Question about reading by shapes

Published 27 Oct 2021 by rpablo007 (last edited 27 Oct 2021)

In an interview during the 2014 Korea Prime Minister Cup, Lukáš Podpěra talked about reading by shape as being better than reading by moves. What does this mean exactly? Can you folks give some examples of how this works in practice? Is there any other way to train this skill, besides the method mentioned in that interview (FYI reviewing pro games really fast)?

Source: https://www.intergofed.org/igf-news-feed/interview-with-lukas-podpera.html


Comments (2)


antti wrote 1 month ago:

This is the first time I’ve encountered the term, ‘reading by shapes’, but I can try to intuit what Lukáš meant. (Right now, Lukáš is busy with the European professional qualification, so he will not be able to respond any time soon.)

When it comes to tsumego, there are a few different ways of reading one might employ to get to the solution. Western players, in my experience, often either try out any promising-looking moves they can think of in an unstructured order; or, when this fails, finally they resort to brute-forcing, eliminative reading that ‘eventually’ ‘should’ get to the solution. The latter way is incredibly time-consuming and should be avoided whenever possible; the former may sometimes get the solution quickly, but if the answer is elusive or surprising, can easily fail too.

Another way, which I believe Lukáš is alluding to, is to analyse the shapes involved in a tsumego, trying to imagine how they can develop. One ‘basic’ trick that many Western players aren’t familiar with is checking if the problem has an ‘obvious’ move for the other colour. Instead of imagining the move order as B-W-B- . . . you flip the first two moves around, into W-B-B; if after the first white move no combination of two black moves solves the problem, then you know that the first move in the solution is where white’s move is.

The above is far from the only shape-technical reading trick there is, but to cover them in detail we’d basically need a theory book on the topic (which, incidentally, I’m 50 pages into writing, and which I’ll hopefully get to complete this year).

If my guess above is off, then we’ll hopefully hear more from Lukáš next week!


rpablo007 wrote 3 weeks ago:

Thanks for the replay, Antti!

It would also be nice to hear from Lukáš himself about this topic.

Besides, I'm thrilled to get my hands on this book. Hope it can happen soon!