Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

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Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 20th 2009, 1:23 am

I'm up to problem seven. The first five or so were do-able, but then they got very hard for me.

One thing I noticed is that these CSQ problems are much harder than TO DO list problems. Coming up with To Do lists is fairly easy--it is the land of make-believe, of what happens in an ideal world, of what my goals are. I'm not great at that, but decent enough.

Unlike To Do lists, thinking of consequences brings us back down to earth, to the concrete. Basically, figuring out the consequences of a move assumes two things. First, before that move you had a decent understanding of the position (a decent evaluation). Then, upon the move, we have to consider how the evaluation has changed. Aside from threats (the most important thing to look for, always), what has changed in terms of the qualitative value of the pieces, pawn structure, King safety, and the elementary interactions among pieces (from the Tactics I worksheet).

But then, once I figure out such things, and what the point of the opponent's move was, then it is time to actually do the real work of coming up with candidate moves. This is a lot of work!

One nice thing about real games compared to these exercises is that the exercises you have to look at everything fresh, completely evaluate a new position. Then, you are able to evaluate the consequences of a move (i.e., how it changes the evaluation of a position). On the other hand, in a real game you have ideally been considering consequences and evaluating the position after every move. Hence, it really is simply a matter of evaluating what has changed since the previous evaluation.

In other words, these exercises are tough. Starting with exercise six, I have been spending about 20 minutes per exercise. I wanted to do three a day, but I am lucky to really do two well. I really want to finish Month One and move on, so I will finish the exercises this weekend.

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Bilbo on May 20th 2009, 5:31 pm

I thinks its good you are taking your time BDK. It's far better to really study and travail over the material than just having a quick go and then looking at the answers.

At the end of the days its not how quickly you get through the programme but how well you understand it that counts.

I'm on the Consequences module as well, but been really busy the past couple weeks. Hopefully over the next day or two I can sit down and have a go.

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 25th 2009, 10:13 am

Nobody has talked about how they do these problems. How much time did others spend per problem? (after the first five, which were relatively easy).

Some of these problems would take me probably four hours of work to really understand thoroughly. How fast did other people work on each problem? I set them up over the board and think for up to 20 minutes, then write out my "answer." Then I go over the actual solution.

What I just realized last night is that I am not spending enough time going over the solution (especially when I got it wrong). I should be spending at least as much time thinking about, and working through the solution, as I do thinking about the problem.

This is especially the case when I got the answer wrong. If I just quickly look over the solution, and don't think thoroughly about it, one danger is that I will actually remember the wrong answer for it in the future. I'll recognize the problem, but not the right way to play. This is a common occurrence for people working on sets of tactical problems. Almost by definition, that is useless.

Luckily I designed a method for such things, that I think would actually work great here, that I call 'FOVEA'. I developed it for learning tactics problems, but I think it would work just as well (well with a minor modification in one step) for these more strategy-based problems:
http://chessconfessions.blogspot.com/2007/08/are-you-part-of-problem-or-part-of.html

The main difference between the tactics and these problems is I will spend around 20 minutes on these problems.

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 26th 2009, 12:34 am

Since I started using my new method for solving these problems, it has gone much faster.

One nice thing is I have narrowed my analysis down to just the question asked: what are the consequences of this move? This is usually very simple, some combination of:
a. Square/piece is attacked
b. Square/piece gains a defender
c. Square/piece lost a defender
d. Diagonal, rank, or file has been opened
e. Diagonal, rank, or file has been closed

Really, these are all in terms of the elementary types of material contacts discussed in the article on tactics. Typically, the problems involve case c (losing a defender) and you have to figure out how to exploit this fact. Often it isn't easy or simple: you need to make two threats simultaneously to really push the moves through.

I am starting to really like these problems, but it took me a while to get the hang of it.

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 26th 2009, 12:49 am

Note Heisman has some stuff on examining consequences in his article 'A Generic Thought Process':
I look at my opponent’s move and ask, “What does that move
do?”, “How does it change the position?”, “What can he do
now that he could not do before?”, “What can he no longer do
that he could have done before?”, and “How did his move meet
the threats I made last move?” In a sense these are all part of
the single question as to how my opponent’s move has changed
the situation.

