Evidence

[After reading Christopher Hitchens’ first chapter in God Is Not Great]
As a pupil in primary school in England in the 1960s, I was obliged to attend a daily act of worship.  I remember vividly sitting on the floor of the school hall while a teacher — a Mr. B. Wilson — loomed rangily over us and argued:
“Now, some people don’t believe in God because they can’t see Him.  But you can’t see air either, can you?  Hands up if you don’t believe in air!”
I was greatly affected by this line of argument, but not in the way the teacher hoped.  I was seized by a series of impressions as follows:
  • Some people don’t believe in God, eh?  Not sure I knew that.
  • I can’t see air, no, but I can feel it.  And when I can’t feel it, I can see trees moving in the wind, and other effects of air.  So I have very good reasons for believing in air.
  • I can’t see God, no, but I can’t feel god, or see god in action, or have any other evidence for god or gods.  So I have very good reasons for disbelieving in God.
  • If this is the most convincing argument that Mr. Wilson can find for God:
    * any other arguments for God must be pretty duff
    * this man couldn’t think his way out of a paper bag.
I have had many other reflections on this event since, including the desirability of a philosophical element in the curriculum for teachers and for pupils, but those first have remained the strongest.

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Evaluation and planning in a difficult position

Hello again Shivani
In this position, it is black to move and I believe black is better. White has a safer king as black’s king is more exposed but I am finding difficulty on how to bring it to a safe position. King to F8 is risky because of the dark squared bishop. White has a better pawn structure than black however black has better attacking chances on the king side. Black seems to have more piece activity than white. I am very keen to move my pawn to c4, blocking the light squared bishop to the queen side and I can also do a fork with pawn to g3. I really want my knight at the e4 square but it’s difficult because white can do a knight trade with knight to f2. This is a type of position where I am getting confused seeing which is the best move in a game. That (rook) at f1 is also a potential threat.
I think you’re absolutely right that the safety of your King is a key question in this position.  However, checkmate is the aim of the game, and so if your King safety isn’t any good, then the position isn’t going to be good for you, and I think that is what is going on here.  I don’t think White has a mating attack yet, but White can use the poor position of your King to make trouble.
I agree with you that White’s King position is better than yours, so what is it about Black’s position that made you think you have the advantage?
If I was going to do a full positional assessment of the position, I might do it like this:
  •  Development: White needs 1 move to connect Rooks, Black needs 2
  •  King safety: White’s King is safer, Black’s is stuck in the centre
  •  Weaknesses: g5 and e4 are weak; f7, c3 and a3 might become weak
  •  Piece activity: about equal
  •  Forcing moves and initiative: White has e4-e5, Black has …g5-g4
  •  Lines: No fully open files, but Black’s Rg8 looks positive and White’s Bishops have good scope.
  •  Centre and space: White has a better centre although Black has enough space for their pieces.

So, nothing that suggests this position is better for Black.

