Monday, August 21, 2017


While analysing my failures at Chess Tempo, I noticed three areas of improvement for me:
  • initiative
  • mate
  • promotion
I have  made some serious progress in unearthing a few important scenarios considering the initiative. It only needs practising now.

I have developed a nice picture which covers all scenarios around mate:

  • Chase the king into the box
  • Chase the king onto a line of attack
  • Plug the hole in the box so the king can't skedaddle
  • Squeeze the box
  • Pry the box about by the weakest defender
  • Add attackers
  • Cut off defenders
The scheme lacks practical testing, as of yet.

And I have avoided ideas about promotion so far.

It is difficult to choose which subject to devote my attention to, since when I train one of them, I get frustrated by being pummeled by the other two.

So I simply start with promotion, and see to which it leads. And when I want to change the subject of study, I simply change it without further ado.

Takchess gave us some random thoughts about promotion.
  • Two connected pawns always can promote.
    A pawn nearing promotion demands attention and causes immobility.
  • A pawn promoting causes an imbalance in power and sacrifices of material often occur to
    make it happen.
  • The pawn movement toward promoting is often a form of initiative when a puzzle has a pawn on sixth rank promotion may be a factor special cases.
    Pawn which promotes with check.
    Pawn which promotes with double attack.
  • Pawn which promotes with a pin of a piece to the king.
  • Pawn which promotes whose capture removes a guard.
    Pawn which under promotes to a Knight.
It is good to keep these random thoughts in mind when I try to unearth some eternal chess truths about promotion.

Now let me think for myself. When you promote, you gain wood. In that sense, it doesn't differ much from a capture. For the time being, I will treat it as such. The target is the promotion square.

The nitty-gritty of promotion is the fact that the target is permanently immobilized. And everything that is immobile is a potential vulnerability.

Hence the scenarios revolve around the path towards promotion. About methods to block or impede the path to promotion, and about the ways how to clear the path. Once the promotion is a fact, the newly acquired piece is just another piece, which from that moment should be treated as such.

Ok, this already gives enough food for though. I'm going to look for a few sample positions from Chess Tempo, to help matters to become more concrete.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Initiative redux

All scenarios that win a tempo have two targets involved.
  • T = Target
  • D = Defender
  • A = Attacker
  • C = Capturing attacker
  • PoP = Point of pressure
  • Green = enemy
  • Yellow = winning us
  • Arrow = attack or defense
  • Lightning = gained tempo

The initiative group has two families, the captures and the double attacks. There are four scenarios of defense:
  • Recapture with tempo (additional threat)
  • Save target with tempo (desperado)
  • Recapture with defending the other target
  • Save one target and defend the other target in one move

Monday, July 10, 2017

Some thoughts on generalization

While I did my daily exercises to memorize the tree of scenarios, I noticed something.

The scenarios for a hanging piece are:
  • Neutralize the counter attack before capture
  • Defend against counter attack after capture
A hanging piece has only a bare capture as scenario when it is a low rated problem. A higher rated problem always has a complication in the form of a counter attack that you have to neutralize. Be it for the capture, or after the capture of both.

If you think about it, there is no reason why these two scenarios only would apply to a hanging piece. In fact, any combination, like for instance a trap (lack of space) or conquering a B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended) piece can be complicated by these two scenarios.

The scenarios for a B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended) piece are:
  • Remove defender
  • Add attackers
  • Cut off defenders
  • Duplo attack it
If you think about it, there is no reason why the scenarios add attacker and cut off defenders only would apply to a B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended) piece. And indeed, when you look for the scenarios to conquer a target with lack of space, you see there these both scenarios too.

Remove the defender and duplo attack belong to the scenario family associated with the initiative:
  • capture defender
  • capture with additional threat
  • duplo attack
This means that the following scenarios are generally applicable:
  • Neutralize the counter attack before
  • Defend against counter attack after
  • Add attackers
  • Cut off defenders
  • capture defender
  • capture with additional threat
  • duplo attack
Just a few thoughts.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Location system

In order to be able to make use of the tree of scenarios, it is absolutely necessary to learn the system by heart. Let's ponder a moment about why this is.

Let's remember how it all began. It all started with the observation of how I lost tons of time while I was searching in trial and error mode for clues in a position. I attack a target, and sometimes it takes 3 minutes to realize that the target is defended, and that I can harass the defender. It was shown time and again, that it took ages to be aware of even the most basic chess logic. It became clear that I could never become better or faster when I continue to spill minutes in almost any position.

The tree of scenarios is developed to help the mind to focus on basic chess logic in stead of dabbling around in mesmerization. The tree is of course rather personal, so it is a good idea to develop your own system, or to make at least some necessary adaptations for yourself. The 23 scenarios in the tree are very simple and basic. Nothing fancy or highbrowed.

It is of course not so difficult to memorize 23 scenarios that are bundled into a tree.  But if you try it, you will see that you must erect the tree every time you want to retrieve information from it. You will soon notice that you reconstruct the nodes and the branches with the mind. And construction is done with the slow conscious thinking part of the brain. If it takes an equal amount of time to reconstruct the tree of scenarios for retrieval or to look for clues in trial and error mode, it will be apparent that I will not become faster by using the tree. That's why the time that is consumed by the slow mind while using the tree of scenarios must be eradicated as much as possible. I have experimented a lot with thought processes in the past, but they never worked out because of this very reason.

ANKI isn't especially designed to learn to retrieve memories fast. The system of spatial learning isn't intense enough for that. What I do now, is to repeat the exercises every day until I remember them a tempo.

When a node has two branches, it is easy to remember them. If a node has three, it takes some time. But if a node has four or more branches, it takes a lot of time to reconstruct that part of the tree.

That is where the pictures come in. Take for instance the node lack of space.

