Thursday, September 29, 2005

Less Rapid Chess Improvement?

Some of you might have noticed a change in the title of my blog and wonder why? Well, after doing some serious thinking, i have come to conclude that a strict training program does not fit into my life at this time. My life is too big of a mess right now, to follow a strict program and give any estimates about when i will finish anything. Now this does not mean i will quit being a knight and stop blogging, cause i like this knightly online brotherhood in search of chess improvement, and i do want to keep at it. What it means is what it says. The rapidness of my improvement efforts will become a little less. Not giving any estimates. Not making any promises. There will not be any changes to what i am working on, which is the Personal Chess Trainer. I intend to complete the Personal Chess Trainer program entirely (as recommended). As it is my intention to start with, and finish, some of the programs that i own. Thus starting with the Personal Chess Trainer. Before it was always about taking a look at stuff, work with it a little, and start looking at the next. Now, going about it that way doesn't get us nowhere, right? However, as some programs might be about different things, i find i must have a cornerstone upon which i can build this castle called "Chess Improvement", so the cornerstone will be "Tactics". Tactics (or solving problems) will be the main focusing point (or key) in my efforts to improve my game. So no matter what the program, or the book, or the magazine, or whatever, will be about... I will always come back to doing tactics, as it is also one of the main focusing points of our beloved sensei Michael de la Maza :)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Progress report 2 (trying to survive everyday life in Grove Street)

Ok, so i got a little distracted since i finally got my hands on a copy of the PC version of GTA: San Andreas. What can i say :)
Anyway, 15 training days went by and i managed to complete unit 1 to 6 of PCT's tactics module 1. Which comes down to having gone over a total of 3420 positions (including repetitions). Per day that would be about 228. I did commit some errors that aren't really worth mentioning. A total of 8. All "first time going over" errors (as i like to call them), since they never occurred again during repetitions. And most are not even to be called "first time going over" errors even. Sometimes i was simply too tired, and i was like staring into oblivion :)
What can i tell you about the program itself? Well, up untill this point i really like it a lot. The most noticable is the fact that it does not tell you whether the tactic consists of a single move or a multiple move. I was used to that from other programs. Personal Chess Trainer just progresses from single move tactics to multiple move tactics while you're going up in number of units. I guess that is how it adjusts it's difficulty. But i can appreciate it... I mean, there's nobody pointing out the kinds of tactics you should look for during a game, right? Noticable changes in my play? Well, i did not get much of a chance to play a lot, but the few games i did play i was feeling more confident. That is allready a positive change, right? Thus far it's 6 units down and 300 x 6 to go. And i'm only talking about the tactics section. I am telling you... I am being way too ambitious with my new plan...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Ok, so he's talking 400 days, right?

Initially satisfied with my newly found plan (as mentioned in the "Progress report 1" post), i became unsatisfied with it again. Why? Well, because my newly found plan was about going over each phase of the Personal Chess Trainer seperately. Giving each phase a certain timespan. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but i need to see it as a whole. This only shows it to me in parts. Also, it does not really have that de la Maza structural feeling to it. Or is it just me :) Anyway, i have come up with yet another change of plans. de la Maza is talking 400 days, right? Well, then 400 days it shall be. I am going to attempt to finish all of Personal Chess trainer in 400 training days. I say "training days", cause you might remember me mentioning something about weekends off. Well... There you have it. My new plan. Although it has been under way for 15 days, with a progress report comming up :)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Internet Chess Assistant Club

Were any of you aware that Chess Assistant had it's own Internet chess server? On which you can play FOR FREE? Well i wasn't. And i just stumbled on it last night. It is kinda comparible to FICS and ICC. You can even play correspondence games through the interface. It is looking very good. The only thing i don't like (which to me is a major issue) is the fact that i cannot export my games. They are stored in a local database which is part of the program, as well as on their server. I tried looking for the local database, but i couldn't find it (or make out what it is in it's program file). Then again, i think the game files use an extension which make them uncompatible with e.g. ChessBase. I also tried to select and copy the game notation, but that doesn't work either. Anyway, if you're interested, have a look here. And if anybody knows how i can export my games, please fill me in.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Is this the Michael de la Maza?

While looking with Google for a picture of Micael de la Maza, Google came up with this.

