Father Hangin Carlucci's
A Gem just below the surface

8/5/2005 - The human brain is a fascinating organ. It prefers order instead of disorder.  Itís able to use ideas or themes to help it organize information. Check out the following picture:

   This is a picture of a mountain lake scenery. We can see trees to the right and a mountainous outcropping. There is also a beach on the right and left. We see the reflection of the scenery in the lake. This picture is just like a chess position. We can transform this picture if we apply a theme to it. It this case it's the theme of a woman praying. Presto, the picture has been transformed.  We can use this type of thinking to help us with chess. If we analyze a position and apply the themes we see in it; we can transform the position. We can achieve greater understanding of it.

     Consider the following

This position is the poster boy for systemic thinking in chess.  Lets analyze this position. The first thing we notice is that white's queen is under attack. This seems to be the most important theme at the moment. We also notice that black has isolated double b pawns. Black also has a bad f8-bishop and suffers white square weakness around its king. The other issue is that black's king is held in the center, but heavily defended by pawns on d6, e5, and f6. Black also lags behind in development, with his queen and king bishop still on their original squares.

    White has good development and a queenside majority. White also needs to finish development by deciding which side to castle on. White got to be thinking  how he can break into blackís center and attacks the black king. However before white can do anything, he must address his queen, which is under attack by blackís a4-rook 

   I can hear Fred Wilson saying, check it might be mate. Come on, my clock is ticking and my queen is in jeopardy.  I can hear Dan Heisman saying, check all checks, captures and threats. Oh come on now, my lady is under attack. I can hear Cecil Purdy saying, if you are threatened, see if you can ignore it and  create a more dangerous threat. Thatís not going to happen, my opponentís queen is safe from attack.


 The other peculiar thing about this position is that blackís king has no available moves. Itís stalemated. But what can we do about it. Itís also very well protected by pawns. I am running out of time, wasting all this time on analyzing this position. Let me move my queen to safety for Peteís sake. After all I have a great position and should win this game. After I move my queen to safety and castle, I can think about playing f4 and breaking into my opponentís centralized kingís chamber. Look, we are wasting time here. If I donít move my queen, I could lose on time later.


Chess is a hard game to win. You must seize upon the opportunities that present themselves to you.  Sometimes itís a overriding theme that dictates what should be done. In this position there are many themes going on. We have following themes: superior development, direct attack on a major piece by a lesser one, king held in center, very bad bishop with white square weaknesses, and a well defended king that is in stalemate. The theme that seems to override in this case is the attack on the queen by a rook. This must be addressed immediately, or so it seems. But here is where systematic thinking can come into play. Even in this position,


   If we investigate all checks, captures and threats we can come up with a Bobby Fischer outrageous type of move.  You donít have to look 15 moves deep to find a really crushing move. You just need to suspend conventionally thinking for just a moment. Lets look at all available checks that are at our disposal. This is especially true with a stalemated king. All we have to do it to put the king in safely into check and we mate him.  Well there is only one move and it seems to make no sense.


    Itís Qxe5+, now blacks got two responses fxe5 or dxe5. Now this is looking interesting, the king is still stalemated and either capture opens the diagonal for our e3-bishop to give check and in this case Fred Wilson is right. Check it might be mate via Bc5# or Bg5#.


 This is how you can win a game. You must look at the various themes and decide which ones are most overriding. Then you must act upon them. Some themes like a stronger piece attacked by weaker piece and a king in stalemate need immediate investigation. Theme identification coupled with good systematic thinking .can lead to many nice wins.



I found this game on ICC Trainingbot. Itís a position from Terzik vs. Nurkic in 1994 I found the mate right away only after knowing it was a mate in 2. without systematic thinking, I would never have uncovered this gem that lies just beneath the surface. This is one reason why chess will always continue to amaze me..


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