#### Only Chess Forum

1. 30 Dec '15 19:20
Hey guys, I wondered if you had any thoughts or methods that helped you to be able to visualize lengthy variations or calculations in OTB games. Obviously we can just blow through them with analyze board here on RHP, but I'm trying to wean off that because OTB improvement is my ultimate goal. Where I'm at now is having difficulty keeping track of where all the pieces are during the course of a calculation. I'll get 7-8 moves in or so, and then be having trouble remembering specifics (where was the bishop again). I just have a hard time seeing it in my head. Obviously, the longer the variation the worse time I have with it.

For you stronger players who run through long calculations regularly, are there any exercises or trick that helped you to be able to calculate OTB? And, just curious, are there any other players out there who have similar struggles?

Thanks in advance for any help!
2. 30 Dec '15 19:44
One strong player suggested end game study to develop visualization skills.
3.  DeepThought
30 Dec '15 23:52
Originally posted by UserChevy
Hey guys, I wondered if you had any thoughts or methods that helped you to be able to visualize lengthy variations or calculations in OTB games. Obviously we can just blow through them with analyze board here on RHP, but I'm trying to wean off that because OTB improvement is my ultimate goal. Where I'm at now is having difficulty keeping track of where all ...[text shortened]... there any other players out there who have similar struggles?

Thanks in advance for any help!
Kotov's suggestion was to take positions from newspapers which had been analysed, not look at the analysis, and calculate the variations writing them down. One then compares one's analysis with the grandmaster analysis from the paper. He was writing before chess engines were any use, so positions with GM analysis are no longer essential (although it helps as they give the "human important" lines) as one can check one's analysis on an engine. He suggested using the most complex positions one can find, but I think you can combine this with Eladar's suggestion about end games and try to calculate some end game positions.
4.  moonbus
Uber-Nerd
31 Dec '15 13:03
In simplified K & P positions (e.g., who promotes first), counting, rather than visualizing, is the indispensable technique. Ed. Lasker describes the procedure in his book "Modern Chess Strategy."
5. 01 Jan '16 01:35
Not sure if there's a better answer than just practice. I like using Reinfeld's 1001 books; some of them are easy, others quite difficult. I solve them looking at a real board, not touching the pieces, looking for alternate solutions, etc. and find my visualization improving naturally.

I notice for me, depth (up to 10 moves or so) isn't the problem; width is. I mean, when there are too many branches, or too many candidates to look at.
6.  DeepThought
01 Jan '16 02:38
Originally posted by krudave
Not sure if there's a better answer than just practice. I like using Reinfeld's 1001 books; some of them are easy, others quite difficult. I solve them looking at a real board, not touching the pieces, looking for alternate solutions, etc. and find my visualization improving naturally.

I notice for me, depth (up to 10 moves or so) isn't the problem; width is. I mean, when there are too many branches, or too many candidates to look at.
Yep, there's nothing more deflating than working out a sequence x moves deep only to find one's missed that one's opponent has mate in one...
7.  jarrasch
NeighborhoodChampion
01 Jan '16 16:40
hi UserChevy, hi folks,

how did you develop such depth?
for you 8-10 moves or is low, for me it is a goal yet to be achieved

Eladar says practice endgames, krudave says Reinfeld's 1001 books.
Any more specific tips?
krudave, did you study any other tactics chess workbooks before the 1001 books?

thanks and happy New Year!
8. 01 Jan '16 23:57
Endgame study helps visualisation a lot.
Take a good endgame book.
Put a positin on the board.
Read the analysis of the position in your mind(without moving the pieces) or at least try.
Then play the moves without looking the book.
If you were able to see the position clearly you will also be able to remember the moves.
Reset the position and reread the analysis again without playing the moves.
Do it with the same position 3 or 4 times then move on to the next position.
It's tough at start , eventually becomes easier.
Back then whe I was a kid I was able to play blind chess against 3 opponents after 6 months of intense training(I lost from all 3 but in good games with no blunders which was for me a great achievement).
But I need to note something here.
Visualising clearly the position after 10(or more) moves doesn't mean you are able to find the strongest moves.Visualising the position and understanding the position are 2 totally different things.So don't expect that better visualisation will make you better player because you will be dissapoinrted.
In fact visualisation and the ability to find good moves are 2 very different abilities.The ability to find good moves has to do mainly with your ability to exclude what is not important and analyse what is important since it's impossible to analyse everything.And your ability to exclude what is not important has to do with your understanding of the specific position.
Many times we are surprised when grandmasters do mistakes that only a beginner would do but that is explained.In a position he doesn't understand , a grandmaster might probably try to analyse everything , not knowing what he must exclude and what not.That eventually leads to confusion and that leads to rookie mistakes.
9. 02 Jan '16 02:17
Originally posted by jarrasch

krudave, did you study any other tactics chess workbooks before the 1001 books?

thanks and happy New Year!
Hey Happy New Year buddy!

To answer your question, yeah I think I must have read quite a few over the years. Seirawan's "Winning Chess Tactics" is a good one if you still need to learn the names of the basic tactics--forks, skewers, etc., but I think a motivated beginner should be able to jump right in on the 1001 books.

