Takchess Chess Improvement

A Novice chessplayer works to get better at chess using an improvement program based upon the methods of Michael de la Maza and the teachings of Dan Heisman

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Ideas on the Lazy Way (Part One )

Tempo the Explorer has decided to take the easy way out : The Lazy way. Avoiding Trial and Error attempts to solve problems and go directly to the solution and learn from that. I look forward to reading his blog entries over the next month.

This idea has always been very interesting to me over the past couple of years and I have tried some different things around it. Take a look at my post from Feb 25,2005 my first week of tactical training entitled :Do I really have to Solve the tactical exercise?

I would like it if CT-ART or a program like it had an automatic slide show type of feature where it would show you the position for 10 seconds then automatically play the moves in front of you then on to the next problem . I feel this would be a very effective way to learn. This concept has always reminded me of Malcolm Mcdowell from the movie The Clockwork Orange being reprogramed against his will.

I believe there may be an negative impact of attempting to solve a problem and getting it wrong. I believe there may be a form of Correct Pattern Recognition Interference where one creates a pattern recognition memory connected to the wrong attempts. Much like a person who constantly practices a golf swing with imperfect technique. It may be better to have never practiced it at all. I have heard this idea expressed as Practice does not make Perfect but Perfect Practice makes Perfect.
Here are some things I have tried to do to overcome Correct Pattern Recognition Interference:
When I first did my L20 circles a year ago toward the end when I was totally frustrated with my minimal progress I would try to solve the problem. If I got it wrong, I would then solve the problem 10 times in rapid succession. It is probably would be good policy anytime during any circe on incorrect problems to him the back button and solve it at least once.

more to follow......

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bronstein on chosing a move

Fom the first chapter of David Bronstein The Modern Chess Self-Tutor.

This Positional Strength of a position is something that many people do not understand and appreciate.,not only players of average strength , but even masters. How many games have been lost by attacks floundering on solid defenses! The problem is that on the board, as on a diagram, one sees only the outward aspect of the position -- the placing of the pieces-- and the interconnections between them are concealed from view, they are open only to our mind.

So,each time, when it is your turn to move, you are obliged to make a single choice out of many possibilities. In so doing you will rely on your basic information-your knowledge and experience. suitably systemised and in the current information- the position on the chess board and the series of preceding moves. You will be guided by your ideas,tastes,intuition, and of course, calculation a few moves ahead. But not too many moves ahead. Do not believe those who talk about calculating ten moves ahead. This applies only to strongly forced variations ,where to each move there is only one or two replies.,Branched variations do not usually lend themselves to direct calculation. One of the greatest chess thinkers, Richard Reti,to a questions as how far he calculates variations ahead replied :One move ahead. By this he expressed an idea which in modern terminology would be stated roughly as follows:

"The range of possibilities in chess is endless, the range of reality is unambiguous, and in such conditions the choice of a move cannot be based on the calculation alone"

In the majority of lengthy combination achieved by the author, the basis was not just calculation , but a belief in the logical strength of a position, in the readiness of resources and in their harmonious coordination. (TAKchess note take a look at move 14 by white, I imagine it made in this way http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1033895 )

The choice of a move is a comparison of resources and aims. You must ask each piece what it can usefully achieve on its own, what help it requires from the other pieces, and in what way it itself is prepared to help them. All this must be done as quickly as possible, in order to also use sensibly your time.

Now this guy is deep and somewhat rambling. I have been waiting for myself to reach a level where I can better appreciate his writing. I think that time is now.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007


White to move and win. This is from a Duras game . Bronstein in his book the modern chess self-tutor pointed out that Duras missed a tactic in this position although he went on to win .

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Validity of Ct-art

I have been doing Ct-Art problems for a while and just finished my L20 at a reasonable score 95% and feel I can move on to doing circles of L30. Another knight and I discussed the tactics found in Ct-art and he felt they were at times artificial. I know that at one time J'adoube felt that some of Ct-art were compositions/studies and some of their answers were subjective. I do believe that J'adoube at one time started to do Ct-art and stopped using them for the circles at one point. As I recall he did change his mind and did 7 circle of them.

