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Jan 10, 2010
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These Tactics notes tidied June of 2016. The point about these notes is - our play doesn't have to be so black-box intuitive. Methods can be used to look at positions.  Not just "calculation". How did I discover this?  As follows: Most of the comments in the Tactics forums concern things like screenshots - results - arguments - or calculated lines ... There's only a very small percentage of comments about ... how to actually view the positions!  But they're there nonetheless.  To find out about that and other things - click "more" below People do comment occasionally about counting material before calculating - or looking at the two Kings and their available squares - or the huge clue of the previous move played - or noting that certain pieces are loose even though they're not attacked yet - and many other ideas. Then I realized that all of these ideas could be compiled - and organized into priorities ... Issues: "But player! - people are going to go through all these checklists when doing problems??!"  Or:  "People make their own checklists - if at all. - But even there - those checklists could grow - get complicated." Answer (1) That's right on the latter - that's why better checklists are better.  And this is discussion of ideas.  Not some kind of 'instructions' ... Answer (2): It takes a few seconds or less to actually view these things - compared with several minutes of actually verbally describing them. How? Because the brain is a marvelous thing ... There's lots of things like that.  Including outside of chess. Answer (3): It takes an awful lot longer to do extra wasteful 'calculations'. Some of the calculations are necessary - or not wasteful. But that speculative "if I go here - then he goes there" stuff is so often either premature - or downright inappropriate for the position! Leads to inaccuracy - not just gross inefficiency. So hard facts about the position First!   Money in the bank! There's also something I call 'lookahead'.  Which is different from 'calculations'. Lookahead involves observations again - but after a move or moves in the future. Anyway - on to the ideas! After players have been through the first four phases of observation - and early analysis/observation - then its time for 'candidates' - when one starts to itemize moves that are candidates for calculations. Before getting into those: I should comment about those first four phases. In games - we're already aware of material balance - but not in Tactics problems. So its got to be counted. May 2016 - best order so far: after the opponent's entire previous move is noted - then the positions of the two Kings are next - Position of one's own King first - defensively - then opponent's King - Then all material on the board should be compared from the top ranked pieces down. Opponent's Queen and pieces - then one's own Queen and pieces - then opponent's pawns - then one's own pawns.   Why this order? Because of defense and priorities and efficiency. These ideas could be used in games too ... Regarding viewing the opponent's previous move - it should get extra attention initially - Where the piece came from - what it took if anything - where it now is and the effects of all three. Not just why we think the opponent made this move. Why?  Because the previous move is the top-ranked clue in tactics ... After these three initial and vital observations steps: Then some analysis of other clues and outstanding features of the position is in order. For example - observing there's a Pin and its effects - that is NOT calculation - its part of observation and early analysis. Then viewing the candidates' options is in order - but again - is Not calculation These have a hierarchy - or order of priority as follows: Options for: Checks - mate threats - promotions - captures - other threats and attacks - other tactics - positional moves. Seven groups. #1 When surveying available checks its better to see early - how many of one's pieces can check. In this way checks are not missed.  That's a modular approach. If the Kings have been viewed even earlier and their flight squares noted - and current square (King's squares for short) - (Including a second time) then the selection of which check or checks to examine first - is often greatly enhanced. Whether in lookahead or on the current move. As are other factors in the general process. Item #2: options to threaten mate.   The most overlooked thing in all of TT.  Especially in endgame positions. When checks don't look good enough it should be examined next.  And again there's a method. Each piece could be considered one at a time from the highest-ranked down. Example:  Can my Queen create a mate threat?   What about my rook?  Other rook?  Bishop? And so on.  Why do it this way?  Because Tactics is all about finding Killer Moves! A slight subtlety:  When you move the piece to create the mate threat - its not necessarily that piece - that is then threatening the mate! Mate threats and the options to make them take many forms. #3 Promotions.  Usually not available. Amazing that they're often overlooked anyway. And seen as one option.  Its actually four options Q - R - B or N. But such an easy thing to notice - one of the reasons its fairly high on the list. #4 Captures.  One of the pitfalls with captures is - the fact its a capture is often secondary or superfluous ... where its the square (arrival or departure squares or both) that's key - not what's on it. Or that its much more important its a check or a mate threat or other tactic!  whatever the case. Even a pin already in place - could also be an available capture. #5 'Other threats and attacks'.   A huge category.   