36

When a GM, or even lesser strong players reach a position that is totally unfamiliar, they have to break it down into components. They evaluate the following for BOTH sides. In general, a lot of this is done subconsciously by strong players. Material, and what pieces are better. Sometimes a well-placed knight can be better than a rook, for example. Can any ...


25

In a general way chess engines use a decision tree. The root of the tree is the current position and has a child node for each position that can be made by making a legal move. Each of these nodes in turn have a child node for the positions that can be reached by making a legal move from them. The engine pushes the tree out to a depth defined by its ...


24

You're asking a pretty complex question, but it's good to go back to basics. There are a couple of concepts to consider: Evaluation If a (real) player is shown a position and asked "who is winning this game?", how do they go about deciding? Most likely, they will check a few basic things, such as: material differences, the degree to which pieces have ...


20

No, there are positions in which a lot of moves have the same effect or are the same but you can play them in a different order.


17

If it were possible to analyse every possible outcome of a position, would there ever be a single move that could be considered "best"? No. Just to give an example: [FEN "k7/6Q1/1K7/8/8/8/8/8 w - - 0 1"] There are five moves that are equally "good". I know that this is how computers evaluate positions, but they can only calculate the decision tree down ...


17

There are plenty of situations where there is more than one move which leads to a forced mate. So in those situations any of those moves is objectively best, and there's no one best move.


15

You say: "Do the same puzzles over and over? I'm worried that once I've memorised a puzzle, then I'm not doing so much calculation as memory retrieval." Memory retrieval is exactly what you should be doing! The brain improves recall not by repeated input, but by repeated output. This is why reviewing notes is a terrible way to study for a test, and why ...


15

The answer is that you only consider the most sensible and most critical options. This prunes the tree down to manageable proportions. One easy example would be the fact that retreats are usually not threatening and therefore less likely to be critical. (Of course the downside is that actually dangerous retreats are often overlooked.) To learn how to ...


14

Yes, those 15 depths very much matter. Consider this position that occurred in Kasparov's Immortal Game vs Topalov. [White "Kasparov"] [Black "Topalov"] [FEN "b2r3r/k4p1p/p2q1np1/NppP4/3R1Q2/P4PPB/1PP4P/1K2R3 b - - 0 24"] I tested this position with several engines. Some engines, at depth 15, failed to detect that 24...cxd4 is a losing move and ...


14

It is a common problem to calculate all the variations and then suddenly realize that the first move was simply terrible. Actually, there is a rule that should be applied after finishing a complicated calculation, the Blumenfeld rule! The Blumenfeld rule is formulated roughly as follows. After finishing a complicated calculation, take a fresh look at the ...


13

All of the suggested can improve your tactics skills. Anything that makes you think hard about chess positions (particularly sharp and complex ones) will. I would add "perfecting the way you calculate variations", i.e. making sure that your calculation is as effective as possible. This was well described in some book, I think it was "Think like a grandmaster"...


13

first of all see here. here is a quote Asked how many moves ahead he can think, Kasparov replied that it depended on the positions of the pieces. "Normally, I would calculate three to five moves," he said. "You don't need more.... But I can go much deeper if it is required." For example, in a position involving forced moves, it's possible to look ...


9

This is an ill defined question, similar to: what is my girlfriend thinking about when we ... ? But to stab at an answer, it would be completely dependent on the position. If the position has many tactical variations possible, the answer will probably be very far, 5, 6 or more moves ahead. If the position is very closed, and positional strategy matters, ...


9

A very common approach is to work backwards. Instead of studying openings first, followed by the middlegame and the endgame, you study endgames first. Once you know some endgame positions, it may be sufficient to calculate only three moves deep in a late middlegame position, because you know that the resulting endgame is won for you. Let's consider a ...


9

I'm an FM, and my calculation process would be as follows: 1) See that after 2.Rxg4 Qxh6 2.Rg8 Bf8, I'm clearly winning and White has no follow up. 2) Look at White's king moves to get out of check. Immediately Kd1, Kd2, Kd3 can be discarded since they just let me play ...Rd8+ for free. Also, Kf1/Kf2 lead to the same thing after I play 2...Qf3+. So I'd ...


