Friday, December 12, 2008

Calculus

In my opinion, the single most important aspect of tactics is to know when to look for a tactic and when not to. I'm talking about large-scale tactical manoeuvres here, not the simple one-move wonders. In tournament and blitz play, we simply haven't got the time or energy to evaluate every position from a tactical point of view, as it would take up too much time and energy. We need to manage our resources shrewdly, and save deep calculation for positions known to be rich in tactical possibilities. One such position is the "exposed" king hunt. I reached a typical king hunt position in my last blitz game and in the end, I succeeded, albeit clumsily, to mate the king. I didn't calculate very deeply, but assuming you reach the position below in a tournament game with ample time, how would you go about calculating the position?

I'm interested in details here. Do you simply move the pieces in your head? Do you analyse what squares your pieces already guard, which squares they guard potentially, where they can move? When and how much do you consider in between moves or moves by enemy pieces? Do you tackle them when they occur in your imaginary move-by-move sequence, or do you have a mental checklist to take them into account from the beginning? In other words, do you have regular parameters or mottoes that you use when you determine a tactical sequence?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I guess I visualize the moves in my head, starting with the one that seems most obvious to me. If I'm happy with the line, I may just go with it rather than checking all possible candidates.

Anonymous said...

that's kind of an inappropriate position to show while asking this question, because the variation 1. ...Qe3+ 2. Kg4 (forced) d6+ is obviously winning, and no calculation is needed to see that.. it's probably mate in a couple of moves, mostly that Qxf4(+) will inevitably become possible soon.. and whenever you can bring the king up the board, I don't understand why you'd need a definite variation to convince yourself that it's worth it.. just like when you sacrifice an exchange for unclear or delayed compensation

Christian said...

Anonymous #2: You're right as far as this particular position is concerned. I simply chose this position because it triggered my question. I suppose a more appropriate position would be one that suggests a piece sacrifice for a mating attack.

My questions remain the same, however. Do you calculate such a position move-by-move or do you visualise, say, lines of force before going into the calculation?

Anonymous said...

This probably worth checking, but I think ...f5+ is better than d6+ (to anonymous 2). Have you thought of setting up positions and we simply analyze (without the use of engines). I'd find that fun.

Diboss on FICS

Anonymous said...

Christian, I don't see the difference. Visualizing lines of force is still calculating, it's just easier calculation because it's forced. I always thought that in ranking candidate moves for evaluation, forced moves should always be evaluated first. That being because the result will be fully known (rather than guessed, even though educatedly).

Diboss on FICS

Christian said...

By "lines of force" I mean the squares covered by a piece from its current position, not "forced moves" -- sorry for being unclear.

For example, before starting the "queen-moves-here, king-moves-there, etc. etc" calculation, I look at my pieces and make a mental note: "Ah, the bishop potentially covers the king's escape route... the knight can move there and there and there... the pawns potentially cover these squares.." and so on and so forth. And that's not calculating in the strict sense, but a step preceding calculation. I was wondering what other steps people use before they start the actual calculation.

jrobi said...

Excellent post and discussion Christian and all!