If you take a look at the results Google comes up with (only 2 pages), you would assume this is him. I have added a link to it in my sidebar, but having the link would be kind of silly looking if the fellow in the picture isn't him. It was however taken at a 2001 World Open tournament at MetroWest Chess Club? You would say that with all the attention his book got that there would be atleast some pictures of the man. Or is he somewhat like me and doesn't like to have his picture taken :)

Bloglines is terrific!

A couple of days ago i posted about creating one blog for all Knights, to make it easier to keep track of eachother e.g. new posts and such, because i was visiting each blog seperately to see if there were any. I was never aware of any possibilities of monitoring stuff on the web, so i thought to create a solution. Thanks to some comments i got from fellow Knights, it has come to my attention that there are allready possibilities to keep track of eachoter. I am happy to say that i am using Bloglines now. It is a terrific service which let's you keep track of thing's. Instead of visiting each Knights blogs seperately, i only have to visit Bloglines to see whether or not there has been an update. So if you are somewhat like me (unaware of such a solution), i can highly recommend the use of it. Here's an example of what it looks like;

The "My Feeds" tab let's you have a look at all of your so called "feeds", which i can only define as to be the links you added. It can show you whether or not each of these links (feeds) had an update. Pretty simple :)
Although i still don't get that blogroll stuff. Hey Druss! How do you create a blogroll? I do not understand Bloglines explanation. And to those who are interested and missed the link within the post, here it is again; Bloglines.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I can be a formidable opponent!

What does it say when you're able to draw against and win games from (give or take) 1900 USCF rated players? What does it say it say when you're able to achieve a +/- position against a National Master? What does it say when you were able to almost draw more then one game against a FIDE Master? What does it say when you are able to draw a 3296 rated computer opponent? It says that I can be a formidable opponent! But i have to have that total into the game mindstate. A mindstate which i unfortunatly achieve far too little, which causes me to lose from players far below the levels i just mentioned. Far more so then achieving the positive results i also just mentioned. Therefore i know i am destined to lose a lot more then i am able to win, or draw. Why? Because i got a shitload (pardon my french) of trouble on my mind. That's why. But i know that

I can be a formidable opponent!

White to move (what would you play?)

Take a look at a fragment of a game i played last night against Stardriver. A 1900+ rated Playchess player.

It's white's turn (my turn actually). What would you play? Hint: After two moves Stardriver (black) decided it was best to resign.

Monday, September 19, 2005

One blog to rule them all

I was thinking, how about if one of us Knights created a shared blog. What i mean is, what if (and i'm saying what if) the Knights Errant becomes a craze, and we would have like a hundred Knights at some point (again just saying what if), wouldn't it be a lot easier to be able to visit only one blog to see which of the Knights personal blogs has been updated? I find it quite inconvinient to visit each individual blog to see if it is updated or to find out a new Knight is added. I was thinking somewhere along the lines of creating a blog that would be called "Knights Central". Or maybe one of you has a better name. Anyway, the idea is to create the blog, let everybody know the password by email (anyway not through the blog), and have everyone post a little message when they have updated their blog, thus to let us know. Or to let everybody know about any new Knights. Or Knights that go MIA etc. Don't ya'll think that's a good idea? Please let me know. I am even willing to set up the blog.

My chess games

As you can see on the sidebar, i've added a link to my chess games. It is yet another one of my blogs, part of LRCI, on which i will be analyzing and annotating selected games of myself. As mentioned in the blog's title field, i invite you all to join in and share your analytical views. Anyway, click here or on the "Analyze This" link on the sidebar to visit. I have allready posted my (yet to be analyzed) greatest achievement yet :)
For a replayable version of the game go here.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Tactics can be so hard

Take a look at the tactical difficulties these two guys are facing :) (below the cartoon is a diagram of the position with white to move)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Take a break every once in a while!

I allready mentioned something about not wanting to overdo it in my Ok, so what is my regimen about? post, and today i came across the following which does a better job of explaining my view on this;

In weight-training, there's phenomenon known as overtraining: if you work out too hard, too long, and / or too often, you can actually start breaking down muscle tissue instead of building it up. In order to prevent this, experts recommend (among other things) taking some time off from training every so often.

The same thing applies to chess. It is quite possible to become "burnt out" if you spend too much time on anything, including chess. Warning signs include (but are certainly not limited to) playing poorly (especially blundering away pieces . . . ), poor concentration, having difficulty assimilating new information, and generally finding that you aren't enjoying chess.

