Sunday, August 21, 2011

"The process of elimination"

Sherlock Holmes enjoyed berating Watson for failing to execute this procedure:
"You will not apply my precept," he said, shaking his head. "How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth? We know that he did not come through the door, the window, or the chimney. We also know that he could not have been concealed in the room, as there is no concealment possible. When, then, did he come?"
Mark Dvoretsky's current column in Chess Cafe has some wonderful examples of applying the principle of excluding possibilities in practical play.  You don't have to calculate why your chosen move is best if you already know that the alternatives lose!

J. Moravec, 1925
White to play

For example, what's White's best move in the above position?

Dvoretsky's The Instructor is the best monthly column on the web for players at or above the advanced intermediate level.  If you print out a couple dozen columns from the Chess Cafe archives, you'll have enough material for a couple dozen afternoons in your favorite café!  (Bring your set.)

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