Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

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Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by Blue Devil Knight on April 16th 2009, 12:40 am

Just finished the manuscript 'Positional Evaluation 1.' It is OK, not great. There is tons of overlap among this, Evaluation of positions with material equality (PME), and Making Decisions in Chess (MDC). All three, essentially, tell you how to evaluate a position using King safety, pawn structure, and such. They all have different emphases. At some point I'd like to write up a summary of all three!

One thing I liked in this article was item 5.10. The method of evaluating a position by going piece-by-piece, doing a direct comparison, is very cool. Someone once did that with a position for me when I was confused. It really helped simplify the evaluation process. Of course, a bunch of individually good pieces isn't necessarily winning. Someone could have individually mediocre pieces that magically coordinate to create a masterpiece ('Collaboration between pieces' is Item 5.4).

At any rate, now that I've worked through the positional theory side of things in the first Month, I am impressed. I not only learned some new stuff, but stuff I thought I knew they are presenting in a different context.
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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by Bilbo on May 8th 2009, 7:40 am

I like all three lectures. Actually PME differs from the others and its not actually positions of material equality but rather positions of material eqiuvilance, an important disctinction, where the material count is the same, but the pieces on each side are different, maybe one side has three pawns for a knight for example. So those notes are specifically for materially imbalanced games.

The Positional Evalution lecture is as I said in a previous post the outline for the entire course. Basically this course is all about how to evaluate and analyse a chess position. Months 2 - 13 are about going through every aspect of the Positional Evalution material, starting with king safety, then then center, then the pieces, then pawns etc.

Finally the making decisions in chess lecture ties it all together and shows us the purpose of a proper evalution of a chess position, namely to use that evaluation as a basis for analysis of what our plans and moves should be in the game.

I don't think there is any overlap all three have different emphasis but maybe the Romanians don't structure things as well as they should.

But the positional evaluation lecutre is an outline of everything we will now be studying in this course and we will become intimately acquainted with every aspect of it in time, and then use that evaluation to make our decisions on what needs to be done in any given position.

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 8th 2009, 8:32 am

Bilbo, it will be interesting to see the ideas fill out in the coming months.

There is definitely a lot of overlap in the three docs that discuss positional evaluation. I documented this in some detail in my synopsis of the first month material here (e.g., all three position evaluation documents talk about the importance of King Safety). But each one does have a different focus, with PME putatively focused on positions that are equal in the "pawn count" sense, but still differ in quality and types of pieces on the board. Positions of material equivalence, as defined in the PME doc, are but a special case of quantitative identity but qualitative differences in positoins, as discussed in the article Making Decisions in Chess (another example of the overlap/complementarity among the articles in month 1).

I wonder if, in later months, if they talk about when a pawn isn't really worth a pawn. Smile E.g., center pawns are worth more than flank pawns. The curriculum includes tons of stuff on the center and pawn structure, so it seems likely. Kaufmann, in his classic article on material imbalances, because of the malleable value of pawns, and ultimately translates material imbalances into what could be a more objective counting system: rating points. E.g., the rating value of a pawn is about 200. So if you are playing someone rated 400 points lower than you, if you give them two pawn odds it should be a more fair fight. Smile

I wonder what is the rating value of having a stable Knight on a good forepost? cheers

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by Bilbo on May 8th 2009, 8:47 am

lol it certainly is complicated that's for sure. I've got a couple of hours today to really get into the final tests from Month 1, hoping to actually start Month 2 next Monday.

Month 3 got loaded into my account this morning so I've asked for if I can postpone Month 4 for a couple months as already I'm feeling overwhelmed!

I've got high hopes for Month 2 though. I really think if I knew exactly how, where and when to attack the king, and when to know mine is in danger that would would have prevented at least four of my nine losses this season. If I knew and understood all the different types of pawn center I would have have had a solid plan of action for every game I played and I think this would have made a difference in the other five games so my logical conlusion is that with the knowledge of all the material in month 2 I shouldn't lose a game in next season unless I have to step up several hundred elo points.

That's my assessment anyway Laughing

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 8th 2009, 10:24 am

I need to do three tests still. I've only done the preliminary exam. I started the "TO DO" list test last night.

I have a tournament tomorrow, though (three G/75 games), so I will focus mostly on getting a good night's sleep tonight. There is a chance I won't be able to go to the tournament, due to crazy work stuff, but I sure hope I can go!