All 7 scenarios that are connected as branches to this node work on the box that accompanies the target with lack of space. With the picture above, I not only retrieved the information in no time, I stored it in no time too. Here you see the unconscious work its magic. The 7 scenarios are combined to 1 chunk, which is treated as 1, by the Short Term Memory.

When  the branches of a node have less in common, it becomes equally more difficult to design a catchy picture. But it's worth the effort. Every node in ANKI has now its appropriate picture. Within a few days, I expect to master the tree of scenarios a tempo.

The next step is to hang some examples into the tree. Say, 3-4 examples per scenario. And then to learn those examples by heart too.

The pictures work as a location map for memories. In fact the tree of scenarios itself represents such map.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Elaborating on the pictures

Robert said:

"Diagrams 2 and 3 did not map easily to the Tree of Scenarios. I could see the connections to different scenarios, but not easily map them to specific questions:
  • B.A.D. – Add attackers with tempo
  • PoP – Clear a blocked LoA with tempo
  • Is of 2nd order
  • Capture defender –
  • Target can be saved with tempo?
  • Can defender be recaptured with tempo?
I’m not suggesting a rigid one-to-one correspondence is necessary or desirable, but in the initial stages of applying the Tree of Scenarios and seeking outside comments, it might be more helpful to show a direct connection (at least for those of us who have not been privy to all of your thought processes)."

 I already expected to be asked to use more than 1000 words to explain the pictures ;)

The pictures are compacted, and contain more than one idea.

The two adjacent squares with T(arget) and D(efender) represent the idea that a target and a defender have a lot in common. A defender is a potential target with limited mobility due to its function. De target and the defender are connected. Whenever you see a target, you have to look whether there is a defender, and when you see a defender, you have to be aware of the target.

The red arrows represent the duplo attack. The initiative is based on duple function attacking moves which must be met by duple function defensive moves.

The green arrows represent the discovery I made in the tit for tat department: capture with additional threat to maintain the initiative.

I should add another idea concerning the initiative: capture the defender. This saddles the opponent with two obligations: recapture the defender, and save the now outnumbered target. There are three defensive options:
  • recapture the defender with tempo
  • save the target with tempo
  • recapture the defender while redefending the target
There are other duple function moves that might deserve a separate picture: move an attacker with a defensive function to a line of attack while preserving the contact with the piece that is to be defended.

It is a work in progress of course, and I don't want to complicate matters too much at the moment.

The picture above is a combination of 3 pictures. From right to left:
There are 3 ways to handle a defender:
  • +A = attack it
  • X = capture/exchange it
  • -D = deflect it
The middle of the picture is about the target. The balance between the amount of attackers and the amount of defenders tells you whether a piece is hanging or B.A.D. (Barely Adequate Defended)

The scenarios concerning a hanging piece are:
  • Neutralize the counter attack and take the piece OR
  • Take the piece and defend against the counter attack
These scenarios are not represented in the picture. They are not solely bound to a hanging piece, so it is not quite clear where to put those.
  • +A = add attackers
  • +D? = ask if you can outnumber the amount of defenders
The red left part of the picture represents two ideas:
  • The filled red arrow is a clogged up line of attack which needs clearance (geometry motif)
  • 2nd = when your investigation of the targets, defenders, box and initiative has been inconclusive, you have guide your attention to the points of pressure of the second order. The squares where two or more of your attackers converge.
I consider immodestly my logical thinking to be my forte. It never seized to surprise me that I don't think logical during solving problems. The reason for that is that my mind is easy mesmerized by the amount of possibilities. Due to my habitual trial and error approach, I simply forget to apply some basic logic. The tree of scenarios is a set of training wheels which should help me to prevent confusion by helping my mind to focus on simple basic chess logic.

But I'm talking too much and training too little.

Monday, July 03, 2017

One picture says more than ...

Currently I'm experimenting with pictures as help to retain the scenarios. It retrieves the scenarios way faster than when I use words. The pictures are highly personalized, so they are probably useless to others. I just show them so you can get an idea what I'm experimenting with:

 The picture above shows the scenarios for when a piece has lack of space:
  • Pry the box open by removing the weakest defender
  • Squeeze the box so the piece has less space
  • +A add attacker
  • -D  remove defender
  • - - - - plug the hole in the box  so the piece can't skedaddle
  • Chase the piece into the box
  • LoA squeeze the piece out of the box into a line of attack

The picture above shows the two methods to gain an extra tempo
  • Red: duplo attack
  • Green: exchange with additional threat
  • T: Target
  • D: Defender
  • T = Target
  • D = Defender
  • +A (T)= add Attacker against Target
  • +A (D)= add Attacker against Defender
  • +D? = can opponent add defender?
  • -D = deflect overworked defender
  • X = exchange or capture the defender
  • Filled red arrow = clear the LoA
  • 2nd = look for squares where two attackers converge (points of pressure of the 2nd order)
I hope you get an idea what I'm up to.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Memorize this

Knowledge stage
  • Solve puzzles
  • Analyse feedback (diagnosis)
  • Find a remedy
  • Hang the new knowledge in a framework
  • Make the framework coherent
  • Optimize the framework for practical use
Since Dec 3, 2016 I have been busy with the previous steps. Knowledge in itself is unusable. It must be reconstructed when needed, and that takes way too much time and mental energy. Now we have to transform the knowledge into a skill. We are entering terra incognita here. It is important to record every step of the process, while we find out what works and what doesn't.

Skill stage
  • Memorize the scenarios
  • Use the scenarios while solving problems

The tree of scenarios consist momentarily of 23 scenarios. I have put them into ANKI, together with 10 questions to unlock them. In order to be able to retrieve the knowledge right away, without the need to reconstruct the framework in the mind.