Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Heisman's Latest Article: Counting Errors Revisited

Dan Heisman's latest ChessCafe.com article revisits counting errors ("I take, he takes, I take...oops.") with some more elaborate examples. None of the examples are of mind-blowing complexity, but for several I had to sit and think. For example:


The moves played in this game were (after 1...Nbd5) 2.Ne5? Nxf4 3.Nxf6? Bxf6?? 4.Be4?? Ng6. In particular, Black's third move looks natural, but is not best. If Black's correct 3rd move isn't immediately obvious to you as you play through this example, go straight to Heisman's article, do not pass go, and do not collect 200 ratings points (at least, not until you're done reading through the Novice Nook archives there).

If you routinely mine your games (including Blitz) for tactical errors, you'll be finding plenty of these errors in your own games and can include them in your "Hall of Shame" files.

7 comments:

Blue Devil Knight said...

It is awful that nobody has produced a CD of counting problems of increasing complexity. They are great for visualization practice and the problems come up all the time in games.

I bemoaned this fact here, begging someone to point me to a set of such problems. I pretty much got the usual bromides (just count how many are attacking and defending, blah blah: obviously! I want problems not rules) and other unhelpful stuff: no problem sets.

I asked Heisman about it and he said that his new chess book will have a few dozen counting problems, and agreed that a much heavier dose of such problems should be made, but unfortunately I think nobody will take the time to do it.

Blue Devil Knight said...

The most unhelpful comment was by one commentator who said that people who build problems don't think about such basic things any more. This is incorrect at so many levels...(He later admitted it, but egads I was annoyed).

Grandpatzer said...

Lately I've been slacking off with my "dissect every blitz game approach" but I'm trying to get back on track with that. More and more, I think the most important tactics to study are those that occur in your own games, and a lot of those are simple counting oversights.

Another tactic I intend to write more about are the mundane tactics where, if you play one move order versus another, you are a bit better. These tactics occur a lot in counting scenarios. Let's say you have a N, B, and R all aimed at a weak pawn. If you start the capturing sequence with the N, Fritz will find that you're a pawn to the good, but if you start with the B you may be two pawns to the good. Either move, in itself, is good, but one is clearly better. Another example may be being up the exchange (R vs. N) instead of being up a piece. Heisman had examples of this counting fallacy, where people would think "I can't give up a rook! better to lose a piece."

These won't be found in your standard book of tactics, but your games will be loaded with such examples.

I really need to get back to padding out my Hall of Shame databases....

chessloser said...

color me stupid, but isn't black's third move kind of forced, as he is in check, and taking with the bishop is better than taking with the pawn?

seriously, i don't see it. what is the best move?

Grandpatzer said...

chessloser: you'll have to read Heisman's article for the explanation :D I don't want to plagiarise his work.

Part of your reasoning was correct, and part was incorrect. "Every time you assume, you make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me'". That incorrect thinking is exactly the kind of error I'd easily fall prey to in a real game.

This is an example of tactics being superior to general rules of thumb.

Grandpatzer said...

chessloser: I reread my above post and it sounded kind of snotty, but it's not intended that way. You've put your finger on the exact reason why I was surprised the natural move was not the best move.

chessloser said...

aha! i read the article, and now i understand. see, THAT right there is why i am the chess LOSER and not chess winner....you weren't being snotty at all, by the way....