Friday, September 16, 2005

My goal (cause we all need a goal, right?)

After doing some long and hard thinking i finally came up with a goal. My goal will be to have mastered the game of chess up to a respectable degree by the time i reach 40.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Chess Aptitude Test: How Do You Score?

While surfing the webwaves today i bumped into the following;

Jonathan Levitt, an experienced GM, devised what I believe is one of the most effective and simple, "self-tests" to determine chess aptitude. It was recently discussed in the Guardian's weekly chess column. (The Guardian is a UK paper, and the chess column is really great, I encourage you to go check it out)

I'll quote from the Guardian article here, it describes the test well:

"Place a white knight at b1 and a black queen at d4. The knight has to tour the board without ever being put en prise to the black queen or capturing it. It should visit squares in the order c1, e1, f1, h1, a2, c2, e2, g2, h2, a3 and so on to g8 (h8 is controlled by the queen)."

"The task may sound simple but is demanding on concentration, spatial aptitude, and willpower. Many people cannot even manage the first stage from b1 to c1, which takes nine steps. It is a timed test, so you need a watch as well as a chessboard and the two pieces."

"Levitt says that anyone who can do the full tour in less than 10 minutes at the first attempt has real aptitude. Michael Adams, a world title contender, took 5½ minutes, other GMs up to seven."

Take a break from your computer and try it!

And if it takes you longer than 10 minutes, don't despair... this test requires that you are able to think strategically about the chess board, not simply memorize moves.

Most people who simply memorize moves, but don't understand chess strategy, will have trouble with the test. Strategic thinking (not simply memorizing moves and tactics) essential to REAL chess aptitude.

This kind of strategic thinking is one of the things that my "GrandMaster Strategy Training Library" specializes in teaching you. It takes you step by step through the opening, middle game, and end game, and helps you not to simply memorize moves, but to understand and master strategic chess thinking. Once you are able to think strategically, memorized tactics and moves will become much more powerful weapons for you to use against your opponents.

Is this interesting or what? If i ever get around to doing it, i will post my results.

My chess notebook

As of yesterday i have now an online chess notebook, which will hold notes (duh) regarding the subject of chess improvement which i find to be of importance to me. It is publicly accessible, so that anyone who is looking to improve their game can benefit from these notes. You can find a link to it on the sidebar.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

All is not lost

After reading about an interview with ICCF Lady’s World Champion Alessandra Riegler, i have come to realize that all is not lost when you learn to play chess at the age i did. If you have read the "About me" post, you know that i learned to play chess quite late. Between the age of 29 and 30 that is. It turns out that Alessandra Riegler herself, also learned to play chess around that age. Still becoming ICCF Lady’s World Champion and FIDE rated 2030. Ofcourse she does have private coaches in the form of a FIDE Master as well as a Grandmaster. But still...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Progress report 1 (a change of plan)

3 training days went by since the beginning of the new month untill the weekend. I intended to finish TES modules 1 units 1&2 in those three days, but it seems i was slightly overenthousiastic. I managed to finish TES modules 1 unit 1 but while working on unit 2, i found myself needing about an hour to complete the endgame unit. Now unit 1 was quite easy, and for some reason that made me think my plan was possible. The plan was to go over each TES modules units (starting from 1) x 6 per day. Now it worked with TES module 1 unit 1, cause that took me a little over 2 hours. But TES module 1 endgame unit 2 alone took me about an hour to complete. So going over it 6 times in 2 hours isn't going to work now is it? What was i thinking? I knew the complexity would increase... I could have known this ambitious plan wasn't going to work. After some thinking i came up with the following change of plan; Instead of trying to go over tactics, endgame and strategy modules and their corresponding units together, i am going to go over one subject at a time. Each of the subjects themselves are divided like this;

- Tactics: 6 training modules, with 51 units each with a total amount of 4320 different exercises
- Endgames: 3 training modules, with 51 units each with a total amount of 1440 different exercises
Strategy: 3 training modules, with 51 units each with a total amount of 720 different exercises
Each unit contains approximately 90 exercises