And don't be intimidated by the 10 moves thing. That's only possible on forced sequences, like checkmates. IMO you can get to 2000 or so just by staying on top of all the 3 move tactics, and by being consistently alert.
10. 03 Jan '16 13:45
Originally posted by jarrasch
how did you develop such depth?
for you 8-10 moves or is low, for me it is a goal yet to be achieved
It's easier when the moves are forced. When you know that on move 5, the pieces must be here, here and there, you can also tell that move 6A loses the queen, 6B mates in one, and therefore move 6C is the only alternative; and therefore you now know that on move 6, the pieces must be here, there, and thotherplace.
The problems start when your opponent proves that no, actually, they mustn't...
11. 05 Jan '16 20:21
Originally posted by jarrasch
hi UserChevy, hi folks,

how did you develop such depth?
for you 8-10 moves or is low, for me it is a goal yet to be achieved

Eladar says practice endgames, krudave says Reinfeld's 1001 books.
Any more specific tips?
krudave, did you study any other tactics chess workbooks before the 1001 books?

thanks and happy New Year!
Hi Jarrasch. Have a look at Dan Heisman's chess book recommendations page for suggestions on tactic sets. Helpfully reviewed by the empirical rabbit (just google rabbit chess tactics). I have used Bain, Woolum and Seirawan and found them all pretty good.
12. 28 Jan '16 12:57 / 1 edit
Originally posted by DeepThought
Kotov's suggestion was to take positions from newspapers which had been analysed, not look at the analysis, and calculate the variations writing them down. One then compares one's analysis with the grandmaster analysis from the paper. He was writing before chess engines were any use, so positions with GM analysis are no longer essential (although it he ...[text shortened]... bine this with Eladar's suggestion about end games and try to calculate some end game positions.
Sorry for just getting back to this thread, and thank you for the suggestions!

DeepThought, I actually am reading through "Think Like a Grandmaster" by Kotov right now and just last night read his take on seeing variations, which is just as you described. This seems to me to be a great way to go, as I relate to his though process and how his chess game was as he went through these exercises.

That being said, my knowledge of the online chess world isn't really that good, so does anyone know of a good database of GM games to study?

For the record, I am also reading through "Basic Chess Endings" by Reuben Fine, which has been very helpful as well.
13. 28 Jan '16 14:26
Hi User Chevy,

"Think Like a Grandmaster" may or not work for you.

I know players that say it's great, others who openly say it's no good.

There is one good piece of advice I do recall. When you analyse a possible
sacrifice but cannot fathom out all the moves or judge the final position.

You spend ages on it when suddenly realise you are drifting into time trouble,
reject it and flick out another move after 10 seconds thought.

It's called 'The Kotov Syndrome' and is now an established Chess term.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_chess

Here it refers to no finding a plan, but I have seen and been guilty of it in
tactical situations.

Also seeing 7-8 move ahead (is that ½ moves, in reality 4 moves, or the full 8 moves.)
that is not too bad. But as suggested earlier master the two move trick and you will get up to 2200.

OTB on longer combinations players often do it stages in. I do.
Weaker players won't sac because they cannot see the final mate.
Stronger will sac because they know/feel the mate must be there
and that 'gift' can only come with play or study.

The famous game Botvinnik - Capablanca, Avro 1938.

here Botvinnik to play.

Botvinnik played 30.Ba3!! and everyone went crazy over the length of the combination.
They still do calling it a wonderful deep piece of calculation.

But Botvinnik wrote:

"The beginning of a 12-move combination, including the following winning manoeuvre.
I must admit that I could not calculate it right to the end and operated in two stages.

First I evaluated the position after six moves and convinced myself that I had a draw by
perpetual check. Then after the first six moves I calculated the rest to the end. A chess
player's resources, particularly at the end of a game, are limited"

One of the most honest and beneficial notes to a game in chess history.

The visualisation in endgames (no help at all to tactical middle games unless
it a tactical swap off to a clear won ending) refers to positions like this.

No need to calculate as white here, you can see the final position.
It will end something like this.

That is you seeing approx. 30 moves ahead.

Here I am reminded of the guy who goes into an optician and says
he cannot see things far away.

The optician takes him outside and points to the sky.

"That is the Sun." he replied.

"So how far do want to see?"
14. 30 Jan '16 05:39
Originally posted by greenpawn34
Hi User Chevy,

"Think Like a Grandmaster" may or not work for you.

I know players that say it's great, others who openly say it's no good.

There is one good piece of advice I do recall. When you analyse a possible
sacrifice but cannot fathom out all the moves or judge the final position.

You spend ages on it when suddenly realise you are d ...[text shortened]... t's that?" the optician asks.

"That is the Sun." he replied.

"So how far do want to see?"
Also great advice, thank you! Good insight into breaking down variations and making it manageable. I think if I had organization and consistency in looking at sequences it would help a lot. Still want to try Kotov's method, as well, as much to try something new and change up my prep as anything. Seems necessary to break out of a plateau.
15. 31 Jan '16 00:17
I saw a youtube video with Karpov talking through his games. None of the comments were more than about 3 deep but then he would conclude that the reached position was better. That was the real key, understanding beyond tactics that a position is naturally better. If I could do that my grade would be.....

But actually in the video you sort of knew it was. I suspect many of us get distracted by a plan rather than playing the best move.