Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Color of Attacked Squares

Chessimo has been all review for the past few units.  GM Milos is smart!  I was getting strained and discouraged by the Mate in Threes (successful, but with errors).  The review is a wonderful breather and a chance to rebuild confidence.

I'm still stunned by how hard Mate in Twos are for me.  I mean, I generally get them, but shouldn't they be automatic?!  It's a key move, then a finishing move.  It should pop out.  Yes, I guess that's the point of my training.  A review Mate in Two can still can take me 12-15 seconds.  I see the probable key move, but it takes me time to verify the entire event.  I'm a discouraged by this, but again, I'm not supposed to be good yet.

I missed a Mate in One today! On time!  It turned out I was counting a useful pawn as owned by the enemy, because it was so deep into enemy territory.  I'm not too worried about it.  If you keep hurtling through tactics problems and changing your allegiances, it's bound to happen.  But, it stands as a funny and useful turkey.  If you're ever feeling discouraged about your tactical abilities, come back to this post.  You can't possibly do worse!

My favorite tactical problems so far are Mate in Ones.  Stop laughing.  Stop.  Look, there's still more blog left, so please pull yourself together so we can continue.  Anyway, I just love the template-y thematic-y feel to them.  I feel like basic verbs are being etched into my brain.  I do also have a favorite Mate problem; I'll try to post it after I see it next.

I'm wondering about visualizing attacked squares.  As in:

  • The king is surrounded by attacked squares.  Is it possible to visualize those attacked squares as different - darker colored, different texture, etc.?
  • Similarly and/or more generally, is it possible to visualize the squares that a piece attacks differently?  I'm referring to the starburst that radiates out from a queen, or the cross radiating from a rook.

Tactics, and generally my view of the board, is still a logic puzzle (which is correct - chess is a logic puzzle - but possibly not helpful to the task at hand).  Viewing the board with rays of influence might be more useful.  I need to google and see how experts view the board.  If anyone has insight, I would appreciate it.

I'm starting to get a hankering for endgames.  Not being from the South, I should of course avoid use of that word, but your pain is the least of my concerns after your little display earlier.


  1. I think a mate-training at Chesstempo could help you to improve significant. It did help me! You will need to become a premium member and to create a custom set(s) with #1 ,#2 and so on.
    Best would be to start with easy ones, you can limit the rating of the problems. You will get several thousands of problems. You may create spaced repetition sets, then you can learn these problems with a method of empirical rabbit...

  2. Thank you, Aoxo. Right now I'm working through Chessimo. The section so far is all Mate in Ones, Twos, Threes. Every unit is at least half review of previous puzzles, so there's spaced repetition (except the 'spaced' isn't very expertly calculated I suppose). I have a large tactical set also with CPT 3.3, and that uses spaced rep. I'll search Empirical Rabbit's blog for his method, see if he came up with a good structure to the spaced reps. I bet he did.

    Chessimo is a lot of work already for a working adult, and I'm not due to finish until mid-March! Perhaps I'll find a good pausing point in Chessimo, and then start up with Chesstempo. It does seem to be the be-all and end-all of tactics training.

    But this blog post wasn't about needing to train tactics. I once read a young prodigy describe his vision of the board as having lines of force. I was wondering aloud if anyone mentally viewed lines of force, attacked squares differently in their minds-eye. Does an attacked square 'look' different to you and is it describable? Attacked squares and mating nets don't 'look' special to me. I have to logically verify each potential escape square.

    Thank you for the advice on ChessTempo. I'll be there soon!

  3. Temposchlucker try to develop a different (improved) way of seeing the board and special squares asf. I cant see, what he try to see (my fide rating estimate at CT is ~2000). It sounds like B-method and B-method sounds like hocuspocus ( might be a disability of mine ;)
    To me, tactics is a lot of board vision: you know where the pieces are and which are "important", you spot weaknesses like unprotected pieces and a weak position of the opponent king in seconds, you calculate lines quick and precise, you dont jump "around" in your mind ( at least after a while your thoughts should get structured ), you decelop a feeling for example how to mate ( you know the move without calculation = by experience). This mate-feeling seems to be only achievable by solving large quantitys of "easy" mate problems. ( i did not see any other working method so far ).
    I study chessimo intense too, but not! tactics. chessimo has a strategical( i would say its more positional) section and there are almost no strategical training programs available. Its very convenient to have it at my ipod too, its a perfect training for my trainride to work.
    At least at my tactical level its more important to study other things than tactics. I think with elo 1600 and higher opening, endgame, and strategy/positional play gets more and more important and maybe with 1800 and higher tactics is not #1 anymore.
    I think tactics training is done better at chesstempo or paralell with CT, because CT provide a rating. With such a rating you may check your progress and you can see if it works. But attention: usually you cant see any effect within just a vew days, improvement is seemingly always slow, very very slow.

  4. All right, I've registered at ChessTempo! After a rocky start during a bout of insomnia, I'm off to a good start at 1400 Standard. It does feel a bit like cheating when there's no time pressure, but my durations are in line with the average.

    I read your concerns about your earlier ~2500 FIDE rating being an illusion due to memorization. That was interesting and I'll enjoy reading how you combat that.

    I enjoy Chessimo's strategy module very much, but I'm not training with it methodically. I went looking for more, but didn't find any besides Chess Mentor. Hopefully your "Positional Chess Server" will address that somewhat.