What i am going to do is start with the tactics modules. When i'm done with that i'll be working on the endgame modules, and when i'm done with those i'll be working on the strategy modules. It's starting to look like a much nicer plan allready, in the sence of creating goals as well. As with my first plan i did not really have a goal. I think i can begin to set goals this way as well. Now let me see... Tactics, 6 training modules, 51 units, 4320 different exercises, approximately 90 exercises per unit hmm... Ok! Here's the plan; I'll be going over 1 unit a day = 90 exercises x 6 = 540 for 51 training days (weekends off). Knowing myself i probably try to do more, so i am going to give it a 2 months max to finish tactics. Now it might be only 4320 exercises, but you also have to repeat those exercises 6 times (as recommended) which makes it a total of 25920 exercises. But i'm really looking forward to it... I'm not sure if i can say the same about the endgame exercises... As endgame module 1 unit 2 got me highly agressive last night. Also in addition i will be going over other stuff as well. Since i got a more or less clear path now, going over other stuff as well doesn't get me frustrated as much as it used to do. I can focus now, i think :)
Anyway, i'll be keeping you up to date with these progress reports on weekends. I'm off now... Believe it or not, but i still gotta get some sleep.

I am a Knight!

And i was only (b)logging my chess improvement for merely a week. Now how about that?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Ok, so what is my regimen about?

My regimen will be about completing PCT 2 in a certain timespan. Now you have to understand that the PCT 2 consists of modules which start at a simple level and then gradually reach more complex ones. The modules in the full version (which i have) are divided as followed; 6 tactics modules, 3 endgame modules and 3 strategy modules. Also each of these modules are subdivided in units as followed; Tactics consists of 6 modules with 51 units each, endgames consists of 3 modules with 51 units each and strategy also consists of 3 modules with 51 units each. Alltogether the amount of positions is 6480. The basic concept is to develop your chess skills through repetition and memorization of these positions. Thus it's recommended to repeat each and every unit 6 times. In the end i will have gone over 38880 positions. Now how to go about? Well i was thinking of spending 5 days a week on this regimen. Weekends off. I mean the brain is like a muscle, and muscles need to relax as well in order to grow after a workout, so... Anyway, i was thinking of going over 3 units 6 times per day. 1 unit of tactics, 1 unit of endgames and 1 unit of strategy of each module. Now i allready know that the 1st unit of tactics, endgames and strategy together make up 60 exercises. So that'll be 60 exercises x 6 is 360 positions a day. Seems reasonable, for now :) But with increasing difficulty, i am not sure if i am able to hold on to going over 3 units 6 times a day. Because it's not like i can sit behind the computer for 24 hours. So i came up with the following; I am going to try to go for the maximum amount of repetition of the 3 units per day. If it doesn't work i am going to go for the minimum. And the minimum repetition will be 3. Am i still making sense? Well i'm off. This posting keeps me from my training.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A fresh start

Now what nicer time is there to start something, then at the beginning of a new month? I always liked looking at it as a new beginning, a fresh start :)I am about to embark on my own cooked up training regimen, and i have got just the right equipment, i think. Now it has to be based somewhat on the extensive MDLM training e.g. repeadetly training tactics. And after some surfing on the web i have found this little gem.
It's the Personal Chess Trainer 2. It has been co-developed by a bunch of Brazilian Masters and Grandmasters, Gilberto Milos being one of them. And i think this will suit just my needs, for now. Visit it's website for a limited but free of use demo here.
Take a look at some of it's screen shots to give you an idea of what you can expect.

It covers tactics, endgame and strategy training in one. The basic concept of this training is to develop your chess strategy, tactic and endgame skills through repetition and memorization of key concepts (patterns) and positions (a bit like de la Maza's, right?).
Believe me, it is awesome. And i intend to go through the whole lot as prescribed by the developers. Which is going over each and every single module which in their turn hold about 6 thousand positions alltogether. But that's not all, cause one exercise alone is considered learned (depending on your results ofcourse) after going over it six times. Actually i allready went over about 297 diagrams, but i am going to reset it and start over fresh, and keep you all informed of my progression. Now it's not going to be no seven days a week regimen like with the MDLM way, cause i simply cannot handle that. My respect to those who managed. But i got too much on my mind to be on a regimen like that. Wish me luck :)
And make sure to get that demo. It'll be worth your while.

Internet chess statistics

Today i have published my Internet chess statistics, which you will find a link to in the sidebar. I did this beacuse i thought it would be a nice way to keep track of any significant progress, by tracking my ratings. Anyway, I will be updating them monthly (if possible).