Before starting to assess it - one first should've viewed what holds what and what is loose and what attacks what. Two more things easily missed within this category are: "next-ranked target" and "piece-relevancy" Example 1: coming up empty on 'king hunts' and promotions and captures - so start looking at hunting the Queen - then hunting the rooks and so on - all the way down to pawn-hunts. Scalar (hierarchical) priority of targets. Example 2: many many problems are so so Resistant! Putting it mildly! So now after 'hunts' are also not working ... then each group of pieces - starting with the two Kings - then the Queens and so on down - can be examined for "relevancy". There's a refinement with knight-relevancy. If the knights are not too far away - they're probably relevant but the trick is noting the colors of squares - as in color of square the opponent's King and other major pieces are on! And the color of square your knight or knights are on.  This is NOT calculation.  Its observation. #6 'other tactics'.  Another big category. For examples - zugzwang - opposition - blocking a promotion - and various defensive actions to name some. #7 positional moves. Our chess should not be 'over-tactical'. Don't positional moves actually outnumber tactical moves? Developing pieces - the center - restricting the opponent's development - and - King-safety - Q-position - pawn structure. Pitfall: to put positional moves and tactical moves in entirely separate boxes - a common mistake.  Even semantically. Many moves can be both positional and tactical!  And when they are very distinct - they still go hand in hand! Meaning - we might use tactics to obtain positional situations - and we might use positional play - to obtain tactics.  So might our opponents! And even when these situations are not thusly intended - they come up over and over again ANYWAY - either way. may2016 - issues: when forming the candidates options - does one have to look at the opponent's candidate-options too? Yes. Put it this way - if you don't - you're getting clobbered in games.  As to how this affects the order - that's another issue.  Although to some extent - your opponent's counter-options can be taken care of during calculations ... Next issue: after noting the candidates options - what's next? more ongoing analysis of observed information and clues - preparation of calculations which requires selectiveness - then the calculations themselves - which require shallow-wide initially with deep-narrower to come in later - and which also require constant monitoring - and returns to both analysis/decision and more observations Much of this happens anyway - but we're often not consciously aware of same. And that's the POINT. We're not completely aware. So - That is where some opportunities for change come in.  By realizing what's involved.  And discovering things to do about that. Notes about V2/V3 (stored here temporarily) Hi everybody! Regarding the "98%" of people who are on V3 instead of V2 - I think there's a more useful way of going at the V2/V3 issues - than worrying about the 98% figure. And it starts with a simple idea. Like this: "V3 works well with some members' computer systems - but not well with others". From there - another idea: Which systems are which? What's working better and what is not? Idea #3: knowledge of this would be useful at both the website end - and for members to know about too. More about that in a minute ... I think its less useful to argue that Erik has made a big mistake - and less useful to argue that a lot of money has been wasted. Even if both are true. (unlikely - but possible) But how to find out which home computers - which operating systems - what computer setups - what kind of internet connections - what browsers - and what software in general - work better - and which do not? More on that too ... And if you were the owner of any chess website - could you tell members something like: "Hey - Apple/Mac/linux/unix/ubuntu systems work better with our latest platform - than Microsoft/Windows/Bill Gates systems. So get yourself an Apple computer." If that were true - could you afford to say that? In that way? I'll go with "No." Could you afford to tell members how to set up their systems? No. But over the years - including before V3 existed - I and other members have gotten advice and help from the website - about how to set up for better performance here. At the CUSTOMER END. Examples: Firefox better than Internet Explorer. Disable "hardware acceleration" in your browser settings. And there's a "secure websocket" utility on the site for modifying your connection. And a chess.com browser extension for Firefox. So now the business - how can people having problems with V3 - find out what works better - and what works worse - with V3? Assuming they want to find out of course. (business adage: "the customer is always right") There are a lot possible ways though. 1) Erik might find out more by doing surveys. 2) It might be unethical to compare the system trays of people having trouble with V3 - with those who are not. But there might be an ethical way to do exactly that. For example: Get permission. 3) Another way is for members to experiment. But that takes time. But some adjustments are very easy. This should not be a taboo subject. 4) But the way I like the best - is for members who are doing well with V3 - to compare notes with those who are not. In a friendly way. In friendly forums. Not in forums where everybody is supposed to agree with somebody. And also in this show coming up. What browser are you using? How do you have it set? What kind of device? What version of WIndows? What internet security/maintenance software are you using? There are a lot of them. Piriform (my favorite), Iobit, Kaspersky, Norton, and Kaspersky - to name a few. There's lots to talk about ... for those who want to Smile
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