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The 1st forum, where all the questions will be directly answered by Grandmasters!

The 1st forum, where you’ll be rewarded for your answers!

The winners of August, 2021

Hello champions and future champions! Hello ChessMood family!

Thank you all for sharing your games. It’s great to see you play some really strong chess! Keeping crushing the same way!

Moving on to the prizes,

The first prize goes to Jaylen Lenear for his Tal-like approach to finish the game.


The second prize goes to Vladimir Bugayev for the way he conducted a crushing attack in the Anti-Sicilian!


The third prize goes to Yuma Okabe for brilliantly handling the initiative after 11...Nxe4! and converting it into a win.


The 4th prize goes to Karl Strohmaier for this brilliant attack in the Accelerated Dragon.


The 5th prize goes to Paul Alejandro Cardones for the picturesque 16.Nce4#!


Congratulations to all of you, and thank you once again everybody for sharing your games! 

Keep crushing, and keep the #COGRO

See you soon for next month’s contest.

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ChessMood Open with $20,000 prize fund!
Dear chess friends!
I’m super excited to announce that on October 4-12 in Armenia there is going to be ChessMood Open tournament with around $20.000 prize fund.

By the way, right after it, we’re going to have “Yerevan Open” tournament (October 13-22) with a similar prize fund. So you can combine them and play two tournaments.
As there are no border problems at the moment, you can easily travel to Armenia.
Looking forward to seeing you soon and drinking something cold together :) 

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Why do we miss tactics?

I've been working on tactical problems (50 a day which takes 2-3 hours). I've noticed that certain problems are harder to see than others so am trying to work out what is it about a puzzle which means a solution can be seen quickly, or in other cases can't or a mistake made.

We'll assume someone told us there was a tactic or it's a puzzle. Otherwise "I wasn't looking (hard enough), or gave up too soon (including the urgency from the clock)" are common reasons to miss tactics in games, perhaps also I thought there might be something but couldn't see enough and didn't want to risk it. Plus there is the blunder problem of being so self-absorbed in your ideas you overlook what the opponent has.

For a puzzle, let's assume there is a real solution and not an error. Many, particularly older, collections of tactics, not only have some errors, but overlook that the obvious line has a deviation line that is just raw calculation to a better position, and we didn't solve the position because of that (we are assuming there is something more or the raw calculation without winning something isn't the point, particularly if the position is already superior).

I think the following are common categories of why after staring at a puzzle (as opposed to being too quick) we miss the solution:
1. Didn't evaluate all the resources / hazards for both sides
2. Didn't re-evaluate after moves being made (how does the position change - the 'delta')
3. Cut-off too early
4. Overlooked quiet moves when the opponent is helpless
5. Assumption of move (particularly recaptures) when it is not forced
6. Incorrect visualisation / forgetting
7. Lost material count / sticky pieces
8. Inexperience with the theme / resources
9. Ignoring 'impossible' or illegal moves

I should really post examples of each, but I don't have the time to do so. However after the explanations anyone working through tactical problems will probably notice these issues.

1. Resources are important (problems with the the position or advantages). The recent solve with a grandmaster event (there is another this Tuesday) helped me see this. I really think there is no course or book that properly states this either, at best they will talk about themes, or loose pieces etc, and not really about evaluating the landscape before solving. Worse too is 'laziness' conditioned by solving puzzles that are too easy and of the sort sacrifice the queen and mate which makes us assume that tactics are just about forced sacrifices that the opponent must capture. Noticing all the resources are important, and perhaps it's worth having a list of what to look for. Similar to resources are hazards, and again only one place has every mentioned about hazards

