While solving puzzles or while analyzing an interesting position we are not just trying to find a solution to the puzzle in front of us. If that is the only objective, then even if we find the solution, we don’t evolve much, we don’t learn much, we don’t make appropriate adjustments to our thinking process. It just becomes too mechanical.
While solving, we should also observe how our mind works. What we see, what we miss, do we find good resources for our opponent, are we concentrating well, is our effort worthy, are we thinking in one direction or are we trying to see all aspects of the position from different angles?
Basically, are we being too simplistic in our approach (due to laziness, lack of ambition, poor concentration, poor analytical skills, lack of proper training, lack of interest in seeking the truth about the position, etc)?
Or, are we trying to embrace the complexities of the analytical process as part of our learning and trying our best to upgrade skills to cope up with them?
Let me illustrate this with an example:
A famous composition by Wotawa 1959.
White to play and win
A student gave the following solution at first: 1.Rf3+! Ke6 2.e5 Re5 3.Re3! White is winning.
So far so good. But the moment he saw this interesting and creative solution, he stopped his search for truth and relaxed. He was convinced he has seen everything there is to see in the position.
I prompted him to look for few more minor details in the line he mentioned. Then he came up with another interesting line which is 1.Rf3+! Kg7 2.Rf5!
White wins, cutting the black Rook off from the a- pawn.
A new dimension is now revealed! More hidden, exciting features of the position are brought out.
Again, the human frailty intervenes, he convinced himself everything that is worth looking into, has already been done.
When again prompted to dig for more details, finally he found 1.Rf3+! Ke7 2.e5 Rh5 3.Rf8! White wins because of the advance of a pawn cannot be stopped.
The point I am trying to make is this: We need to cultivate our analytical skills in a way we can search for truth in all its glory without letting our shortcomings (laziness, lack of curiosity, etc. I had already mentioned above) get in the way.
Bring out as many of the facts out into the open and in the process grow stronger. This is the best way to learn and improve our skills in chess.
We should be curious to know how our mind works. How we can enhance its performance by adding more arsenal to its thinking and analytical process.
It is like we use stones to light a fire, which is good. We found a solution to the problem we were facing at that point. But we should also be aiming to find a lasting, sometimes simple, sometimes complex, multiple solutions to the problem of lighting fire. Because the circumstances will not be the same all the time.
This quest for growing from simple to complex and finally the whole thing becoming simple again, led man to come up with matchboxes, lighters, cooking gas, turbines, boilers, engines, etc.
We evolved from simple to complex. Complexity is not something we should be afraid of in the long run. From complexity things eventually become simpler.
iPhone 11 is more complex with multiple features than iPhone 1 for sure. Which is easier to use? In which phone we can get more things done?
Our current low competence level should not scare us from evolving from simple to complex. With effective training, we can accumulate the complex skills required to handle the complex challenges we face. This is real growth; this is the way we become stronger.