A pattern seems to be emerging here….

9/24/2010 – Tactics sometimes seem to come out of thin air, but in reality the patterns were there all along, waiting to be discovered, assimilated and played. GM Daniel King shows you many fundamental patterns and explains how and when these crop up in real games. In this, the latest addition to the Power Play series, will you pass the test? Review by Patrick Goldsworthy.

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Daniel King’s new “Test your tactics”

By Patrick Goldsworthy

“Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.”  – Alfred North Whitehead.

I am certain that everyone recognises the position on the right – one imagines Black just having played 1…Nh3+ 2.Kh1 and ready to play …Qg1+ 3. Rxg1 Nf2#, “smothered mate”. It can occur in other settings, but with Nh3 is by far the most common pattern seen and one spots it in an instant. It is precisely with an emphasis on pattern recognition that GM Daniel King’s new Power Play 14 - Test your tactics takes off.

GM King doesn’t start off with a smothered mate example though – far too common. He wants to demonstrate that tactical patterns are out there to be recognised in the opening, middle game and ending and that they range from the brutally obvious to the fiendishly tricky. The Fritztrainer interface allows him to get this message across very effectively with patterns explained both through a verbal commentary and annotated diagrams, appealing to many senses and in a way that is easy to follow. The introduction dives straight in to the matter at hand with a very relevant anecdote from Daniel King’s very own tactical development.

This particular position holds the hidden tactic, 9…b5! and is a position from King’s first tactics book, The game of chess, by Harry Golombek, where the arrangement of the queen and bishop allow the win of a pawn, along with one of King’s very own games as the follow up, the two games alongside here showing how the patterns run parallel to each other.

Golombek – Wheatcroft 1937

White’s queen and bishop are unfortunately
placed  after 9…b5!
King – Nixon  2004 (analysis)

White’s bishop and knight are unfortunately
placed after 25…g5!

The introduction over, we are led through real games, and shown how patterns feature in the games of today’s super-GMs, with many training questions built in at key moments. With King’s trademark style of getting the audience to think about what’s going to happen, the viewer is made to participate all the way through – and it has never felt more like fun!

GM King’s message is actually twofold and one that he delivers in a thought out and eloquent manner. Naturally, he wants to show us that an improved tactical awareness comes from (among other things) a greater knowledge of simple and not-so simple tactical patterns, but at the same time he warns against the danger of approaching positions solely relying on arbitrary pattern recognition and becoming blinkered – accurate calculation is inextricably linked to the whole operation. This struck a chord with me, having fallen victim to this blinkered way of thinking once rather catastrophically in a tournament game. King’s message is one that all players can relate to.

Rice-Goldsworthy, Hastings Masters 2006

Blinded by visions of glory and an overwhelming sense of pattern recognition, I whipped out 17…Qg1+??, after which I was expecting my opponent’s resignation. To my horror, there then came the simple reply 18.Nxg1…
 

King’s message of being sure to assess the positions resulting from the tactics correctly is definitely one to be heeded at all costs, and so that you can put analysis and pattern recognition into practice, the second part of the DVD contains 47 test positions, with a few based on patterns seen on the DVD and the others containing many different ideas. All are subsequently explained in great detail in the solutions in the last section of the DVD in King’s typical warm and friendly manner, but don’t expect these exercises to be a synch!

Some are straight out “Find the win” positions, whilst others have questions built in, so that the idea of justification and analysis are brought in, without turning what is essentially a quest for beauty into a laboratory experiment. In that respect, the DVD is appealing to players of all standards of play and whilst not ideal for the complete beginner, anyone up to 2200 level would find the puzzles, training questions and ideas for future development very worthwhile.

             Daniel King’s new “Test your tactics” definitely passes the test! Will you?

Video sample lecture

Order Power Play 14: Test Your Tactics
(This page includes summaries of previous Power Play trainers + video sample)


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