So off the top of my head (probably not a complete list) resources are:
. Bad king position (back rank, open files to king, under-protected king, king in the open, mating net, lack of moves) - also useful for stalemate tactics not just checkmate
. Open lines (or controlled lines) that can be exploited either to attack something, move pieces into attacking positions (including change of direction of rooks to occupy a 7th rank / get behind pawns / double along a rank against a target, and access of a different diagonal of the bishop ('Karpov's billiard balls') again as attacking or making batteries) - lines that can be opened, especially discovered / double attack
. Useful squares and outposts
. Pieces in forkable positions, or with 'one leg in the fork' that needs another move to attract another piece into the fork. One or both of the legs may be attacks rather than just capturable pieces
. Pins / potential pins, pieces vulnerable to skewers (rooks / knights / pawns / kings from diagonals, bishops / knights / pawns / kings from files/ranks)
. Material build up against a point
. Running pawns (either to attack or promote) and pawn promotion, especially pawn on the 7th
. Defender can be diverted, captured or replaced with less effective defender, or lines of communication closed to cause under-protection of pieces or key squares
. Overloaded (or vital) pieces or pieces that can be overloaded, helpless positions where nothing threatening can happen so pieces/pawns can be brought in for free or zugzwang

Not all resources may be exploitable, some might be impossible due to another piece in the way for example (see impossible moves)

Hazards overlap with resources, but the main ones are (not covered under resources):
. Un/under defended pieces (loose pieces drop off)
. Equal attackers and defenders (or if more defenders, the defenders are precariously places or easily dealt with)
. Pieces with limited mobility
. Pieces deep within the position / hovering around key tactics (especially the king) including cutting it off

One example of not considering all resources is seeing there is a piece that can be captured in sacrifice which is helping defend the king, but to occupy the now available spot takes two moves with the queen. Failing to see that a first possible move with the queen attacks a loose rook prevents the solving of the combination.

2. Similar to missing tactics is not looking how the position changes after moves are made. For example squares might become available, defenders move or disappear, pieces move into spots they can be attacked. For example a clearance sacrifice could free up a key square to perform a double attack. See impossible moves.

3. Cut-off too early is when we stop calculating a line, when keeping going would have yielded something. This can be down to problems visualising and missing changes in the position, but sometimes it's also tiredness (there must have been something simpler). The converse is going down a rabbit hole when something simpler is available. This is a problem with searching depth vs breadth. Some of this is helped by evaluating resources which otherwise might have to be discovered by unnecessary search and the temptation of seeing something new and going back to an earlier position arises. Practice and better intuition help here. Cut-off is also a problem when we think we've won something but the position isn't quiet and a counter-attack that needs dealing with now (or earlier) is available.

4. Some tactics are very difficult because they require 2 or 3 quiet moves and with the usual 'I go here, he goes there' are very easy to miss. Recognising the opponent can't do anything and asking questions like if I had 2 moves, what would I do, are useful.

5. Assumptions about opponent's moves particularly recaptures can lead into a false solution. There is the question about rechecking for things missed vs checking the solution there and then. Also by evaluating the opponent's resources, opportunities for defence or counter-attack can be better spotted.

6. Not an easy one to solve though practice helps. Visualising is harder for some than others, particularly those who don't think in pictures and so other parts of the brain may appear to occlude the visual feed. Forgetting resources or discovered ideas is easy given human's can't track more than about 4 pieces of information. Being able to pay attention to what is important and what isn't as well as being organised with the search and when to go back and recheck/recalculate are part of this.

7. Lost material count is similar to forgetting or bad visualising. Have we got an advantage of material yet, or did we sacrifice too much? I find instead of trying to work out what is left from the position, 'cross off' pieces that have gone from the initial position (without mentally moving them) which is easier as you can see it. Sticky pieces are pieces that have been moved or captured but are still in the mental image. Sometimes rechecking or working out the material count can help eliminate them. This is also related to noticing what has changed in that new lines will be open and closed, defenders will be moved or captured and so on.

8. Inexperience with the theme is more due to building intuition and knowing what to look for. Having solved many problems before helps.

9. Impossible or illegal moves are worth considering. Purdy mentions jump moves for example. Questions such as if this piece wasn't there or moved, or if the pin was broken, what could be done are useful to ask even when they are not possible right now. The opportunity for discoveries and clearance sacrifices may be possible.

Finally remember the basics of working out tactics which get overlooked - at each move look for checks, captures and threats - it's often easy to overlook this.

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