Monday, February 28, 2005
Thinking Process
I noticed that some of the knights are trying to use a checklist, to correct their thought process or to eliminate blunders...

I used to try and implement a list like that. Checking for pawn-structures.. Double-checking for blunders.. etc.. In a game, I would start of well-enough.. consistently using my list.. but somewhere, sometime - I would be totally engrossed in the game.. captured by my own schemes.. obsessed by my variations.. that I would invariably forget the list, and once again blunder...

"Checklist #10 Complete, #11 Commencing: Searching for candidate moves"
Did my hero Nezhmetdinov employ such a list? Did the masters really thought in such a way? I had my doubts even then but I really, really wanted to avoid blunders. So I began to search the net. Maybe get some pointers on how to do it. But to my surprise.. I could'nt find any grandmaster that uses such a list.The only prominent figure I found is AJ Goldsby. Now AJ Goldsby is a master so I should take his word for it right? But consider what GM Nigel Davies said

"When you have to think about imbalances, true mastery is not achieved"

Huh!? What!? You dont think about silman imbalances during a game? So how about a blunder check then? How about king weaknesses and pawn structures!?

"Suddenly you feel that one needs to create a little space here and attack there.
But why it is like that, you dont know" - Vladimir Kramnik(*)

This statement from the world champion floored me.. But thinking about it actually made sense. You see the state I described above - being a victim of my own schemes, is actually a good thing.. It is a time when I am cut-off from the world.. a time of outmost concentration.. I could hear my heart pounding from my chest, my hands shaking, and the veins of my temple throbbing.. In basketball terms, I am "In the zone". And to have to think about a list in such a state is preposterous.

Running thru a list in a game is like a guitarist thinking of finger placements during a recital.

Yes, I determined.. It is only natural that I loose track of such a list during a game. The time to implement a list is not during a game but before it.. During practice, until it becomes ability. As tempo would say- I understood what to do, but it is not yet ability. I understand it, but I dont know it.

So then, what I really need is to be able to practice an effective thinking method outside the context of a game. But what would enable me to practice the habit of thinking about my opponents reply? About thinking about effective piece placements? About loose pieces? About not blundering? Yep, you guessed it.. It is during practicing tactical exercises (Expecting anything else from a DLM trainee?). I am convinced solving all possible variations of deep combinations enables me to practice just that.. a good thinking process..

You see, the author of the book I'm using, this Maxim Blokh fellow is a tricky chap.. Most of the time I would find what I thought was a crafty move, only to find out that it will be refuted by a still craftier move.. After a few problems like this.. I began to double check everything. To go thru the variations, no matter how easy the position seems. Because, there has got to be something hidden there. So now I am beginning to have this habit, the "what else" of Mr. Kilgore. I noticed this in my recent play. I hope this continue and that this be deeply ingrained(fingers crossed).

During a game, to just go into the flow - is just about one of the nicest feeling to have.

I just read The Day Capablanca died. Didn't know that reading the death of someone I've never even met could make me so sad.
posted by Nezha at 11:42 PM | Permalink |


  • At 9:11 AM, Blogger Margriet

    What I found out with exercises:
    When I'm dooing knight forks I suddenly see them in all my games,
    when I'm practisin double attacks I see them everywhere. For me no list. What you really learned will come out in the game.

  • At 11:44 AM, Blogger Temposchlucker

    Most grandmasters I watched during a game were first thinking a few minutes, then wrote their move on the form, then thought for another 30 seconds looking over the total board, then play the move (or correct it).
    This is integrated blunderchecking.

    As Fischer said: ratingpoints and prizes drop off naturally from your level.
    So when I train, I care about my level, during a game I go with the flow.

  • At 2:19 PM, Blogger CelticDeath

    Tempo, I thought FIDE rules prohibited writing down a move before it is made?

  • At 3:18 PM, Blogger Pawn Sensei

    Tom Rose has a theory on this. He feels that chess is done in three different levels. Meta-Meta Chess, Meta Chess, and OTB Play. The first two concentrate on picking and studying the material, the last is getting out of your own way so to speak.

    I have read other people writing about this same phenomena in sports. By the time it is time for us to perform the practicing is over and we should let our subconscious do the work. Because of this I feel you should still work on thought process in your training but once it comes time to play a tournament then let let go. In Karate it is the same. You practice slow moves to force your body to memorize the timing and motion then when it is time to react to something your body moves effortlessly and without thought. Does that mean we should just practice reactive training all the time? No. It means we do all that slow tedious impractical work for 99% of the time so that in that other 1% of performance it is automatic.

    That's why I like Pandolfini's article on thought process. He doesn't explain what you should look for in each move, because that list would cover thousands of pages, but rather he lays out a logical thinking order that you should go through. His thought process lets the player's abilities come forward. For example he says check all candidate moves. He is purposely not being specific because "candidate move" will depend on the player's current ability and the current position. You don't look for a back rank mate on every move do you?

    For a more detailed thought process check out "Think Like a Grandmaster" by Kotov. The "Tree of Analysis" is only meant to train your mind to think in a logical manner, it is not meant to be thought about during a tournament.

    Finally, I think ignoring thought process especially in the beginning stages of chess learning, is a dangerous thing and will stunt chess improvement in the future. Which is why coaches recommend not playing too many blitz games. You can burn in bad habits ten times as fast and you are only relying on intuition instead of analysis and thought process.


  • At 10:42 PM, Blogger King of the Spill

    I posted a comment on how one player was tempting to think each move here.

  • At 1:18 AM, Blogger King of the Spill

    Attempting. ( tempting lol )