As I said, my goal is to reach 1400 USCF by next april. Right now I'm 1060. I suck so bad it isn't funny, even though I am good at understanding the theory, I am bad at applying it, using it, turning it into skill.

Plus, tactics. Tactics, tactics, tactics!!!! Most of my games are won/lost due to elementary tactics, so I do about 10 or so tactics problems a day in addition to ICS.

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by hoopy on May 8th 2009, 2:56 pm

Blue Devil Knight wrote:I need to do three tests still. I've only done the preliminary exam. I started the "TO DO" list test last night.

I have a tournament tomorrow, though (three G/75 games), so I will focus mostly on getting a good night's sleep tonight. There is a chance I won't be able to go to the tournament, due to crazy work stuff, but I sure hope I can go!

As I said, my goal is to reach 1400 USCF by next april. Right now I'm 1060. I suck so bad it isn't funny, even though I am good at understanding the theory, I am bad at applying it, using it, turning it into skill.

Plus, tactics. Tactics, tactics, tactics!!!! Most of my games are won/lost due to elementary tactics, so I do about 10 or so tactics problems a day in addition to ICS.

At the risk of being unpopular especially given your excellent contributions to the forum. At 1060 USCF (960 ELO?). Is this really the right material for you? You point out the tactics issue. I reckon that a more rapid improvement would come form doing lots (not 10 or so) tactics maybe 30-40 per day. I used a book called "Winning tactics for Juniors" & I still know 2000+ players who use this for pre match warm ups. The idea is to solve in less than 30 seconds. I am certainly not dismissing the course - anything but. But I believe without a good level of tactics then you will not be able to fully utilize the course and may become frustrated. Obviously a personal opinion but I would rather see us improve than spend money on material we can't fully utilize. Any alternative views?
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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 8th 2009, 3:12 pm

Hoopy: I've done the seven circles of tactics (check out my blog). Tactics was all I focused on for a year and a half, to bring me from total beginner to crappy club player. I still do at least ten problems a day, incidentally, sometimes a lot more. Just working on tactics, though, is a bit narrow.

As for ICS, so far it hasn't been too advanced or hard to understand, and it has helped my play so I will stick with it. I want to learn some strategy, and this is a great way to do it. I need to work on thought process. ICS seems good for that. I need to work on visualization and analysis. Again, ICS is good for that. These are things I should be improving in addition to tactics.

More important than ICS, more important than tactical puzzles from books or software, is playing slow games and doing good postmortems with a coach. Making sure I understand the tactics therein etc. I'm starting to do that as well.

Of course tactics are important, but I'm not convinced doing a bunch of tactical puzzles is the best way, or even a particularly good way, to improve at tactics. And I say that as a Knights Errant graduate!

At any rate, I don't want the thread to become about me, and whether I should be doing ICS, so let's not. It's about the material and what it means, how we can use it. If you worry about me, don't. Look at it as an experiment in someone going in over his head. We'll see in a year how I do, if I decide to stick with it. If my coach tells me to stop, I'll stop.


Last edited by Blue Devil Knight on May 8th 2009, 3:26 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by hoopy on May 8th 2009, 3:26 pm

Blue Devil Knight wrote:Hoopy: I've done the seven circles of tactics (check out my blog). Tactics was all I focused on for a year and a half, to bring me from total beginner to crappy club player. I still do at least ten problems a day, incidentally, sometimes a lot more. Just working on tactics, though, is a bit narrow.

As for ICS, so far it hasn't been too advanced or hard to understand, and it has helped my play so I will stick with it. I want to learn some strategy, and this is a great way to do it. I need to work on thought process. ICS seems good for that. I need to work on visualization and analysis. Again, ICS is good for that.

More important than ICS, more important than tactical puzzles from books or software, is playing slow games and doing good postmortems with a coach. Making sure I understand the tactics therein etc. I'm starting to do that as well.

Of course tactics are important, but I'm not convinced doing a bunch of tactical puzzles is the best way, or even a particularly good way, to improve at tactics. And I say that as a Knights Errant graduate!

At any rate, I don't want the thread to become about me, and whether I should be doing ICS, so let's not. It's about the material and what it means, how we can use it.

