zondag 5 oktober 2008

Exercise wtih Phaedrus, chapter three

Lessons learned from a missed move

first of all a heartily thank you to both Likesforests and Chessaholic. You have done me a great service, enabling me to use you as a benchmark. You also convinced me that solving this position ought to be well within my capabilities.

Yet I failed. So how to explain this? Why could I not solve this position, when it was within my ability to project positions, not overly complicated and rather easy to solve by fellow bloggers. I do not know their current rating, but I suspect it does not exceed mine.

IMHO there are two possible explanations. The first one is that I did not visualize and calculate well enough, and may have given up too soon. There certainly is some truth in this explanation. I had visualized up to 4 Kg2, and just did not see the win in this position. Had I however seen this position, not in my minds eye but right in front of me on the board, I probably would have found the winning split. So my ability to calculate from a position 7 ply deep from the board position diminishes too much, to construct a solution I would have found with the same position already on the board.

position after 4 Kg2 allowing the split: 4 ... gxf2!

But there is also another explanation that is even more valid. The split was not a pattern that I had burned into my memory. I may have seen it, but apparently it did not stick. And I suspect strongly that the split is a (well) known pattern for Chessaholic and Likesforests. They spotted this pattern very soon, and Likesforests in his comment confirmed that indeed he was very familiar with it. So for me the big lesson to be learned from this position is: I have to store "the split" into my memory. I do not fear it will not. Just writing this post has left a big impression, and if that were not enough, there is also the excellent marker in Likesforests name "the split".

The reason that I think the second explanation is more valid than the first one is based on research. contrary to average chess players a grandmasters brain activates mainly (or at least much more) his memory. And what else would a gm use his memory for than the search for patterns.

And now
Like every position that I cannot solve, this position is stored by me an a database. After I have finished the book, I will use this database for a second round in which I will again try to solve them. The positions I cannot solve then, will again be stored. I repeat this until I have solved all of them. This is a method which is IMHO much more efficient than the 7 circles. And it has the advantage that it forces you to focus on your weaknesses. Missing a move is never 100% accidental, or just a result of tiredness. It always is a pointer. It either signals that the position is too complicated for you and beyond your ability to visualize and calculate, or it tells that the move is part of a pattern that has not established itself in your brain as well as other patterns.

Black to move:4... gxf1B or 4 ... g1Q mate

And though it appears to be just another oversight, I do think that Likesforests missed mate in 1, signals something. It might either be that this mate was not familiar enough for him, and/or that he is inclined to stop thinking as soon he sees that a piece can be taken.

Sloppiness, fatigue, distraction, all increase the chance that you miss the best move, but this occurs the first with those patterns that you have not mastered 100%.

9 opmerkingen:

chesstiger zei

Overlooking something is easy done, especially if your mind's eye isn't well developed, like mine is. But i guess that once the position was put on the board likesforest would have seen the mate g1Q.

transformation zei

it is a great gift to our extended community to have your sharing your thoughts, experiences, and insights. it is truly wonderful to see you reimerge!

maybe we live to see you share, much more, freely, with close to zero inhibition. the internal critical of perfection often stops maybe not all of us--but then a great many of us.

not many of us have or ever will attain your rank, but if someone is to develop well beyond class B or C then you can point the way, saving lost time or misguided efforts down blind alleys.

thank you. dk

Temposchlucker zei

There is a 1:1 relation between the pattern being an element of your scan routine (=skil) and the ability to visualize it. So there is no difference between explanation 1 and 2. You can't improve one of them without improving the other.

Phaedrus zei


I agree that Likesforests would have seen this mate if it had occurred on the board. We tend to oversee things more easily when we have to project them instead of seeing them in front of us. But the point that I wanted to make is that we can compensate this diminished clarity if we can fall back on familiar patterns.

Phaedrus zei


I still believe that everyone with a 120 IQ can reach at least a 2000 rating (expert level). Too much is lost for many of us because we do not train as we should. I hope m personal experience is some help to some of you in finding a good path to improvement.

Phaedrus zei


Obviously it was not my intention to give two identical explanations.

I hope that I can make my point a bit more clear in this comment. If I had been more familiar with the split, cetiris paribus, I would have seen it. Even when the position after 4 Kg2 would have been a bit fussy for me.

If I would have the position after 4 Kg2 on the board, I am sure I would find the split. I could compensate the unfamiliarity with the pattern by calculating all alternatives till the end.

So the knowledge of patterns compensates for the diminishing clarity of the projected position.

visualizing and pattern recognition are not the same. Patterns are in a sense more abstract than a specific position.

Temposchlucker zei

Since I think it is a keystone of the theory of chess improvement, I humbly suggest that you have another look at it.

Phaedrus zei


Believe me, I planned to! But your request, while humbly, it does strike me as rather urgent, has made me determined to ponder over it till Friday followed by a post.

Such a delight to have you on my back to push me forward. Honestly!

likesforests zei

Thanks, Phaedrus. Your triptych got me asking questions and thinking again about how we remember chess.