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by hoopy on May 26th 2009, 12:26 pm

A lot of good advice from BDK on this page & I do a similar approach when doing problems. The question I have is how many of us have the discipline (time?) to do this properly in a real game ( especially if we are unsure of a clear benefit from investing in the time oneach move)? I believe this application of the learnings is likely to be the most difficult part of the course for us. Memorising theory I am sure we can all do...but disciplining ourselves to apply it appropriately I don't know. Hopefully that will come in the last couple of months of the course. How do others apply the "I know there is a solution to the problem so I will find it" versus the "I need to make a move because it is my turn" reality over the board?
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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 26th 2009, 12:55 pm

Good point Hoopy. One reason I like these problems, thinking in terms of consequences tends to reveal ideas (tactical and positional), making the preconditions for a tactic more plain.

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Bilbo on May 27th 2009, 3:24 am

I've spent much of the past couple days tackling these questions. Currently I've worked my way up to Problem 15.

I have to say I probably don't work as hard at the solutions as you do BDK. I generally will look at the position for a few minutes and try and isolate the key features of the position and focus on getting correct the general theme rather than concrete variations.

So far I have in every case been able to correctly predict the consequences of the opponents previous move and understand the general aims and goals I should now follow.

Of course I get the specifics wrong, my calculations are either wrong or else I simply don't know how to continue but as long as I understand the consequence I feel I have suceeded and then move on to the solution.

For example if I recognise that a pawn exchange has left a certain square on the kingside weak and that I should be figuring out a way to move my queen onto that square then for me that is enough. I don't waste hours trying to calculate (and probably still failing) concrete lines as to how I can achieve this as at this stage of the course I simply do not have the positional understanding and technique knowledge to work it out.

I want to move on to the second month and still be enthused about the course, I don't want to spend an hour or more on each single exercise in just the first month!

Also I never set up positions on a real board, for me its far too slow and draining. I set them up in Fritz and save all my work in a specially created Chessbase 10 Database where I fill include all the ICS annotations.

I also label each problem according to its theme, for example, weak light square complex, removing a defender from a key position, responding to a threat via counter attack etc.

I will review all of the problems regularly as I think these are very instructive little essays regarding more advanced topics than I currently pay attention to in my own games, over controlling a key central square etc.

In response to Hoopy asking how this can be applied to our actual games, just give it time. Right now it's a real headache to try and work this stuff out as its not natural to us. It takes ages and even then we are pretty poor (most of us will be I guess).

But as we get used to it the whole process will become more intuitive and easier and we will take only seconds to see what took us several minutes before.

Remember learning to read? How as a child we would struggle with each letter of a word and slowly try and make sense of how it sounded?

Now as adults most of us can probably skim through dozens of pages of advanced material in under an hour without paying any attention at all to trying to understand, its the same with spoken language. We are so fluent in our native tongues that we can speak whole sentances before we have even thought them.

I'm not confident that my advance mid thirties age I will ever be that proficient at chess but I do expect a several hundred percent increase over the next few years regarding how quickly and intuitively I can analyse a position and assess the appropriate plan to follow.

Anyway back on to Problem 15, I want to get these finished today!

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 27th 2009, 9:15 am

Bilbo: I think that is a fairly sane approach. I've been getting more out of them by spending a more balanced amount of time on solution as opposed to just the problem. Also, it has forced me to spend less time working through concrete variations, more time just going for finding consequences.

As for setting it up over a board, that is a matter of taste and goals. My goal is to improve my performance at in-person tournaments. I find that I simply do worse in tournaments if I do too much work on computers. However, if my main goal were to improve at ICC it wouldn't matter.

As for the idea that we should start with the alphabet, I think there is something to that. There are clearly a lot of analogies betwen learning chess and learning a language. On the other hand, often it helps to learn things that are a little more complex than what I presently could find in my own games. Once you get a minimal proficiency, the best way to learn a language is immersion, and sometimes you are a little over your head.

That said, my problem hasn't been understanding as much as the thought that 'Damn, there is no way I would have found this continuation in a real game.' By focusing a little less on details, a little more on ideas, I have been right more often. OTOH, in real games it is continuations we have to find.

I'm on problem 16, and after these problems will do the annotated game problem set (not even sure what that is), and then on to month 2!!!

My big worry now is that I am not playing enough. Perhaps as I do this course, each month there will be an ebb and flow of playing when I am working on the theory part of the course, and less playing when I am working on the problems part of the course. (That could pose problems when we start the 'analysis' problem sets in month 9!). So I need to set two days a week to actually play slow games. One weekend day, and one weekday. Tonight is one of my weekday games.

