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I’m in agreement with aansel. I think all combinations have a motif. By looking for the following every move I can determine if it’s possible a combination may lurking in the position. If there’s no basis for a combination you can’t make one happen and only then look for a plan based on strategical factors. The "plan" may be nothing more than a short maneuver designed to locate a piece to a better square.
1. Board scan of ranks, files and diagonals after opponent moves and before I move.
2. Look at all checks.
3. Undefended pieces.
4. Pins and forks.
5. Pieces that do not have "escape" squares.
6. Look for masked pieces.
7. Briefly look at bizarre and surprising moves -Sacrifices -Pawn breaks -Obviously unplayable moves
I really like the sound of this method.
Not my idea. It’s C.J.S. Purdy’s. The idea of #1 is to avoid fixating on one sector of the board as sometimes happens plus it’s surprising what you notice. I first started doing it years ago and by now it’s habit and takes only a few seconds.
One person told me it was a load of crap. A GM told him you just stare at the position and you’ll intuitively see tactical possibilities. Maybe if you’re rated high enough the tactics will just jump out at you but it doesn’t work that way for me!
Thanks everyone for the feedback! :)
tonydal > I don't use any method at all--I just keep looking until I find a good move
That's what I mean by the intuitive method--looking where your knowledge of stock patterns (ie experience) leads you. When I play intuitively I'm quicker but make some blunders; your intuition is of course sharper than mine.
The forcing method is about methodically checking the most forcing moves first--the ones that are easiest to calculate and often yield results. It's advocated by many master-level coaches and almost always avoids blunders.
merepawn40> Stillman's technique (from Reassess your chess) which says don't even bother calculating till you see 1) open or weakened king 2) undefended piece, or 3) inadequately protected piece.
Actually he says in How to Reassess Your Chess don't look for combinations unless one of these factors is present. He advocates calculation on most moves. But my question is more about the methodology once you decide to look.
Odie_Spud - Notice in position two there are six checks--your suggest process would waste time considering those before the pin just like mine. Even though that's not what I (or you, probably) really do... I see the pin instantly. ;)
aansel> I try and look at patterns (Knight forks, pieces on same diagnal) and then look for loose and unprotected pieces. After this i look for checks... [t]he whole concept of how we look at a board and consider moves in a very interesting topic with many good books written on it
My coach, an international master, advises as a general consideration to look at checks before mate threats before captures before threats to gain material (this is where a knowledge of patterns seem to be the most helpful) before threats to gain a superior position before general positional moves.
You pushed me to do a quick skim through "Excelling at Chess Calculation". I think maybe I found my flaw. How I work is:
Aagard suggests that mistakes we make on the first move of our calculations are more costly than ones later on, and hence suggests spending more time looking at the position to identify all candidate moves before calculating any. (Of course, re-ordering will sometimes update the move list.)
Maybe this is the change-up I need to harness my experience (pattern database) to speed up calculations while still being methodical? Of course, I would have to be careful not to forget candidates, something I currently don't have to worry about!
Sas3 - We are on the same page. :)
Sas3> What if you found a good/winning move? Won't you keep looking for a better move (for a quicker / more beautiful way to win)? Won't that take more time too?
Another dilemma! Before adopting this process I would sometimes win a knight and overlook a mate-in-three. All the more exasperating when my opponent's rated 2000+ and winning the knight doesn't win but only draws against a superb defense. I think my inclination is to keep looking unless time becomes a factor, or the lead is so decisive so as not to require much thought to convert--as in diagram two.
Regarding the solutions, in the first position only ...Re1 is correct, in the second position only Bc4 is correct (but no credit if you missed the cross-pin ...Ba6).
I think that means don’t play the first thing that pops into your head. Theoretically you would never select a move if you were always looking for a better one. Think long, think wrong…once you decide on the move you think best, play it and don’t second guess yourself.
Here’s an interesting observation I made in the now out of print Thought and Choice in Chess by DeGroot: When average (say 1600-1800) players were asked to analyze a position they looked at a lot more moves than GM’s. This is not surprising because GM’s quickly cut straight to the heart of the matter. But here’s the weird thing: in many positions the average players, often within the first 2-4 moves, looked at move the GM’s also looked at; even though the GM’s may have rejected the move, they still looked at it! The average players often talked themselves out of playing the move in their search for something better. You can gain a lot of rating points playing GM rejects.
Trust your instincts. Look at 3 or 4 moves and if in the process of evaluating them you aren’t lead to look at anything else, play the one that looks the most threatening even if it’s only in a general sort of way. Why not give it a try?
Odie_Spud - Notice in position two there are six checks. Your suggested order would waste time calculating those before the pin. And calculating pins before checks wastes time in more positions than it saves time. ;)
Maybe this is the change-up I need to harness my experience (pattern database) to speed up calculations while still being methodical. Of course, I would have to be careful not to forget candidates, something I currently don't have to worry about!
My coach advises me to use a similar method to what you explained, just slightly different (to be used within reason, only at key moments in the game with the time control allowing of course):
1. Identify candidates.
2. Starting with the most likely candidate calculate each one roughly, and rule out any which are very clearly bad. These bad candidates don't make stage 3.
3. This time do a more thorough check of each for anything I may have missed (the opposite of what Kotov recommends of only analyzing each line only once, but I like this method a lot more) stopping at each move down the line for any surprise tactics etc..., and also see if there are any new initial candidates which I may have missed, if so repeat stages 1-3 for these new candidates.
