Friday, June 30, 2006

Checks, Captures, and Threats

Dan Heisman has given a lot of good advice, but this may be the best of all. And most important, it is simple. A useful thought process has to be simple so that it also works under stress and in time trouble. I have made various attempts with check lists earlier, but they were so complicated I never used them in a game. I hope this one will work better:
  1. Look for targets and rank them by importance.
  2. Rank initial candidate moves by their forcing power: checks, captures, threats, and then all other moves.
  3. Calculate principal variations until quiescence, beginning with top initial candidate. In quiet positions do not calculate variations but apply positional rules. Exclude non-safe candidates.
  4. Rank final (i.e. playable) candidate moves in the order of material and positional value at quiescence.
  5. Check time. If in time trouble or blitz play top candidate else look for a better one. Decide. Sanity check. Move. Press clock. Write own move and time. Check if all done. Relax. Switch to strategic thinking.


(Updated July 13th, adding target search on top of the list.)

BTW this method is called a heuristic, derived from Archimedes's famous exclamation «heureka!».

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