I wonder if part of the artifical feeling that people get is that some of the position are varied from existing positions so that they can have tactics from both the black and white side. Maxim Blokh wrote a problem book 600 combinations where the positions are playable for material advantage checkmate from both sides. Maxim Blokh the creator is am accomplished coach and correspondance player.

I am happy with the problem set provided by ct-art. Most are mating problems and address all major mating themes. I feel it is important to drill on all the mating themes as the threat of mate often sets up free material. Alot of what I learn is similar to playing pool. You make a shot but also try to have a good "leave" to set up the next shot. Alot of what I am learning is moving my pieces in a mating net or tactical net so that you properly set up the next move.

If I had the ability to direct the develop roadmap for Ct-art 4. I would like to have the ability to mask the ones that I got correctly and automatically do a subset of those I got wrong. I would also like to be able to do a circle of the 5 X5 problems. I would also like to have a bookmark feature where I can create a playlist of problems .

I also wish that someone would create a Ct-art style program from the problem set in sharpen your tactics. Most of those games are from master games with alot of interesting play.

I ask that any readers who own Ct-art leave a comment as to 1) What they think of the problem set 2) what would they do to improve it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Here we go Josh Here we go


Following New Hampshires favorite son in the US chess championship . Off to a slow start.

Go Josh Go!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Traveling tonight to worship at the Shrine of the Bloody Sock. Curt is pitching tonight.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Reflections from the Takchess Infinite L20 Circle Tour

One of the things I like about Chess is that there is a body of knowledge that people talk about, classify and try to develop a further common understanding of. If you were to mention the King Gambit Accepted-Algaier Gambit to me I would have a very clear understand of what you mean. It is a somewhat questionable sacrifice of whites Knight on the F7 square forced by blacks pawn push h6 threatening whites Knight on G5 which is an older offshoot line of the Kieseritsky gambit. Although one can be a very good chess player without bother to learn any of the opening their variants names, it is something I find useful and enjoyable to learn about.

Just as openings are classified, tactics,positions and mating combinations are given are given names: Removal of the Guard, Anastasia Mate, Greek Gift, Arabian Mate,blind pigs etc. The book: How to Beat your Dad in Chess has 50 chapters that are classified around Mating Combination ideas some with common names : Smothered Mate and some with names they assigned to them the Taimanov Knight Check. Having read this book a number of times I find myself comparing positions with the themes in this book, using their names and looking for side variations.

Over the past 2 years I estimate I have done some of the problems in CT-Art Level 20 40 plus times and many (but not all ) are automatic. They often remind me of something else and I have taken to privately giving names to some of them and their tactical ideas. Not something I planned to do, it just happened.
Examples are the Pulling the King into the tunnel, The Coat Rack Mate, Power of Stacked Knights, the Behind the Back Rook Check Sack, Pushing the King into the Phalanx. If you ever doubted, that extensive circle training can lead to insanity, here is your proof. 8) The diagram from problem 207 that accompanies this blog is the Coat Rack Mate. For some strange reason, the shape reminds me of an old fashioned wooden coat rack tree.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A lesson in here -WTM

WTM- The takeaway lesson for me is always calculate Back Rank Mates when the King has no luft.

The game (composition?) with interesting commentary is at this link.

This is from Torre of the amazing windmill fame.


My feeling is even if this is analysis he very possibly could find these moves otb given his strength.

Friday continued slow L20 circle 97%- 290

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

WTM- an interesting position

Some chess tactical problems are just too cool. Here is one with white to move. Many forces are in balance here.

Source: Understanding Chess Tactics by Weterschnik page 19.

addon note: as DG noted the correct move is g4. I find this puzzle to be aesthetically pleasing.
The factors in balance are White desire to put the rook in the backrank is stopped by the queen. The pawn in front of the queen ,the discoverer opens up a discovered attack against the queen as well as interferes with the protection against the back rank mate. Discovered attack in order to be effective normally has the discoverer ( the piece which creates the discovered attack) do something useful such as attacking another piece, delivering a check, blockading.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Son of tactical blindness -WTM

I hate missing out on free stuff. White to move.