8

As somebody, who's tactical ability is hopefully still above 2000, let me contrast your description with my own thought process: I only considered 1...Nh4. 2.Qg4 Rf2 I saw basically instantly. 2.Qh2 Qxh2 3.Kxf2 Rf2 and I thought white is in trouble. Mostly because of the clumsy bishops that don't allow him to untangle quickly and challenge the second rank ...


8

Expanding on the great comments of @David and @Timothy Chow, GM Nikolai Krogius talks about the role of the residual image in his book Psychology in Chess. This is an image that stays and blurs the calculations. The residual image is the transfer of judgment from a past position to a new situation. The past then acts on the present. To combat this ...


7

A friend of mine (and a stronger player) suggested one exercise which has helped me in developing my visualization skills. Take a game, any game and read the first two moves of both sides (ie total four plies), visualize the position now on board, then make these moves on board, see if your visualized position was right. Read the next two moves and ...


6

Best trainer I've ever seen for tactics: CT-ART. Full stop. It's relatively cheap ($20US, give or take) and walks you through thousands of tactical positions, showing you all sorts of techniques, and relentlessly drilling you in them. I'm a Mac user, and I keep parallels around mainly for this program. To start out with it, I'd put it in test mode for 15 ...


6

It's clear that Black has the following advantages: 1) His king is better centralized. 2) He has two connected passed pawns. 3) White has no passed pawns because one Black pawn holds up two White ones on both the queen and king sides. White's main advantage is that he has two rook pawns, which could lead to "outside" passed pawns. Even so, it might take ...


6

I agree with the answers. I remember GM Roman Dzindzichashvili talking about it, in one of Roman's labs videos, i don't remember what video it was (if anyone knows the details please edit my answer). Roman said that the developer of Fritz engine is his friend. So Roman tested Fritz to see how good it was, and the developer told Roman that in order for ...


6

The answer is simple and cruel -> evaluation of the position. Unfortunately, being inactive for 10+ years, I suffer from the same problem so I know what I am talking about. You will not find a winning move, nor winning lines, unless you evaluate that they are there in the position. That is why you miss those moves -> you didn't even consider that such ...


6

My performance rating was four to five hundred points above my actual rating in tournaments where I prepared primarily with calculation/visualization exercises; while tournaments without tactical training showed a performance rating closer to actual. So, I would say these exercises definitely make you sharper. There are permanent gains over time but I think ...


6

Depends a lot from player to player and also position to position I think. The fundamental is that their intuition (built up from studying and playing and solving a lot) will suggest a few moves (or occasionally only one) and they will calculate those moves (candidate moves) and pick whichever they think is best based on calculation and evaluation. They ...


5

It is just impossible for computers to look deep enough (25 ply and more) and check every possible move. What makes is possible is the technique called Alpha-beta pruning which means that computers, similar to humans (but way better) follow only the promising continuations. They evaluate the positions constantly (based on some precoded rules, valuing ...


5

My guess would be that every position has a single objectively best move or two moves that are equally strong. Three equally strong moves is already less likely, unless of course the best move is for instance a discovered check with a bishop and it does not matter which square it chooses to open up the check. The best move in the position is the move that ...


5

No, you cannot say that there can be a single best move in every position. In most positions there are a number of equally good moves with different effects. Chess is a finite game, alright, but the branches are so many that even computers (still) need a substantial amount of time to calculate a full branch starting from a single move. This is why there is ...


5

Players such as Anand and Carlsen can play top-level blindfold chess.  I assume this means that the number of moves ahead such players can "see" is essentially unlimited: at the board they can presumably visualize a continuation of the game to its conclusion.  But a single very deep search down a single branch of an enormous game tree, though ...


5

Just thought to add the famous story (likely apocryphal): During a tournament in the 1920s a newspaper reporter asked Richard Reti how many moves ahead he could read. Reti replied "I only see one move ahead: The right one."


5

At your level, you should be thinking in terms of combinations, or chains of moves. Beginners learn the basics, pins, forks and skewers, but you are a bit past that. Instead, you might be thinking in terms of preparatory moves that set up these tactics. That takes a bit more doing, but is a mark of advanced play.


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