Chess: Learn The Trick Of Pattern Recognition

Chess: Learn The Trick Of Pattern Recognition

It allows us to plan effective strategies during a game

Soumya SwaminathanUpdated: Saturday, February 17, 2024, 07:44 PM IST
article-image
Pic: Freepik

Chess players are often associated with having a memory as strong as a Rook..oops, I mean an Elephant! “Do you remember all your games?” is a common question posed to chess players! Now that would be nearly impossible, considering chess players play roughly 80 to 150 tournament games per year, sometimes more. And this while not counting the practice matches and online games. Barring certain geniuses, most professional chess players only remember specific snippets of their most recent games and a few past games that felt like an emotional roller coaster. A particular plan, a combination, the opening moves, or the final checkmate – those are the images that we can reproduce well past the day of play.

Aficionados usually attribute these abilities of chess players to memory, but in fact, it is memory in combination with attention and pattern recognition at play here.

‘Pattern Recognition’ is the cognitive ability of our brain to recall data and information to make sense of the world around us. This same process helps us to learn a language and solve problems. Chess players use and develop this skill to identify recurring configurations, formations, or motifs on the chessboard. ‘Pattern Recognition’ allows us to make informed decisions, anticipate our opponent’s moves, and plan effective strategies during a game. Apart from playing practice games, an important element of a chess player’s training program is to analyse the games of other players. Going through top players’ games of the present as well as the past helps us to learn from the masters and develops our pattern recognition skills. Puzzle-solving, watching Live games and analysing our own games as well as those of our peers are other methods of training this skill.

Basic checkmates

One of the many patterns that we subconsciously develop as we learn the game is the ability to identify a xheckmate or potential for a checkmate in a particular position. The positioning of the pawns, known as ‘Pawn structure’, and/or the placement of the pieces help us in this process. Basic checkmates patterns that occur often in chess games are:

Back rank checkmate: This checkmating pattern can be deployed only by a major piece, that is, The Queen or a rook, as it involves giving a horizontal check to the opponent’s King on their first rank – which is called the Back Rank. The first rank is the Back Rank for White and the eight rank is the Back Rank for Black. In the case of this checkmate situation, the opponent’s King is cornered on the Back Rank as all the squares in front of the King are either blocked by his own pawns or pieces or are under direct attack by, that is, controlled by our pieces. An important criterion to be fulfilled is that the check cannot be blocked by any of the opponent’s pieces, nor can they capture our piece delivering the check.

Back Rank Checkmate

Back Rank Checkmate |

In this position, White has a rook and King while Black is left with a lone King on g8. The Black King is on the eight rank and is under right check now by the white rook on a8. The Black King’s adjacent squares on the seventh rank are f7, g7 and h7.

An important concept in Chess is that the two Kings cannot be placed next to each other, as then either of the Kings will be under direct attack by the other, and vulnerable to direct capture, which is illegal.

The well-placed White King on g6 controls the f7, g7 and h7 squares, so the Black King cannot move there. Thus, it is a checkmate on Black, White wins. Now imagine, if the White King was further away on g5, or even g1 - in this situation, the Black King could move to the seventh rank. But if in this new scenario, there were three black pawns on f7, g7 and h7, then Black’s own pawns would block the Black King from escaping via the seventh rank and it would still be a checkmate.

Checkmate with a lone Queen and King: In the above diagram, if we replace the Rook with the Queen, it would still be a Back Rank checkmate!

This is the Answer to Q2 in the previous article! A2: 1. a8 = Q would lead to a Checkmate. We will publish the answer to Q1 of the previous article and discuss this topic further in part two of this article in March. Chess teaches patience after all!

(Soumya Swaminathan is an International Master and Woman Grandmaster in Chess. She has been World Junior Champion and Commonwealth Gold Medalist)

RECENT STORIES

Sonal Motla Talks About Sheikh’s Karwaan Odyssey

Sonal Motla Talks About Sheikh’s Karwaan Odyssey

Mythical Showdown: Who's The Real Ninth Avatar Of Lord Vishnu - Buddha Or Pandurang?

Mythical Showdown: Who's The Real Ninth Avatar Of Lord Vishnu - Buddha Or Pandurang?

How Aware Are You About The Dashavatar?

How Aware Are You About The Dashavatar?

The Rise of Kalki: What You Need to Know About the Final Avatar of Vishnu!

The Rise of Kalki: What You Need to Know About the Final Avatar of Vishnu!

Food Review: Woodside Inn's Summer Menu Is A Burst Of Fresh Flavours That Delights Your Palate

Food Review: Woodside Inn's Summer Menu Is A Burst Of Fresh Flavours That Delights Your Palate