Friday, April 27, 2007

Counting Error

Here's an example of a counting error from one of my Blitz games. It's not very hard at all, but with the clock ticking I wasn't able to calculate it correctly.

Analyze the consequences of 1.Ba3.

1.Ba3 Bxc4 2.Bxd6 Bxd3 3.Bxf8 Bxf1 and Black is a piece ahead. Best then is the desparado 4.Bxg7.

I looked at this position two different ways afterwards. First I did "He takes, I take..." and tried to keep a running tally. I could see that Black would be a piece ahead, but I had to concentrate. One contributing factor was that taking "snapshots" at certain points before quiescence was misleading. Sort of like:

1...Bxc4 2.Bxd6 ("equal so far") 2...Bxd3 3.Bxf8 ("I'm up the exchange") 3...Bxf1 4. Bb3 or 4.Kxf1 ("I return the exchange") to give the illusion that everything would be equal, rather than that White would be a piece down.

However, if you just barrel down the main line and add up pieces, you can see: "In the next three moves, Black takes N, B, and R and White takes B and R. At that point, whether both bishops save themselves or both bishops are captured, Black is still up a piece."

So it may be that it's easier to calculate "I take this and this, he takes that and that and that", rather than "I take, he takes, I take...". I'll have to try this out in practice. This method may make you more likely to mis-evaluate a side variation (e.g. 1...Bxa3 or 2.Bxc4) since you're just gunning down what you perceive the main line to be, but if nothing else it can help you "check your math".


Blue Devil Knight said...

A great problem! I too use the method you suggest. Otherwise I can end up at the end of a sequence down material and have no idea why.

Loomis said...

One of the most frustrating ways to lose is to be chugging along in a game where you think the material is even and all of a sudden go "wait a minute, when did I lose a piece!?" I've had games where I've gone back to try to find out where I lost the piece and had a very difficult time even recognizing in hindsight where it was lost.

I think it's good to be able to keep track both ways "I take, he takes" and "I take x,y,z while he takes a,b,c." Sometimes different sequences are easier for me using one or the other. For example, what you showed in this post is different than a series of exchanges that happen all on one square.

Thanks for your blog, I like it!