Did you think that the position was better for you because of your attack down the g-file?  I do like that about your position, but I think at the moment you are attacking with R+N and you might be able to get B or Q into the action as well.  But White has KNRBQ all able to defend the King’s-side, and you will have to get past White’s better centre to get at the white King.  if you count up how many moves it takes you to make a real threat against white’s King it might be g4 gxf3 Nh7 Qf6 Qg8, so 5 moves to threaten mate, which can be met by Bxf3 by White on the second move and you have to think of something new.  For White to make a threat, I think Re1 and exd5 is enough.  So I think your King is in more trouble than White’s.
Let’s try other ideas:
  •  Your g-pawn is under threat, although you have a counter-threat against e4.
  •  So you can play …Nh7 to protect your g-pawn, or …g5-g4 to get it to a square where you aren’t losing it for nothing.
  •  Alternatively, you say that White can have that g-pawn if you can have the e-pawn, and play instead …dxe4.
  •  Yet another idea is to threaten to win the d-pawn by pinning the c-pawn against the Queen: …Qc7 or …Qc8 or …Rc8 threatens …cxd4 when White can’t take back.
All those are pretty reasonable ideas and would all be OK… if it wasn’t for your King.  The plan to play against a King stuck in the middle is to open up lines to attack it with Queen, Rook and Bishops, and checkmate or a win of material will follow.  And the trouble with all of those plans I just listed is that they open up lines in the centre of the board, or allow White to do so, which helps them attack your King.
One example line is:
1…dxe4 2.Bxg5 Qc7 3.Bb5 and White is threatening to win a piece, helped by your King in the centre.
Another example:
1…g4 2.Ng5 cxd4 3.e5 Nxe5 4.cxd4 Nc4 5.fxe4 and White is better able to use the open f-file than you are.
You can try other ideas, or other moves, but I believe this position is running against Black.
And I think that might be where your confusion arises: you think this position is better for Black, and _all you need to do is to get your King into safety_.  I think the position is actually better for White, _because you cannot get your King into safety_.  So when you analyse different ideas, they don’t look appealing, but that doesn’t match your initial assessment of the position as better for Black.  You either haven’t hit on the right idea yet — which is what your message was asking — or your evaluation of the position was not right — which is what I am trying to persuade you of.
Lastly: _the first and most important question to ask of a chess position when it’s your move, before any fancy positional assessments, is_: *does my opponent have an immediate threat? *And I think the answer to that is yes!
White threatens 1.e5, and your Knight is more or less trapped.  It can be taken on any square it moves to apart from h5, and after 1.e5 Nh5, White has 2.Qh7, forking R and N.
So, whichever move you pick in this position, it had better have a defence to this idea.  This is why 1…dxe4 might be favourite: it removes the e-pawn from the board.
If you want to work on your skill in evaluation, there is a nice old book with lots of puzzles and in many of the puzzles the first task is to evaluate the position:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chess-Exam-Training-Guide-Exams/dp/0975476122
And there is a much more recent book which is only about evaluations:
evalgm.com/
You can get a free sample of that book from their website.
I think at your level, you’re going to find both books quite tough, but if you work your way through them, I hope you will get a feel for how to balance the different positional elements.
Another popular book that tackles similar themes is:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Reassess-Your-Chess-Imbalances/dp/1890085138
I don’t care much for Silman’s style, but everyone else in the chess world reckons it’s great, so I expect I am wrong about this…
www.perpetualchesspod.com/new-blog/2019/12/20/bonus-pod-discussing-reassess-your-chess-with-todd-kennedy-chess-books-recaptured-series
P.S.
One of the easiest ways to check a position is to throw it into a Lichess study:
lichess.org/study/k71OlCk1/0MpZ1Zzd
Then turn on Stockfish…

This will give you the engine evaluation in pawn’s-worth and the best move (or the best 4-5 moves in order)
If you leave Stockfish turned on, it might change its mind about exactly what the evaluation is, or which of the 4 moves is a bit better than the others, but it should give you a broad idea about the position.
If I do that to your position, it comes up with +2.3, which is to say, although material is equal, White has an advantage in position which is worth more than 2 extra pawns.
If I look at the 4-5 best moves for Black, it lists them as …dxe4, …g4, …cxd4, ….Qc8, and …Qc7, and they’re all about as good as each other.  I didn’t think of …cxd4 and I don’t know the idea behind it.   That is the disadvantage of computer analysis — you can see the evaluation and the moves but you don’t get any explanation.  +2.3 might mean that White’s position is better but not why… or that Stockfish sees that in 10 moves’ time White can win 2 pawns… or win a Knight for a pawn.
But the computer is a good check on your assessment and analysis.  The best way to use it is the way things happened here: you committed yourself to an evaluation, and then checked it.  And that process is the key to improvement.
bw
D

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Facts

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Wardrobe

Has matching top box

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Register No.34

Regist34_2023

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Why we are doomed

I posted on Freecycle that anyone could have these tiles

Leftover tiles, see pictures (as below), 8 tiles to a box
Delivery to immediate area possible or Bovey Tracey


Questions I received included:

What size are they?
What colour are the tiles?
How many are there?

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Braille card deck

:cards

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Maze puzzles and card deck

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Charity shop find

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How to Cheat at Chess — the draw offer (Hartston)

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The REGISter No.33 Winter 2022

It’s out!

Regist33_2022

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