In football, on a passing play, the quarterback usually has a primary receiver. Ideally, that’s where the ball is going.
If that option is taken away – the DB knocked the receiver off his route, the safety is cheating over that way, etc – the quarterback has to look to his second option. And so on, maybe checking all the way down to a dump pass to a running back. Of course, there are several 300-lb men rushing to try to flatten the QB while he still has the ball.
So I’m quite impressed with the brain of the quarterback. They have to read the defense at the line of scrimmage, make and communicate a coded play adjustment if necessary, take the snap, drop back, and then go through this mental and physical progression of reads – each one requiring a microsecond throw/don’t throw decision – while trying to sense and avoid the rush.
So in chess, what’s your progression? If your first plan doesn’t work, are you prepared to check down in an orderly manner?
Sometimes I get a position that I just don’t understand. Don’t know the themes, can’t figure out a plan, don’t know where the pieces belong, don’t know who’s better. I have a reputation for stewing endlessly over these positions – a 20-minute think is not that unusual for me, which in the context of our club time control (40 in 90) is que estupido. It’s roughly like a quarterback holding the ball for 10 seconds – an invitation to get flattened.
It would be smarter to give myself a time limit for any particular move (I think Howard G does this) and then check down to a simple question like “Which of my pieces is least active?” and attempt to improve it.
This approach undoubtedly applies at work and elsewhere too. What about you – do you have ‘checkdown’ strategies for dealing with complex situations?