28th_July_09 Tactical surprisesTactical surprises: a preliminary sketch
Let's have a look at an example:
Stretten-Keen 2009 (W)
The crushing continuation was
1. Bd5+ Kf8
Showing this to the group, Bd5+ was the first move suggested, but Charlie reports that he didn't even consider it! Why the disparity?
Let's see that position in a bit of context: the previous moves were:
Stretten-Keen 2009 (W)
Keen C. - Streeter H. [B23]
1. Nf3 f6
2. Bd5+ Kf8
Now we see that, a couple of moves ago, Bd5 was not a legal move, and would not have been check if it was! So, one tip for not being surprised would be:
- After each move, try to list any new possibilities for each side, particularly newly legal moves.
To anticipate a little the later discussion, you generally have a little list of 'Moves I would like to make soon' and 'Moves I expect my opponent will make soon', which we might call candidate moves , and you need to be as sure as you can that you aren't leaving anything important off these lists.
Also, that move counts as an intermezzo , an in-between move: White ignores the apparently forcing threat on the Knight. In fact, only checks are genuinely forcing. This suggests another tip:
- Before you decide on your move, ask: can I, or can my opponent, ignore the threat?
work in progress: identifying and working on a problem
I (DR) found myself regularly falling for destructive combinations against my French Defence, sacrifices of a piece against my central pawns. Here are a few:
Headlong-Regis 2003 (W)
Headlong F. - Regis D. [C02]
Benson-Regis 2004 (W)
Benson P. - Regis D. [C02]
Thompson-Regis 2005 (W)
Thompson D. - Regis D. [B27]
Diagnosis may be most of the cure here: I should not assume that my long-standing pawn structure is indestructible.
the variety of tactical motifs
- Take for nothing
- Knight forks
- Other forks
- More attackers than defenders
- Double check
The technician, whose vocabulary has been doubled by Dr. Euwe, will find that White could have saved his soul by a desperado combination. Had this failure anything to do with the fact that Dr. Euwe's terminology was not yet existent at that time!?
-- Reinfeld, to Thomas-Euwe, Carlsbad 1929.
I suggested that you need to be fluent in these motifs. Charlie remarked that this was a 'big ask', but I don't think it's hugely different to learning a new language -- or a new alphabet -- which is definitely a challenge but which loads of people do all t he time.
Fluency comes mostly through practice. A while ago I suggested that fluency comes in stages:
- I've heard of it!
- I know it when I see it
- I can spot it in simple examples
- I can spot it in complex examples and I can use it in my own games
exercising imagination by solving problems
"Let us repeat once more the methods by which we can increase our combinative skill:
"(1) by careful examination of the different types and by a clear understanding of their motives and their premises
"(2) By memorising a number of outstanding as well as of common examples and solutions
"(3) Frequent repetition (in thought, if possible) of important combinations, so as to develop the imagination."
-- Euwe, Strategy and Tactics in Chess
I was rather provoked by the notion that flights of imagination are best developed by leaden rehearsal, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.
motifs in combination
(W) I found this one quite surprising.
Some lessons from this example might be:
- If there is a move you really want to make, try and make it!
- Look at your intended moves in different orders: one order might unlock the box
other surprising moves
Short-Timman 1991 (W)
I enjoyed all your suggestions here, but once you are shown the first move of the continuation, the idea is apparent and amusing.
The surprise lies in breaking a rule: hide your King in the middlegame, use your king actively only in the endgame.
- All chess rules are really guidelines!
Zukertort-Blackburne 1883 (W)
Flohr-Geller 1949 (B)
Topalov-Shirov 1998 (B)
All from Emms' The Most Amazing Chess Moves Of All Time
A fun way to extend your assumptions about what is possible. It makes Euwe's advice a pleasure to follow!
candidate moves (KOTOV) and candidate replies
Kotov has come in for a lot of stick recently, but I think this is not bad advice. What are you doing that is any better?!
checks and captures first (PURDY)
- Examine moves that smite!
That is, checks and captures.
every check and every capture? (CHERNEV/REINFELD)
- Examine every possible check and capture at every move
Oh, how many games would I have saved by obeying this one!
I don't know how many people actually do this either, but again, what do you do that is any better?
The other side of the coin
Short-Kasparov 1993 (W)
I don't know what made Short miss this line ( 1.Rh1+ Kg6 2.Ne5+ Kf5 3.Nc6)
You have to notice that the undefended Knight on e5 cannot be taken and then you have to follow two checks with a quiet move... but once you focus on getting a Knight to cover d8, then you didn't take long to spot it.
The point of this example is: the other half of the coin of
Work in progressNxe6!, Nxd5! and Qxb5 Qxb5 Rxe6!
Qb4, ...Kg7, ...Nh3