Monday, February 21, 2011

Watch Out for Gorillas!

On the topic of Blind Spots:

Well, my winning streak has fizzled. My normal chess club is “closed” this month due to too much snow in the parking lot. This left me seeking chess action in other parts of the state. I decided to enter the 2nd week of the month long 8 round G60 tournament happening at the Greater Worcester Chess Club. This meant some tough competition at 2x G60 per week. I called it good preparation for the upcoming Eastern Class championship.

I am studying tactics almost exclusively these days as my time is limited due to other responsibilities. I have been going over attacking styles following the games in Lev Alburt’s “The King in Jeopardy” book as well as a little booklet by Eric Schiller Called “ Attacking the Castled King”. The reason I started doing this was because I found myself having either a developmental lead out of the opening or a space advantage but only to play too timidly and squander the moment. I am hoping to learn when the right time to attack is given certain circumstances and how to create weaknesses on the opponents side of the board.

All this is trying to stitch together the static pawn formations I’ve been studying to some form of a middle game attacking plan given the placement of our pieces, pawns and kings. This isn’t easy as I am feeling a change in my attempted consistency of OTB playing ability and thought process.

Twice at the club, I found myself develop a blind spot at the center of the board where my opponent is actually setting up a pawn fork with my two minor pieces AND I WALK RIGHT INTO IT. I’m too embarrassed to even display these games here as they are ugly.

In one, I misplayed my King Bishop on the black side of the Slav against a strong Class A player. I played the bishop to d6 even after my opponent played a4. It really belongs on b4 in this position. Rather, I was thinking “ I want to play e5 at some point because it’ll free up my position. With my Bishop on d6 I can support this.”

The second howler happened against a Class C player. He was an aggressive player as I played the white pieces of a QGD position. I ended up walking into a pawn fork situation in the center once again when I should have exchanged pawns. I was focused on development and not taking the threat of the advance of his e-pawns seriously and considered his lack of development an indication of a premature attack. I didn’t go deep enough into the threat analysis.

Oddly enough, I was watching this science show recently looked into the human condition of blind spots or, more accurately, selective attention. Due to our color receptors not being as prominent as our other visual ( black and white) receptors, we are required to scan our field of view regularly ( subconsciously at times) in order to get the full picture in front of us. If we are in a situation where we try to focus on one thing, we will miss some glaringly obvious thing in front of us. One demonstration they did was to have a bunch of test subjects observe a group of basketball players doing passing drills and to count the number of times the “light shirt” team passed the ball. During the video clip, a man in a gorilla suit walks right through the basketball players, looks at the camera, and walks off. Surprisingly only a small percentage of the participants saw the obvious oddity.

Twice, the gorilla walked into my chess board this month and I was too busy focusing on MY STUFF that I completely missed the obvious. I was too hyper-focused with selective attention on MY game and MY side of the board that I completely ignored my opponent’s capabilities in the position. Having a correct thought process is very difficult especially when you are learning new concepts. In these instances, I was really looking for my chances to break through to my opponent’s side. My selective attention was focused on searching for tactics and attacking possibilities I could do and not so much the reciprocal of what could happen to me. I need to revisit my thinking process when I evaluate my opponents threats. I need to approach it with fresh eyes without my intents clouding my field of vision. The best way to do this is BEFORE I look at any of my candidate moves, to properly evaluate the position from my opponent’s perspective. After such, I should then go through and make the selection process.

Watch out for gorillas.


JIMj said...

Great Analogy with the Gorilla.

Chess is a hard game.

We do not think like trees or computers and are subject to making mistakes.

I played a pawn fork of two minor pieces at my win @ the HH. it surprised me that it wasn't seen.

I've become facinated with the idea of breaking into the castled king fortress and I think that is an interesting area of study.

Perhaps you might find something of interst in my game collection here,

From the patzer said...

I have seen so many gorillas in my chess life that I have my private zoo by now. I sometimes am so focussed on one side of the board that i forgot to check the other side of the board.

By the way, a good book for you zould be "Art of attack in chess" from Vladimir Vukovic.

LinuxGuy said...

Right now, I completely don't give a care about kingside assaults.

Yes, I used to miss the ..f5 push the most; e.g.;...f5 (something moves away), ..f5 attacking a jammed Be3. As White it's easy to think that Black doesn't have the "right" to attack first.

The big thing for me now is visualizing the board inside my head. IOW, play from your head, not from looking at the board. I can't tell you how many times I have spent 3-5 minutes "looking" at a position, trying to find some best attacking move, and then noticing that my Nc3 or Ng5 is hanging and a move is forced. This virtually doesn't happen at all online compared to in OTB play. It happens because we are relying on our "looking" at a 3-D board. Very, very, very fallible process.

Don't think "better", think "different". Use a different process, don't keep trying harder at the old method of just looking at the board, too many visual tricks, misses, it's far too fallible. This stuff will always happen from time to time if we simply "look" at the board. We have to "know" where everything is.

lefthandsketch said...

In my experience, playing tons of blitz has helped me get over the hurdle of making these kinds of mistakes. When you play tons of blitz you see so much so fast you're forced to look for basic threats first, and interesting tactics second.

Obviously, lots of people will say that blitz isn't good for your game because it makes you develop bad habits, and that may be true, but I think it's crucial for erasing blindspots.