Tuesday, June 14, 2005

My Checklist for Thinking

I follow MDLM with this checklist. The idea is that you need structured thinking to prevent blunder. MDLM's original 8-point list does not fit my needs and my thinking style. So I invented my own list and added what I can do while the opponent is thinking. I am greatly indebted to Dan Heisman, for many of his ideas can be found in this list. I also added the most important tactical and positional patterns. Of course, if the opponent plays fast, most of the second list has to be done on own clock.

After opponent's move:

  1. Look: Board Vision. Check? Capture? What is threatened? What can he do that he could not do before? What can he no longer do that he could do before?
  2. Write: Opponent's move.
  3. Think: If check, capture or threat then parry, else Ideas First (update, continue or change plan).
  4. Elect: Candidate Moves. See a good move and try to find a better one. Decide best move. Sit on hands.
  5. Check: Visualize disappearing on old and appearing on new square. Board Vision for simple tactic: Mate? En prise? Counting? Check? Fork? Pin? Skewer? Discover? Trapping?
  6. Move: If ok then play best move and press clock, else back to 4.

On opponent's clock:

  1. Write: Own move.
  2. Clock: Pressed? Write down own time. Opponent's time? Benchmark? Game duration forecast. Speed up? Slow down?
  3. Targets: Whole Board Scan. King safety (mating patterns)? En prise? Loose pieces? Cramped pieces? Poorly defended pieces, pawns, squares or board regions? Overworked pieces? Geometry ready for forks, skewers, pins, discovers? Hidden geometry (to be created by forcing moves)? First scan own position for safety, then scan opponent's position for attack.
  4. State: Game State (opening, closed center, opposite castled, open center, endgame, won game) and Positional State (who stands better, by how much, and why?). Criteria: Safety (=Tactics), Material, Activity (piece mobility and coordination), Pawn Structure.
  5. Plan: According to game and positional state. Simple plans: Lose no time in the opening; first develop then attack; develop piece to the square that offers most options; make worst piece better; make best opponent's piece worse; trade own bad piece against opponent's good piece; open position when better developed and keep closed when less developed; activate rooks in the middlegame; control open center with pieces; attack on stronger side; flank pawn storm when center closed; counterstrike in the center against flank attack; create targets (weaknesses) by provocation or threats; create outposts in opponent's ranks; overprotection of advanced strong points (Nimzowitsch); double threats; when up a piece trade pieces, when down a piece trade pawns; activate king as soon as endgame begins; push passed pawn to the most advanced defended square but then stop.
  6. Wellness: Relax. Enjoy the game. Get a drink. Focus. Stay cool, not euphoric when winning and not panic when losing.


At 1:29 AM, Blogger generalkaia said...

That's quite the checklist. I will likely post about this topic soon. I feel that, in order for such a thought process to work, the list must be followed religiously. I have tried to apply these checklists to my games before, but I would quickly lapse into my former mode of looking for moves, or I wouldn't apply the thought process long enough.


At 7:50 PM, Blogger King of the Spill said...

That's a really good list.


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