Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Resource-Oriented Thinking

When I look back at my last post I have my doubts. I find it too negative and hence not very useful for improving in chess. Instead of making a science of ghosts and other faultology (another title of a post of mine more than a year ago) I am convinced that it is better to just ignore faults and better concentrate on skills and other resources, such as focus, patience and discipline.

Each fault has a positive counterpart, a complementary resource. Take for example the well-known «quiescence error» which can be replaced by the positive term «sense for a critical position». Instead of avoiding «retained image» I better should sharpen my skill to «clear squares» not longer covered by pieces. Tunnel vision? No, overview. Counting error? No, counting skill. Pattern blindness? No, pattern recognition.

Made a fault? Blundered? No, no, just found an opportunity to improve next time.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ghostbusting in Chess

Recently, I watched a blitz game at our club. One player blundered his Queen, letting her be taken by a pawn. Immediately I saw the reason, because the pawn would have been pinned if the King would be able to pin a pawn. Of course he is not. And really, after having resigned, the player admitted that he thought the pawn was pinned - by his King!

Such things are not just nonsense. I think it pays to spend some thoughts on it. Obviously, our player has mixed up his two largest pieces of wood on his board. One - bot ONLY one - of them could have pinned the pawn.

In fact, there was another type of ghost image involved: The Queen cannot take a Rook and pin the pawn at the same time.

Another mixing up often occurs at CTS when I do lots of problems in a row. Sometimes I think I am Black when I am White. Sometimes I see that I am White but try to checkmate my own King.

There are even more types of ghost images. For instance, Rooks that can move diagonally like Bishops. Or Knights that can hop on their own diagonal. Often, such ghost hops are triggered by strong squares, for instance a fork on King and Queen. If you stare long enough at such a square, it magically attracts every Knight in its neighbourhood, regardless of its ability to get there.

Ghost pawns are also very common. They move in the wrong direction or protect pieces on squares behind them.

Will all this theory help in a game, I hear you ask. My answer: I am not sure. But as a ghostbuster you must know your ghosts. Only then you can fight them.


Friday, February 02, 2007

The Energy Physics of Chess

Today, considering why I did not find the best move 15 in my last game, I had a beautiful insight. In chess, like in physics, there are two forms of energy: potential and kinetic. Potential energy is a superior position. Kinetic energy is tactics. You cannot get the kinetic energy of a tactic if you do not accumulate the potential energy of a positional advantage before.

So far so good, not very new. But what I have seen in my game is that the thing is reversible, just like a pendulum, swinging back and forth. Sometimes a tactic is not sufficient to gain material or checkmate, because it can be parried. But in doing so, a new weakness emerges: The kinetic energy of tactics is again stored in potential or positional form. This, in turn, can be exploited later by a new tactic.

My general plan here was to threaten queen checkmate at h2, but I rejected this because the Knight f3 protects the King. Fruitless! Really? In fact, 15.-Qc7 would have been an excellent move, threatening 16.-Nd4 (removal of the guard f3).

Of course White can parry this, but only by chasing my Knight outpost with h3, weakening seriously the dark squares around his King. But unfortunately I have not been aware that it is possible to use tactics for getting an even stronger positional advantage.

Like a pendulum, swinging back and forth.

BTW Shredder prefers 15.-c4 here, but I like Qc7 much better, because there is a clear and understandable concept behind this move.