture, or after the capture of both.

If you think about it, there is no reason why these two scenarios only would apply to a hanging piece. In fact, any combination, like for instance a trap (lack of space) or conquering a B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended) piece can be complicated by these two scenarios.

The scenarios for a B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended) piece are:
  • Remove defender
  • Add attackers
  • Cut off defenders
  • Duplo attack it
If you think about it, there is no reason why the scenarios add attacker and cut off defenders only would apply to a B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended) piece. And indeed, when you look for the scenarios to conquer a target with lack of space, you see there these both scenarios too.

Remove the defender and duplo attack belong to the scenario family associated with the initiative:
  • capture defender
  • capture with additional threat
  • duplo attack
This means that the following scenarios are generally applicable:
  • Neutralize the counter attack before
  • Defend against counter attack after
  • Add attackers
  • Cut off defenders
  • capture defender
  • capture with additional threat
  • duplo attack
Just a few thoughts.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Location system

In order to be able to make use of the tree of scenarios, it is absolutely necessary to learn the system by heart. Let's ponder a moment about why this is.

Let's remember how it all began. It all started with the observation of how I lost tons of time while I was searching in trial and error mode for clues in a position. I attack a target, and sometimes it takes 3 minutes to realize that the target is defended, and that I can harass the defender. It was shown time and again, that it took ages to be aware of even the most basic chess logic. It became clear that I could never become better or faster when I continue to spill minutes in almost any position.

The tree of scenarios is developed to help the mind to focus on basic chess logic in stead of dabbling around in mesmerization. The tree is of course rather personal, so it is a good idea to develop your own system, or to make at least some necessary adaptations for yourself. The 23 scenarios in the tree are very simple and basic. Nothing fancy or highbrowed.

It is of course not so difficult to memorize 23 scenarios that are bundled into a tree.  But if you try it, you will see that you must erect the tree every time you want to retrieve information from it. You will soon notice that you reconstruct the nodes and the branches with the mind. And construction is done with the slow conscious thinking part of the brain. If it takes an equal amount of time to reconstruct the tree of scenarios for retrieval or to look for clues in trial and error mode, it will be apparent that I will not become faster by using the tree. That's why the time that is consumed by the slow mind while using the tree of scenarios must be eradicated as much as possible. I have experimented a lot with thought processes in the past, but they never worked out because of this very reason.

ANKI isn't especially designed to learn to retrieve memories fast. The system of spatial learning isn't intense enough for that. What I do now, is to repeat the exercises every day until I remember them a tempo.

When a node has two branches, it is easy to remember them. If a node has three, it takes some time. But if a node has four or more branches, it takes a lot of time to reconstruct that part of the tree.

That is where the pictures come in. Take for instance the node lack of space.

All 7 scenarios that are connected as branches to this node work on the box that accompanies the target with lack of space. With the picture above, I not only retrieved the information in no time, I stored it in no time too. Here you see the unconscious work its magic. The 7 scenarios are combined to 1 chunk, which is treated as 1, by the Short Term Memory.

When  the branches of a node have less in common, it becomes equally more difficult to design a catchy picture. But it's worth the effort. Every node in ANKI has now its appropriate picture. Within a few days, I expect to master the tree of scenarios a tempo.

The next step is to hang some examples into the tree. Say, 3-4 examples per scenario. And then to learn those examples by heart too.

The pictures work as a location map for memories. In fact the tree of scenarios itself represents such map.