Sunday, September 11, 2005

Pattern Recognition + Position Evaluation = Pattern Evaluation

Thank goodness when I started trying to improve at chess about 6 months ago I stumbled upon the idea that because of the complexity of the game, one of the best ways for a beginner to improve is to build up pattern recognition skills.

I have indeed learned to see many patterns (e.g., Scholar's Mate), but it is much more than that. I have learned to see patterns with values: my king alone on the back rank with the three pawns hemming him in is not just a pattern, but a bad pattern: even its anticipated presence in the end-game warps my evaluation of the board until I have properly guarded against a back-rank mate. It is not a cold cognitive judgment, but is typically accompanied by a surge of emotion, often a sharp slap of excitement or fear. That is to say, this is not a stale and detached pattern recognition, but pattern recognition melded with pattern evaluation. Yes, the ability to recognize is necessary for this, but the experience is also laden with a history of previous consequences of the pattern. If I were a psychologist, I would probably say that the valence (i.e., positive or negative) and magnitude of the emotional response to a pattern provides a running record of the net reward associated with that pattern in the past.

I can't imagine what it is like for the players who don't suck like I do. Your pattern evaluation skills have reached heights of subtlety that are years away from my mind. I'd imagine it prevents you from wasting valuable clock-time considering moves that I would wrack my mind over. Also, your experience makes you consider high-quality lines that I can't even think of at this early stage. This must make chess a more satisfying and rich experience altogether, much like my experience now is richer than it was six months ago when I first learned what a 'knight fork' was.


Blogger Temposchlucker said...

That is a sharp observation.
It is easy to train with the automatic pilot on. But without emotions that is not very effective. So when that hated sad smiley comes at CTS you feel the pit in the stomach. Be grateful for that. As PMD put it once: When "The frowning face of Death", "The Arrows of Shame" or "The squares of Ignorance" appear in CT-art.

I remember from the beginning that I had a lot to count when I considered an exchange of pieces. Now I most of the time just know if it is favourable or not. When I see someone move his king into a pin, the shudders walk over my back.

That's how you recognize a chessplayer: they can't leave a chessposition alone. I find myself often looking at the chessboard AFTER a problem is solved and the king is mated. Evaluating moves that aren't possible anymore.

9/16/2005 12:10:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You know, we ought to get some grant money and you could do a study on this. . .

Let's write a grant request!!! Woohooo. . .right after I stick needles in my eyes. . .

9/16/2005 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I would gladly give up the equivalent of 500 ratings points of chess skill to avoid writing government grants for the rest of my career!

9/17/2005 01:08:00 AM  
Blogger King of the Spill said...

"How to Beat Your Dad in Chess" talks about pattern recognition alot, how GMs have tens of thousands more patterns memorized. I agree that it's a big factor for us casual players improvement, too.

9/17/2005 03:14:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

'How to Beat Your Dad at Chess' is a great book. I have been reading it at night over the past couple of weeks (partly because I have been getting my ass handed to me in the endgame lately).

Before finding the MDLM book I bought it online pretty much based on the title and high number of stars, thinking it would give me general chess skills (I know, I should have done more homework before shelling out the cash). I was bummed to find out it is only a book of checkmate patterns (much like Bobby Fisher Teaches Chess).

Nowadays, though, the book is exactly at my chess level: he uses board positions that come up frequently and shows checkmate patterns that are available in those positions. I also like that he doesn't mention 10 moves before showing another board diagram: I can only follow 3-4 moves before I need another picture, and he uses exactly that many. In other words, I don't need to waste time setting up the board positions in order to follow the moves.

9/17/2005 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger takchess said...

Here is a pattern worthy of recognizing "The fork trick"

9/17/2005 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger King of the Spill said...

Nice link, Takchess. I have used that as Black in blitz, starting as a Petroff defense.

Eric, Nimzovich's "My System, 2nd Edition" is more like what your talking about. It's a quirky book, and people seem to either love or hate it. If you have time it's got principles + nuts and bolts examples. Anyone under 1400 (which may soon include me lol) might get some boost from going through his chapter on the center and development.

9/19/2005 02:53:00 AM  
Blogger CelticDeath said...

Hmmm...shouldn't the equation be:

Pattern Recognition + Position Evaluation = Pattern Evaluation + Position Recognition?

9/19/2005 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger King of the Spill said...

... scratches his head

9/20/2005 02:54:00 AM  
Blogger King of the Spill said...

Now I'm lost lol.

9/20/2005 02:54:00 AM  
Blogger JavaManIssa said...

It rightly should be Mr. Celtic Death Chemistry Man :)

9/21/2005 05:57:00 AM  
Blogger CelticDeath said...

My daddy always said I should-a been an engineer!

Now if I could only get that Bunsen burner to oxidize my carelessness in chess.... :(

9/21/2005 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger takchess said...

two good general chess books that address the whole game. Both are written to be a general book on chess for those in the early stages
with great advice.

Guide to good Chess by Purdy

secrets of the russian grandmasters v1 & v2 by Alburt.

The Alburt book you should find in local library.

9/22/2005 04:29:00 PM  

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