Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Threats rule in these parts, so take your "pawn structures" and stick 'em in yer clownhole, buster!

Another drastic revision in my thought process. Look for threats first and foremost. Obsess about threats. Tactics are the infrastructure within which you can do strategic thinking. Don't do what I do way too often: worry about subtle pawn structure or other strategery before looking for obvious code-red tactical opportunities. Don't worry about the mosquito on your arm when there is a gun pointed at your head. Worry about other stuff only after doing a thorough tactical reconnaissance mission. If there are multiple tactically equivalent lines, then go ahead and choose based on more touchy-feely strategic concerns (e.g., capture with a bishop instead of a pawn if it helps your bishop get activity).

This was all implicit in my thought process before, but not at the fore. Heisman says it over and over: checks, captures, and threats. Analyzing my slow games since my blitz binge, it is still basic errors. Not en prise blunders as much as quiescence errors (i.e., not thinking through the checks and captures until the position is quiet). Oh, that and not considering potential defensive resources for me or my opponent.

My thought process is starting to look more and more like DD's thought process (though, admittedly, when I only worry about threats, I end up with an awful mangled pawn structure and horrible mobility. So, strategy is important, but always constrained by the primary concern: threats! My comment about pawn structure in the title is a joke, so those of you looking for controversy, keep movin').

At any rate, it has been dawning on me the past few months that this threat-centric focus is how I should be thinking in games. And this will be reflected by a complete reworking of my thought process manuscript (which I am trying to cut down to 10 pages).

Another game "adjourned" tonight. I was up two pawns and the exchange, actually saw a pin he tried to pull on me, defended correctly, woohoo!, and my connection shit out. My dog ran upstairs to protect me when the screams commenced. Luckily I didn't have noescape set to 1, so I didn't automatically forfeit. I'm sure my opponent was happy: when I logged back on in 20 seconds he was gone. He'll probably avoid me, but I'll do adjudication.

18 Comments:

Anonymous dutchdefence said...

There! I made sure people would see the correct thought process. It should be CCTC instead of CCCT. Since you're linking to it, i deleted that little follow up post in which i corrected my mistake and instead edited the original post. You do know it is supposed to be CCTC, right? I do now want you to be using the wrong thing as that might lead to your doom. Although i'm not an expert and even CCTC might be wrong. But i feel comfortable with it. It's practical and covers the most essential.

8/22/2007 05:07:00 AM  
Blogger transformation said...

this is when we all need the teleconferencing phones, and you can call these folks, via some crazed Carnegie-Mellon University CERF or is it CERN patch, so you can see their faces, and hold a gun to the screen, or have a clip of Clint Eastwood, to patch in, like James Cramer's Mad Money where he has all those buttons for different emotions and sounds: Dirty Harry: "Make my day!"

Sorry, don't let the bastards get you down.

warmest, dk

8/22/2007 05:51:00 AM  
Blogger takchess said...

hmmmmm..... 4 words vs 10 pages.

I wonder if we can ever get to the point where we automatically see all one-two ply tactics without reminding ourselves to look for them. just see and play

8/22/2007 06:11:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

The idea sounds nice but in practice it is my experience that CCT gives way too much irrelevant candidate moves in complex situations.

8/22/2007 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I made a recent post about the same kind of thing. Checks, Captures and Threats must not be ignored no matter situation.

Its in the answering of threats, however that we can't throw out what we know of strategy. Finding the best strategic answer to the threat is important. So we don't end up with impaired mobility and too many target weaknesses to defend.

8/22/2007 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tempo: They key really isn't to look at all checks, captures and threats, but to avoid overlooking important checks, captures, and threats.

