Saturday, April 14, 2007

Analysis and the heirarchy of threats

The following is an excerpt from the new version of Chessplanner that I am working on. It will be done in about a month.

When considering candidate moves that require deep analysis, which moves should you analyze first? First analyze the biggest threats, and then go on to more quiet moves. Buckley (1999) offers the following useful advice:
By ranking the threats, strongest to weakest, you discover where the critical battle will be fought. For instance, you pass over a hanging pawn in your calculation if there is any chance of mate for either side. Only after assuring yourself there is nothing better should you analyze the pawn win. Thus no time is lost. The most dangerous ideas are always checked first, before any minor threat is even considered.

Contrary to ideas held by some amateurs, the expert looks at mating attacks and material threats carefully before embarking on any positional maneuver. Nobody tacks about when victory is in sight. Instead, the master finds the sharpest idea available, then begins to evaluate plans and calculate variations. He abhors analysis that fails to consider a significant threat.
In sum, when evaluating the position, you will come up with some candidate moves that involve bigger threats than others. When it is time to analyze, rank your candidate moves into a hierarchy of threats and analyze those at the top of the hierarchy.

Above image from the Webeagles Chess Club.


Blogger BlunderProne said...


Nice synopsis. In theory, this is a great approach to move selection. The problem at my level is the speed at which it takes to go through the analysis and evaluation during an OTB timed event. Speed and efficiency can only come through practice and experience. This is exactly what I am currently working on.

I don't want to add more knowledge, I need to practice applying the knowledge I already have.

My results are getting better and my games are more consistent.


4/15/2007 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

BP: all this research on analysis has helped my game a lot. For quiet moves I don't spend a lot of time like I used to, and for sharp moves I tend to take my time and really do the analysis.

There is another good reason to start out by looking for/at threats, the diminishing returns for tactical vision discussed by Soltis (I mentioned it here). Basically, the longer you look at a position, the less likely you will see a tactic.

So, perhaps you already had this knowledge and are using in games. I didn't, and used to blunder by spending too much time thinking about quiet moves when nothing tactical was going on. This knowledge is easy to translate into practice, luckily (easier even than consistently blunderchecking, which I still sometimes fail to do!).

4/15/2007 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger Cratercat said...

Sounds like an interesting book there BDK. Wish the darn thing didn't cost almost 2 books for the price of one at $45. I wonder if there's a way to get this cheaper thru USCF albeit looks out of print.


4/16/2007 06:02:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

cratercat: it's a pretty good book. It came highly recommended from some of the higher-rated bloggers (Patrick at chess for blood and sancho pawnza). Tempo didn't like it, but I think he was just looking for something else (he wanted 'how to choose a move when there are no tactics and your pieces are all active?')

I think SOltis' book 'how to choose a chess move' is as good if not better.

4/16/2007 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

see, that right there is excellent. out of my many weaknesses and shortcomings, position analysis/move selection is my biggest problem. just like blunderprone said, nice synopsis...

4/16/2007 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

oh, by the way, fuzzbot is me, chessloser...

4/16/2007 04:48:00 PM  

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