- Let it flow! This step is not given by any of the books I read on the subject. But I got the idea when we were discussing move searching strategies during my chess trainers course. During this discussion teacher Cor van Wijgerden (author of the steps-method) suddenly said when asked how he picked a move during a game: "first I analyse the moves that immediately come up. I think almost everybody does so. But If I see they don't work I start to think methodically." These words made a deep impression on me. Suddenly it was clear to me why I never succeeded in applying the thinking techniques that were prescribed in the books I read. Nobody thinks like that! When I contemplated a bit more on this subject I came to the conclusion that there is a very good reason to listen initially to your inner voice. It is the voice of all your experience and your intuition. It will do you no harm to check if it has something to say to you that is worthwhile. But you have to be as objective as you can. If it is not clear in 30 to 60 seconds that the move that came up is a strong move, you should stop analysing it and go to the second step.
- Orientation. Now the time has come to observe. What targets do you see (king, wood, squares)? Look at all the targets those in you opponents position and those in your own.
- Exploitation. After your scan of the position the time has come to search for moves that make use of your opponents targets or make them even more vulnerable. If this is not possible because your own position is under pressure, try to defend your own targets or reduce the vulnerability of pieces or squares.
- Evaluation. When you have chosen an move, check if the move really meets the demands of the position. Did you really incorporate all targets in your analysis?
This is the basic method I (try to) use when playing a game and when I solve exercises. I must confess however that there are days (more than i would like to admitt) in which my thinking is very chaotic and fuzzy. On these days my thinking is stuck in the first step and never goes beyond trial and error. However on good days the above method is something that works for me!
There is a lot more to be said about the scanning proces. I will address this in more detail in a number of future posts.