Calculation exercise 1

Previously I mentioned Kotov’s recommendation for increasing your tactical ability.

In a rare example of putting my money where my mouth is, I recently did this exercise, spending 45 minutes or so on this position:


This is Guganashvili – Gurevich, Chicago Open 2007, right out of Chess Life.

To recap the concept of the exercise:

  • Set up the position on a board.
  • Set your chess clock for 45 minutes.
  • Analyze without touching the pieces.
  • Spend the last five or ten minutes writing out a tree of the variations you saw.
  • Stop the clock and compare your analysis to GM annotations and/or Fritz.

The objective is to increase the organization, speed, clarity, depth and breadth of your calculations. You do this by repeating the exercise using lots of different positions over time. Depending on the particular mental muscle you are trying to isolate, you can vary the task: gradually shorten the clock to increase your speed, predetermine a required calculation depth, etc.

I am not going to post the lines I calculated (because like all bloggers, I’m shy) but I will say that I was modestly pleased at the breadth of ideas I came across, and dismayed by the lack of organization in my thinking (indicated by the degree of confusion I suffered when I tried to record my efforts at the end). The key is to not allow yourself to become discouraged, whatever your result may be. It’s all about improving the second, third, fourth, fifth times.

If anybody cares to give this position a try, let me know and I’ll put the Chess Life annotations in the comments to this post.


7 thoughts on “Calculation exercise 1

  1. Derek — I just gave this a try. I think that my experience was the opposite of yours — organization was ok, but that was probably because I was so locked on to a single first move for black that I doubt I had anywhere near the breadth of ideas you did.

    If you don’t mind posting the annotations that would be great, as I do not have access to a computer program. Thanks.

  2. Hey Greg – will do. Have to dig up the CL issue tonight.

    I will tell you that the game continuation was 28…Qh6? 29.Ngf5 Qg5 30.e4 Qh5 31.Qf4 1-0 due to …g5 32.Qxg4! Qxg4 33.Nh6+.

    Yowch. And this idea of Qf4xg4 I missed completely.

  3. Thanks, Derek. I didn’t realize that there would be digging involved, so no need to track that down on my account. I quickly ruled out 28…Qh6 because of 29. Ngf5 with tempo and potential pressure on g7, and not because I calculated to move 32. Like I said, not much breadth to my analysis….

    The only first move I analyzed with any depth was 28…Qg5. With my luck, it probably loses for Black even more convincingly than 28…Qh6? ;)

  4. Okay: In addition to the game line, Chess Life gives

    28…Qg5! 29.Nhf5 (29.Nf3? Bxf3 30.gxf3 Nxe3 31.Qf2 Nxf1 32.Rxd1 d3) 29…g6 30.e4 (30.Nxd4 Qh4 31.Nf1 Rf8 32.Nf5 Rxd2 33.Nxh4 Rxb2)
    30…Qxd2 31.Rxd2 gxf5 32.Nxf5 Rxe4 33.Rxe4 Bxe4 34.Nxd4 “with complete equality”

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