I’ve been thinking some more about how I can get my students to be more logical in their approach to choosing their moves.  That is not just playing any move that appeals, but looking at candidate moves and analysing variations to a conclusion.  If I can encourage them to use their imagination and not just look at/play the obvious moves then that would be a bonus also.

There is one nice puzzle that I have pinched from Chris Depasquale’s book “My 60 Memorable Columns” that illustrates very well the hidden depths in chess and how a “C grade” player may reach a conclusion after analysing 2 moves deep, whereas a “B grade” player will look further and find a good move 4 moves into the analysis.  This continues right up to where a grandmaster may analyse 7 moves deep to find the correct evaluation of that variation.  It’s a great puzzle!

Of course the best way to solve a chess puzzle is to use your pattern recognition skills to recall a similar theme that you have seen before that may lead you to the solution to the puzzle.   A large part of chess skill is in fact “pattern recognition” and you can develop this skill by reading lot of chess books, testing your tactics on such sites as “Chess Tempo” and playing heaps of lightning chess.  In today’s puzzle I cottoned onto the right idea straight away (pattern recognition) but it took me about a minute to work out how to bring about the pattern that I wanted to achieve.

In my lessons this week I’ve been trying to teach my students how to solve puzzles by using a technique whereby you ask yourself questions about the position based on what you would like to achieve.  The questions could be along the lines of “I want to get a draw so can I do this by a) perpetual check, b) insufficient mating material, c) setting up a blockade or d) stalemate?”  Based on these questions you may decide that your only chance to draw is by trying for a stalemate.  Now that your mind is focused on this goal you can ask “OK, on which square do I think I could be stalemated?”  If you can find a possible square then it only remains to work out how to achieve the stalemate.   Can you see the process I’m using?   Rather than starting from the original position and working forwards we look at the desired end position and work backwards.

Try using this technique on today’s puzzle and see if it helps you.   It’s White to play and draw.

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