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Bilbo on May 27th 2009, 9:26 am

I'm not sure if I asked this before but do you play in a club BDK?

I play at the Teignmouth club in Devon in the UK. Started in September and had a pretty good first season.

We are just about to start the annual club summer tournament next Tuesday and with the British Championships in Torquay in July I've got plenty of OTB games coming up.

I should find out my first year grade in a couple days, I think they put them up on the 1st of June.

I have no idea what it will be as I don't know how to calculate it but I'm hoping for just under 100 ECF which will allow me to enter the Minor Tournaments for another year. I don't feel quite ready to jump to the Intermediates just yet.

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 27th 2009, 9:37 am

Bilbo: some people get together to play at a local coffee shop but there aren't really any formal true chess clubs in my area. I used to go, but people just want to play blitz, so I'm taking a break from it now as I build my chess muscles. Smile I still play some blitz online to help build up some stats about how people respond to my opening.

I may start playing with someone I know from the coffee shop to do a couple of slow games a week. That would be cool.

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 27th 2009, 10:04 am

Note while it is possible to do the problems just focusing on whether you got the CQS right, the actual problems almost all tell you to find the right continuation, or to find variations. And as I check them on Fritz, there is typically a single best answer (which makes them a little unusual).

Rowson convinced me that while ideas are important, concrete is more important. His caveats about some of the ideas and thinking models in his book seem to apply equally well here:
[T]hinking of such models explicitly while your clock is ticking will generally do more harm than good. Anything other than the images of moves and variations is likely to be unhelpful noise in your head that will lead you to create narratives based on applying the model to the position. This awkward predicament leads you to try to fit the position to what is in your head, rather than allowing you to concentrate on the position and enjoy the experience of playing...[Y]ou will gain more from the material in this chapter if you allow it to 'seep in' subtly and quietly, rather than using it as some kind of checklist during your games.

Here are some other Rowson quotes that inspire me toward the concrete rather than the theoretical, and frankly it is Rowson that made me wish to join the ICS because they focus so much on analysis:
To improve at chess you don't need more book knowledge. Such knowledge often interferes with your performance by blinding you to the position in front of you. What you need is skill, and one way to improve your chess skills is to analyze complicated positions with intense focus for approximately 20 minutes.

And from Davies:

It really doesn’t matter what you study, the important thing is to use this as a training ground for thinking rather than trying to assimilate a mind-numbing amount of information. In these days of a zillion different chess products this message seems to be quite lost, and indeed most people seem to want books that tell them what to do. The reality is that you’ve got to move the pieces around the board and play with the position. Who does that? Amateurs don’t, GMs do.

Hence, you can see why I think it is important to focus on the concrete, on actual variations, in addition to the ideas involved.

On the other hand, for those of us below 2000, ideas and rules are actually more important than for those above, those who have understood the rules so well that they are more equipped to transcend them and play rule independently. In other words, I don't want to give the impression that I think Rowson's advice is sacrosanct or applies to everyone. However, because for me personally, so much of my chess training has been focused on knowledge and ideas rather than skill and ability, as I work through ICS I am trying to reverse that trend, especially with the problem sets.

That said, I had to limit myself to 20 minutes per ICS problem in month 1 as otherwise I was getting too bogged down. Even Rowson admits it is hard to let go of rules/narratives and just "do chess":
To reduce the role of words in your thinking during play, you need to practice thinking about positions with as few prejudices as possible and observe your thoughts closely to watch for the pseudo-explanatory verbal 'solutions.' This can be quite a scary experience. Glimpsing 'the abysmal depths of chess' is highly worthwhile when done in moderation. If you can manage it, and if it doesn't put you off chess completely, it should help you to start building resistance against one of the main habits of mind that prevents you from improving.

I think the key is "moderation" and by trying to do this for every problem there were bad things happening. First, I started to get burnt out. Second, I was missing the forest for the trees in the context of ICS (where they want us to get the ideas right and then we'll start doing Rowsonalysis in month 9). There will be plenty of time for Rowsonalysis in Month 9. Smile

My summary of Rowson's book starts here:
http://chessconfessions.blogspot.com/2008/09/chess-for-zebras-chapter-one-skill.html

I am not done yet, am presently about to finish summarizing chapter 7. Right now other things have taken priority. Smile

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Bilbo on May 27th 2009, 10:20 am

I agree with you in the long term BDK but Month 1 is just an overview of the course.

The remaining 12 months are all about telling us how to evaluate a position correctly (Months 2-9) and then how to make concrete use of that analysis in recognising move consequences and creating To Do Lists (Months 10-13).

As I've currently been trained in neither positional understanding or how to perform concrete analysis I don't want to waste my time and bang my head against a wall trying to work things out without the understanding and knowledge required to do so.

It's like your first driving lesson. The instructor will familiarise you with the mechanics of driving, the clutch, gears etc and you'll get a chance to have a little drive. But you won't be expected to pick it up straight away, but rather just drive slowly down a couple of roads and maybe make a turn or two.

This month I just want to make sure I understand the basic method. Look for consequences to each of my opponents moves, try and assess the position according to the theoretical lectures provided and then use that analysis to try and determine the basic plan of what needs to be done in the position at that moment.

Just leave the detail and specifics for later in the course. Smile

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 27th 2009, 11:19 am

Bilbo: hmmm. That seems fishy....they likely include the problems for a reason! Smile

Problem 16 just kicked my ass. One problem I have is getting too focused on the local consequences of a move, not how its local consequences have implications for the broader position. Problem 16 is a great one for showing that problem up, as there is a lot of actoin away from the local pawn move that you have to consider, chains of consequences that can become somewhat distant and indirect.

I got that one almost totally wrong, didn't get close to the main idea (which I will not give away for those working on it still). The thing is, I would have seen the idea more likely in a real game if I weren't just solving these 'consequences' problems! The previous two problems I found somewhat easier, and was able to solve them by focusing on more local consequences. Problem 16 is great to break that habit!!!

I have a hunch I am going to play worse before I play better, as I incorporate some of this into my game in a natural way.

OK, new rule. I am only allowed to come to this forum three times a day. Once in the morning. Once at lunch. Once in the evening. I spend time here I should be spending either at work or working through ICS!!!

study What a Face study

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Bilbo on May 28th 2009, 7:52 am

SPOILER FOR 15 SO DONT READ IF YOU HAVNT SOLVED IT YET!

I really enjoyed problem 15. I got straight away the importance of the bishop and queen being away from defence of the king and the queen ability to mate, but my own lines didn't involve b3 so although I found ways to win a pawn at least I couldn't nail down a win.

The b3 move was obvious once I'd seen the solution as I was banging my head for ways of removing the bishop so I could deliver mate on f7. I was hoping for ways to fork it with a check or something Rolling Eyes

Anyway onto problem 16 now, you have me intrigued by that one.

One thing I've enjoyed about all these problems is that even though I havn't been able to solve them in terms of concrete calculations I am at least grasping what the specific consequences of the opponents previous moves have been and what I need to do to take advantage. As we have another 12 months of training in these specifics I'm extremely confident that by the end of the course these type of tests will be relatively easy and certainly we will be capable of solving these type problems over the board which would lead to a massive chess rating increase.

I also find the solutions once explained to be immediately clear and well explained.

I actuall won a great game on playchess last night where I came from behind to win using some of the very themes learned from these test positions including an (for my level) excellent undefended bishop attack on my opponents queen where he couldnt take the bishop because it would leave his king exposed to a mating attack. It was a great move that allowed me to keep the initiative and eventually get a winning position, very similar theme to Problem 13 which was still fresh in my mind.

Of course I made errors in calculation in my game but that's to be expected. What was important was that I was learning new ideas and didn't liquidate when my bishop was attacked because I saw a way to keep my pressure up that my opponent overlooked.

I will post them game up later on when I work out how to do so.

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 28th 2009, 8:55 am

PROBLEM 15 SPOILER ALERT

For problem 15 I did the check first instead of b3 first (that is, I greedily grabbed the pawn with tempo). My move game black too much counterplay. The right move b3 is a pretty one that quietly takes away black counterplay before going on the attack.

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Chess? on May 28th 2009, 11:20 pm

Hey Bilbo, good for you! It's nice to see all this work does work.
I play on playchess as well! I may not be at your level, but I am up for a game or two. Drop me an email if you would like to play. fmcejb@gmail.com

Cheers,
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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Bilbo on May 29th 2009, 10:27 am

Thanks Chess I'm definitely feeling much stronger now. My last 15 games on Playchess have given me 14 wins and one draw! To be fair I should have lost a few of those but I found some tactical shots to get back into the games but I'm really feeling so much sharper now.

