"I close my eyes so I can see."
Paul Gauguin
blindfold chess

Blindfold King

Grandmaster Timur Gareyev


Deep Calculation Skills

Posted by blindfoldking@gmail.com on August 30, 2017 at 2:25 PM

The process of calculation is very much like blindfold chess since you can't move the pieces to explore different options. Once you commit you only got one route you pick just like during a tournament game.

Timing is very important in making good decisions as you calculate. Aside from training to be sharp in unpredictable tactical situations, you must aim to connect with your instincts since your intuition in tough spots will give you the edge. Not many chess players are willing to go with their intuition. The cost of over analyzing can show in lack of creative instinct, waste of energy, and eventual time pressure. So let me give you a couple steps of how a good decision looks like:

Before you start calculating, or really doing anything with the position in your mind, you want to relax your analytical and emotional minds and just:

1. Perceive the situation in the game= Experience the position as is, without making any judgement. Notice where pieces belong, which squares interrelate, notice secret passages that may be available like the diagonal shape along light squares d3-h7 (even though there may be no piece readily available to jump in on that.

2. Now let's consider the situation where you are entering critical position. You must still have a few extra minutes on the clock. In just the same way I described at the level of meditative perception, think of what the situation is like from a strategic and general perspective. You know how at times you realize you made 3-4 moves with the same piece (not necessarily whether it is good or bad), and now you may have the opportunity to trade the piece. Notice interesting phenomena. Recollect how you got to the position and what qualities the position represent. Is it middle game, is it an open position, notice what's interesting in the situation and how the situation may shape up in various creative ways.

Essentially, if you get anxious and intense as you get into tough calculation spots, all that means is you chose to play chess. There is no way you can avoid the stress and potentially taking objectively less effective decisions. Now, as you warm up your mind and lighten up the mood towards more creative vibes (whether you are the big bad attacker or the "miserable" defender.) A lot of times just taking a couple moments of meditative perception gives you a more resourceful perspective and makes you notice subtle details in the position, yourself, your opponent, and the environment.

3.. Now onto effective calculation as the moment brings you to that important decision along your tournament practice.

As Larry Christiansen suggests, look for the most violent forcing moves first. If you feel like two superheroes were fighting, imagine finding the kind of resources they would come up in both attacking and defending. Proactive approach is truly essential. You must know what your opponent is up to, as you are executing your winning plan.

If you feel like you got that winning move, then sure go ahead and play! At times the quick decision making approach may cost you an opportunity where your opponent may find a tough unexpected defense. All of a sudden you are not only instantly losing your attacking edge, but must reassess and potentially even look for a way to secure a draw.

The ultimate solution is certainly the tournament experience itself. In order to make sure you are honing on your skill, and most importantly keep getting better and better results, assess the opportunities and calculate deep! If the time is big consideration, whether yours or your opponent's, learn to be pragmatic and be ready to pull the trigger!

Hopefully this will get you on the right track towards more victories!

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