First, I'm still plugging away at Tasc Chess Tutor for my first Pre-Circle. I'm about to start my fourth mini-circle on some problems in Step 2. My percentages keep going up, but in these two sections of Step 2 there are some tests on which I scored below 80%. ALMOST done with this set of 200 problems, though.
Second, I am going to add a new pre-circle to the Divine Tragedy
: Sierewan's 'Play Winning Chess.' First, he assumes you know it for his other books, and my next pre-circle was going to be his book 'Winning Chess Tactics.' Also, he goes into very basic strategy stuff that I need to learn more about (pawn structure, time, and space). I noticed the other knights know a lot about this stuff that I have really not given much attention to. A few months ago, when first starting on this journey, I bought 'Pawn Structure Chess'. Holy shit, was that way out of my league! Tons of variations and very little explanation. It will serve me well on a cold night when we run out of firewood.
Third, I have started to play higher rated players online. To my surprise, at least at ICC, the 1200 rated players really aren't that much better than the 1000-rated players. In fact, my impression has been that overall, the 1000 rated players are stronger
in tactics than some of the higher rated players. I'm not sure what this means: it could be a sampling bias on my part and not a real effect. Or, there could be sandbaggers at ICC trolling the lower-rated players to try out new stuff.
To my surprise, I rather easily beat a player rated 1210 tonight: I strangled him with a very strong pawn structure and then he left his rook en prise when he tried to mate too early. Snatching this rook with my queen put his King in check on the back rank, and he had nothing to usefully interpose. It was sweet. Partly, I think reading Silman's 'Amateur's Mind' has helped me better consider strategic imbalances in pawn structure, which side of the board to attack on, as well as knight-bishop relative strengths and weaknesses.
Before I get cocky, I should remind myself that I am only rated 1000, the guy was probably half asleep, and I still suck eggs at chess. I am having more fun now than ever losing, though!