As for actually spotting the tactics themselves (this only really applies when there's a forcing combination to be found) he advises me to only take into consideration my active pieces, and then their motives of attack (could be a weak square etc.). But quite often tactics will leap out at me without having to use this quite simple process. I can see why someone like NM tonydal can just spot the patterns without going though a "process" as such.
Thanks atomichicken, that was helpful.
No problem. I should say that in order to rule out entirely a candiate from stage 2, you must be 100% certain it has absolutely not merit what so ever, not just "it looks unlikely so it can't be good". If that was how Bobby Fischer operated he'd never find his great combinations!
I play defencively most of the time. And make the moves that look the strongest.
I was looking at some chess quotes by famous players the other day and there was one that went something like "To spot tactics takes observation, but to find a strategy requites thought" generally speaking tactics can be seen without thinking! I think this is true because you know whats going to happen without the need for calculating. This is interesting in that if you do have a long term goal or strategy and are not careful with the tactics you choose they can end up hurting you.
Since I have all these chess quotes rattling in my brain here's one from Bobby Fisher: "Tactics flow from a superior position"
oh yeah, Re1, seems so obvious now!
my "method" is a trigger goes off that tells me there is a tactic somewhere. I stare at the board and look for a simple tactic if it doesn't immediately hit me then I look for hanging pieces/loose pieces etc and then see if there is a piece that I need to have moved to a different square to allow the tactic. I will also mess around with move order. A lot of missed tactics are things which people were looking at but simply failed to recognize the correct move order.
A forcing move is not always the best move. In Think Like a Grandmaster, Kotov talks about "creeping moves," quiet moves that convert a seemingly even position into a winning one. In Improve Your Chess Now, Tisdall introduces the concept of "brinkmates," quiet moves which take away the opponent's king's last flight squares, and make mate inevitable.
In Play Like a Grandmaster, Kotov also talks about how certain 'motifs' (features of the position) make possible combinations which culminate in certain winning 'themes' (e.g. queening, skewers, smothered mate, epaulette mate). There are a wide range of motifs, e.g. batteries, overloaded defenders, advanced or passed pawns, a weak or cramped king position, and undefended or hemmed in pieces. If you are familiar with these motifs, and the combinations used to capitalize on them, plausible candidate moves should leap out at you as soon as you have finished assessing the position.
I am a little wary of the word "intuition" because it can be used to describe both instinctive hunches or guesses where you have no idea why you like a certain move, as well as grandmaster expertise based upon years of experience with different motifs and themes. Obviously, we are hoping to hone this expertise rather than just keep guessing blindly without knowing why.
Both Botvinnik and Kasparov recommend analyzing your own games, especially your losses, to find out where you went wrong as one of the best ways to improve both your combinational vision and your chess skills more generally.
I should also note that Tisdall (and later Nunn) argue against trying to draw up a complete list of candidate moves before you start analyzing. They see some logic in first examining the continuation you think looks most promising, and only broadening your search when the first variation turns out worse than your initial assessment. Following one variation through to the end may even give you ideas for other moves to try, and it will save time if it turns out to be a winning line.
i won't waste time for thinking the move,i just prefer in 2 mins to make the next move but it is very disadventage to me though i lost many games while playing rapid chess
blunders are the best trainer, specially where it hurts.. go blunder away!! makes you a better chess player. lol
I like this one from Fisher and thanks for sharing it.
My daughter beat me in her first game of chess and She said " It was just luck daddy."
Call it what you want but we discussed how she can increase her good luck by following the general rules regarding developing rooks to file, etc...
I am going to share this one with her.
When it comes to being a defensive player and threats they say
-Block the Threat
-Move out of the way
-Find a bigger Threat
#1 for me is FIND A BIGGER THREAT !!!
I love a game that is filled with one threat after another - "MEXICAN STANDOFF"
I am far from being a very good player but these are the type of chess games I enjoy playing and I think answering with a bigger threat or an equal one maintainst the struggle for the initiative.
Play for similar positions and avoid changing our game as it allows for similar motiff's to appear. If you Blocking and preventing threats are not my first choice because they allow the opponent to dictate the position on the board. They have likely used this same threat over and over and have seen the defense before.
Keep your EGO out of it !!
Don't ever let yourself get crushed by a chess game. If you get Beat, Suck it up and try not to learn from your mistake. Chess is a game of mistakes.
As my Momma always said, "Son, if it were not for big mistakes, you would not exist."
Likesforests: Excellent thread! Thank you.
... The time between hitting submit and the page refreshing is generally a piercing moment of clarity....
Good one, Beelzebub! Who among us hasn't experienced this "piercing moment"? LOL
The whole concept of how we look at a board and consider moves in a very interesting topic with many good books written on it
Aansel: Thanks for your post. Can you (or anyone else) recommend a few of these books? Thanks.
Here are some books I like. I am not sure what the minimum chess strength is to enjoy them but I would break them down as follows. Note I am doing this off the top of my head so the titles may be off a litte
Reassess your Chess--there also is a work book which I have not seen.
This book is really good explaining the ideas of moves and the thought process.
Think Like a Grandmaster by Kotov was really the first book to explain candidate moves and chess psychology.
Improve Your Chess Now-Tisdall excellent book
Analysis to Win by Jacobs a little below Tisdall but excellent
Books by Aagard are great for also though they may be a little more advanced
There are plenty more but those are my main favorites--Dvoretsky is way too hard for anyone under 2000 ( or 2200 in my opinion)
"Reykjavik Open, Round 7 | Commentary by FM Ingvar Johannesson & Fiona Steil-Antoni"
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