Thanks for response. Absolutely no intention to personalise, offend or upset. Totally aimed at all of us using the course or anything else to maximise our game. Absolutely agree that if you've tried the "circles" (which I certainly did not have the patience for) then something else is worth trying.
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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 8th 2009, 3:31 pm

No problems I take it as desire to help me, and you are much better than me after all.

I just want balance, and ICS seems nothing if not balanced. Indeed, this is an experiment brought upon by Nunn's comments on the Circles, in my opinion the most important, and unanswered, critique of the circles, which I discussed here. ICS is like the anti-circles. Smile

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by hoopy on May 8th 2009, 3:37 pm

Thanks. Glad it was taken as intended. Very Happy
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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by chesstiger on May 10th 2009, 1:57 pm

hoopy wrote:At 1060 USCF (960 ELO?). Is this really the right material for you?

Hoopy, dont stare yourself blind at ratings. I know for a fact that BDK knows more about chess then i do. I guess i just have the luck that i am a little bit better then him to put the knowlegde into practise. Because that is what chess is all about, putting knowlegde into practise while playing.
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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by AoxomoxoA on July 3rd 2009, 10:59 am

Blue Devil Knight wrote:Hoopy: I've done the seven circles of tactics (check out my blog). Tactics was all I focused on for a year and a half, to bring me from total beginner to crappy club player. I still do at least ten problems a day, incidentally, sometimes a lot more. Just working on tactics, though, is a bit narrow.

Are you still working with CT-Art or do you use a server? Do you improve in tactics?

I ask because i dont improve in the moment in tactics.

Is there any experience whats better training to improve in tactics:

-Many easy problems as of CTS-Blitz ( temposchlucker )
-Vew complicated Problems like CT-Standard with Hard Problem Set
-Learning a set of problems by Heart ( da la Maza )
-Adaptive Tactics Server
-visualisation training, i think we will do visualisation here so i will see the result soon

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by Bilbo on July 3rd 2009, 11:20 am

I think ultimately what matters is the you take efforts to study, and most importantly you enjoy the process. Even if the ICS is a litle over your head (I mean anybody not just BDK) if you enjoy studying it and it brings you satisfaction and entertainment that is ultimately what chess is all about.

I do have to say though I can't praise Artur Yusupov's Build Up Your Chess enough. I'm working through chapter 3 now on basic opening principles and its just great. I really think the material could help you especially BDK because its all about the important techincal aspects of chess that studying tactics and studying ICS positional stuff don't cover.

I really feel knowing the basic mates now that I got from chapter's 1 & 2 will be of tremendous practical value to me for example.

It's definitely a workbook to consider imo, slightly less advanced than the ICS stuff (although still pretty tough) and incredibly practical.

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by Bilbo on July 3rd 2009, 11:31 am

AoxomoxoA ironically one of the best ways to improve your tactical play is to study strategy and thought process outlined in Month 1 on the ICS course.

If you are constantly asking yourself after every move of your opponent how his last move effects the position, what threats he has made, what advantages he has gaines, and crucially what has he given up, and then store that infomation for future use you're tactical ability increases greatly because you are constantly noticing changes the position and are aware of what is happening.

An awful lot of tactics is pattern recognition too. For example study Daniel Kings Powerplay 1 DVD on mating methods and with just a couple hours study you'll be able to tell at a glance if the famous Greek Gift Sacrifice will work in your current game and how you should follow up should your opponent accept the sacrifce and then march his king in front of his pawns to refute the sac. Eg. do you play Q.d3 Qg4 or h4 in such a positon to continue the attack.

Once you know the patters you can calculate these seemingly complicated positions in a few seconds.

Also being familiar with Damiano's mate if you can get a pawn to g6 and open the h file you can instantly tell if the king is on g8 that you can sack a rook or even two with h8+ forcing the king to recapture so you can check with you queen on the h file and then play Qh7 mate.

Lolli's mate is similar just march a pawn to f6, get the queen to h5 and if you can get a knight to g5 you can sack the queen with Qg7+ and after the rook recaptures play Nf7 mate.

Once you know the basic mating ideas and positional features that typically lead to tactics you can play great moves with little real effort, it's learning the patterns and motif's in the first place, rather than Herculean concentration and calculation over the board.

Another reason why humans don't necessarily play the 'best' computer moves. They want positions that are familiar to them so they have an intuition of any tactical resources that might arise in the postion.

