Friday, September 2, 2011



We, human, came to this world pre install with this ability. Though unfortunately it came without any instruction or manual on how to use it. Somehow, we just know when danger is around the corner …and instinctively position ourselves either to fight or flight.

We, chess player too, came to any chess games also pre install with this ability. We know when our opponent tried to crush us positionally… We know when we should shelter our king from danger… we know when we should rush our pawns and king in endgame. We hardly think…we just ‘know’ what to do. It is as if some mysterious forces guide us what to do.

But the big question is how accurate and reliable is our chess instinct? To what extent we can trust this basic instinct of ours (I am referring here to chess basic instinct, not Sharon Stone’s Basic Instinct)? Which one is stronger, our mysterious, hard to explain instinct or brute force logic a.k.a calculation?

Honestly, I don’t know…

The Study
Anyway I do know that for below study compose by F. Sackmann 1912, to solve it you cannot rely on your normal instinct. Hope you enjoyed (and understand) this study as much as I do.

White, one pawn down in pawn ending (normally is a death sentence), is to play and win.

1. Kf5!! Kb6
2. Kf6 Kb7
3. Kf7 Kb8
4. Ke6 Ka7
5. Ke7 Ka6
6. Kd8! Kb7
7. Kd7 Kb6
8. Kc8 and white wins.

What I like about this study is the fact that to win both black’s c pawns, first thing that white needs to do is move AWAY from it. Immediate 1.Kd6 Kb6 draw or 1.Ke6 Ka6 also draw. To explain this beautiful concept to those who don’t know how to play chess…it is equivalent to inform that first step in getting a degree, first brilliant thing to do is NOT to enter university. Or to explain this to our hamsap (Casanova, Don Juan, Romeo whatever) non chess player friend, key to win a girl's heart is by avoiding her! Confusing!

Of course to any chess master , above concept is nothing strange. It is called Distant Opposition. A battle between two kings to conquer key square,that happen at least 3 files (or ranks) between them. Some distant opposition battle even happen 5 files away!

In Malaysian political kingdom, maybe there are one or two opposition, but in political kingdom of chess (and in the state of pawn ending alone) there exist at least 4 oppositions (normal opposition, distant opposition, diagonal opposition and virtual opposition). Who said chess is dull?

Opps!, guess i have already strayed away from 'CHESS INSTINCT' topic...instinctively i know i have to stop now.


  1. Ilham,
    Selamat hari raya to you too! For sure you are going back to Ganu,, but your wife? same kampung? lucky you!! :)

  2. Hi Ilham,

    Selamat Hari Raya.

    I have commented on your article.

    All my best


  3. Hi abdooss,
    Selamat Hari Raya to you too. Maaf Zahir Batin. This year it is Perak's turn, wife hometown.

    Hi Raymond,
    Wow! That is quite scientific explanation on instinct.
    By the way, did not really see the connection between instinct and 'attacked' to LZR, Sumant and Mark Siew. If there is really such attacked to begin with...
    My personal opinion and observation, junior and senior have a good professional respect to each other. They need each other, they know each other and they want each other to be successful. Jr rooting for sr player to win in international tourney...Sr also follow up closely jr achievment at any international tournament. Frust when they lost...happy when they win. I see, i feel and i know there is this strange camaraderie among chess players here. We want to kill each other when we met across the board but somehow we love, support each other when one of us carried Jalur Gemilang at international tournament. For me that is generally the state of Malaysian chess society. But ofcourse one can always chose to see glass half empty...
    'See Shoutbox Ilham'...ofcourse Everybody is being attacked at the shoutbox. Jr, Sr, MCF, IMs, Fadli, Greg, Dato Tan, Peter Long...everybody. Now I started to see MCF silence as 'elegance silence'. :)

    Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. – Plato

    Congratulation on Mark's fine achievement at recent Datmo. Should see his rating breach 2k barrier this November...while mine is now sub 2k :(

  4. Thanks. Have replied you on my blog. :)