donderdag 14 februari 2008

The move-selecting process

How do I prevent blunders? this question is raised in several posts of the Knights and their friends. I think it is good to broaden the subject to: "how do I select a move'. This question is addressed in in a lot of books. Based on those books, my own experience and on a confession of my teacher I have formulated a thinking protocol that works form me. It consists of the following steps:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

8 opmerkingen:

transformation zei

always appreciated. time for bed... way out here where the sun is raising... dk

Anoniem zei

I agree that first thoughts are sometimes the best. When doing crossword puzzles I notice that I can solve some of the clues immediately, almost as fast as I read them or hear them. Others, no amount of thinking will get the answer. I think this is connected with retrieval cues.

Phaedrus zei

Hi Alastair,

I am not familiair with the the proces you call "retrieval cues". Is it possible for you to explain it to a non native english speaking layman?

Temposchlucker zei

Sometimes there are no obvious weaknesses. Then another step is needed: inducing weaknesses.

Anoniem zei

Hi Phaedrus
When we encode something into memory also encoded are a set of retrieval cues -- cues that enable us to retrieve the memorised episode, idea, etc. The stronger or more varied the cues are, the more likely we are to retrieve (i.e. recover) whatever was memorised. A famous literary example is Proust who remembered a lifetime from the taste or smell of a biscuit/cake. Alastair

Anoniem zei

If you google up John Hayes, Herbert Simon, and/or Ericsson together with 'protocol' or 'cognitive' or 'memory' you might find source material about encoding things into short term and long term memory (stm, ltm), automatic mental behaviour, and retrieving things from memory. To improve remembering we probably need a 'rich' context for the thing to be memorised. What you call 'rustle' could actually be important. Alastair

Phaedrus zei

Hello Temposchlucker,

Like I said in my post there is a lot more to be said about the scanning process. I will do so in future posts.

But to directly answer your comment, you are right. Sometimes there are no targets or weaknesses. Then you have to go to a next level. In this phase scanning the position can still be useful to detect which pieces or squares are the most vulnerable.

If this still does not give a clue than you have to direct the search to activating your pieces as much as possible or demobilising the opponents pieces.

Phaedrus zei

Hello Alastair,

Thank you for making thing more clear. I agree. No thinking is going to do you any good if your stuck and don't have any clues. This is why trial and error should be replaced by scanning the position after a minute or so. the scanning will give you a chance to find new clues.