Thursday, October 9, 2008

LifeChess003 - Look before you leap

LifeChess003 - Look before you leap

The ability to calculate is a fundamental skill in chess, as it is in life. Look before you leap, they say. Sometimes life gives you choices, and you do not know what to do. It is tempting to just blunder through life and you don’t give a care in the world. A decision made quickly is better than a decision made too late. However, there are times when the situation demands a more careful perusal.

In general, the ability to think things through has given me a tremendous advantage in life. In problem solving, I can generally avoid unpleasant situations simply by thinking things through and then decide on a path that avoids all those complications. This is a skill that can be practiced. To a neophyte, it looks tremendously complicated, and most people would give up immediately. I admit that some positions baffle me, but that’s no reason not to try!

The advantage of seeing deeper not only provides you with better and cleaner solution, but also a seemingly ability to shape things to come. To become clairvoyance, so to speak. Obviously, the ability to see deep into chess position does not translate readily to real life situation. However, there skills needed to develop the skills to see deep positions in chess is the same skills needed to develop the skills to see deep consequences in planning. In other words, if you can do one, you can do the other!

Take a look at this position. Black is winning. White has to make a decision, and I decided to do a rushing attack to Black’s position. The moves are as follows:

6k1/2b2n1p/2p2pp1/1pP1p3/pP2P2P/Pq3NN1/Q4PPK/8 w - - 0 1

1. Qd2 Qxa3 2. Qd7 Bd8 3. h5 Qxb4 4. hxg6 hxg6 5. Nh4 Qxc5 6. Nxg6 Qd6?
Obviously, Qd6 is a mistake. It doesn't do anything. But let's look at the position before that, what can White do?

3b2k1/3Q1n2/2p2pN1/1pq1p3/p3P3/6N1/5PPK/8 b - - 0 6

White obviously wants to do Qe8! Now let's calculate the variations:7. Qe8+ Kg7 8. Nf5+ Kxg6 9. Qg8+ Kh5 10. g4#7. ... Kh7 8. Qxf7+ Kh6 9.Nf5+ Kh5 10. Qh7+ Kg5 11. Kh6+ Kg4 12. f3#9. ... Kg5 10. Qh7 not a check. Can Black do something?

In the short variations above, you can see that there are 2 mating possibilities: g4# and f3#. So the question becomes, is there a move that Black can do to prevent those two mating possibilities? The answer is Qxf2! f3 becomes impossible due to the pawn not being there, and g4 is impossible because the pawn is pinned. So, that would be the move I would do. As to whether or not White can actually mate the King, I honestly didn't calculate that deep.

As the game was played, though, Black failed to see this move, and loses horribly. 7. Qe8+ Kh7 8. Qxf7+ Kh6 9. Nf5+ Kg5 10. Nxd6 and White wins.

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