tl;dr: How to visualize and assess if you can't?
I'm pining, no, not for the fjords, but for returning to the board after Corona. I still read a good amount of chess books, but maybe some specific training couldn't hurt in the meantime.
Not surprisingly, as a FM I exactly know my weaknesses:
- 1 ageing (I'm 60 now)
- 2 no knowledge of opening theory
- 3 a certain shortcoming when dealing with pin tactics
- 4 horizon effect
When dealing with that...
- 1 I'm currently going for my diploma in computer science, so probably my brain's still flashing like it did when I was young (ha, Rolling Stones reference). Nothing specific I could do anyway except constant practice.
- 2 Remembering and playing main variants would take the fun out of chess for me (and it's even doubtful if it increases my score - what good is it losing 25% less by opening desasters when drawing 50% more?).
- 3 This could be easily trained specifically, e.g. with a Lichess pin themed training set.
- 4 This is what I am asking for (but feel free to comment on the other points). It seems I always calculate (when I calculate at all, my intuition is extremely good, i.e. I quickly see the candidate move if there is only one) exactly one move too short. (And that is when the figures begin to blur before my mental eye. I'm a very lousy "blindfold" player by the way.) For example, if the problem involves trampling the poor king to death with Q and R, the calculation tree forks to kingdom come and I am unable to follow it.
Thus: How to decide when one can cut a variant with a definite result? And don't just answer "quiet"! A prime recent example (donated to me by a chess club colleague as a tactic problem for our club zine:
[fen ""] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Bg4 4.dxe5 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 dxe5 6.Bc4 Nf6 7.Qb3 Qe7 8.f3 Nc6 9.O-O Qc5+ 10.Be3 Qe7 11.Nc3 Nd4 12.Qa4+ c6 13.Rad1 b5
Of course, I start calculating Nxb5 in a microsecond (no FM needed for that...). Hack, hack, hack, slice and dice, rook doubling, oh bother, Black can protect the mobbing victim on d7 sufficiently. Quiet. Cut. (Of course I'd play it anyway as the piece would be lost in any variant, but also of course I must already decide about that when playing Rad1.)
A check on Lichess with Stockfish shows Black is dead as a doornail: the position is quiet for one, two moves, but even if White could not play B-xa7-b6, Black would take ages to untie while White simply promotes one of the queenside pawns. Thus, again: how can I "see" that, even if I'm more or less unable to actually "see" the position before my wrong cut?