Intuition vs. Calculation

IM dpruess
Jul 23, 2012, 11:42 AM |

[previous round]

Any player with a decent amount of experience knows that sometimes your instincts and your calculations are at odds. What do you do then? Trust your instincts, or trust your calculation? This is a hard-to-resolve question! Sometimes I trust one, sometimes the other. One factor it often depends on for me is my familiarity with the position. If I'm very familiar, my instinctive evaluations or moves will come to me with a greater degree of certainty, and if I calculate a winning line, but my instinct says "you can't have a win in this position," I will trust that instinct and be patient. After the game with more time to analyze, I will find the refutation to my calculation.

Today I got a position I was quite unfamiliar with. And throughout the game my instincts told me that my position was not good. Maybe equal, maybe even a bit dangerous for me. So I tried calculating some desperate variations to bail out. But those variations did not work. My instinct was screaming at me: you have to try it, if you just keep playing normal moves, you may not even have a chance to fight. But somehow I trusted my calculations over my instinct. I think sometimes in the past, when my instincts are telling me my position is getting dangerous, I would be inclined to roll the dice, and try one of these messy lines I considered today. And then I would lose badly and quickly.

Today I calculated carefully, found the refutation to those moves, and then calculated a "normal" move instead that I had instinctively assumed would be bad. My calculations showed nothing wrong, even in some scary lines, and so I kept playing normal moves. And soon I won. I did not even really know why!

So it was off to a lengthy post-game analysis with my opponent and Shanky, in which we just could not quite figure out where black went wrong, and why the variations kept turning out well for white. In summary, I think this was an instance where because of lack of familiarity my instincts were not good, and it's a good thing that I somehow decided to trust my calculation more today. 

Meanwhile in other round 1 action, Shankland won his first game with black. In the "GM" section (our section is the "master section" despite the presence of dozens of strong GMs), Carlsen-Nakamura was a draw, Wang Hao played a brilliant and crushing game to beat Bacrot's King's Indian, and Giri won the longest game, and up-and-down battle with Morozevich.

Someone asked me where they could watch the games online. As far as I know, you can only see the games from the super-GM round robin, and there is nowhere to see the games from my section. If I'm wrong, someone please provide the link!

[Next Round]