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by AoxomoxoA on July 3rd 2009, 3:19 pm

Bilbo wrote:AoxomoxoA ironically one of the best ways to improve your tactical play is to study strategy and thought process outlined in Month 1 on the ICS course.

I am talking about tactic on tactic-servers or CT-ART not OTB games. these are plain problems, usually no move from your oponent. i have at CT a rating of 2100 +- in standard ( Better than: 96.88% of the members there ). I solved there 8000+ problems and on other servers several (ten)thousands more. so Damiano's mate is not helping any more :-(. Blue Devil Knight and chesstiger as a "de la maza" fan ( more or less;-) are spezialist in tacticstraining. as a Knight they might had read something how to break such a wall in improvement. The powerplay DVDs look very interesting, but i have already a lot of software of analoge type ( convekta Total Training + chessimo + ... ). these DVDs have to wait till after ICS

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by PythonChess on January 11th 2010, 2:01 pm

I am a new subscriber rated 2030 FIDE and I am at Month 1. I am a little confused by how to use the two lessons "Making Decisions in Chess" and "Positional Evaluation". They seem to offer two different algorithms for coming up with a plan.

When exactly do you use the process outlined in the "Making Decisions in Chess" lesson and when do you use the process in the "Positional Evaluation" lesson?

Anyone got a clear idea of this?

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by HangingKing on January 11th 2010, 3:02 pm

As we already told before, in month 1, there are lessons written by different authors of the ics team on the same subject, so there is overlap between the pdf files with slightly different ideas.

While "positionnal evaluation" is a bit general and present the basinc concepts, "making decisions" is more detailled.
In month 1 & 2 a lot of general concepts are presented, without apparent consistency, but it will be more structured the following months.

Basically what you have to retain from month 1 is :
- making of your todolist
- evaluation of the consequences of any move

And all the other material, including the games and exercises, are there to give you insights about how to do it. So just pick up all the ideas and try to go forward.
Clearly the goal of this month is to push you out of your playing routine, by showing you that there is many thing to take into consideration when playing.

The next months will cover in detail each feature one by one.
So don't take these 2 documents as a straight method, it's more informal than that in my opinion.
Just try to remember that there are all the different elements (center, space, safety, mobility, strongness, weakness, checks, developpement, etc...) to consider when making a move.

The aim of the lesson, is to force you to play slow games, and get rid of any impulsive play.

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by PythonChess on January 11th 2010, 7:43 pm

Ok thanks, fair enough. That is a helpful answer.

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by Blue Devil Knight on January 12th 2010, 3:33 pm

Yes, I wouldn't wait for a grand synthesis. In month one you will get a shotgun of ideas from various angles, and then they will slowly be fleshed out in pieces sometimes great detail in later months. Hence, I wouldn't worry too much about every detail in month one, but a more bird's eye view is all they are giving.

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by PythonChess on January 12th 2010, 3:41 pm

I actually wrote them to ask the same thing and this is the answer I got:

Making Decissions in Chess" is a first lesson that tries to teach in just some pages what we should think at during the game. Positional Evaluation is an exhaustive index of chess strategy that we will follow in the next months of the course in order to teach in detail all the elements of strategy.

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by Bilbo on January 18th 2010, 5:05 pm

The Positional Evalution sheet is basically an overview of the first nine months study. Making Decisions in chess is the thought process you need to then use the positional knowledge you have gained to find the correct move, i.e analysis.

The way I look at it is this.

Positional Evalution, overview of the first 9 months of the course. 1-9

Making Decisions in Chess, the thinking process necessary for effective analysis as covered in the final four months of the course 10-13.

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by PawnCustodian on August 10th 2010, 10:20 am

PythonChess wrote:I actually wrote them to ask the same thing and this is the answer I got:

Making Decissions in Chess" is a first lesson that tries to teach in just some pages what we should think at during the game. Positional Evaluation is an exhaustive index of chess strategy that we will follow in the next months of the course in order to teach in detail all the elements of strategy.

This is helpful, it is very confusing without this clarification.

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Re: Theory: Positional Evaluation 1

Post by BorgQueen on August 10th 2010, 7:43 pm

Yes, it's a pity that they don't reveal this in the month one content, it would save a great deal of confusion.

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