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283 Days to XiangQi Master: Visualization!

What are the limits of our visualization? This is the first exercise my coach gave me, he showed me the board, asked me to memorize it, and then when I was ready he told me to walk with him.

This is the position:

Black to move.

Black move is probably not the best in this position, but it was played in a game: C8=3 my coach asked me while we were walking fast to give him a possible winning line for Red.

I began thinking aloud: 2. R2+9 H7-8 3.R9+2 C3+1 4.R9-1 C3-1 5.R9=2 H8+7 6. H4+6 R1+2 and honestly at this point I was at a loss, because I didn’t know how to continue.

My coach commented my visualization was very weak, and he doubted I would achieve a good score in the tournament I was going to play in. He gave me the following solution: 7.R2+6 H7-5 8. H6+4 and now I saw what would happen, if I just tried to visualize a couple of more moves! 8…H5-7 9. H4+3 K5+1 10.C5=2 K5=4 11.R2=5 and Red should win!

But when I returned home, I was still thinking about it, and began to dissect the position, and see if there were better moves. First the move Black played is not forced, it could decide to develop the pieces with P3+1 instead of taking with C8=3.

And now after this move, Red needs to move the horse, because the Black horse is controlling the 4th file.

But let’s say Black continues with the usual: 1…C8=3 we still need to see if there were better moves: 2.R2+9 H7-8 3.R9+2 this is a very important maneuver, because allows red to move the rook on the other side without losing a tempo. 3…C3+1 4.R9-1 C3-1 5.R9=2 H8+7 6.R2+6 and here I found Black has a defensive resource in the move: 6…H3-5 yes, it’s not elegant, and doesn’t solve all Black’s problems, but it’s a better move than the one played in the game.

Now I could continue the analysis, but maybe it becomes boring. The point is I showed my analysis to my coach, which praised me for the work done, but I still have to improve my visualization (and calculation), if I want to compete in a strong master level tournament!

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