In addition to the ICS stuff I've been watching a few chessbase training dvd's as well and I think the combination is having a big effect on my play.

My current targets are to get over 1600 on playchess blitz and 1800 on slow play.

Not sure why blitz is weaker but it is true of virtually every other player on playchess.com, I guess because the real chess pro's only use blitz so some tremendously strong players in that compared to slow chess?

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Bilbo on May 29th 2009, 1:18 pm

BDK I too got problem 16 completely wrong!

What's annoying is that it is completely obvious when they explain it but the they really threw me by asking us why g4 would be a better move than the actual move played.

It meant I was instinctively looking on the black's kingside for the action with maybe a forced attack for white that gained material with mate threats and I just completely missed what was bad about the original move and controling the center!

I loved the example though because its so much the kind of thing that can happen in a real game, you get preoccupied with action on one side of the board, especially when thinking of kingside attacks that you miss a serious counter opportunity for your opponent in the center.

Just two more to do now!

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Derfel on January 18th 2010, 11:35 am

I did problems 1 - 4. Each problem, I spent about 10 minutes. On problem 3, I spent around 15 minutes, and still got my analysis and evaluation of the problem wrong.

I basically thought that after giving the check on f7, Black's king starts walking, and I imagined a vivid attack after d4, followed by Ng5+.


Hi. I am new to the forum and to ICS. I currently am a rusty FM who is trying to get back into chess. My chess strength had stagnated at the same level for over 10 years, and I want some serious help in getting my IM norms.

I wonder what I am doing wrong, even as I attempt the problems on the CQS worksheet.

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Tweety on January 23rd 2010, 4:04 pm

I have done the first 8 problems so far, the more difficult was #3, basically happened to me the same as Derfel, I only saw threats to the black king, I thought of the move they give in the solution but I rejected it because the king would go to g8 after the check on g5 and I wrongly thought the rook would have a nasty way out and there I stopped thinking with the evaluation favorable to white. On problem #7 I moved the wrong piece to d5, threating the big guys (king and queen) is something I can't help, it is too tempting!!!!!! although my variation is quite similar to the solution but weaker nevertheless (the ending is more complicated). Let's see what will happen in the second half of the set.
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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by BorgQueen on July 12th 2010, 9:44 am

Sorry, I didn't read the entire topic, but I just wanted to say that when it says "give concrete variations" I am really struggling. I am not good enough at evaluating the positions to correctly interpret what the "perfect lines" are going to be... I'm even struggling to define what concrete variations would be let alone provide them!

Concrete variations? How many?! I mean there could be 5 different candidate moves all of which may have any number of responses, so detailing "concrete variations" just seems to me to be an impossible ask.

Am I missing something?
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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Blue Devil Knight on July 13th 2010, 8:23 am

Concrete variations just means the lines you would consider in a real game situation. So, you wouldn't consider lines where you immediately give up a queen. In a real game situation, it is crucial to think of the future, of what would happen if I were to do x, y, or z.

How many lines, and how deep to analyze, depends on the type of position you are facing. I have written a lot about this topic:
http://chessconfessions.blogspot.com/2007/03/when-and-how-much-to-analyze.html

A couple of pieces on why our analysis of the position should start with a consideration of threats:
http://chessconfessions.blogspot.com/2007/04/analysis-and-heirarchy-of-threats.html
http://chessconfessions.blogspot.com/2007/03/soltis-wisdom-nugget-2.html

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by BorgQueen on July 14th 2010, 10:03 am

Thanks for the links BDK. I will check them out as soon as I can.

Well after going through all the material, I then checked out the solutions for this problem set and I failed miserably.

I listed immediate consequences of the move at hand, such as this square is weaker and that square is attacked and this diagonal is open etc.

While all that was true, the failure is that the consequences evaluation expected was more abstract from the position at hand; it expects you to calculate lines perfectly and then assess what the consequences are for lines.

It would have been better if they had taught more about how to do these problems before throwing them at you.

Did I miss something?
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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

Post by Blue Devil Knight on July 14th 2010, 12:49 pm

Hopefully you now have a better sense of how they think about chess thought. Don't worry, they offer many more details that's sort of the point of the rest of the course is to explain the details that they only hint at in the first month.

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Re: Consequences problem set--these are hard!!!

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