Polgar 5334, Eye of the Beholder Master Class Pick N Play

Almost 10 years ago I asked Danny Miller to tell me a good book to read.  He recommended Lazlo Polgars’ 5334 puzzles problems and games.  I got the book, toyed with it off and on and I really liked the format.  For the most part, I made the same mistake that practically everyone else does… I thought it was a beginner’s/basics book.  The more I began to use the book and the more I found out about the author and his daughters, the more interesting the book and it’s order became to me.  Why was checkmate the focus of the 1st 4462 problems?  Why had no other book broken down the squares to attack around the king?  I suggested this book to all of my students.  I came to learn myself that learning how to checkmate would teach me how to do all of the other combinational types but doing all the other combinational types would not make me a better checkmater!!  This was a profound discovery.  Checkmate puzzles taught me how to trap!  Checkmate puzzles taught me the difference between power and force.  When you focus on checkmate puzzles exclusively for a long time, you develop a much needed desensitization to material!

The next lesson I was going to get from this book I stumbled upon completely by accident!  After making this book my primary training tool, I began to give players the homework assignment of watching the games in any of the 6 sections and then trying to reconstruct that win when I came by for the next lesson.  What happened next was very unexpected.  Nearly half the time I was able to escape the result that had happened in both the game and the analysis.  It was happening so frequently that I became curious as to how many of those games and analysis would stand up to the scrutiny of an engine.  After the 1st 100 puzzles, I found 30 playable positions.  What do I mean by playable.  The positions had a difference of a pawn or 2, or an exchange, or some other tactical or strategic feature that would need to be played out before it was time to resign.  The types of positions that were produced were close enough for players within 200 points of each other to wait and see how the game might go!  This too is significant!  We play mostly Swiss System Tournaments.  There is no doubt in my mind that if I’m playing up or down 200 points that we’d have to continue to play these imbalanced and peculiar positions!!

I went through all 600 positions.  I found 160 playable alternatives and over 200 realistic Pick N Play positions.  I learned long and short mating patterns with many piece combinations.  I learns how to play defense, look for escape squares, and measure time.  I learned a lot about combinational psychology and a process I call anchoring.  Most of all, I completed a trek that all great players have done.  Study master games until they reveal their secrets.  Find difficult tactical positions with great complications and master them.  The result is that I have become exposed to and equipped with a certain set of skills, knowledge, and weaponry that only comes from following the layout of this book!!

I documented my journey in a journal that I’m calling, “Eye of the Beholder”  I will tell you and any person I meet….”More than any other book I’ve seen on chess, this book is a reflection of the owner not the author!!  You cheated yourself if you think that an author who’s mission was to create genius, gave his daughters a beginners book!?”.  They are the greatest chess family in history!!  Want a copy of the corrections, donate $19.99 and I’ll send you a copy.  Meanwhile just enjoy them 1 at a time as I post them!  Just remember that the moves in bold were either in the game or part of the analysis.  The punctuation is all mine!


Mike Callaham/President