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A recent game I played had this position for white. Do you play a3 or c3? How soon can you determine which to play? I don't mean how long does it take for you to work it out, but in how many sequential moves do you need to realize one is better than the other?

If c3 is played, then it blocks the diagonal when the DSB goes to b2. If you want the long range diagonal, wouldn't you want a3, b3 or b4, and then Bb2?

If I want to play Nc3 I would play a3 but in your diagram B1 Knight is already on its way for a king side attack therefore I'll play C3, b4 immediately and then place the Bishop on e3.

c3 so that I can go Re1 I guess

a3 allows a move sequence where the bishop on b4 can eventually escape with a fair trade. c3 will definitely win the bishop.

TryToGuessMyRating wrote:

I don't mean how long does it take for you to work it out, but in how many sequential moves do you need to realize one is better than the other?

One move. I don't see a long tactical line. There's nothing to calculate, you either see Ba6 or you don't. One move.

Game_of_Pawns wrote:
TryToGuessMyRating wrote:

I don't mean how long does it take for you to work it out, but in how many sequential moves do you need to realize one is better than the other?

One move. I don't see a long tactical line. There's nothing to calculate, you either see Ba6 or you don't. One move.

My thinking is similar to @ajl721x

I am not sure you can see what he stated in just one move, at least I couldn't.

@ajl721x You might want to color that text white so it is like a spoiler for people who don't want to see it immediately. Like this: *** oompa loompa, doompety doo *** (people can scroll over the white part).

I don't really know what you mean. You can't see that a3 fails, as soon as you see the move Ba6? What else is there to see? You've lost me completely. What else do you need to see? Is there some long forcing line where it looks like it is still going to work, but doesn't quite work out in the end, or something? I can't see anything like that. It just looks like it flat out fails, with nothing to calculate, to me.

a3 is a tactical mess. c3 wins a piece. What is there to calculate?

@Game_of_Pawns I don't see how a3 fails unless I play out multiple moves. How do you know a3 fails on just one move?

I don't think I explained myself so well.

It's not so much that a3 obviously fails. It's more than c3 obviously just wins a piece. So why would you even look at a3, which as a very best case scenario, offers Black complications? Even if a3 was to win a piece, why would you play it? c3 just wins. No complications. No counter play. Nothing to calculate. Black has nothing. It's just game over. c3 does what a3 does, as well as stopping the counter play that a3 allows. It's just common sense. I've not calculated a thing. I've not had to. I've not put that position into an engine. I don't need to.

Say, you're in an endgame that you've completely won. You have a knight and a pawn that's about to promote, against a lone king. Do you promote the pawn to a bishop, because it's theoretically just as won as if you promote to a queen? Only if you're messing around. You'd only play a3 here if you were messing around (or didn't see Ba6 obviously).

What I see in this position, after I've spotted Ba6, but before I've calculated anything:

- c3: Wins a piece. Game over.

- a3: ~5% wins a piece. Maybe it wins a pawn? Don't know. Don't care. Why am I looking at this?

It's just common sense.

"It's not so much that a3 obviously fails. It's more than c3 obviously just wins a piece. So why would you even look at a3, which as a very best case scenario, offers Black complications?"

I can't see the benefit of c3 or the disadvantage of a3 without going multiple moves. I have yet to see an explanation where one is better than the other without calculating. If we were to say something like "knights before bishops", then I could apply that principle without thinking of what to do next. Is there a guideline also which states "inner pawns before outer pawns"?

"Nothing to calculate."

I had to take out a chess set and play out the sequence of moves to see a3 was worse than c3.

Once you see the sequence, yes, it is obvious which is better. But I see nothing apparent like a fork on king and rook that says you can win a piece (or at least up in the trade) in just one move. You have to calculate 6 moves to see it to the end, and if you rule out lines you can probably do that in 3 move sequences.

There's something wrong here still obviously. You're looking at this wrong. You don't need to analyse a3. Once you see that c3 wins a piece, you don't need to analyse the complicated mess that is a3. Can I ask why Black isn't playing Ba6 on his first move? Why are you trying to escape with his DSB? You don't need to find Black's best moves, just something that's better than losing a piece. All you need to look at is the move Ba6. That's it. You don't need to see any line. I'll show you what lines I've analysed (and no, this is not an exaggeration):

That's all I've looked at. Before this conversation, this is all I saw. During this conversation, this is all I've seen. I haven't even looked at your diagram, really. I've looked at it enough to see that Ba6 wasn't played straight away and I've looked at it enough to see that the DSB actually gets saved, which is not something I'd foreseen. I haven't checked your moves for mistakes though, because they're not important.

Back to my diagrams: in one diagram, White loses his knight. In one, he doesn't. That's it lol. I haven't looked at anything else at all. Ever. Spending 15 seconds looking at your diagram, is the most I've looked at anything beyond any of those moves. I don't care if Ba6 is Black's best move after a3. If anything, my point is proved all the better if it isn't, which it probably isn't.

samsajwani123 wrote:

c3 so that I can go Re1 I guess

The guy rated 800 points below you gets it. It really is as simple as this one short sentence. This whole thread is as simple as this one short sentence.

@Game_of_Pawns

There are two things. One, I won't be able to convince you that I cannot "see" the solution without calculating. You also won't be able to convince me to "see" the solution without calculation or stating some principle like "knights before bishops". So, if you are not going to explain why one is the better and continue to refer to this vague explanation that you "see" the solution we will just go around in circles. I will illustrate more why I view it this way.

The other thing is I am trying to work on a side project, so even if I could agree with you that I "see" the solution, I would still want to try to explain it. A teacher is not that good of a teacher if all they do is say to the student "Well, I see the solution, why don't you?". Please consider not responding to this thread if you can't try to teach or explain why you "see" the solution. I understand you are asserting you can see, let's "see" if someone else shares your view.

Let's look at this position.

We can follow the principle "knights before bishops". However, one lands mate. Even though it is simple to you and me, there is still calculation involved to determine which knight to play. We can't merely stop at the principle "knights before bishops". We need to see that one ends up in getting mated.

The comment about someone else playing Re1 seems to be a principle based knee jerk reaction to the position. Re1 is not the best continuation after c3. However, I could see how a beginner is trained to do this without thinking and without calculating.

If you put the moves into an engine, you will see a3 and Re1 is stronger in evaluation than c3 and Re1. Both scenarios are plausible 2 moves deep. Neither are the best continuation.

The trolling was too subtle for me to spot right away. Well played, I guess. Bye.

I am not trolling, I am discussing a position. You just say "I see" and provide no lines of play. You are the one trolling as far as I can see.

Anyone is welcome to continue this discussion. The original question was, how far deep do you need to calculate to decide a3 or c3 is better? Please provide more than just one move explanations and then say "Because I see that is the solution" like Gramophones did.

I see this sequence as the solution

The simple answer is that because of c3, the bishop that was once on b4 doesn't cover the e1 square for the rook, anticipating Ba6! a3 allows the diagonal to stay open and Re1 isn't playable after Ba6. Enough of the trolling.