Thursday, July 02, 2009

Mentally, the pieces are on two squares at once!

"When you come to the chessboard after a long break, the pieces tend to fall back to their original squares in your mind."

So said a player in the West Virginia Chess Bulletin, after annotating a game from his victorious run at the WV Championships that year (back in the 90's, kids). That observation stuck with me, but now, after my own six month break, I appreciate it even more. In my calculations, I'm finding I often have two of the same piece-- one on the square where I plan to move it and a ghost piece on the original square. (aside to Adam Yedidia, maybe ghost chess could be yet another new variant for you to invent-- every move leaves a ghost piece behind for a few moves...)

In my first tournament back, I managed to dispell those ghost pieces mid-calculation. That led to a few thought moments like, "Calculate, calculate, OK, now I'm better here, and DUH! my piece isn't there anymore, time to rethink." As long as it stays in your head, only precious time gets wasted.

In the G30 event I played Wednesday night, the ghost piece stayed on its square just a little too long:

In the following position, if Black challenges the open file with a rook, Black has achieved equality. The dark squared bishop will likely find freedom with Bf8. Black will grip the open file and redeploy the knights on the weak queenside squares.
After assessing Rfd8 as a fine move, I decided that it wouldn't hurt to throw in Be6 to b3 first, controlling the d1 square and soon the open file will forever be mine: In my mind, this looked great. In the quantum mechanics world, my piece might be called Schrodinger's Bishop-- both alive and dead at the same time, until the box gets opened with White's next move, the "impossible" Rd7!Poof! goes the ghost on e6, and ugliness ensues.

Ghosts are always creeping into my calculations, but rarely are they so vivid.


No comments: