Monday, July 13, 2015

Calculation Simplification

White to play and win
Prokes 1937

Last week (Readers’ Hour) I mentioned that I was looking at pawn endings as a way to practice calculation. I thought - and still think - that it’s a good way to polish your skills in this area of the game. You do have to understand why you’re doing it, though.

Fairly obviously, a lot of what happens in king and pawn endings is domain specific and not directly applicable to middle games per se. Take today's position, for example. The key line is a dozen or more moves long. That is way more than amateur chessers would normally calculate, but working out the solution from the starting position isn’t going to teach you much about how to play when there are bishops, knights, rooks and queens on the board too. You might learn something about queen versus rook’s pawn on the 7th or queen versus queen, but that’s it.

And yet still I think it’s a good way to start calculation training. For much the same reasons as you start with Grade 1 pieces when you’re learning piano and don’t jump straight in to the Grade 8 exam (or 3 in my case this Wednesday): the best way to learn to do something difficult is to start by stripping away the complexity as much as possible and building up your skills incrementally.

So, yes, today’s king and pawn position does rely on some endgame specific concrete knowledge. Yes, it is in the Encyclopedia of Chess Endings (it’s position #136 on page 39). Nevertheless, yes, you will also find it in Chess Tactics from Scratch too.

King and pawn Index


Kassy said...

IF one is familiar with the tricks of QK vs K and R-pawn this is fairly easy.
1 Kf5 h3
2 Kg4 Kg2
3 a6 h2
4 a7 a1=Q
5 a8=Q+ Kg1
6 Qa1+ Kg2
7 Qa2+ Kg1
8 Kg3 and Qf2# cannot be stopped short of a queen sac that is obviously losing

If 5... Kh2 then
6 Qh8+ Kg2
7 Qb2+ Kg1
8 Kg3 is same idea

If one is not familiar with this idea, this is probably extremely hard.

Kassy(USCF 1779 so not that great a calculator but familiar with the concept)

Matt Fletcher said...

@Kassy - I think you need to deal with 7.Kf2 in your first line - takes a couple more moves to get the queen closer but the concept is the same. Agree it's fairly easy if you know the mating trick.