From a recent casual playchess game, I played Ng5 ? instead of Bxf7!+ .Black can not recapture with the Knight due to the loose Queen.
Continuing my Slooooooooow Circle on level 20 -214 with 98% accuracy.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A moment of Tactical Vision blindness

Here is exercise 176 in Level 20 of CT-art. Black to move.
Although, I have seen this problem at least 30 times before, I just got it wrong on my last past. I see before me the classic conditions of anastasia mate. A Knight looking to make its way to d2 check, a queen ready to sac on a2 and a rook to get into the a file for a checkmate.
But I see an issue here the rook can take if the knight moves to d2 . Then I start calculating a bunch of other ideas which goes nowhere .
The structural consideration I do not see is that the rook only offer pseudo protection that moving the rook to capture allows blacks queen to check on the back rank. Rook returns is captured checkmate.
Pseudo Protection is something I do not always see especially when it is combined as in this case with another motif. I often do not calculate lines because I believe a pawn could capture but is absolutely pinned to the king.
I am trying to be vigilant about remembering I have this occasional tactical vision blindness and hope writing this post will help me remember.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Presented for your Consideration

Presented for your consideration, the following is not an example of perfect play or dry opening theory but a tale. A tale of two knights Cratercat and Takchess meeting on the virtual 64 and the struggle that ensues. It is a tale of overly aggressive play, inactive pieces, a wild save ones life king dash across the board , a pawns lust to expand, frantic attempts to kill or be killed, unfortunately for your favorite blogger it is also a tale of missed opportunity....... In both these diagrams black to move wins according to Fritz in a mating net.

Cut and Paste the game into the PGN viewer on the side bar to check out this game

(3174) CraterCat (1720) - Takchess (1482) [B01]
Rated game, 25m + 5s Main Playing Hall, 02.05.2007
[Fritz 10 (30s)]
B01: Scandinavian Defence 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4 c6 6.Be3 e6 7.Qd2 Be7 8.0–0–0 Nd5 9.Ne4 Qb4 10.h4 a5 11.Bd3 Qa4 12.Bc4 Qxc4 13.b3 Ba3+ 14.Kb1 Qb5 15.c4 Qb4 16.cxd5 exd5 17.Qxb4 axb4 18.Nd6+ Ke7 19.Bf4 Rd8 20.Rhe1+ Kf6 21.Be5+ Kg6 22.Ng5 Bf5+ 23.Nxf5 Kxf5 24.Nxf7 Rf8 25.Nd6+ Kg4 26.f3+ Kh5 27.Bxg7 Rg8 28.g4+ Kxh4 29.Rh1+ Kg3 30.Nf5+ Kxf3 31.Rdg1 Nd7 32.Rxh7 Rae8 33.Rh3+ Kf4 34.Bh6+ Rg5 35.Bxg5+ Kxg5 36.Rh5+ Kf4 37.Ng7 Re2 38.Rf5+ Ke3 39.Rg3+ Kd2 40.Rf1 c5 41.dxc5 Nxc5 42.Nf5 Ne4 43.Rgg1 Nc3+ 44.Ka1 Kd3 45.Rg3+ Kc2 46.Nd4+ Kd2 47.Nxe2 Nxe2 48.Rg2 d4 49.g5 d3 50.g6 Kc2 51.Rxe2+ d2 52.Rb1 Bc1 53.g7 Kd1 54.Rxd2+ Kxd2 55.g8Q b5 56.Qg5+ Kc2 57.Qxc1+ 1–0

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A cool tactical game

This is a very cool tactical game.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Slow Circle

Doing a lot of the same problems for me leads to a form of tactical laziness. I know I have seen the problem and mechanically play some moves. This is a dangerous way to play given that in game situations, I reach similar positions where the tactic does not work due to counter play and defensive captures.

I am doing a slower circle where I blunder check everything and calculate everything fully to quiescence before moving a single piece.

I also hope to develop an observation check list of clues to tactical situations based on positional considerations. ie: When I have 2 bishops and one controls an open diagonal in front of a queen. Check for boden mate/crisscross mates and calculate Queen Sacks to set this up.

Scoring around 90% on level 20 which needs improvement so I am going back and do a very slow level 10 and then a slow level 20.

I have started to play the Scandinavian Defense due to poor experiences against good Ruy players like Keystor . Playing 3 ...Qd6 as in this collection . I know about 3 moves deep into the opening and am just at this point trying to put my pieces on good squares. Had a big rating drop on playchess initially but it now appears the bleeding has stopped.