Tak: a thought process is only training wheels in my opinion. Ya' don't want 'em on your bike forever, but they help you get to where you want to be. As I say in the document:

Bear in mind that consciously following an algorithm for move selection is not the end goal. The great players do not walk themselves through a step-by-step procedure for picking moves. Consciously thinking "OK, now I need to look at checks, captures and threats" is inefficient: it is much more economical to simply look at all checks, captures, and threats. Hence, the end goal is to implicitly carry out all the steps without consciously thinking about them. Unfortunately, chess novices tend to impulsively make the first move that pops into their heads. An explicit thought process is meant to counter such impulsivity. During this learning period it is necessary to think about thinking, but any thought process should be looked at as a ladder that we will ultimately discard once its application is second-nature.

8/22/2007 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Note I didn't say strategy was unimportant in my post. Strategy is what you have to think about when there are no threats, or to choose between tactically equivalent lines.

8/22/2007 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous dutchdefence said...

In any thought process, it is you who gives yourself way too much irrelevant candidate moves.

8/22/2007 01:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more.

For me, chess is still primarily tactics, combinations, making fewer unrecoverable mistakes than my opponent and being able to spot and capitilise on the mistakes he makes...

I am still amazed at the quality and effort that you put into thi sblog ( & others into theirs ). How you find the time to do this and the circles....?!

Although I am also trying to improve myself at chess, I'm not sure if I coudl create as much time as the circles-method seems to require.

So far in my effort, I have tried correspondence chess, which is enjoyable but is probably best described as a "slow burner", but seem now to have settled on FICS and playing as much as possible against 'real' people.

Although only Blitz so far, I feel that I already see more, make fewer obvious mistakes etc and this has increased my enjoyment, and my desire to play slower chees too.

And for tactics so far, Understanding Chess Tactics by Martin Weteschnik has been excellent for me. 100's of examples with good verbalising, plus puzzles of a high quality too. Loads of diagrams so no need for a chess set when on the train !

Keep up the blog.

( I really should grab an ID, shouldn't I ?)

8/22/2007 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Anonymous: thanks for the kind words. Yes, ya oughta start an account so we can know who you are!

Thanks for the tip on that tactics book. It is sitting undread on my bookshelf....

8/22/2007 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

BTW, I couldn't find "clownhole" in my dictionary. Maybe because it is from 1959? :)

8/22/2007 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Definition of clownhole.

8/22/2007 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger Glenn Wilson said...

Glad to see you coming around to my way of thinking!

My comment about pawn structure in the title is a joke, so those of you looking for controversy, keep movin').

Oh. Nevermind. Sigh.

8/23/2007 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger takchess said...

Perhaps we should say

Investigate all forcing lines to quiessence (sp?)

8/23/2007 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Takchess. Yes, exactly (the challenge is finding the threats when they aren't checks and captures!).

From my revised document:

For those threatening moves that demand analysis, how many moves should you look ahead? Soltis (2005) advises: "The minimum number usually depends on how far into the future one player can continue to make forcing moves. In sharp positions in which your opponent is doing the threatening, you should continue looking until his moves have run out of force. But bear in mind we are talking about a minimum number of moves to look ahead. If you have the clock time to spend, you should analyze the position until you run out of forcing moves--and then look one move further."

In other words, analyze until the forcing moves have petered out (this is often called 'thinking the move through to quiescence'), and if you have time, one move past that. Again, the most important thing is to look at your opponent's potential checks, captures, and threats in response to your move. If you find one that cannot be met, then the candidate move doesn't work. Looking ahead in the analysis tree, especially focusing on forcing moves, is something Dan Heisman calls Real Chess.

8/23/2007 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger takchess said...

check out the last chapter of that book you haven't picked up it speaks to this.

8/23/2007 08:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what company provides your internet connection?

I have comcast and they always crap out on me.

8/23/2007 10:52:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tak I'll check it out. I've actually read the first couple of chapters now that I think of it, and didn't have the same enthusiasm others seem to have (Understanding chess tactics). I prefere littlewood or nunn. More to the point. Ironic, I know.

Anonymous: I'm not even sure. Road Runner or something. Usually very reliable. Just the past month it'gotten bad with the ICC connection.

8/24/2007 09:04:00 AM  

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